Trump is not Hitler. He is Mussolini, with the one exception being that Il Duce wrote his own books.
I’m sure people have noticed this before. But after that last night’s horrifying debate I went back to look at Robert O. Paxton’s 2004 book, The Anatomy of Fascism.
Paxton acknowledges that fascism is tough to define. This difficulty, he says, arises from fascism being driven less by ideology than by what he calls “mobilizing passions”:
- a sense of overwhelming crisis beyond the reach of any traditional solutions;
- the primacy of the group, toward which one has duties superior to every right, whether individual or universal, and the subordination of the individual to it;
- the belief that one’s group is a victim, a sentiment that justifies any action, without legal or moral limits, against its enemies, both internal and external;
- dread of the group’s decline under the corrosive effects of individualistic liberalism, class conflict, and alien influences;
- the need for closer integration of a purer community, by consent if possible, or by exclusionary violence if necessary;
- the need for authority by natural chiefs (always male), culminating in a national chieftain who alone is capable of incarnating the group’s historical destiny;
- the superiority of the leader’s instincts over abstract and universal reason;
- the beauty of violence and the efficacy of will, when they are devoted to the group’s success;
- the right of the chosen people to dominate others without restraint from any kind of human or divine law, right being decided by the sole criterion of the group’s prowess within a Darwinian struggle.
So let’s call it what it is: a race between a deeply flawed but experienced candidate and a fascist.