YDS: The Clare Spark Blog

August 14, 2015

The Trump Phenomenon: a triumph or a disaster?

Trump on the stump in Iowa

Trump on the stump in Iowa

[Update 3-16-16: Read this carefully. Trump’s position on Israel has been distorted by his rivals. He has said that he would like to see peace in the Middle East but that it would be the “toughest negotiation” ever. No signs of anti-Semitism in my view.]

[Update 3-10-16: I didn’t compare Trump to Hitler here, but as a populist and nationalist, he does resonate in some respects with the Strasser brothers. I want to distance myself from liberals and even conservatives who are calling him a Nazi. I  have thought of taking this down owing to inevitable mis-readings; I am now supporting him because I believe that the system is terminally corrupt, and that he will be an improvement over Hillary. A reminder: I am an Independent and a scholar, not an ideologue.]

[Update 12-12-15: I agree with David Horowitz that if Trump’s ban on all Muslims entering the US  (temporarily) is unconstitutional, the GOP should find a Constitutional proposal to prevent more terror. (I hope I got that right.]

[Update 10-15-15: I would be very unhappy if this blog was used by anarchists or lefties for anti-Trump propaganda. After seeing the Democrat debate 10-13, it is that party that more closely resembles fascism (for the S. A. was always populistic, hence anti-Semitic). Trump has since been less vague about his policy objectives, and, in my view, is clearly superior to any Democrat, especially Hillary Clinton, the most likely to win the Donkey nomination.]

[Update 9-19-15]: Since writing this, several arguments might be added to my  argument that Trump’s followers resemble the populist members of the S.A. under Hitler. 1. The appeal to national greatness was deployed by Hitler after the defeat in WW1. His followers, many of them humble and feeling crowded out by other rising groups, may long for vicarious “greatness”; 2. Hitler was a Pan-Germanist, calling for an all German-speaking unity. Trump’s nativism echoes such grandiloquent notions; 3. Hitler lifted Germany out of the Depression by remilitarizing, defying the terms of the Versailles settlement. Similarly, Trump calls for a massive military expenditure, which can only raise the fantasy of more jobs for the unemployed and semi-employed; and 4. Trump lies a lot. His mob followers are as cynical as he is. (End update)].

Even Fox News Channel can’t make up its collective mind over Donald Trump’s candidacy. Hannity loves him and O’Reilly subtly pushes him, while Charles Krauthammer, their most respected pundit, doesn’t take him all that seriously (though that may change).

I do.

For most of my adult life I have studied the influence of fascism in Europe and America, in all its manifestations. While others castigate Trump as a bully, a fraud, a celebrity tied to mass culture, a narcissistic businessman allied with dubious companies (such as ACN, see page one story in WSJ (8-14-15), I agree with my son-in-law who nailed him as a street fighter and a primitive. I go even further, for he reminds me of a parody of masculinity, but more, the S.A., Hitler’s populist Brownshirts, led by the Strasser brothers, who made trouble throughout the 1920s and early 30s until they were [partially] purged in The Night of the Long Knives, June 30, 1934, an event that led William E. Dodd, the US Ambassador to Hitler’s Germany, resign his post. (https://clarespark.com/2011/08/14/review-in-the-garden-of-beasts-by-erik-larson/.)

Hitler with S.A. comrades

Hitler with S.A. comrades

Although propagandists and even historians emphasize “the Nazi seizure of power” the better scholars emphasize Hitler’s coalition with monarchists and conservatives opposed to the social democratic Weimar Republic. Hitler was appointed Chancellor by President Paul von Hindenburg in order to destroy communism (a communism that today’s Right frequently associates with the Democratic Party), and the 1933 elections were no Nazi landslide, but garnered only 43.91% of the vote (almost the same plurality that elected Bill Clinton). For my blog on how the Democratic Party has absorbed ideas originally associated with Marxist practice, see https://clarespark.com/2012/07/19/communist-ideas-go-mainstream/.

Sturmabteilung poster

Sturmabteilung poster

As for big lying to the public, Trump has already delivered some whoppers. For instance, he takes credit for introducing the subject of illegal immigration, when anyone following the records of other Republican candidates is familiar with how and when the views of Bush and Rubio have been modified regarding amnesty. Similarly, in an interview with Sean Hannity, Trump mentioned “health savings accounts” as if he had just dreamed it up. (Both Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan have supported such accounts, but see the idea’s origins here: http://www.afcm.org/hsahistory.html.)

I have my own suspicions of why so many voters are wowed by The Donald. Noting the popularity of The Godfather, The Sopranos, and lately, the wealthy can-do, know-it-all killer played by James Spader on NBC’s The Blacklist, it is not surprising that another larger-than-life character would suddenly capture the imaginations of many populist voters.

So we now have a choice: creeping fascist/populism on the Left with Hillary Clinton/Sanders/Warren/, or creepy populism on the Right with Donald Trump, our latest Knight in Shining, Glitzy, Armor.

[Update: I now believe that our biggest threat of fascism comes from (welfare statist) social democrats. I still don’t like glitz, but understand its appeal to the child in all of us.]

Trump Tower Atrium, NYC

Trump Tower Atrium, NYC

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3 Comments »

  1. I think you’ve overstated the Nazi SA angle. I have yet to see a single Trump brownshirt pummeling Jews in the streets.

    Pat Condell, who delivers much more eloquent and condemning attacks on the neo-Islamic invasion of Europe and America than Trump could ever muster, hits the nail on the head. People want honesty — at least the perception of honesty — and Trump doesn’t care what the media or the standard Beltway pols have to say about his opinions. It doesn’t even matter if he gets it wrong or overstates his case. He speaks to what people, fed up with politically correct, progressive nonsense from the Left, want to hear. In that sense, he is a populist. But he also speaks like a tough leader, and in time of great existential danger, that goes a long way.

    Obama’s Neville Chamberlin act is going to get us killed or enslaved. Trump may not be as elegant as Churchill, but he’s got the right bulldog spirit needed to not only fight this war, but win it decisively.

    https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=video&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjLjomEy97JAhXLOz4KHX0dAlEQtwIIHDAA&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DiHLcrfhwPtc&usg=AFQjCNF2mYf78Pwz2RSKt1Bw8oFak08pCw

    Comment by stereorealist — December 15, 2015 @ 7:39 pm | Reply

    • If you saw my updates, I emphasized the populist character of both the S.A. and the Trump followers. I also wrote on FB that if populism is widespread in the Republican Party, elites (especially progressive elites plus moderate men) should take the rap.
      As for Trump, I hope that you and other supporters are correct and that I was too hasty in my comparison with the S.A.

      Comment by clarelspark — December 15, 2015 @ 10:14 pm | Reply

  2. I agree with you. And it is all fed by the media’s need to create sufficient drama to put eyes on the screen 24/7. Bad situation, getting worse.

    Comment by edbrenegar — August 18, 2015 @ 10:11 am | Reply


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