Localizing Trump

Anti-Trump protest. London, 21 January.

While Donald Trump is not a fascist, he is supported by fascist groups and he is fascistic, in the sense that he shares certain characteristics with fascists: he is racist; has a strong patriotic belief in the nation; is anti-internationalist and demagogic.

Moreover, he is radically anti-establishment, diverting attention away from the exploits of big business – the real cause of poverty and decay – and directing it towards politicians (complicit, of course, with big business magnates like Trump himself), Mexicans and Muslims, as well as foreign countries: “We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs”.

Trump’s inaugural speech has been described as “a violent, nationalistic tirade with distinctly fascistic overtones.” Thus he declared, “We share one heart, one home, and one glorious destiny”. In a crass but effective way, recalling the Nazi-associated, “tomorrow belongs to me”, he promised, “we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the American People … because this moment is your moment: it belongs to you.”

The United Front Against Austerity asks: “How can he deport 12 million Latinos? How can he force Mexico to build and pay for a wall? How can the figures in his demagogic budget plan add up? The answer is always that mere reality will always yield to the ruthless exercise of Trump’s Triumph of the Will (a concept that worked well for Adolf Hitler) — meaning his dynamism, the force of his personality, his determination, his bold courage, and so forth.”

“Most of Trump’s followers”, the organisation goes on, “probably think this means that Trump will run everything personally, and that every aspect of the US government will benefit from the inevitable Triumph of the Will”.

Unsurprisingly, Trump is supported by fascist groups in the United States and worldwide. The former “Grand Wizard” of the Ku Klux Klan congratulated Trump on being sworn in as president and said: “We did it”. He went on, “This is one of the most exciting nights of my life – make no mistake about it, our people have played a HUGE role in electing Trump!” At the same time, the Greek far right Golden Dawn hailed his victory as a force for ethnically “clean” nations.

Angry in Leeds, January 2017.

As a recent Observer editorial put it, Trump appeals:

to the darker side of human nature, bolstering the insidious claims of jealousy, envy, greed and hubris. It thrives on fear, chauvinism, discrimination and not always subliminal notions of ethnic, racial and moral superiority. It is a product of our times. But it is not too much to say Trump’s ranting scream of “America first, America first!” carries an echo of the “Sieg Heil” (hail victory) of another, not-forgotten era of brutish nationalist triumphalism.

But all this is a million miles away from the UK and British politics, or is it?

On February 23rd the constituents of Copeland and Stoke-on-Trent go to the polls in two by-elections. The UKIP candidate in Copeland is Fiona Mills, and in Stoke, UKIP’s leader Paul Nuttall. Both identify with what former leader Nigel Farage (reported to be shortly made a “close but unofficial adviser” to the US president) describes as Trump’s “global revolution”, of which Brexit is considered to be the first stage. After the presidential election, Mills tweeted: “the BBC is so biased against Trump. Why give that ridiculous woman so much air time? Most Americans love Trump. He was elected after all”, while Nutall declared that he is hugely excited about Donald Trump who he described as an “anglophobe”. (he meant “anglophile” which was how Farage had described him earlier).

Trump’s love for England is debatable to say the least. As the Observer piece concludes:

Theresa May should be very careful … when she visits Washington [on January 27]. In her anxiety to renew the “special relationship”, fuelled by her gratuitous undermining of Britain’s European alliances, May presents an easy target for bullyboy Trump. If past behaviour is anything to go by, Trump will take what he wants from Britain, which is, primarily, the conferring of international respectability on him and his despicable ideas, and spit out the rest. The Trump carnage will not be confined to America.

Nuttall has already reiterated one of Trump’s despicable ideas, using the same phrase as Trump when referring to torture: “Sometimes you have to fight fire with fire.”

A surge in support in either Copeland or Stoke-on-Trent will bolster confidence to Trump, his “revolution” and to his friend and advisor, Nigel Farage. It would give further respectability to UKIP and begin to further normalise a fascistic worldview here in the UK. It would also, of course, bolster the insurgent fascist parties of Europe. It must not happen.

Photographs courtesy of Caroline Gunston and Terry Madeley. Published under a Creative Commons license.