Some of those willing to look may have noticed that dark clouds of fascism are forming over the United States like never before. How so? Let me count the ways – 21 to be exact:
1. The Fascist Beast is Uncaged and Chomping at the Bit for Vengeance
For details on the distinct likelihood of the fascist Trump’s distinctly possible and tragic if absurd return to power along with an absurdly Republican-Amerikaner Congress and Supreme Court, please see my latest Counterpunch commentary. The deeply conservative and gas-emitting octogenarian Joe Biden’s approval rating is down to a pathetic 38% ten months into his ill-fated presidency. Biden’s horrific vice president Kamala “Do Not Come” Harris has sunk below Dick Cheney to 28%. Republican voter suppression and nullification ducks are being lined up in a nice authoritarian row across Red State America. Seven in ten USAers say the nation is on the wrong track. The Amerikaner Party of Trump (the GOP) is posed to take back Congress in 2023, also helping grease the skids for Trumpzilla II: The Revenge of Malignant Orange. The Trumpenstein is chomping at the bit to come back and unleash white armed male rage like never before. The Mar a Lago crime boss is already beating Biden in match-up polls. So what if he was rightly impeached twice during a monumentally corrupt and white-supremacist presidency that included, among other terrible things:
the mass pandemicist murder of hundreds of thousands of Americans
the stripping of basic environmental and social protections
the theft of migrant children from parents’ arms
the deployment of border paramilitaries to crush social justice and anti-racist protests in US cities.
the repeated embrace of fascist white power thugs and open endorsement of right-wing political violence
the recurrent use of eliminationist and demonizing rhetoric against political enemies and racialized Others
a multipronged campaign to subvert and nullify a presidential election
the instigation and planning of a mass physical assault on the nation’s capital meant to stop Congressional certification of Joe Biden’s 2020 victory?
Cuz… who fucking cares? Pass the ivermectin and charge the stage, baby, this is Amerika, bitches.
2. No Proper Punishment for a Coup Attempt. The House of Representatives’ January 6th Commission is by all indications a paper tiger. The leading Trump coup planner and fascist strategist Steven Bannon openly defying its subpoena powers and daring “Sleepy” Joe Biden’s meek and mild-mannered Attorney General Merrick Garland to maybe someday kind of think about charging him with criminal contempt. While federal judges send environmental activists who try to save humanity from ecocide to prison for eight years on felony “terrorism” charges, “fascist traitors” who stormed the nation’s representative branch to overthrow an American election and install a tangerine-tinted white power rapist as a dictator are getting off with light misdemeanors.
3. Trumpism Lives on With or Without Trump. The Republican Party is still aligned with the “instinctive fascist” Trump. The small handful of elected Republican officials opposed to his authoritarian politics have been marginalized within a Republic Party that has been behaving for more than five years as the Amerikaner Party of Trump (APoT). To question Malignant Orange is to gravely endanger your Republican future, if not your physical health. The Christian fascist Mike Pence has pledged allegiance to the Branch Trumpvidian sect ten months after the small-fingered Don dispatched his flying fascist monkeys to the Capitol to demand Pence’s hanging as punishment for refusing to abuse the vice president’s constitutional duty by rejecting pro-Biden Elector slates.
To be sure, it is not inconceivable that the Republicans could find a way to shed the beast going forward if the Trump brand takes a hit from numerous ongoing legal challenges. Greg Youngkin’s supposed “upset” win came after he ran as a supposedly post-Trump Republican in Virginia’s gubernatorial election last Tuesday. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s well-known personal contempt for Trump is fueled by his understanding that Trump’s uncontrolled narcissism cost the GOP its US Senate majority in Georgia last year.
But so what if Trump is cancelled? The nation’s rightmost major party has been going white nationalist and eliminationist, essentially fascist, for many years. This Trumpist transformation has a life beyond Trump himself. Trumpism-fascism could become a more lethal virus with someone less outwardly toxic and virulent like Youngkin as its more family-friendly face going forward. The Trump years opened the door for the normalization and mainstreaming of noxious sentiments and conduct previously considered outside acceptable norms.
Trump may will remain atop the organization, the Republican Party is now the largest fascist political organization of all time – and this in the most powerful and dangerous nation of all time.
4. What Happens in the Red States…The party of Trump is using its power in dozens of “red states” (states under Republifascist control) to make sure that it takes back full national power in 2025. On top of a slew of racist voter suppression and gerrymandering measures, their state-level strategy for the collapse of what’s left of democratic forms in the U.S. includes flat-out election nullification seen in measures that strip local and state election officials of their vote-counting and vote certification powers. The Nazified Republicans are systematically targeting the persons and rules that stood in the way of their attempt to carry out a constitutional presidential coup in 2020. Republicans who demonstrated allegiance to the constitutional rule of law instead of the white nationalist Dear Leader are being eliminated. Along the way, the seemingly insane Republikaner election audit mania is more strategic and sinister than many know: the “fraudits” are being effectively mounted to cast an advance shadow over any election that doesn’t go the Republikaners’ way. The all-too- straightforward Senate defeat of the US House-passed For the People Act by the absurdly right-tiled US Senate ensures that the relentless state-level assault on “normal” voting and elections proceeds unabated. The neofascist strategy emboldens the authoritarian conduct of Republifascists in Congress and the federal judiciary, including the Supreme Court, where the nation’s most reactionary regions are also vastly and absurdly overrepresented. Along the way, red state governors and legislators are doing everything they can to keep Covid-19 alive and to thereby hobble Biden’s ability to claim victory over the pandemic and the pandemic’s negative impact on the economy. They are also advancing the cause of female enslavement (see point 10 below), making it a crime to tell the truth about American racism past and present (see point 11), speeding evictions during a pandemic, furthering the criminalization of social justice protest, approving murderous vehicular assaults on (liberal and left) protesters, accelerating the deadly hair-triggered over-arming and over-policing of the nation (points 7 and 8), and denying pandemic unemployment benefits to the poor.
5. Demographic Paranoia. The 2020 Census revealed a significant increase in the number and percentage of US citizens who identify as non-white, something that feeds the demographic doom that fuels the paranoid “replacement” fears of the white right like never before. The new census numbers put demographic meat on the bones of mass white racial paranoia, a critical if not the single leading social ingredient of the new American fascism. They also reinforce the Republicans’ calculation that it must rig and nullify elections to expand and retain its power. Look at increasingly nonwhite Republifascist Texas, where rising Black and LatinX numbers have produced one of the most blatantly racist gerrymanders of all time.
6. Increasingly Routine Right-Wing Political Violence. Consistent with widespread Republifacist support for the use of violence to achieve sexist, racist, and nativist political goals, Americans now regularly receive verbal and physical threats from the Amerikaner right. The targets of this reactionary fury include school board members who try to protect children and communities from COVID-19, school nurses who dare to conduct covid contact-tracing calls, teachers who dare to tell dark realities about American history, election officials who don’t buy into the Hitlerian “Stolen Election” narrative, retail workers who try to enforce mask mandates, people who wear masks, and people who display buttons, face masks, yard signs, flags, or bumper stickers saying simply that “Black lives matter.” Along with threats of physical violence, simple statements of anti-racism, anti-sexism, anti-nativism and support for climate and medical science now routinely elicit the micro-aggressive right-wing charge of excessive and addictive “wokeness.” The fascist House representative Paul Gosar (Rf-AZ) has recently tweeted out an anime cartoon depicting himself murdering Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and then taking a sword to Biden. It’s not just Democrats who face fascist threats of political violence. Here is a phone message recently sent to the right-wing House representative Fred Upton (R-MI) in response to his vote for Biden’s infrastructure will: “I hope your fucking family dies. I hope everybody in your fucking staff dies, you fucking piece of fucking shit. Traitor!” – this over an infrastructure vote! A large number of Republican House members would have voted for Trump’s second impeachment but for fear that doing so would endanger their lives and the safety of loved ones. And, consistent with Point 2 above, neither House Speaker nor Attorney General Garland has said or done anything about the insane neofascist House member Gosar threatening to murder Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Joe Biden.
7. The Armed Madhouse, Poised to get More Lethal. There have been 612 mass shootings in the US so far this year. The nation’s already insane, genocide-worthy level of arming (with enough guns in circulation for every US man, woman, and child and 67 million left over) increased significantly in 2020. These weapons (including 15 million military style assault rifles) are very disproportionately owned by the right wing. In The New York Rifle and Pistol Association (NYSRPA) v. Bruen, the absurdly far-right US Supreme Court could well undo basic state and local gun control measures across the country. The right-wing NYSRPA’s argument is that the Second Amendment was meant to make not just private homes but all public places privileged space for open and concealed weapons carrying. Open and concealed weapons in shopping malls, grocery stores, town halls, and subways – hey, what could go wrong? The high court’s likely pro-gun ruling could help set-off a bloodbath,
8. The Racist Police and Prison State Lives On. America’s racist and significantly fascist police forces have killed more than 30,000 people, disproportionately Black and brown, since 2000. But the entirely reasonable post-George Floyd call for “de-funding the police” has failed. (It was explicitly defeated in a referendum in Minneapolis, the city that murdered Floyd, last week.) The ongoing, covid-escalated pandemic of gun slaughter that the neofascist National Rifle Association (which has stealthily threatened liberal elites and celebrities with assassination) has helped create is no small part of the explanation. Every nightly news story about inner-city gun carnage fuels support for the nation’s giant racist police and prison state (which saddles one in every three adult Black males with the crippling lifelong mark of a felony record) even within the communities targeted for racist police abuse. The ever-more militarized police state feeds off the gun madness.
9. Fascist Cops, the Big City Trumpenvolk. Naturally enough given their occupation’s special attraction to racist and authoritarian personalities, the nation’s police forces are full of fascists who take their world view and take on current events from Fatherland (FOX) News and other far-right media outlets. The head of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), for example, is an outwardly clownish but sinister racist and Trumpist who defends the Capitol Riot and leads police opposition to covid vaccination and masking. This lethal brute speaks for many in the nation’s urban police forces, whose white members are the leading Trumpenvolk of blue metropolitan America. The Philadelphia FOP openly fraternizes with the fascist Proud Boys and represents cops who brandish Nazi body art. Talk politics with an unguarded big city white cop and you can expect to hear language (evil “sanctuary cities,” “communist” mask and vaccine mandates, the “radical Left” Democrats, “lazy,” “animal”-like, and “criminal” Black and LatinX people, etc.) from far-right FOX, OAN, Newsmax, and right-wing talk radio. A lot of these gendarmes would love to deploy live ammunition against people protesting the distinctly possible right-wing theft of the 2024 presidential election.
10. Forced Motherhood/Female Slavery. The nation’s absurdly right-wing high court (including a right-wing rapist and a full-on Handmaid jurist among fully three justices appointed by the orange-putschist swine and approved by his absurdly Republifascist Senate) is poised to order forced motherhood nationwide in Jackson Women’s Health Organization v. Dobbs. The 2022 Gilead ruling that will undo or cripple Roe v. Wade and thereby eviscerate women’s hard-won constitutional right to control their own reproductive lives is expected next June. This will be an act of profound gender violence and female enslavement. Such ferocious patriarchy is a critical part of the revanchist agenda at the heart of the Republikaner agenda. (And it the 6-3 right-wing Supremely Court rules “against” the recent mercenary Texas “heartbeat” abortion ban, this will only be because right-wing jurists Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Barrett see the Texas bill as – in Kavanaugh’s words – “a model for deterring and suppressing the exercise of numerous constitutional rights” valued by the right. The main such right is the right-wing’s beloved Second Amendment. Moreover, the high court’s possible ruling “against” the Texas bill will not involve its constitutionality and will not likely help Texas abortion providers since the issue at stake is not actually whether the horrific law should be struck down but merely whether anyone has the right to sue to block the law. If you find all this hard to follow, you are not alone, dear reader).
11. The Anti-CRT Campaign and Family Friendly Fascism in Virginia. In a chilling show of neofascist political triumphs to come, the uber-white fascist-lite book-banning Republikaner Greg Youngkin has recently won the Virginia governors’ office with the preposterous and racist claim that his state’s teachers and local school boards are “imposing” supposedly nefarious “Critical Race Theory (CRT)” on Virginia grade schoolers. So what if CRT (banned in at least 8 states this year) is actually “taught” (discussed and studied) only in a small number of higher educational settings? The real target of right-wing anti-CRT culture war is any honest classroom discussion and study of American white systemic racism past and present – a totally ridiculous topic for history and social studies teachers to avoid in the land of Black chattel slavery, Jim Crow terrorism, mass Black ghettoization, and racist mass incarceration. The real target is living history. By going after nefarious-sounding “radical left” CRT, Republicans throw in a shot at liberal and left intellectuals – key objects of fascist ire – while trying to further whitewash American history and society. (Please see my July 2021 Counterpunch essay on the underlying fascist essence of the right-wing war on CRT.) Meanwhile, the Republikaner Party advances what ought to be labelled Fascist Replacement Theory (FRT), according to which a globalist Jewish conspiracy is scheming to “replace” supposedly virtuous, hard-working, and “true” white Americans with allegedly indolent and criminal immigrants of color. Perhaps the affable, soccer-dad-like book banner Youngkin represents a new and more lethal, deceptively softened variant of the Amerikaner fascist disease. He embodies white-nationalism with a more family-friendly face, rebranded to reach out to suburban professionals and yoga moms who were a bit turned off by the brutish and abusive negativity of Malignant Don.
12. Lethal White Heroes and a Deadly Circus Trial. In a classic example of Yale philosophy professor Jason Stanley’s observation that fascists embrace “lawlessness in the name of law and order,” Trump and his allies have made heroes out of the Capitol marauder Ashli Babbitt (a dedicated Trumpist military veteran who paid the ultimate price while smashing into the Congressional chambers on January 6th) and the teen militia MAGAt Kyle Rittenhouse, who murdered two Black Lives Matter protesters in cold blood with an illegally owned assault rife in Kenosha, Wisconsin in the summer of 2020. (Recall that Trump as president of the United States embraced Rittenhouse and stopped in Kenosha on the last night of the 2020 presidential campaign.) Rittenhouse’s likely exoneration in the circus-like trial being conducted by the demented white Amerikaner judge Bruce Schroeder will walk in the racist grooves of Trayvon Martin’s racist murderer George Zimmerman, whose attorneys used a disingenuous “self-defense” and Stand Your Ground argument to win acquittal. The white power neo-Confederate right is also rallying to the cause of the three white thugs who hunted down and murdered the Black jogger Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Georgia in February of 2020. Not Guilty verdicts in the Rittenhouse and Arbery trials will be ominous green lights to lethal state- sanctioned white racist and fascist vigilantism in a time when white nationalism is ascending, with the right-wing Supreme Court poised to unleash a gun slaughter coast to coast (see point 7, above).
Speaking of Wisconsin and lethal Caucasian heroes, the pandemo-fascist right has a new white male hero to defend against “cancel culture” and “the woke mob” – former Super Bowl champion and confessed Ivermectin nursling Aaron Rodgers. The Green Bay Packers’ punky QB’s body count is hard to calculate but it will certainly go far beyond that of Rittenhouse. When a manly influencer like Aaron “I Own Chicago” Rodgers takes his pandemic protection advice from noted epidemiologist Joe Rogan and goes public with idiotic anti-vax quackery, people die. Still, the right considers the media-“crucified” Rodgers – like fellow aggrieved Caucasians Rittenhouse, Babbitt, and that tragic election-theft victim Trump – a casualty of Marxist oppression, like, you know, Horst Wessel. The right can relax a bit about Aaron though. His racist and brain-mashing league has his back. The courageous Black quarterback Colin Kaepernik was banned from the National Fascist Football League tor taking a knee to protest the murderous racist police-state, but the bioterrorist Rodgers will not be suspended for lying about his vaccination status and putting his teammates and others at medical risk. Maybe Rodgers can score a post-NFL job at Trump45a’s Department of Health and Human Services in 2025 – or an ambassadorship in Bucharest or Minsk.
13. Skinhead Narratives Mainstreamed. Vicious and paranoid narratives formerly limited to the white power margins are now normalized and mainstreamed Republikan talking points As the onetime far-right skinhead turned leading anti-fascist Christian Picciolini told Salon writer David Masciotra two months ago:
“Words I used to say as a neo-Nazi skinhead, the belief system that I had when I was an avowed white supremacist, are now part of the mainstream discussion. We are seeing people who are not neo-Nazis, or at least not claiming to be, spouting off the same beliefs — politicians, law enforcement officers, police unions…. We’ve started to hear those ideas, and similar ideas, come out of Tucker Carlson, a Fox News host with millions of viewers. It isn’t just people like me when I was hanging out in dark alleys reading pamphlets from other conspiracy theorists. People are now getting this theory and hatred from Donald Trump, and various people in his orbit. They are getting it from Paul Gosar, a Republican congressman from Arizona. These are people with suits and ties. They look like the mainstream, they sound like the mainstream and, in certain cases, they’ve been elected to powerful positions by the mainstream.”
14. The War on Truth. A critical component of authoritarian and fascist politics, is advancing with terrifying speed and power. CRT isn’t taught in K-12 public schools, but millions of Americans have been led to believe it is. Vaccinations and masks are essential to controlling the Covid-19 pandemic and advancing the common good, but millions of Americans have been led to deny this and to believe that vaccines and masks are part of a nefarious and totalitarian project to oppress free people. Donald Trump lost the 2020 presidential election by big popular vote and Electoral College margins, without any significant voter fraud, but millions of Americans have been led to believe that the Democrats and anti-Trump Republicans “stole” the election for Biden from its supposed legitimate winner Trump. The Democratic Party is a militantly capitalist, corporate, and imperialist organization at its commanding heights, but millions of Americans have been led to absurdly believe that it is a “radical left” and “socialist” party (and that this would be a horrible thing to be). Blacks, LatinX people, and Native Americans are by far and away the leading victims of racial discrimination and oppression in the USA, but millions of US-Americans have been led to absurdly believe that whites are now the nation’s leading victims of systemic and cultural racism. Anthropogenic (really capitalogenic) climate change is the biggest issue of our or any time, a grave and imminent threat to a decent future, but millions of Americans have been led to believe that it is a liberal hoax or at most a minor matter compared to supposedly dire menaces like CRT. (More on this below.)
The list of preposterous and dangerous things that masses of systematically dumbed-down and mind-managed USA-ers have been led to think includes the notions that “Antifa” was the real force behind the January 6th Attack on the Capitol, that Democrats are under the control of a global Satanic network of child-eating pedophiles, and that the covid pandemic is a hoax. A considerable portion of the population, perhaps as much as a quarter, lives in lethal unreality. The right-wing hardly invented the virulent Orwellian disease of untruth in American political life, which has long been poisoned by Big Lies like the claims that the United States (a de facto capitalist and imperial dictatorship) is a great democracy and seeks to advance liberty and democracy around the world. But the Trump and FOX News Amerikaner right has taken political untruth into unprecedented heights and fascist space during the Obama, Trump, and Biden-Rittenhouse years.
15. Tuckems Goebbels Has No Bottom. The nation’s leading fascist propagandist, Fatherland News’ Tucker Carlson, is showing that there are no limits to the amount and lethality of the fascist heroin he is ready to inject into Amerikaner hearts and minds. He has no discernible floor on how low is willing to sink. His latest Goebbels-worthy intervention is an openly insane documentary claiming that January 6th was a leftist black op aligned with a Marxist-Bidenist “deep state” campaign to “hunt” and eliminate the right wing.
16. Party Trumps Branch. Meaningful constitutional “checks and balances” are blown up in a highly partisan and polarized political order where party trumps branch. The preponderant majority of Congressional Republicans chose (hardly for the first or last time) party over branch by refusing to impeach the clear executive branch criminal Trump twice and by refusing to certify Biden’s clear Electoral College victory even after Trump’s insane fascist mob overran Congress. If or (in all likelihood) when Republicans take back full Congressional and White House power (they already dominate the federal judiciary) over the next two years and three months, small-r republican institutional checks and balances will become a dead letter.
17. A Minority Rule System Already Rigged by the Founders. Even without the right-wing electoral rigging currently being systematically advanced at the state level, the nation’s already existing government is badly tilted to the right by a Minority Rule system bearing the explicitly antidemocratic imprint of the nation’s absurdly venerated aristo-republican and slave-owning Founders. The US Senate is malapportioned far to the right of national public opinion and openly violates the elementary democratic principle of one-person, one vote by its granting of two representatives to each state regardless of population size. The Electoral College incorporates this reactionary Senate formula into a winner-take-all electoral slate scheme that permits Republicans to win the presidency while losing the overall vote (examples include George W. Bush in 2000-01 and Donald Trump in 2016-17). The democracy-flunking Electoral College requires the Democrats to massively out-perform the fascist major party (the APoT) in the popular vote to have any chance of winning or retaining the presidency. The Democrats’ ability to do that is deeply challenged by its cringing subservience to big money corporate and financial funders, whose near -stranglehold over candidate-selection, candidate viability and (hence) policy has been upheld in two key decisions (Buckley v. Valeo and Citizens United) handed down with holy authority by the absurdly powerful, constitutionally appointed-for-life and Senatorially approved Supreme Court. With its absurd 6-3 right-wing majority (including fully three high-court members appointed by the fascist Trump), the Red high court can be counted on to rule in the Republifascist party’s during a potentially disputed presidential election in 2024 and 2025. (Also enforcing dismal, dollar-drenched Democratic nothingness is the mass consent-manufacturing corporate and commercial media, whose capacity to pollute popular hearts and minds in service to capital and the American Empire is constitutionally protected “free speech” under longstanding high court jurisprudence.) Sadly, the nation’s badly outdated charter and governance order is off the table of serious discussion. It enjoys untouchable, God-like “Simon Says” authority to throw a giant, democracy freezing straitjacket over national policy and politics.
18. Joe “No Fundamental Change” Biden & the Dismal Dems: Junior Partners in American Fascitization. A longtime Wall Street plaything masquerading as “lunch-bucket Joe from hardscrabble Scranton,” the almost laughably uninspiring octogenarian Joe “Pool Chain” Biden (try to be less charismatic than Biden – you can’t do it!) has predictably refused to fight back aggressively against the socio-pathological party of Donald “Save Amerika” Trump and QAnon Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor-Greene. He won’t take on the arcane, racist Senate filibuster to pass voting rights legislation that could pre-empt the fascist assault on minority rights – or to pass a labor law reform that would re-legalize union organizing. He won’t use his bully pulpit to call out the epically corrupt right-wing Demublican Senators Kyrsten Sinema ($-AZ) and Joe “Party Boat” Manchin ($-WV) – absurdly described as “moderate” in “mainstream” media – for their abject corporate ownership and allegiance. He lets the arcane and paper authority of “the Senate parliamentarian” veto an increased federal minimum wage. He won’t threaten or act to dilute the absurd power of the right on the Supreme Court. He won’t fight for District of Columbia statehood. He won’t call out the GOP for what he probably knows it is – a neofascist organization. He won’t stand and fight with progressive Democrats for even a small slice of the Green New Deal, for expanded Medicare, for student debt abolition, for real immigration reform, for a paltry $15 an hour federal minimum wage, real gun control, police reform or for…fill in the blank. He won’t direct his Attorney General to cage the orange beast and seriously punish the monster’s Capitol Riot thugs. A Peter Dau tweet says it all:
NO filibuster reform
NO Medicare for all
NO closing child cages
NO climate action
NO paid family leave
NO minimum-wage hike
No student debt relief
USA TODAY/Suffolk poll
BIDEN – 38% approve, 59% disapprove
HARRIS – 28% approve, 51% disapprove
The Democratic Party will never call masses into the streets to defend decency, truth, democracy, and social justice against the ongoing and escalating hard-right onslaught. It is religiously attached to its status as the party of law and order and bourgeois democracy even as the other major capitalist party continues to show its readiness to radically trump normal bourgeois elections and rule of law with white nationalist violence, a relentless and maniacal war on truth, and a cult of personality. Along the way, the dollar Democrats and their red baiting “liberal” corporate media blame their failures on their party’s “too left” progressive wing, which has futilely tried to make public policy in some remote accord with majority progressive public opinion. It’s all so Weimar. The Democrats are junior partner collaborators in the fascitization of the United States.
19. The Ruling Class is Divided and Doesn’t Really Care. The nation’s underlying unelected ruling class dictatorship of capital lacks the internal cohesion, moral center, and, perhaps, even the power to stop the white power Republifascist’s return to full national power. The majority of the nation’s corporate and financial class elite would probably prefer for the nation to retain the deceptive cloak of bourgeois democracy, social inclusion, and rule of law. Still, virulent neofascism has considerable capitalist backing (the last surviving Koch brother and the despicable media mogul Rupert Murdoch are key examples). It’s not clear that the non-fascist capitalist elite can put the fascist cat back in the bag once it’s been let out (Trump can likely fund his 2024 campaign adequately with big contributions not just from right-wing oligarchs but also from a giant army of Amerikaner small donors). And at the end of the day, amoral capital doesn’t really care. As ever since its rise to power in 15th and 16th Century Europe, capital is pleased as punch than happy to accommodate itself to any social, political, and/or policy order (e.g., the antebellum US slave South, the fascist regimes of 20th Century Italy and Germany, numerous Third World Fascist regimes in which US corporations have long invested) that leaves its holy profit prerogatives and investment hegemony intact. The nation’s owners – the interlocked “Big Club” Masters of finance, distribution, tech, and production – would for the most part prefer a Clinton, Obama, and a Biden over a Trump, a de Santis, an Abbott or even a Youngkin in the White House but their perfectly happy to work with a full-on white nationalist monster as long as the profits keep flowing. They’d certainly prefer a fascist over a social democrat like Sanders or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Nazi reptile like Matt Gaetz over a dignified and serious progressive like Ilhan Omar.
Work with fascism? Sure. Remember frau Melania Trump’s jacket slogan: “I Really Don’t Care, Do U”? That’s an apt statement of how the US-American bourgeoisie feels. If it is willing to cancel livable ecology (see point 21, below), as is clear from its determination to tip the planet into irreversible ecocide by burning every last fossil fuel it can get its hands on, it is certainly ready to cut a deal with authoritarian, neofascist rule. The US American ruling class has worked with fascism abroad since the 1920s. Why not do so at home?
20. The Passive Politics of Quadrennial Electoralism. Much of the nation has been behaviorally conditioned to think of politics as little more than marking ballots next to the names of candidates selected in advance for them by the nation’s political bankrollers and permanent political class for a few minutes once every two or four years. As the great left intellectual Noam Chomsky noted 17 years ago, “Americans are encouraged to vote, but not to participate more meaningfully in the political arena. Essentially the election[s are] yet another method of marginalizing the population. A huge propaganda campaign is mounted to get people to focus on these personalized quadrennial extravaganzas and to think, ‘That’s politics.’ But it isn’t. It’s only a small part of politics….” The mass passivity and inertia resulting from the electoralist religion cedes the streets and public squares to the relentless fascist movement even as the electoral game itself is rigged ever more disastrously against majority opinion and on behalf of a party that is perfectly happy to make sure that no more “normal” bourgeois -democratic elections take place in the USA. If millions don’t drastically reconfigure their concept of meaningful political engagement beyond savagely time-staggered narrow-spectrum major party big money major media candidate-centered mass-marketed electoral extravaganzas, it’s game over for what’s left of democracy.
21. Not a Top Public Priority: The Biggest Issue of Our or Any Time. There’s never been a bigger issue facing humanity than the contemporary environmental crisis, led by ever-more quickly accelerating climate change. Carbon-addicted capital is turning the entire planet into a giant Greenhouse Gas Chamber, placing life itself at grave risk and clearly slashing hopes for a decent future. By all serious scientific indications, humanity is sliding into an epic ecological catastrophe under the command of fossil-fueled capitalism-imperialism. (It’s not for nothing that many younger climate scientists now forego parenthood.) The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report warns that limiting warming to the existential red line of 2°C will soon be beyond reach unless “there are immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.” This and potentially worse scenarios point to the emergence of Earth as a dystopian Hellscape, uninhabitable or barely worth inhabiting.
No nation has a higher per capita carbon footprint (with the One Percent far in the planet-cooking lead) than the United States. No national ruling class has done more to hide and advance this existential menace than the United State. No nation state bears more responsibility for addressing this crisis than the USA. But. so what? As the public opinion experts at Five Thirty-Eight report:
“While Americans believe tackling climate change is important, that doesn’t mean they see it as the most important issue. In [a recent] Monmouth survey…issues like jobs and unemployment (77 percent), the COVID-19 pandemic (72 percent) and racial inequality (65 percent) topped Americans’ list of ‘extremely important’ or ‘very important’ concerns for the federal government to address. A Politico/Harvard poll conducted in mid-September found that climate-related spending did not [even] land in the top five ‘extremely important’ issues that U.S. adults wanted included in the budget bill.”
How literally insane. Climate change’s low priority status in US public opinion is a dark propaganda victory for the fossil fuel industry, which has been waging an Orwellian war on climate science since the 1980s, when Exxon Mobil buried its own research showing that continued mass extraction and burning of gas, oil, and coal would significantly and dangerously alter Earth systems.
One of the nation’s two viable capitalist major political organizations, the Republican Party, is openly eco-cidal, explicitly opposed to even minor environmental regulation and sustainability efforts. The Democrats, including the coal baron Joe Manchin, the West Virginia Senator who has used his strategic Congressional position to gut clean energy provisions from Biden’s butchered Build Back Better bill, are willing to acknowledge climate dangers but not to act to reduce emissions to anything like the degree required. And, of course, neither major US party is remotely aligned with the deep revolutionary social and economic system changes required to save humans and other living things from capitalist ecocide. With or without eco-cidal 21st century neoliberal fascism, capitalism is a cancerous carbon-addicted “expand or die” system wired to bring an end to the human experiment. The young people marching against the hopelessly inadequate rich-nation COP[-out] 26 climate-summit in Glasgow got it right: “They say climate change, we say system change. No po-llu-tion, we need a revolution.”
As recent, deadly, and ongoing climate-driven extreme weather incidents in Western Europe and the United States show, the wealthy core states of the world capitalist system are by no means exempt from the deadly, potentially terminal consequences of profit-mad environmental spoilation. There’s no planet B, no American Exceptionalist escape from an Earth poisoned by USA-led capitalogenic climate change and other ruling class crimes against life itself.
1. The Rittenhouse trial has been steered towards exoneration by Bruce Schroeder, a judge long known to be a racist. This openly demented right-wing jurist made a pretrial ruling that the people Rittenhouse killed could not be referred to as “victims,” but could be referred to as “arsonists” or “looters.” Schroeder conducted a selection process that yielded a jury with just one Black member. The jurors seated include whites who had bought into the absurd claim that the Jacob Blake protesters meant to “burn down the suburbs” – this even as the judge dismissed a potential juror who said her bi-racial granddaughter had participated in the protests, and another who asked why Rittenhouse didn’t stay in his own city after the Blake shooting. During a circus-like trial, the unbalanced Trumpist Schroeder has interrupted the state attorney’s cross examination of Rittenhouse with wild temper tantrums aimed at preventing the prosecution from demonstrating Rittenhouse’s racist and murderous motivations. Schroeder has denied the prosecution’s request to show evidence of Rittenhouse’s violence in the days and weeks prior to August 25, all out of concern not to “prejudice” the jury against him. But Schroeder is happy to greenlight evidence suggesting that one of Rittenhouse’s victims was predisposed to violence. Schroeder has shown himself ready to help Rittenhouse out of tight spots (including a transparently faked weeping episode) under cross-examination. The ringtone on Schroeder’s personal telephone, which went off during the trial last Wednesday, is from Donald Trump’s favorite white-nationalist hate-rally theme song: “Proud to be an American.”
Paul Street is an independent radical-democratic policy researcher, journalist, historian, author and speaker based in Iowa City, Iowa, and Chicago, Illinois. He is the author of eight books to date: Empire and Inequality: America and the World Since 9/11 (Boulder, CO: Paradigm, 2004); Segregated Schools: Educational Apartheid in the Post-Civil Rights Era (New York: Routledge, 2005); Racial Oppression in the Global Metropolis: a Living Black Chicago History (New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2007); Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics (Boulder, CO: Paradigm, 2008); The Empire’s New Clothes: Barack Obama in the Real World of Power (Paradigm, 2010); (with Anthony DiMaggio) Crashing the Tea Party: Mass Media and the Campaign to Remake American Politics (Paradigm, 2011); and They Rule: The 1% v. Democracy (Paradigm, 2014). Hollow Resistance: Obama, Trump, and the Politics of Appeasement (CounterPunch Books, September 2020). Paul writes regularly for Counterpunch and Dandelion Salad. Help Paul Street keep writing here and/or here.
Originally published at Counterpunch, Nov. 12, 2021
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