The threat is not from fascism

Virginia Aabram, Head News Editor

Donald Trump is not a fascist. It’s fun to rage against his supposedly nationalist tendencies and pretend we’re living in 1933 Germany, but that is simply not the case.
There’s been a resurgence in the popularity of George Orwell’s dystopian novel “1984,” and this is obviously because people want to read up on how to survive the impending apocalypse.

I don’t know about the book because I’ve never read it, but I do know that Orwell said, “The present political chaos is connected with the decay of language, and that one can probably bring about some improvement by starting at the verbal end.”

So let’s start at the verbal end, as Mr. Orwell suggests. Fascism is “an authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization,” as defined by Google. But in the colloquial, it has a broader meaning.

In Orwell’s book “The Politics of the English Language,” he defines fascism simply as “something not desirable.” So simply by these definitions, it would look as though Trump and his supporters at least appear to fall into this category. But that conclusion can only be reached without looking at the historical context of true fascist regimes.

In an article for The Federalist, correspondent John Davidson wrote, “As a political movement, fascism in Europe had distinct characteristics—expansionist nationalism, extreme militarism, a conception of the National Socialist as a ‘new man’ for whom politics is above all a spiritual struggle.” He goes on to write about how true fascists seek to disrupt the democratic system and hold military might and the authority of the state above all else.

Trump does not share these characteristics. He may be boorish, disrespectful, and sexist, but if anything he’s trying to roll back the power of the state. He’s committed to the integrity of our democracy, albeit through his self-serving voter fraud claims.

There has been some surface tensions in current America that seem to forbode something ominous, but they’re not from the mainstream right or fascist.

In a 1929 propaganda pamphlet for the Nazi party, Joseph Goebbels wrote, “We do not enter parliament to use parliamentary methods,” a sentiment that seems to be the desire of the hard-left protesting base of the Democratic party.

By turning Senator Elizabeth Warren’s breaking of Senate Rule XIX (“which prohibits members from besmirching the character and motives of their colleagues,” according to the Wall Street Journal) into a martyrdom of free speech in government, endlessly protesting every action of the new administration, silencing or refusing to cover opponents in the media and attempting to remove dissent from the public sphere, the far left has turned the political arena not into a place for discussion but a place to shout the loudest and disrupt the most.

But they’re not fascist either. They’re actually advocating for cultural totalitarianism, or a society in which there is only one accepted world view.

In the book “The Demon In Democracy: Totalitarian Temptations in Free Societies,” Polish political philosopher Ryszard Legutko likens the current liberal-democracies in the west to the communist regime of Russia.

John O’Sullivan of the National Review summarized the book in the forward as follows: “Liberal democracy, as it has developed in recent decades, shares a number of alarming features with communism. Both are utopian and look forward to an ‘end of history’ where their systems will prevail as a permanent status quo. Both are historicist and insist that history is inevitably moving in their directions. Both therefore require that all social institutions […] must conform to liberal-democratic rules in their internal functioning. Because that is not so at present, both are devoted to social engineering to to bring about this transformation. And because such engineering is naturally resisted, albeit slowly and in a confused way, both are engaged in a never-ending struggle against enemies of society (superstition, tradition, the past, intolerance, racism, xenophobia, bigotry., etc.) In short, like Marxism before it, liberal democracy is becoming an all-encompassing ideology that, behind a veil of tolerance, brooks little or no disagreement.”

Not everyone on the left is advocating for communism (though there are a fair number of sympathizers), nor do I mean to absolve the right of any wrongdoings. Severe problems with the Republican Party are evident in the fact that Donald Trump is president. But the apocalypse is not nigh, nor will either side will cause the destruction of America.

The real threat we are facing does not come from fascism, but from intolerance disguised as tolerance. We’re going through a divisive time in history, but one way or another, this too shall pass.