Joe Biden Has Been Using the F Word by Kraig Schwartz


With the political rise of Donald Trump there has been much discussion about fascism, authoritarianism and right-wing politics.  In recent days Joe Biden has joined the discussion. The president has described MAGA (Make America Great Again) Republicans as semi-fascists. I’m not sure what he means, but he clearly believes MAGA Republicans are a threat to our democracy. However, in an attempt to push back against Biden’s language, Republicans have been firing back at the president for his use of the term, suggesting that the president is despicable.


I’m not sure exactly what a semi-fascist is.  But, fascist movements, as we can learn from studying the 1920s, 30s and 40s are anti-democratic social and political movements that arise in times of deep economic, social and political crisis; they are usually led by a charismatic leader, a man who promises the people a resolution to national problems in broad sweeping terms, almost mystical in the leaders accounting. Fascist movements cloak themselves in nationalism and reject democracy and use bands of shock troops to enforce their will, such as the Proud Boys.   Moreover, fascists embrace authoritarian solutions to resolve political and social problems facing the nation.   This authoritarianism is required because the fascists never have had clear majority support.


The two main fascist political parties in the 1940s were the Fascists in Italy led by Mussolini, and the Nazis in Germany, led by Adolph Hitler.  But the practices of fascism was considerably different in Italy than it was in Germany.  If fascism emerges, as many suggest, in the U.S., it will be different than it was in Italy or Germany.


American fascism may not launch mass executions of the Jews or other ethnic minorities.  But it will, for sure destroy democracy as we have known it.  The current rights of people embraced by the state and the responsibilities of the state towards the people will be pushed aside.   Fascists will restrict voting rights, limit the specific freedoms of the people, repress unions, deny free speech, and many more things that we take for granted.  Moreover, a fascist state in America will use violence to achieve and maintain state power.

 So, who is a fascist these days?  Trump may be a fascist, Ron De Santis may be a fascist?   But its not the individuals that we should measure.  It is the overall movement we should evaluate.   Do MAGA Republican embrace violence? Do MAGA Republicans attempt to  use the state to restrict democracy and freedom?

 The answer to these questions will unfold in the months ahead.  The answers will reveal where this country is going and whether it is fascist.  If the answers are in the affirmative keep you seat belts on  

 Kraig Schwartz is a retired teacher of political science and history, having spent 30 years teaching in the community colleges of Seattle


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