I have already written on why I think that Donald Trump is the figurehead of a growing fascist movement of a uniquely American type elsewhere, but in light of the recent Republican National Convention I am compelled to revisit this topic. While, as I noted before, many people across all political viewpoints have denied the fact that Trump is a fascist due to their stale and formulaic “checklist” approach to identifying fascism, few now doubt that Trump and the movement coalescing around him are authentically fascist after this week’s events. However, despite the agreement now emerging that Trump is a fascist, there is no historical contextualization being put forward in which to frame this movement in relation to past fascist movements for the purpose of analysis. In short, there is no framework with which to understand exactly what type of fascism Trumpism actually is and what its linkages are in the American political tradition. This is where the de facto “theme” of law and order promoted at the Republican National Convention can help uncover what exactly the roots that bind Trumpism to previous iterations of fascist and far-right movements in the 20th century United States are.
The notion of “law and order” stretches back throughout American history, and has been intimately tied to white supremacy and the far-right, especially in the 20th century. Historically, law and order has always meant a crackdown on civil rights, especially in the case of minorities, coupled with a curtailing of labor rights and an increase in mass incarceration and a further militarization of the police and the surveillance apparatus. Law and order has never been advocated to protect anything more than the interests of the ruling class, white supremacy, and the bourgeois state. Those who opposed the civil rights movement always framed their opposition to formal equality in terms of a preservation of “law and order” (e.g. Barry Goldwater and George Wallace), the reactionary war on drugs was backed by appeals to “law and order” (Nixon and Reagan), the repression of labor organizers and union activity was always justified by a need to maintain “law and order”, and the justification for mass surveillance and brutal repression of left-wing opposition movements has always been backed by calls for “law and order”. The term itself has proven to be nothing but a call for racist violence, both vigilante and State backed violence, and class war against the working people. Outside of the U.S. historical fascist movements have also based their programs and promises on a desire to restore or strengthen law and order. Both Mussolini and Hitler promised to bring law and order to Italy and Germany, which manifested in a savage crackdown on ethnic and racial minorities, trade unionists, socialists, communists, anarchists, and social democrats. Law and order was but a road to a strengthening of a fascist dictatorship and the mass imprisonment and genocide of millions.
In the U.S. much is the same. Law and order has served to strengthen the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, white supremacy, and increase the repressive arm of the State to gargantuan proportions. In a time in which the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as various other forces on the Left, are mobilizing and directly confronting the institutionalized racism and structural brutality of the police, it is no surprise that we are again confronted with calls for law and order being issued from the most reactionary sections of the ruling class. This desire for law and order is further supported by modern day fascist goon squads composed of the petty bourgeoisie and especially sections of the backwards white proletariat, open white supremacists, neo-Nazis, conservatives of the religious and secular varieties, proponents of the alt-Right, and vast sections of police and military personnel. Donald Trump has now expressed openly the desires of the nascent fascist movement in this country, which until recently was scattered and erratic in its actions, in his proclamation of being the “law and order candidate”. In Trump reactionaries have found a suitable candidate to rally around, one that, while lacking any coherent political philosophy of his own, is perfectly willing to serve as an empty slate of sorts in which all fascistic ideologies can be projected onto. Unlike the mealy-mouthed dominionists like Ted Cruz and Ben Carson, which could never win over anything more than the evangelical base of the GOP that is rapidly eroding, Trump has accomplished what they never could, the uniting of all reactionary elements, even outside of the traditional GOP base, into a dangerous political movement headed by a genuine demagogue.
Law and order in the U.S. will be the deepening of police violence against black people, against LGBTQ people, against women. It means the further expansion of the prison-industrial complex, the tightening of the security State and means of internal repression. It means the continuing war on the working class, its militant organizations (communists and others), and unions. Here all trappings of normal bourgeois democracy begin to fade and we approach the point in which the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie has the greatest chance to be converted into an open fascist dictatorship, as day by day the ruling class and State dispense with all pretense of what’s left of the people’s democratic rights. As the methods of imperialist control and domination are brought home from the outskirts of imperialist reach to the seat of Empire, the State and the ruling class are facing mounting resistance, and are evermore turning towards seeing violent repression of all opposition as the appropriate means of dealing with resistance.
Oppressed nationalities have long known this America, and have not failed to identify it for what it is, fascism. Now even the white Left has been forced to acknowledge the growing reality of Trumpism as the latest and most powerful form of fascism, as it now begins to encroach on them. Trump’s call for law and order stands in the long tradition of American white supremacy and European fascism. Those who still refuse to acknowledge the reality of Trumpism as a uniquely American form of fascism, and thus to recognize its very real danger, have dangerously deluded themselves, and even worse, have led others towards passivity in the face of the fascist threat.
Communists and oppressed peoples have always known how to fight, after all, it was us who led the fight in smashing fascism and reaction worldwide throughout the 20th century. The question is not whether we will fight back, because we will to the end, but, rather, who besides us will stand resolutely against Trumpism? This doesn’t mean voting for the opposing imperialist war criminal and representative of the big bourgeoisie Hillary Clinton, nor does it mean washing your hands of guilt by casting your vote for any of the inconsequential third party candidates. This struggle extends beyond electoralism, as the fascist movement will continue to grow regardless if Trump is elected or not. The only way to win is to unite with all that can be united with, that is, those who see Trumpism for what it is and those who oppose both the sham of bourgeois democracy and fascism. Most importantly, we must continue to build militant organizations dedicated to protecting and advancing the rights and interests of the working class, women, LGBTQ people, and oppressed nationalities. Only in this way can Trump and his movement be beaten back and and defeated. Most simply, we must declare a war on “law and order” and assert the people’s right to rebellion and self defense against all fascists and reactionaries.