The Economist cover story "Playing with fear" December, 2015

The Economist cover story : “Playing with fear” (December, 2015)

What explains this bizarre abomination?

Here I explain how Donald Trump is making Fascism mainstream, and what are the explanations behind his run.

 

Here are the things that characterize a Fascistic ideology. A charismatic leader, who tries to portray an outsider view of his persona, compared to the rotten establishment. This definition of establishment is never clarified, and always varies to suit his political position, to an extent, when everything he stands for becomes right, and everything that opposes him, becomes the corrupt, rotten establishment which needs to be cleaned or destroyed. The second tenet of fascism is fear of the great “other”. Here, everything is enemy, the world is Nietzschian, and the leader is there to save the terrified masses, and enlighten them about the threats surrounding them. The third tenet is blatant, constant, regular lies. An entire campaign of hate is then builds up on blatant lies, and unregulated made up “facts”, without credible citations. Fourth tenet is when fear gives way to propaganda, which gives way to a sense of superiority combined with victimhood. Final stage of fascism is when the institutions are declared dead, and is completely undermined, and a violent over throw is espoused.

The curious phenomenon named Donald Trump has emulated the first four tenets with his latest declaration of Muslims, regardless of their sect, caste, orientation, division, country, political ideology, social strata, residence, educational level, and occupation, should have a blanket ban from entering US. In a scene, which might give elderly Jewish families some palpitation with memories of 1930s, fist waving crowds, shouting their leader’s name in feverish adulation, when the leader, reads in a strange divine third person, his own statement, published before in his own website, “Donald J Trump is calling for a complete and total shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.”

This is not the first time, he has been offensive. He has mocked women, severely and repeatedly. His comments about Fox news presenter Megyn Kelly is a reflection of a sense of humor, if you can call that humor that is for lack of better word, which was prevalent around almost a century back perhaps, and which is completely abhorrent in modern context. He has ridiculed Hispanics as a race, and has mocked a journalist with disability in public forum, as his popularity continued to soar.

This time, however, the reactions were swift. The White House, predictably said, he should be disqualified from running from President, for those words, making a third of human population enemies, effectively. Pentagon said, the statements are detrimental to US national security. Republican candidates, all except one, started to distance himself from Trump, and even Speaker Paul Ryan intervened saying Trump’s statement is against core Republican values.

Among foreign countries, France has criticized the comments, saying Muslims are the primary victims of Islamic terrorism, and majority of muslims are front line allies against Islamism. A petition in Britain is being signed by over 4 hundred thousand and will merit a debate in the parliament whether to ban Donald Trump from entering UK. Mayor of London Boris Johnson, himself a conservative, said that the only reason he avoids New York, is of the fear of meeting Trump. Muslim countries like Turkey, Gulf states, has protested this comment, as has Hamas and Israeli PM Netanyahu. Scotland has barred him from ambassadorship, and Scottish Robert Gordon’s University has revoked his honorary degree.

Why is he doing this? There can be three explanations. One, he is a closet Democrat, playing the Republicans for fool, and sabotaging their campaign with outlandish statement. His fan base has peaked and plateaued at around 28 % nationally among registered Republicans, and they will support him no matter what he says, as long as he maintains a semblance of normality. He is a businessman, and will drop out, or deliver the Presidential race to Hillary, for an unknown number of cash or kind benefits. However attractive the proposition is, it sounds like a conspiracy theory. If Donald Trump is a businessman, only looking for his business interests, then he won’t go this far with his statements, which are also harming him long term. He is losing attractive deals, and degrees, and is permanently damaging his reputation. That’s not realistic business acumen.

Second explanation is that he is unhinged. An old senile megalomaniac, with a lot of money, and outlandish sense of leadership, and a bloated sense of self-worth; who is somewhat similar to Ross Perot in the nineties. Third explanation is he is actually serious of his presidency, which is the scariest situation. This essentially means, going back to the earliest points, that his ideas are actually fascistic, and he means it, and is serious about it. Which also means, that the percentage of Republican party which still supports him, are seduced by borderline fascist ideas, believing in race superiority, and use of force at will.

As a political scientist, it is not my job to answer in a deterministic way but rather provide probabilistic interpretation of events. I frankly am still baffled at Donald Trump’s popularity, although the greater sense of optimism in me tells that he won’t win. But the dark forces he has already unleashed, will be hard to contain, regardless of his win or loss.


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