Saturday, March 12, 2016

Bernie's Brownshirts & The American Left

Trigger Warning: This post contains the f------ word.

According to last night's news a group of about a thousand Bernie supporters protested and disrupted a Donald Trump rally in Chicago. Their goal was to get the event canceled, and in this they succeeded.

So people have thrown accusations of fascism toward The Donald. As evidence they cite his occasional quote from Mussolini, the rapturous cheering from his audiences at what seem to be content-free statements, his cult of personality, a perceived authoritarianism, and (most tellingly) occasionally roughing up some protesters who attend his meetings.

It's all Mr. Trump's fault, so claim his critics on both the Left and the Right. "A campaign bears responsibility for creating an environment when the candidate urges supporters to engage in physical violence," Ted Cruz is quoted telling Megyn Kelly.

So I'm not going to defend the actions of every last supporter at every Trump rally, some of which have tens of thousands of people. Of course some of them went over the top. I'll even stipulate that Trump himself has encouraged them occasionally. But what happened in Chicago last night is in an entirely different league and has nothing to do with the Trumpers misbehavior.

What Bernie's supporters did last night was to actively disrupt and eventually prevent a rival candidate from holding a perfectly legal and appropriate rally. This is not a minor misdemeanor or error of judgement--this is a felony against the very spirit of the Constitution and the American way of life. For we in these United States (supposedly) value free speech. "I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" (attributed to Voltaire). Ted Cruz, in particular, who claims to value the Constitution above all else, should be very ashamed of himself.

Now I will not accuse Mr. Sanders himself of being a fascist, but some of his supporters certainly are. Those proud of disrupting Donald's rally last night are undeniably fascists. In prior eras they would have been described as brownshirts.

My shorthand definition of fascism is a belief that we're poor because the foreigners stole all the money. Foreigners usually refers to an ethnic group, though not always. The Bernie crowd sees Rednecks, Hillbillies, Yokels, Uneducated people, Religious fanatics, etc. as unacceptable strangers who need to be shut up and are undeserving of Constitutional rights. For the record, it is worth noting that Bernie's supporters are more White than any other campaign.

The American Left is increasingly infested with fascist grouplets. First among them is the explicitly racial group Black Lives Matter. Those folks are more catholic in their choice of targets, extorting groveling obeisance from whatever candidate they choose to disrupt. This is a fascist gang pure and simple.

Similarly, the Boycott, Divest, Sanction group is a viciously antisemitic group targeting "Zionists." Their trademark tactic is to disrupt any speech by any Israeli citizen, whatever that person's point of view might be. These people are fascists in the old-fashioned, Hitlerian sense of the word.

Jonah Goldberg, in his book Liberal Fascism, argues that Hillary Clinton is a fascist. I think he makes a convincing case, but she's not a danger to civil liberties in the way these other examples are.

My Trotskyist friends are mostly not fascists, though they do have tendencies in that direction. In particular, Socialist Action and Solidarity ardently support Hamas, which is an avowed fascist organization. But let's consider that an anomaly and not typical of Trotskyism.

Trotskyists subscribe to a politics that I regard as pro-poverty. For them global ideals are much more important than the welfare of any group of people. For example, saving us all from climate change is sufficient reason to drive a billion people back into subsistence farming. Or similarly, changing the legal ownership of the means of production is cause to completely destroy the world's economy.

Solidarity, for example, is quite explicitly Luddite.
The fact is that ecosocialism simply does not need everyone to have her/his own private automobile (we do not, in fact, need for anyone to have a private automobile) nor a big screen TV in every room of the house, private swimming pools, meat three times a day, and much else.
Not only will the Rednecks be deprived of their pleasures, but workers around the world will be deprived of their livelihoods. This is a semi-fascist doctrine, but to their credit our comrades in Solidarity don't engage in brownshirt tactics.

Similarly, Socialist Action and Louis Proyect are avid, pro-poverty campaigners. While I've argued often against Mr. Proyect's viewpoint, there is no way the man is a fascist. And to his credit he's against Bernie almost as much as I am (albeit for different reasons).

So that brings us finally to the Socialist Workers Party (SWP). They are also not fascist, though like the other grouplets they support fascist-like governments. They are, for example, keen on Castro's Cuba and Kim Jong-un's North Korea. The latter seems to me to be indistinguishable from fascism, based as it is on an ethnocentric ideology. (Kim Il-sung, apparently, has ascended into heaven.)

But the SWP distinguishes itself for the better in that they do not support Hamas, and they have come down foursquare in favor of preserving Constitutional rights for citizens. More, they see Trump's followers as potential recruits rather than class enemies. Instead of disrupting the rally they'd rather be part of it (though not in support of the rally's program).

So there is no way the SWP is fascist in any sense that we've been discussing. They're not even consistently pro-poverty (e.g., they have not signed on to the Climate Crusade).

Trotskyists believe in something called the Transitional Program, a route by which Socialist Revolution can be achieved. By this guide today's activists fight for seemingly obvious demands (e.g., "free college tuition for all"), secure in the knowledge that capitalism will not be able to satisfy those demands without bringing itself to collapse.

The SWP's gamble is that American capitalists will not be able to grant workers their Constitutional rights and still remain in power. So they demand the rigorous implementation of the Constitution supposedly knowing full well that such will ultimately bring down the system. After which we can all live in a North Korea-style utopia.

But for the moment it puts them on the side of Donald Trump.

It is very odd to think of Donald Trump as the defender of free speech and Constitutional liberty. But by some odd sequence of events, and by no design of himself, that is exactly where we are.

For that reason this blog endorses Donald Trump for President.

Down with fascism!
Down with poverty!

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