It’s too easy to draw lazy comparisons between the rise of Trump’s particular brand of fascism with the policies of the Third Reich, and I’m aware of Godwin’s law. But, I’ve been saying so many times in the last year that we’re all in trouble.
There’s been a slow rise of fascist dogma, that seems impervious to reason. And I want to understand this. Part of this seems easy to figure out: the world’s power has shifted from nations to elsewhere: corporations (banks too big to fail, Exon, G4S), pan-national organisations (EU, NATO, UN), extremely wealthy individuals. There’s a stronger skew in the distribution of goods than ever before*. People feel disaffected, because they’re more aware that they’re not connected to their own destinies. I know people who didn’t even know to whom they paid their mortgage.
This disconnect is dangerous – and I want to study it.
But, where is the change that leads us toward making decisions that sound so achingly like early 20th-century fascism? Blame minority populations, and start purges that break down the very notion of citizenship:
“Barack Obama will leave office with Guantánamo Bay still in operation as a detention facility. Trump’s election ensures the infamous wartime prison escapes closure, but it will probably cross a constitutional Rubicon. The president-elect has pledged to increase the Guantánamo population, a reversal of Obama’s approach, “with some bad dudes”. Among those “bad dudes”, Trump told the Miami Herald, could be American citizens. His pledge to bring back “worse than waterboarding” threatens to undo the shaky coalition against torture, especially in a GOP Congress, of the late Bush and Obama administrations.” – Guardian
This isn’t the beginning of a rerun of the reticent then cataclysmic second world war. Nor is it a throw back further to the global tension, secretive oligarchic politicking, and class division of the first. This is our new, global tension.
We’re not looking at the rise of belligerent nations after the world rebuilds itself from global war. We’re part of the story of the world tearing itself apart after a tense peace. We have built a division between cultures of progress and tradition. Left/right, liberal/conservative: semantically empty labels that yet carry huge power.
Clearly, some people are uncomfortable with the ideas of the other people. Some are afraid that their perspectives on the world aren’t respected by others – over the exact same issues. Some can’t understand how the other people don’t understand their point of view. We are not seeing the same world, but do we know this about ourselves? Are we aware that there are many facets to our lives, and that from a single perspective, you cannot even see obverses?
Perhaps this is the beginning of an end to national supremacy.
Or, maybe it’s just the decline of an empire.
Ave atque vale, Pax Americana.
*Though, the Norman-imposed style of feudalism might have been as or more skewed, it’s hard to make comparisons.