Fascism 'goes unnoticed until it's too late': Albright sounds dire warning on Trump
Just for starters in considering Albright's fulminations below, I should point out that Fascism does NOT sneak up on anybody ('goes unnoticed until it's too late'). It is very vocal and the rises to power of both Mussolini and Hitler were very well telegraphed in advance. Hitler won power in a democratic election after having fought many previous unsuccessful election campaigns, and Mussolini was a well-known and widely respected thinker long before the March on Rome (which he did not attend).
The Albright article is in fact an amusing example of how one-eyed Leftism can be. What president has become so tired with the democratically elected legislators that he has tried to over-ride them with a slew of regulations and orders, some with with no apparent legal warrant? That's incipient Fascism if ever there was one. Ignoring the legislature is a huge step in the direction of Fascism. But that was Barack Obama, not Donald Trump.
The essence of Fascism is control, a high level of government control over everything. So has Trump sought to expand government control of the country and its citizens? To the contrary he has rejoiced and continues to rejoice in how many governmental regulations he and Congress have wiped out,
But surely the Leftist claims below have SOMETHING anti-democratic to point to in Trump's actions? There is not in fact a single deed listed. All they have is a jaundiced account of what Trump has SAID. But blind Freddy by now knows that Trump thinks out loud, meaning that he gets details wrong and often contradicts himself. But that is actually his process of looking at all the options and choosing the best one out of all the possibilities. It is an unusual way for a President to proceed but it ensures that he gets a lot of feedback before he acts and in the end what he DOES is very moderate. He is an unusually open person but his actions are well considered.
And even his most controversial actions are beginning to show their rightness. We must not forget that Trump has a degree in economics so he knows all the traditional arguments for free trade perfectly well. So why his repeated announcements of tariffs on imports? Because he is not operating at the Economics 101 level. He is operating more at the economics faculty level. And almost everything is disputed there. And the huge fact about free trade in American economic history is that America prospered mightily behind HIGH tariff walls in the 19th century. There are of course arguments to explain that -- "infant industries" etc. But the basic point is that real-life is a poor fit to classical Ricardian free trade ideas. And Trump has clearly taken that on board
And the fruits of that are already clear to see. South Korea has come to the party and has agreed to ease its restrictions on imports from America in return for Trump exempting them from his tariffs. So clearly, despite their novelty, his trade ideas are realistic and effective. And his actions have in fact led to FREER trade with S. Korea. That must be a shit-sandwich to the many who thought he was anti-trade.
The huffing and puffing over tariffs on China will be resolved in a similar way.
And, unlike Obama, Trump has co-operated with the legislators. Obama vetoed most of what came before him but Trump even signed an Omnibus spending bill that clearly stank to him. So Trump has stuck with and respected the role of Congress while Obama did his best to defy it and escape its restrictions. So who is the Fascist again?
Next week comes the release of Fascism: A Warning, a new book by former US ambassador to the United Nations and secretary of state, Madeleine Albright. It is in part a survey of the rise of authoritarian leaders and parties in Russia and the Philippines, in Hungary, Germany, Poland and Italy, and finally in the United States.
In a recent interview with American public radio NPR, Albright concedes that yes, the title is alarmist. It is intended to be, she explains. She was inspired by that phrase deployed across Western democracies in this age of terrorism, “If you see something, say something”. Albright has seen quite a lot in the Trump administration, and she has a lot to say.
“We have never had a president, at least in the modern era, whose statements and actions are so at odds with democratic ideals,” she writes in her chapter on the US. “[Donald] Trump has spoken harshly about the institutions and principles that make up the foundation of open government, in the process he has systematically degraded political discourse in the US, shown an astonishing disregard for facts, libelled his predecessor, threatened to lock up political rivals, bullied members of his own administration, referred to mainstream journalists as enemies of the American people, spread falsehoods about the integrity of the US electoral process, touted mindlessly nationalistic economic and trade policies and nurtured a paranoid bigotry toward the followers of one of the world's foremost religions.”
Madeleine Albright joins Hillary Clinton on the presidential campaign in 2016.
There are those of course - not least in the Republican Party - who would dismiss this as hyperbole. But when you break it down, it is hard to challenge any assertion in that passage.
Fascism, she says in the interview, approaches us one step at a time, even in countries with strong democratic institutions and traditions, “and in many ways goes unnoticed until it's too late”.
Albright is not the only prominent commentator to sound such dire warnings about the Trump administration. Last year the polemicist Andrew Sullivan wrote an apocalyptic essay for New York Magazine in which he cast back to the first book on politics, Plato’s Republic, to illustrate what he saw as the potential for a contemporary American descent into tyranny.
But applying ideas like Sullivan’s - or Plato’s or Albright’s - to contemporary America is difficult because the Trump administration resists definition. It is a twitching, impulsive tachycardic mess; a movement without substance or identifiable intent, let alone ideology. The journalists that have covered it - and this has been a golden era of American political journalism - have tripped over one another as they navigated the miasma of incompetence and trough-snuffling that Trump presents them with, allowing the administration to obscure each catastrophe with the next.
Amy Siskind’s new book, The List: A Week-by-Week Reckoning of Trump’s First Year, helps clear some of that thick air and reminds us of just how weird the last year has been. Siskind’s book is based upon her viral blog, The Weekly List, which she began when Trump was elected. Siskind, a Wall Street executive turned feminist activist, had been inspired by the suggestion by another shell-shocked liberal Sarah Kendzior, who had appealed to concerned citizens to keep lists of facts, beliefs and principles, of the minor changes they perceived in the nation under Trump, so they could better watch for what Albright would later describe as the steps towards fascism.
None of these writers suggest that America today is an authoritarian state, just that the only consistency of the Trump administration is its anti-democratic urges and impulses, that Trump himself has no regard for democratic institutions or traditions, that his greatest appeal to his core base is his willingness to demonise minorities.