My name is Sam Vadnin and I am a columnist in Brussels Morning.
Today we are going to discuss fascism and whether the accusation that Donald Trump is leading the United States on the garden path to fascism is justified.
Recent statements by the front-runner in the Republican primaries for presidential candidate Donald Trump were eerily reminiscent of pronouncements by Adolf Hitler himself.
Trump compared his rivals and adversaries to vermin to be destroyed. He promised to establish concentration camps and he blamed immigrants for poisoning the blood of the United States or familiar tropes of Nazism actually, not fascism.
But does this forming at the mouth, does this amount to actual fascism?
But isn't this a channel dedicated to mental health issues and in particular narcissism?
Why do I keep bringing politics into it?
Because narcissists are also and possibly mainly in politics.
We need to expose and identify them wherever they are.
We need to prevent narcissists from attaining power and when they have already done so, we need to oppose them and we need to identify them and we need to fight them and we need to take them down.
Mental health issues are not reserved to the psychotherapist clinic or to your intimate relationship.
Mental health issues are everywhere.
There are narcissists in science, there are psychopaths in politics.
Mental health issues permeate and pervade the totality of our experience, our lives.
So yes, if I happen to come across a malignant narcissist, the quintessential malignant narcissist, the poster boy of malignant narcissism and he is running for president of the United States, I have an obligation to sound the alarm to tell you about it, especially in a channel dedicated to narcissism.
This is why today I'm going to discuss fascism.
I'm going to dissect it and I'm going to try to see whether it applies to Donald Trump and unfortunately to a host of other leaders all around the world.
Erdogan in Turkey, Netanyahu in Israel, Xinhua in Palestine, Oban in Hungary, Putin in Russia, they're all over the place.
It's a takeover and if we shy away from fighting them back, including on YouTube channels dedicated to their mental health pathologies, then we are doomed.
So this is why this video has a place on my channel.
Okay, let me quote a great luminary.
This Spector Morse in the book, The Twilight of the Gods, 1993, he said, "What we are looking for here is the sort of person that slashes pictures, takes a hammer to Michelangelo's statues and a flamethrower to books, someone who hates art and ideas so much that he wants to destroy them.
In short, a fascist, actually, there's a description of a narcissist or more precisely, a malignant narcissist.
Nazism and by extension fascism, although pay attention, Nazism and fascism are by no means identical, but both of them amounted to permanent revolutions.
They are revolutionary movements, but revolutions evolve or degenerate or devolve very fast into civil wars and Nazism and fascism are slow motion revolutionary civil wars.
This is happening in the United States today and in many other places in the world.
It has been happening in Israel until October 7th, would have stopped it.
In his Magna Opus, The Death of Politics, 1994, John Loughlin coined a term, the subversive right.
What he meant to say in his own words, the subversive right is a mixture of left and right.
It's a movement that has embraced nationalist and socialist ideas.
Fascist movements were founded into earlier on negation.
Fascist movements are about rejecting things, rejecting people, rejecting ideas and the militarization of politics.
There is one debt, the reason to exist and the vigor, the power of fascist movements.
They are derived from the fact that fascist movements are oppositional.
They define themselves by opposition.
So a fascist would be opposed to liberalism, would be opposed to communism.
Very often fascists would be opposed to old style, old fashioned conservatism, free trade for example.
They would be opposed to nationalism.
They would be opposed to individualism.
They would be opposed to other races.
So they would be exclusionary.
They would be racist.
Fascism is about the identity of the fascist is about what he or she is not.
It's an identity defined in opposition to others.
And so there's a symbiotic relationship here between self definition and survival and opposition to others.
This is what we call in psychology negative identity formation.
Ask a fascist, who are you?
What are you?
And he will tell you who is not and what she is not.
So this is fascism in a nutshell, but all fascist movements suffer from fatal, fatal ideological tensions.
Now, many of these ideological tensions have been introduced into fascist ideology on purpose to divide and conquer.
But the main reason for the inner contradictions in fascism is because fascism, like most totalitarian movements, fascism tried to become a broad pluralistic church, a big tent.
Fascism tried to accommodate every known ideology and every known ideal, infuse them together uneasily.
Fascism tried to be something for everyone.
And so it became a secular religion, but with contradictory doctrines, doctrinal fare.
The dogma is not unitary and not monolithic.
The dogma of fascism within fascism.
There are pitched battles between camps.
And today I'm going to describe these camps to you and at every turn you can make up your mind to which camp Donald Trump belongs and many other leaders, as I've said.
Let's delve deep into what stands behind fascism.
Fascism is a facade, actually.
Point number one, renewal versus destruction.
The first axis of tension within fascism was between renewal and destruction.
Fascist parties invariably presented themselves as concerned with the pursuit and realization of a utopian program based on the emergence of a new man.
In Germany it was a mutation of Nietzsche's Superman.
The word new, novel, young, vital and ideal.
These words were pivotal keywords.
Destruction was both inevitable, the removal of the old and the corrupt, and also desirable.
It was cathartic, purifying, unifying and ennobling.
Yet fascism was also nihilistic.
It was kind of a bipolar disorder, either utopia or death.
Hitler instructed Speer to demolish Germany when his dream of a thousand years Reich crumbled.
And this mental splitting mechanism, all bad, all good, black or white, dichotomous thinking, is typical of all utopian movements.
Similarly, Stalin, not a fascist, embarked on orgies of death and devastation every time he had faced an obstacle.
And this ever-present tension between construction, renewal, vitalism and the adoration of nature, on the one hand, and destruction, annihilation, murder and chaos on the other hand, this tension was detrimental to the longevity and cohesion of fascist fronts.
Point of tension number two, individualism versus collectivism.
A second, more all-pervasive, ubiquitous tension was between self-assertion and what Griffin and Payne call self-transcendence.
Fascism was a cult of the Promethean will of the superman above morality and the shackles of the pernicious materialism, egalitarianism and rationalism.
It was demanded of the new man in fascism to be willful, assertive, determined, self-motivating, a law unto himself.
The new man, in other words, was supposed to be contemptuously asocial, though not necessarily and always antisocial.
But he precisely arose the contradiction.
It was society which demanded from the new man certain traits and the selfless fulfillment of certain obligations and observance of certain duties.
The new man was supposed to transcend egotism and sacrifice himself for the greater collective good.
In Germany it was Hitler who embodied this intolerable inconsistency.
On the one hand, it was considered to be the reification of the will of the nation and its destiny.
On the other hand, Hitler was described as self-denying, selfless, inhumanly altruistic and a temporal saint, martyred on the altar of the German nation.
This doctrinal tension manifested itself also in the economic ideology of fascist movements.
Fascism was often corporatist or syndicalist and always collectivist.
At times it sounded suspiciously, fascism sounded suspiciously, like Leninism-Stalinism.
Maine has this to say.
What fascist movements had in common was the aim of a new functional relationship for the functional and economic systems, eliminating the autonomy of large-scale capitalism and modern industry, altering the nature of social status and creating a new communal or reciprocal productive relationship through new priorities, ideals and extensive environmental control and regulation.
The goal of accelerated economic modernization was often espoused.
This is Stanley Paine, A History of Fascism, 1914-1945, published by University of Wisconsin Press.
And still private property was carefully preserved and property rights meticulously enforced.
Ownership of assets was considered to be a mode of individualistic expression and in this way self-assertion, not to be tampered with.
This second type of tension transformed many of the fascist organizations into chaotic, mismanaged corrupt and amoral groups lacking in direction and in self-discipline.
They swung ferociously between the pole of malignant individualism and that of lethal collectivism.
Point of tension number three within fascistic movements and fascism as an ideology was between utopianism and struggle.
Fascism was constantly in the making, eternally half-baked and on-the-fly ideology subject to violent permutations, mutations and transformations.
Fascist movements suffered from identity confusion, identity diffusion, identity disturbance, and, to use the clinical term, they were process-oriented and thus impermanent revolution, rather since fascism was based on the negation of other social forces in permanent civil war.
It was a utopian movement, fascism, in search of a utopia.
Many of the elements of a utopia were there, but hopelessly mangled and mingled and without any coherent blueprint.
In the absence of a rational vision and an orderly plan of action, fascist movements resorted to irrationality, the supernatural, the occult, the magical, into their brand of secular religion. Fascist movements emphasized the way rather than the destination of the struggle rather than the attainment, the battle rather than the victory, the effort rather than the outcome or, in short, the Promethean and the Thethean Thanatos rather than the Vestal, the kitschy rather than the truly aesthetic. Inherent Fracture Line #4 - Organic vs Decadent. Fascism emphasized rigid social structures, supposedly the ineluctable reflections of biological structures. As opposed to politics and culture, where fascism was revolutionary and utopian, socially fascism was reactionary, regressive and defensive. It was pro-family. One's obligations, functions and rights were the results of one's place in society. But fascism was also male chauvinistic. Ural, adolescent, latently homosexual, the cult of virility, the worship of the military, somewhat pornographic, the adoration of the naked body of nature of the young and misogynistic. In its horror of its own repressed androgynous perversions, the very decadence fascism claimed to be eradicating, fascism employed numerous defense mechanisms, for example reaction formation and projective identification. Fascism was gender dysphoric and personality disorder.
Next point was the battle or the conflict or the tension between elitism and populism.
All fascist movements were founded on the equivalent of the Nazi "fuhrer" prensip, the leader, infallible, indestructible, invincible, omnipotent, omniscient and sacrificial.
The leader was a creative genius who embodied, as well as interpreted, the nation's quiddity and fate.
His privilege is always a man.
He is privileged and an erring axis to the soul of the fascist movement, to history's grand designs and to the moral and aesthetic principles underlying everything.
These abscesses made him indispensable and worthy of blind, automatic adoration and obedience.
And this worship of the leader strongly conflicted with the unmitigated, all-inclusive, all-pervasive and missionary populism of fascism.
Fascism was not egalitarian.
It believed in a fuzzily role-based and class-based system.
Fascism was misogynistic against all people, ageist and often against the other ethnic or racial minorities.
But with these exceptions, fascism embraced one and all and was rather meritocratic when it comes to it.
Admittedly, mobility within the fascist parties was either the result of actual achievements and merit or the outcome of nepotism and cronies.
But still, fascism was far more egalitarian than most other political movements of that period, liberal democracy included or even in the United States.
So there was a conflict there between conservative, caste-based, class-based system, which was essentially elitist, a la Revolt of the Masses, José Ortega y Cazette, on the one hand, and on the other hand, the populist, egalitarian strand of fascism, which advocated for extreme social mobility via accomplishment, obedience, adherence and merit.
The populist strand did not sit well with the over-winning existence of a duche or a fiora.
Tensions erupted now and then, but overall the fiora-princy ultimately held well.
Fascism's undoing cannot be attributed to either of these inherent contradictions.
They made fascism brittle and clunky.
And to understand the downfall of this meteoric late-comer, we must look elsewhere to the 17th and 18th century.
I would like to focus right now on an element of fascism, its exclusionary notion, exclusionary idea of progress.
Communism, fascism, Nazism and religious fundamentalism are as utopian as the classical idea of progress, which is most strongly reified by western science, liberal democracy and the Enlightenment.
All four illiberal ideologies firmly espouse a linear view of history.
And progresses by accumulating knowledge and wealth and by constructing ever-improving polities.
Similarly the classical all-encompassing idea of progress is perceived to be a law of nature with human jurisprudence and institutions as both its manifestations and its ramifications.
So all ideas of progress are pseudoscientific and some of them lead to totalitarianism, some of them lead to enlightenment-type liberal democracies.
The difference is that the illiberal ideologies included massive doses of Renaissance thinking, the cult of personality, the leader, the self-perfection of men and so on and so forth.
Some important distinctions between communism, fascism, Nazism and religious fundamentalism on the one hand and western liberalism on the other hand, all four totalitarian ideologies regard individual tragedies and sacrifices as the inevitable lubricants of the inexorable march forward of the species.
Yet these ideologies redefine humanity, who is human, to exclude large groups of people.
Communism embraces the working class, proletariat, but not the bourgeoisie. Nazism promotes one folk but degrades and annihilates all other ethnicities. Fascism bows to the collective but viciously persecutes and prosecutes dissidents.
Religious fundamentalism posits a chasm between believers and infidels. In these foreign tolerant ideologies the exclusion of certain reviled groups of people, immigrants for example, is both a prerequisite for the operation of the natural law of progress and an integral part of its motion forward.
The moral and spiritual obligation of real men to future generations is to unburden the law, to make it possible for the law to operate smoothly and in optimal conditions, with all hindrances, in other words all undesirables, removed, read in some cases murdered, definitely imprisoned or deported. All four ideologies subvert modernity, in other words progress itself, by using its products, technology to exclude and kill outsiders, all in the name of servicing real humanity and bettering its lot.
But liberal democracy has been intermittently guilty of the same sins. The same deranged logic extends to the construction and maintenance of nuclear weapons by countries like the United States, United Kingdom, France and Israel. They are intended to protect good humanity against bad people, communists in the Cold War, Arabs, Hamas, failed states such as Iran and so on. Even global warming is a symptom of such exclusionary thinking.
The rich feel that they have the right to tax the lesser mortals, the poor, by polluting our common planet and by disproportionately exhausting its resources.
The fact is that at least since the 1920s the very existence of mankind is being recurrently threatened by exclusionary ideas of progress.
Even colonialism which predated modern ideologies was inclusive and sought to improve the natives and to bring them into the white man's level by assimilating or incorporating them in the cultural and society of the colonial power.
This was the celebrated and then the decried white man's burden. That we no longer accept our common fate and the need to collaborate to improve our lot is nothing short of suicide.
And so in this sense Donald Trump unifies Vinesse's ideals, the strong men, the leader, the prince like Machiavelli's prince, the self-perfection and betterment of men, the cyclical idea of progress that in order to progress one needs to resort to the past to adopt its values, its art, its culture.
So it's a cyclical idea of progress not linear like in the Enlightenment.
So he unifies these ideals of the Renaissance which underline Nazism and fascism and communism and a lot of religious fundamentalism. He unifies these ideals with the tools that were invented by the Enlightenment in liberal democracy.
That's precisely why democracies often give rise to populist demagogues and proto-fascists such as Trump.
And yes of course Trump is a fascist.
If you review the list that I've just given you, you will immediately realize he's not a proto-fascist, he's simply a fascist.