Can Fascism Happen Here?

Peter Turchin

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Last week Tyler Cowen published an essay in Politico, No, Fascism Can’t Happen Here. He argues:

My argument is pretty simple: American fascism cannot happen anymore because the American government is so large and unwieldy. It is simply too hard for the fascists, or for that matter other radical groups, to seize control of. No matter who is elected, the fascists cannot control the bureaucracy, they cannot control all the branches of American government, they cannot control the judiciary, they cannot control semi-independent institutions such as the Federal Reserve, and they cannot control what is sometimes called “the deep state.” The net result is they simply can’t control enough of the modern state to steer it in a fascist direction.

I think Tyler is right, but for a wrong reason.

Before I explain, however, I’d like to step away from loaded terms like “fascist”, “Nazi”, etc., which lost most of their meaning and, instead, became an insult to be leveled at your political opponent. Let’s use, instead, the Classical Greek terms for different forms of government, such as those found in Plato or Aristotle. These terms are not perfect, as the meaning of many of them changed across the intervening two millennia, but let’s see how it goes.

Plato thought that there is a regular progression of regimes, starting with the best (Aristocracy) and then passing through increasingly “degenerate” forms of Timocracy, Oligarchy, Democracy, and Tyranny (check out this Wikipedia article for details). Interestingly enough, Plato’s ideal forms map pretty well onto phases of secular cycles that I and others have studied within the framework of structural demographic theory (see Secular Cycles).

A secular cycle starts with an “expansion” phase, during which societies enjoy internal peace and order, population well-being is relatively high, the elites are small in numbers, modest in consumption, and reasonably prosocial in their attitudes. This phase can be compared with Aristocracy (especially in  Aristotle’s definition, when the ruling elites govern to increase public good). The next phase (which we called “stagflation”) is when the well-being of the majority of the population collapses, while elite numbers and wealth continue to grow and their prosociality declines. The corresponding regime in the Ancient Greek scheme would be Oligarchy. Next comes the “crisis” phase with its rebellions, revolutions, and civil wars. The Greek equivalent is Democracy (remember that both Plato and Aristotle used this term in a very different way than us today; for them Democracy was not a good thing). The final phase of the secular cycle is “depression.” This is when we see an alternation of roughly generation-long periods of civil war interspersed with generation-long periods of fragile order, often resulting from regimes established by new leaders, whom one could call “tyrants.”

Both the Greek scheme of regime progression and secular cycle phases are, undoubtedly, highly stylized – one even could think of them as “caricatures” (or “models”). There is a lot of variation among different societies and eras. In fact, my next big project will be to collect detailed data on hundreds of societies sliding into structural-demographic crises (and then emerging from them). It will allow us to much better characterize both the general features of such societal dynamics, and variations on general themes. For now, my argument is based on roughly 20 or so cases studies that cliodynamicists studied in detail, and on my general reading of history.

The famous tyrants in history – think Caesar, Napoleon, Mao – all mobilized broad popular support in their struggle against the “oligarchies,” or the established elites representing pre-revolutionary order (the senatorial class, the Ancien Regime nobility, and “bourgeoisie”). These tyrants were supported by new elites, recruited from the masses of elite aspirants whose quest for elite positions had been frustrated by the established elites.

What I see as key in the rise of “tyrants” is that they always come after a prolonged period of social instability and political violence. Their appeal is, first, based on their promise to restore internal order and to end violence. Their suppression of the old and discredited old-order elites is of secondary importance (and may be absent in certain cases, such as in the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany – of course, this case is also different because political turbulence in Weimar Germany was brought about not by a structural-demographic crisis, but by a catastrophic defeat in an external war).

Returning to the question of whether a tyrant can arise in the United States in the near future, my analysis suggests, most emphatically, “no.” A tyrant-wannabe lacks most elements on which to base his or her power. We haven’t experienced a long civil war (at least, not yet), or a catastrophic defeat in an external war. The established elites, while fragmenting, are still very strong. Here I agree with much of what Tyler says in the paragraph I quoted above. An aspiring tyrant has to deal with the deeply entrenched bureaucracy, the powerful judicial system, and the mighty coercive apparatus of the American state (the FBI, the CIA, the military). Also important is that the frustrated elite aspirants are not organized in any coherent social movements. Tyrants never rule alone, they need an organization stuffed by dedicated cadres (a desirable feature of which is the animosity towards the old-order elites).

In my opinion, the greatest danger for us today (and into the 2020s) is not the rise of a Hitler, but rather a Second American Civil War.

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Jakob

I honestly think that what you and your colleagues are doing is the most important research for mankind ever done

Scott Mauldin

A prototypical Psychohistory, no?

Joost Douma

I agree to your analysis, but the big question for me is what will happen when the next financial meltdown occurs as a result of the rise of the sea level, turning into a real estate crisis of trillions and dwarfing what happened in 2007/8.

ziel

At the current rate of 1/8 inch per year, that problem is still several decades away.

Karl Kling

According to Carlota Perez (economic-historian researcher inspired by Schumpeterian waves of development) it is something along that line that is needed to turn the development around:

https://www.strategy-business.com/article/Are-We-on-the-Verge-of-a-New-Golden-Age?gko=f0fed

“PEREZ: The last time a period of crisis ended, after World War II, there was a concerted effort by many government and business leaders to create a unified, prosperous, long-lasting recovery. The Marshall Plan, the Bretton Woods Agreement, the conversion of wartime industries to peace, and the rebuilding of Europe and Japan all played a role. Unfortunately, today’s leaders haven’t yet taken on the role they played at this point in past surges. Their stepping up last time was a catalyst for ending the crisis.

To get there, perhaps we need to have a crisis that is truly felt as a crisis. That seems to be the self-correction mechanism of capitalism; things need to get so bad that stability gets threatened seriously. Even at the worst part of the financial crisis in 2008, the threats weren’t felt sufficiently strongly by enough decision makers.

But now the people are angry. They are ready to follow demagogues. Leaders around the world should know that they ignore popular unrest at their peril.
[…]
Even now, the decision makers are still waiting. They don’t understand that, as in every previous technological revolution, the public sector has to lead the way back after the major bubble collapses. Only with intelligent government policies providing clear directions for profitability will markets work again. And only with effective policies to restore jobs and incomes will social unrest wane.”

Peter van den Engel

I can see the parallel/ although there are major differences.

First of all, to describe the two major factors for economic discrepancy found in the financial system itself, they are the fact that investing more money in growing economy; which is based on the right of ownership, where bancs use their accumulation principle for/ is contrary to economic system functioning itself, which is based on efficiency: using less money (energy and time), to get to the same result. So you can imagine when the second wave hits, it destroys half of previous invested: lend money, which still depends on ownership.
This mechanism has already been analyzed by Minsky, as a fundamental system failure leading to financial crises/ however instutions have never been able, or wanting to alter the system so far.

The second discrepancy; which is somewhat similar, is that in economy consumption needs are inverted to labor costs.
Since the consumer and laborer are the same person, he finds himself in a type of black hole singularity choice, either being a happy consumer, but a bad worker/ or a good worker and a bad consumer.

Since consumption represents labor cost though; there is no other defenition; this will automaticly inflate labor costs, expelling the economy to low wage cost cultures/ or driving it into automation.
Hence this trend will lead to lower consumption income, which is inevitable and not a matter of employers bad intend.

Both at the same time inverted relationships, as embodied in the financial system lead to their included evolutions, as can be foretold.

The cycles Perez mentions indeed are based on technological invention evolution, whereby each previous level is overlapped by the next one/ each one devided by a financial crisis, as can be explained from the above mentioned money interrelationship.

Because central bancs print new money; compensating for lost ownership; this leads to the next cycle.
Because each cycle involves a broader labor market, since more products are invented/ this compensates for the consumption/ labor cost discrepancy, for the time being, before its economy gets expelled.

The mentioned Marshall plan etc. was a coincidental parity at the time between the nessecary rebuilding of the economy since second worldwar destroyed it/ and the invention of a hole chain of new consumer products, in conjunction with willingness to provide for the money because of wartime familiarity between allies. This time the unintended consequences were benificiary/ but are now refered to as intended government intervention stimulating the economy. The American central banc is a private instution by the way.

The last cycle however is very different from previous ones; it did not start in 1970 by the way, but 1980 for computers and in 1995 for the internet; because this cycle only compensates for inflated labor costs; being consumption income at the same time/ making it more efficiently as an economy/ but expelling human labor.
This causes the social and immigration crises, which are inverted to previous financial crises, because they related to intervened economic growth/ and this time it is intervened consumption growth. There has not been economic growth before/ but expulsion and automation of economy, congruent to a deminishing workforce since baby boomers are going into pension.

It is an ilusion to believe the next wave will involve a lot of new labor jobs: the main theme is automation. However there will be a lot of new jobs/ but it is vital for understanding the next wave no longer belongs to the previous material economy/ but to a knowledge economy, which depends on a very different type of behaviour in the energy/ time swap equation than the previous one. Basicly it is no longer a money economy/ but an open source one, if you like. It will not be a coincidence technology (collective cultural intelligence) has already understood this.

The only way to keep the material economy, the previous level, intact: meaning to repair it, is to decouple consumption from labor, since fewer labor is needed for the same outcome (basic income levels).
It is efficient already/ only the financial system refuses to acknowledge this (apart from nessecary international cultural agreement about the distribution). This would also solve both discrepancies mentioned above, apart fron the fact you no longer need a fiscal system nor insurances.

So, yes it takes governmental collaboration; the market cannot do this; but not in the direct sense of monetary easing: the “easing” has a very different meaning than money creation.
In fact you could look at it as a luxury problem/ although it prevents a lot of social unrest – and it will take a lot if work to get it done. It is a great challenge, involving a lot of things/ but will reap great profits, in metaphorical sense.

alfred loomis

the usa is an elective oligarchy, whose function from the beginning was to act as the agent of wealth. this has proved to be a very durable model, but its longevity is probably a result of the westward expansion into ’empty’ lands, for the most part productive. but the frontier is long closed.
hedges, blyth and others suggest that the consolidation of the control of plutocrats, to wring the last of the good times out [for the elite] of the national production will create civil war, a class war.
i don’t think so. the ‘bubba’ demographic will supply sufficient soldiers to make rebellion brief and fruitless. but gradual decay of state functions is pretty much certain, so long as the national budget is dominated by spending on the military.
‘the decline and fall’ of rome took longer than the usa has been a nation, and the usa will do as well, with states splitting off gradually. california in particular would do well as a nation, and might be able to forge a confederation of revenue positive states that could leave the usa, individually or perhaps en bloc.

’emerging from them’ seems overly optimistic. european union is roughly where the western roman empire was, but it is a very different society, and not yet even certainly established.

and there is the lively question if any society is going to survive the anthropocene extinction event. but that is one of those questions so hard that not many want to deal with it. lucky if we ’emerge’ from that one!

Joost Douma

Betrayalofarepublic.com

nick weech

http://www.freedomactradio.com/2016/07/16/161/
Maybe this is a factor you overlooked Peter. Or again, maybe it’s factored in already

Peter van den Engel

Yes, interesting. The creation of consent was a general tactic to have an unintelligent public understand means, which does not necessarilly imply to mislead them.
Since social media however, which is creating its own group consent, this means of mass media control does not function anymore for politicians, disturbing them and calling it populism.
In terms of aristocracy leading thought, this is a valid argument/ however where the general public is reacting to very often is the result of bad policy created by the same aristocrats, devaluating the argument.
This must lead to living intelligence as a democratic means, which is no longer aristrocatic. In an ideal state.

Michael Popov

I’d like only to remark that Plato’s ideal was Aristocracy or Power of the Best ( Republic,book8,546abcd).Plato made attempt to calculate an evolution of the political forms used his theory of the periodic perfect numbers. Later, Renaissance writer Ficino published book on ” Plato’s number ” which produced a vast literature. In 1999 I published reconstruction of Plato’s perfect periodicity in professional mathematical journal Bull des Sci Math (1999,123,29-31 “On Plato periodic perfect numbers”.).Today my result is presented in some Number theory textbooks. Thus, following Plato, All Corrupted political forms including Democracy, sooner or later , must led to Aristocracy

Antoine

I had a look at the paper. I don’t know how it got published, but it is absolute nonsense (even without understanding the math, you can see that the sentences are not even grammatically correct). Maybe it’s supposed to be some kind of hoax?

Dennis Smithson

You can’t demand great English from a non-native speaker, that’s not fair or sensible. Some can deliver that, but most can’t and that does not preclude them from contributing. The math is the important part, and by your own admission you didn’t understand it. So your harshness is still waiting to be justified, if that is possible.

Antoine

Hi Dennis,

I entirely agree with the fact that great English is nor necessary nor sufficient to guarantee a good scientific content (I’m myself a non-native speaker, so I can only concur). However it is the role of the referee and the editor of the journal to take care of these aspects, so you can expect good English from a published article. That was the meaning of my remark.

Now for the content, I consider myself able to understand it if there was something to understand (I’m mathematician myself). And I can almost certify that there is nothing to learn from this paper (there is not even an assertion of a theorem, let alone a proof or a justification, as far as I can tell). This, combined with the poor English grammar, made me suspect a hoax.

A fortiori, of course, there is no relation with the matter discussed here. The point of my comment was precisely to use my knowledge of math to make this point, so that fewer people lose their time investigating the “paper”.

Peter van den Engel

In my perspective there are three probabillity levels, meaning both of you are wrong and partially right.

First of all, defining why there has always been intra elite fighting, involving the masses as well, in human cultural evolution; that is, after hunter gatherer culture, simply because no city states let alone nation states had evolved yet; based on my energy/time natural physics model, the explanation of it is that after agricultural evolution human economy split into two convergent but inverted evolution types.

The original human economy; that is using energy efficiently in time; has intelligence as main distribution: concsiousness, awareness of reality being able to articulate the truth/ and his material economy; which changed dramaticly in agriculture, is based on the distribution of posession and money.

Its natural physics foretell capitalist money posession, designing labor for the whole group/ but leading to social inequality, which is contrary to its familiar social understanding in the underlying original model of his economy: time energy equation.
This creates two contrary evolutions, one from intelligent into dumb/ and one from dumb into intelligent. On the crossroads a revolution must take place to reorganize perception and reality. The material elites lose their previous rights, as happened under Napoleon and Mao. The result is some kind of democratizing of rights: money posessions, entitlement.

Notice all revolutions happened were money related. The French revolution was a fiscal crisis, the German nazi movement happened because of bancrupcy, due to war debt after the first one. It depended not just on losing that war. The roman empire fell due to lack of financing and improductive military spending in combination with civil wars, although they were not civil, since the tribes belonged to different cultures.

The current US state is very similar to that. Improductive military eating at least 40% of bnp/ and deminishing foreign enthousiasm to finance state debt. The most likely scenario would be a falling dollar leading to a financial and social crisis.
The result of that however is not sure yet. It could very well lead to a national identity (nazi) current, led by guess who. The installed fractions like deep state (which frankly failed), Fed and judiciary don’t mean anything anymore. The misperception is they did create a resilience in society preventing individual presidental desires/ but will not withstand a mass social event. Germany had similar fractions before the national social movement overwhelmed them.
So, in that case you are both wrong.

Where this would lead to (WWIII?) however is not certain. It looks too much like a caricature. There might be a movement more like a civil war; athough not involving arms; leading to reorganizing the current elite positions, involving money posessions, entitlements, like in the French revolution.
This would also be parallel to the prediction the energy/ time natural physics model makes, meaning this is the last wave of material economy being inverted to the intelligence model of economy, since its previous sum is no longer efficient. It has become unnecessary. So it depends on the intelligence level understanding this.

Bruce Lepper

There are two major current vulnerability items to be added to any historical analysis.

First is the internet, which enables as never before the gathering and organization of mass movements. Early examples of this were the “Arab Spring” and the “Islamic State”. Any offensive movement will have greatly enhanced communication capacities. This is particularly problematic in a state where many citizens are armed.

Second is climate change, as already mentioned. Social antagonism will mount as pressure is raised to install effective measures to reduce co2 emissions. People in the USA and Europe are buying bigger, more polluting cars and flying more despite years of information and warnings disseminated by 90% of the world’s climate specialists. Only harsh legislation will change things. Populations will initially obey, but hidden tensions can rapidly come to the surface and explode.

Add to these factors the international inability to control debt and you have what looks more and more like a time bomb. That tyrant may be turning up sooner than we think!

Peter van den Engel

This represents a mixture of different arguments. I believe the underlying general public argument is that of economic system disagreement, social inequality and lack of entitlement. It calls for a system change. Which would be proven by any kind of crisis not controled by the political elite. A financial crisis would be the ultimate proof.

Climate change is another issue. The problem most politicians have with it, is they cannot control it – and nor the economy nor public seams ro respond to it. Normally the invisible hand of the economy should take care of that. So, why is it not responding?
There is a very simple technical reason for that: solar and wind, electric cars do not embody that much human labor (apart from being unreliable) and therefore are no money machines involving the necessary income.
Legislation does not help that/ the only solution is a better efficient financial system, which is actually causing almost all of the current problems.

J. Daniel

It is good that Peter Turchin is bringing some real research to bear on the question of whether fascism can come to America. In the meantime, however, we are treading dangerously close to the realm of speculative fiction, so predictions that a path to fascism in America is implausible are interesting but poorly supported.
In contrast to such predictions, I propose a scenario for how fascism *could* happen here. I support this scenario using a body of work known as “Structural Demographic Theory.” Some readers may have heard the term. The scenario goes as follows.
SDT holds that revolutionary social change such as fascism only occurs when the elite are fragmented and the fragments are struggling among themselves. One natural such fragment is composed of those in government who are influential, who have social power, who are, in the parlance of SDT, elite. This fragment includes judges, legislators, high level executives, high military ranks, and bosses in the intelligence and secretive police apparatuses. This fragment, if it felt threatened by an elective revolt against their interests spearheaded by another elite fragment (say, religious leaders, business leaders, or state government leaders), would be uniquely equipped to stop it by suspending habeas corpus, enacting martial law, forming ad hoc militias and pardoning their members (“license to kill”), and install the dictator of their choice.
This outcome is of course not inevitable. However, SDT shows that it is plausible.

Peter van den Engel

This actually is already happening, since the previous government Obama and Clinton were representatives of cia interests: foreign policy/ and Trump I believe is backed by the fbi. Internal issues.
It’s the difference between military interests; also financially (debt related)/ and internal social inequallty, asking for political solutions.
Of course at the same time the issues are not completely separated, but there are core differences.
It is not so much that like in conspiracy theory, there happen to be two elites struggling for power by chance/ but two inverted evolutions happening at the same time influencing two elites and two masses.
There is an at the same time connection between military interests, not being productive in an economic sence of earning money/ and higher inequallity in wealth and entitlement: social inequallity in society, which; although the relation seems coincidental, does not agree with the current state anymore.
The inverted relation to that is stronger economic regions want to separate, which on its turn again is anti social.
It represents a classic conflict between mllitary and trade interests as can be found in human history all over the place when revolutions are concerned.

Richard

Trump is definitely not backed by the FBI.

Peter van den Engel

Saw a television interview with an fbi man before the elections, stating ‘they’ backed Trump. Cannot say how much liberty individual employees have to make such statements, or if it was just a local fraction.

Joseph

If Trump were to have any backers within the un-elected bureaucracy (which is what “Deep State” is just a dysphemism for), it would be within the DoD. Trump’s cabinet is full of military men, and Trump’s current head of the NSA, Michael Rogers, was the first to warn Trump of surveillance against him.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/pentagon-and-intelligence-community-chiefs-have-urged-obama-to-remove-the-head-of-the-nsa/2016/11/19/44de6ea6-adff-11e6-977a-1030f822fc35_story.html

J. Daniel

Suppose someone hostile to the deep state was elected president, promising to do things that were deeply threatening to the members of the deep state. Suppose that individual was effective enough to seriously worry those members. Such a person could be effective in part due to support from other elite fragment(s). Wouldn’t that lead to a risk of a military-led coup or something like that? It may seem remote as a possibility here in the US, but it happens in other countries with depressing frequency. I don’t see why it couldn’t happen here, too, especially if the judiciary and legislature supported it.

Vineyard

Looking back at the Old Ancient Constitutional Cyle is interesting. But of course, as Dr. Truchi nsaid, the definition of the old philosophers was different than our modern ones.

If found an article on this by historian and direct democracy activist Roslyn Fuller from two years ago, that imo. is very readable.

https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/democracy-too-much-of-a-good-thing/

And @Civil War:

Some people actually suggest that we might be already in it. I heard the term “Cold Civil War” in some articles and blogs more and more often…

Loren Petrich

The Greco-Roman historian Polybius proposed a cycle similar to Plato, something he called “anacyclosis”:

It starts with good single rulers (monarchy) and their successors become bad ones (tyranny). One of them gets overthrown by society’s elite and the resulting elite government is initially good (aristocracy), but it turns bad (oligarchy). It gets overthrown by the common people, and the resulting common-people government is also initially good (democracy), but it turns bad (ochlocracy or mob rule). Some demagogue promises to fix society’s problems, resulting in a single ruler again.

Aristotle uses this classification, but for common-people rule, he uses “polity” (politeia) for good rule and “democracy” for bad rule. His term “politeia” was translated by Cicero as “res publica” (public thing, republic), and Plato’s Republic is also called “Politeia” in the original Greek.

Vineyard

Yeah, and as Miss Fuller has written in her article, ironicly Politeia/res publica aka the “Ideal Mixed Rule State” actually had exactly the problems the old philosophers critizised Democracy.

(While Athean Democracy apparently never had these problems in the first place. Plato and Co. just didn’t like “common people” paritcipating in politics.)

Augusto Dalla Ragione

Good morning sir.
I’m writing from my country Italy, where we voted just a few days ago to renew the composition of the parliament (Chamber of Deputies and Senate). In the strongly heated debate before the elections, which saw right-wing coalition (made up of three parties) and the catch-all party Five Star Movement gaining almost 70% of all votes, there have been a lot of tensions and some political violence (a neo-fascist extremist shot some Nigerian asylum seekers in Macerata, after an Italian 18 year old girl was cut into pieces by a Nigerian in the same town a few days before; a right-wing activist has been tied and beaten in Palermo by left-wing extremists, and so on).

With such an inflamed political atmosphere, there has been a lot of talk – from the main newspapers and the left-leaning public discourse – about a hypothetical second rise of fascism, a “black wave” resurging to power. Italy has been the laboratory of fascism, 90 years ago, so the discourse about fascism it’s something that goes deep inside Italian republican history – and it’s a problem Italy never really faced or historicized, because anti-fascism is a value embedded in the republican constitution, working as a substitute for a national pride that is not possible anymore, given the original sin of fascism.

As the elections became closer, I found myself questioning about the possibility of a real resurgence of fascism in Italy – not as a populist party with vague nationalist claims winning the elections, but as a systemic change from democracy to an authoritarian and nationalist form of government just as in the 20’s.

I admit I still don’t have a broad knowledge of cliodynamics and the SDT you mentioned in earlier articles (by the way, I bought “Revolution and Rebellion in the Early Modern World” after reading your articles!), but having read some Jack Goldstone’s papers and the theories of the German sociologist Gunnar Heinsohn, I looked at historical and present demographic data on Italy, coming to the conclusion that the structural conditions of 20’s Italy and nowadays Italy are way too different to predict some sort of violent or abrupt systemic change – in fact, the conditions are opposite.
Heinsohn posits that the rise of fascism and nazism in Italy and Germany (as well as XVI century European colonialism) could be due to a youth bulge in these countries’ populations: this is interesting, especially considering the fact that both Italy and Germany started their demographic transition in 1876 (source: Massimo Livi Bacci, “A Concise History of World Population”).

If we look at the 1921 Italian census (compiled just 1 year before the fascist March on Rome and the seizure of the government by Mussolini), we see that the median age in Italy lied somewhere between 23 and 25 years, while present Italian median age is 45.5 years (according to CIA World Factbook more recent estimates). Coincidentally, Lybian median age in 2011 appears to have been 25.8 (data from the website Statista), and the vital role of youth bulge in the Arab Spring has been studied (for example by Pasoneen & Urdal, “Youth Bulges, Exclusion and Instability: The Role of Youth in the Arab Spring”).

I understand that there could be a lot of variables working together, but do you think that a young demography could be a necessary-but-not-sufficient condition for violent change? Can a democratic nation become a dictatorship when half of the population is over 45 years old, and likely not willing to go to the streets to fight?
I see a lot more similarities between the structural conditions of 1921’s Italy and 2011’s Northern African countries than between 1921’s Italy and present Italy. Both countries had large and frustrated youth cohorts willing to forcibly change the institutional order if they felt it wasn’t working for them; their difference was probably more on the ideological basis than on the social one, with 1921’s Italy changing from a parliamentary system to a dictatorship, and 2011’s North Africa trying to change from dictatorship/authoritarianism to democracy.

I feel that the nowadays Italian discourse about the rise of fascism could be not quite true or misleading: it’s true that Italy is strongly moving to the right-wing due to the migration problem, but the newspapers (both internal and international – like Rula Jebreal’s The Guardian article “Italy is being driven into the arms of fascists”) picturing a country dominated again by fascist is more of a journalist bubble than a reality, when it comes to factual comparison. With the current problems, I personally think that Italy is surely risking a surge in political and sectarian violence in the coming years, with hundreds of thousands of migrants coming to Sicily’s shores annually for the next 5-10-20 years, but the response should be analytical, and not giving an inch to anti-historical comparisons.
What is your stance on this matter?

Peter van den Engel

If you allow me to comment on your very well written definition of evolutionary changes involving peoples politics in relation to fascism in general and in the history of Italy.

In general I believe demographic statistics, since they address single features only cannot explain the whole evolution, because there are at the same time differentials consisting of at least four elements.
The most important in the middle usually is the economic state. Overlap that with identity (politics always involves psychology) and its past and future outlook.
It creates a dynamic model, you can envision as a simulation.
Doing this you realise the age of 20 means it will sooner react instinctively, physicly active and less intelligent, less verbal. (intelligence levels, levels of literacy however do not per se exclude other age groups, because a whole culture has its own specific level, influencing its type of political evolution)
This only describes the type of reaction/ not why.

When you impose the political past concerning Italy and Germany, it is easy to conclude both countries were only recently constructed from regional states and city states, so the amount of nationalist sentiment was high at the time/ while there was also an economic depression going on in the whole western world, threatening their future. Therefore these countries reacted differently, especially Germany with its wardebt doubling the economic crises.

When it comes to future an identity needs a believe system. In the case of race group identity this becomes exclusive; like “ubermensch” and could even lead to genocide. This is a kind of mechanism for survival (probably the newly found evolution theory of Darwin also had its impact on consciousness at the time)/ but is at the same time considered to be anti social by the overlapping whole group. Because you don’t extinct your own race.
You can understand it depends very much on where awareness defines the boarders of its family group.

This also leads to the clarification of fascism in Italy, because Italy did not have a wardebt/ but nevertheless led to a similar policy. This was caused by its identity, which is defined as a strong family awareness (like also in maffia).

After the second worldwar general concsiousness remembers the racial elements of nazism and fascism/ but forgets about the underlying causes. It defines an effect as a cause/ and thereby creates a speech disorder. It cannot explain itself anymore.

Hence similar looking events, this time created by an overload of immigrants, are explained as the same type of policy character/ although they are very different. You might call it a journalist bubble, or in other words a speech disorder this time spread by mass media, behaving like amature psychologists and misinforming general public.

Of course there is a parallel in racial reaction/ but at the time in the twenties fascism was an identity definition creating itself out of economic depression, while this time it is imposed on it by the inflow if immigrants. The defenition is it wants to survive its culture, or economic state/ in stead of getting there. It is the inverted reaction.

Another difference between the two eras is the type of communication available and its polical structure available. At the time there were no social media and the political structure led to a single elite elected, later called a dictator, because the reaction was non negotiable. By its structure.

Nowadays the same process evolves very differently because of social media, creating a negotiable dynamic (called direct democracy) threatening convential politics, who call it populism in reaction. However it does not lead to dictatorship. Because the same type of racial conflict is involved though, it is perceived as potentially dictatorial, depending on its literacy level. Which is now a social evolution, reinventing itself. Finding its identity.

Two other aspects which are interesting is the observed difference of political evolution between the US and Italy. The common denominator is immigrants/ but in the US this is linked to again a single leader, sometines uttering clumsy racial
remarks, suggesting a type of potential fascism, caused by its bipartisan political system.
While the evolution in Italy is a mass movement expressing itself through direct democracy.
Paradoxly the familiar identity in Italy is stronger than the fact American culture invented social media, because its political structure is less democratic, leading to a nonnegotiable outcome!

The other paradox is the discussion about American legislation (deep state, shadow state) preventing the evolution of fascism (defining it as a racial identity, which is as explained now in the inverted stage, so has nothing to do with historic fascism)/ while it is causing it! Preventing direct democracy.

So, my conclusion is that Italy is a frontrunner in the new evolving type of democracy/ and as far as racial elements are concerned, they relate to a depressed economic state again (social inequallity, the inabillity to react to climate change and most of all the financial system leading to debt and unemployment, which is inherent to its overlooked dynamic structure, which by the way is not unavoidable) and expresses the inabillity of elites to come up with a solution.

Immigrants are like the racial element of fascism in the second worldwar, not the cause but an effect. An identity crisis basicly, but needs to be understood by legislation and economic dynamics. Reinventing them.

All in all very interesting times we live in.
I am perceiving it as a great opportunity/ more than a problem, athough the only way it can express itself is by creating a problem first.

Alan P

Historically, Fascism and other similar movements break out when a country is in quite severe economic stress that has hit a large % of the population to the extent that they think none of teh current elites have a solution.

Arguablty (looking at all the elections since c 2016) we are getting there in much of the OECD

Initially Fascismet al come cloaked with a useful message (Get the people into work, make the trains run on time etc) – this lets them acquire power collaboratively until they have enough, and then some form of power grab happen and the underlying ideology is pushed to the fore.

Uniquely, the US system is so distrustful of humans and so formally structured that it has set up so many barriers that those last 2 phases are very hard to do. I think we are going to get Fascism in some of the EU before the US as constitutions are far vaguer, more power is vested in the rulers and their cliques, and there are fewer checks on them

Joost Douma

I think that the greatest threat for the US is the increasing privatization of the public domain, eroding all the checks and balances, much needed when the next financial crisis will hit the country on top of the rise of income inequality. There was a direct link between the more democratic elements in ancient Greece and Rome and the army. The comitia centuriata was originally a gathering of the army and earlier on the shift from the cavalry to the infantry spurred the rise of democracy in Greece. In the last century of the Roman Republic armies had become private tools for members of the ruling class to enrich themselves, replacing the farmer-soldiers with mercenaries and proletarian volunteers (see: http://www.betrayalofarepublic.com). The abolishment of the draft in all western countries and the outsourcing to modern-days mercenaries resemble the same dangerous tendencies as well as for example the privatization of the prison system in the midst of the racist war on drugs. Not all the money that goes to the army in the US is unproductive. In spite of the myth of the great American entrepreneurial spirit, most innovations were a result of state funded, military expenditure, stimulating further privatization, since, as we all know, entrepreneurs like to privatize profits but prefer to socialize losses and risks.

Joost Douma

At the risk of being an alarmist, the number of AR-15 rifles in the US outnumbers the members of national guard more than 23 times. That roughly equals the ratio between the SA and the regular army in Germany in the early thirties.

Richard

AR-15’s are puny weapons against airstrikes or drone strikes or even tanks or even armored vehicles.

Whoever controls the military wins, unless there is foreign intervention.

Vladimir Dinets

And yet the rebels in Syria almost won the war against well-armed Asad’s regime; it was a foreign intervention that prevented them from winning.

Richard

Constitutional crisis leading to civil war is the fear.

Loren Petrich

Looking at the present-day Democratic and Republican strongholds, it looks like the US is splitting up on the same lines that it did in the Civil War, but with the Republican Party now being the party of Jefferson Davis.

This raises the question of why the North did not allow the South to secede back then. I’ve seen the theory that such unilateral action would have made a mockery of having a nation. Southern-state politicians did not even bother to propose secession in Congress. I have another theory, and that is fear that a divided US would be too weak against European colonial powers, notably Britain.

A favorite subject of alternate-history speculation is what if the South had won. I doubt that it would have had a military victory, because that would have been too difficult. A more likely scenario IMO is the South lasting long enough for the North to lose interest in fighting. Something like the US’s defeat in Vietnam and the Soviet Union’s defeat in Afghanistan.

Edward Turner

Nobody cares about fascism anymore outside the amazingly ill-informed liberal drama bubble that is getting less and less informed by the month as they reject more and more factual knowledge.

Fascism is an overused word, a cliched term of abuse for a political group who are remarkably similar to socialists.

Liberals use the word because they don’t want to be accused of being fascist not because the libertarian, US Constitution Restorationists and white nationalists (who aren’t national SOCIALISTS, or even national) are fascist.

Outside the world where people just hurl abuse to impress rich benefactors, words have meanings and definitions.

I agree that US is in no danger of fascism but I think the threat of Civil War is overstated at least in the sense of people shooting guns and ethnic cleansing for territory.

States with formal constitutions are not changed overnight and it’s far easier to go along with the status quo – the Constitution – than it is to obliterate it.

If there is a Civil War already underway it is in terms of increasing, unreconciled political division, but this is mostly due to the education system producing liberals and a media not being able to come to terms with anything approaching a fact, like the fact of the US Constitution and voting for political leaders. Voting is something that the globalists and the lunatic liberals do not like because they consider it enables populism.

That the left reject everything makes them unreasonable. This is why they lack organization, brains, good leaders and the ability to finance political campaigns, beyond parachute payments from George Soros and his ilk. It’s just mass stupidity. Trump could have run for the Democrats with his social views but didn’t because there is no mojo there.

It’s only a matter of time before a ‘reasonable’ liberal left deserts the lunatics who serve the interest of the globalist elites, supports the Constitution and provides an opposition worth voting for that embraces factual solutions to problems.

A hot gun Civil War will be averted but it’s possible California could leave the Union, and then Hawaii, before it’s over. There’s an East Coast vs West Coast aspect to the power struggle that will only get more pronounced as China gets more influential. The demise of Hollywood shows that California can never dominate the Union.

Loren Petrich

I tried to interpret this post, but most of it seems like content-free gibberish. Who are the “globalists” and why are they such big villains? Why is George Soros such a big villain?

Edward Turner

A common term like ‘globalist’ that is used by Donald Trump should not be news to you.

Globalists seek to fight wars against nationalists – most recently behind the ones against Gadaffi in Libya and Assad in Syria – with the ultimate goal to increase the power of unaccountable global government structures to which local decision-making for the best of local people is anathema. In return for invading the world they promote completely open borders to invite en mass the poorer world they do much to destroy to live in the richer world, the consequences of which destroys the latter too. George Soros is an example of a globalist who uses his money for political purposes such as for the break down of borders. Angela Mekel, the German Chancellor who let in the economic volkswanderung is a globalist.

Dennis Smithson

Troll

Edward Turner

The fact you don’t address a single point I made and call me a ‘troll’ is because to do so would turn me into a thinking person worthy of a debate.

That is not allowed.

This is why liberals lose.

You cannot disrespect your opponents and expect respect in return.

R. N. England

Neither liberals nor conservatives have any hope of solving America’s problems. They are just loose factions of careerists in a dying culture in which the fatal mutation of individualism has finally prevailed. Individualism is non-culture. It is annihilation in the original sense.

50 years ago in an address to the Australian parliament in the presence of a glowering Lyndon Johnson, the then leader of the opposition, Arthur Calwell said that after a lifetime’s interest in American history, he had concluded that the Republican and Democratic parties were like two bottles with different labels, but both empty.

One may well ask, what has been holding the place together, then, that is finally losing its grip? The answer is probably Christianity. It has probably held the rest of the capitalist world together too. It is in the nature of cultures that do not understand themselves, that their existence has been a matter of luck, and that sooner or later their luck will run out. B. F. Skinner spent the latter half of his life trying to give his culture the effective intellectual tools for understanding itself and providing for its own survival, but it rejected them.

Dennis Smithson

“You cannot disrespect your opponents and expect respect in return.”
Your comment is itself disrespectful, the most disrespectful comment of all of them.

johne

Edward, some of us are trying to figure out what your argument is.

“Fascism is an overused word,” simply restates the opening of Dr. Turchin´s post.

“States with formal constitutions are not changed overnight,” is a debatable proposition. It´s not clear what actual interval of time “overnight” means here, but the fact is, states of any variety rarely change rapidly, and an increasingly conservative US Supreme Court that shows less and less deference to even recent precedent might demonstrate that there´s more than one way to read a constitution. There is a Continental European idea that constitutions should be changed regularly to reflect societal and technological change, and in South America, constituent assemblies that do so are not rare.

Anyway, your assertion fits oddly with the idea that “it’s possible California could leave the Union,” (even with a moribund Hollywood), secession which I believe would challenge even most conservative readings of the US Constitution, and certainly produce an overnight change as soon as the customs and immigration gates came down.

You attribute any hypothetical civil war (or “unreconciled political division”), “mostly,” to an “education system producing liberals,” abetted by media that ignore facts (or “anything approaching a fact,” which latter would be acceptable?). So do you postulate some sort of liberal uprising or movement, instead of fascism? However, unlike the post, you don´t specify what form that would take. Dr. Turchin lays out what he believes are the important elements of fascism or its equivalent. What would your new, liberal order be based on? Would it involve a “tyrant,” or would it instead be embraced by the established elites? If the latter, what would be the implications for the structural-demographic cycle? What would be the type specimen? Sweden? France? Canada? At what point in their history?

I might address your assertions about American education, media, political support, voting rights and so on, but they seem off-topic, as is the new definition of “globalist,” however interesting. Your point that political constitutions affect political development is relevant, but that is the only argument that seems germane to the post.

But beyond your arguments Edward, that you would state your opponents are an, “…amazingly ill-informed liberal drama bubble;” “…less and less informed by the month;” …reject more and more factual knowledge…” [and] “Voting… something that the globalists and the lunatic liberals do not like….” “That the left reject everything makes them unreasonable” “…they lack organization, brains, good leaders and the ability to finance political campaigns…;” “…just mass stupidity,” makes you a troll, no matter how good or bad your arguments. They can be restated in a respectful fashion, and would gain force if they were.

Edward Turner

//Edward, some of us are trying to figure out what your argument is//

Glad you are challenged. Anything wrong with that?

//“Fascism is an overused word,” simply restates the opening of Dr. Turchin´s post.//

The word ‘Fascism’ only has any meaning today if you change its definition from what the people who use the word frequently would like to imply it means. They use the word for rhetorical affect not for meaning. When they ever get into arguments over its meaning they lose on definition. US is not fascist government, not under Trump, not under any US President so far. If you want to change the word’s meaning, I can change it too and call you and the car you drive use fascist.

//“States with formal constitutions are not changed overnight,” is a debatable proposition. It´s not clear what actual interval of time “overnight” means here, but the fact is, states of any variety rarely change rapidly, and an increasingly conservative US Supreme Court that shows less and less deference to even recent precedent might demonstrate that there´s more than one way to read a constitution. //

The Constitution of the United States is not changing rapidly. It has been ignored due to endemic corruption but that’s an indication of its strength, not even these bad people have been able to change it. All that requires for its maintenance is the cooperation of a significant proportion of the population who believe in it. With some of the Democrats that cooperation is lacking. It’s not lacking with many other Democrats and Republicans. The Constitution is a recipe for action. The algorithm is executed by the people. If you are against the Constitution, if you are forming groups to overthrow it, the algorithm will swing into action against you and crush you. The status quo is hugely favoured against petty revolutionaries.

//There is a Continental European idea that constitutions should be changed regularly to reflect societal and technological change, and in South America, constituent assemblies that do so are not rare.//

Since when did any country in South America offer a positive role model for any other country in terms of economic and social development? No need to bring them up if you want the best. A more challenging comparison would be South Korea or Japan.

In Europe there is no official Constitution. The people of European states voted against the European Constitution – no votes in France, Ireland, Netherlands etc. – so the EU had to instead get the same provisions they wanted passed in a Treaty document (The Lisbon Treaty) which did not require giving the public a direct say. It had everything in the Constitution minus some symbolic things like the official national anthem and flag. The idea only exists in academia and among socialist technocrats who want to plan everything; although in the EU this actually means garbage elites taking the credit and staggering amounts of money for planning everything, when all they’re doing is rubber-stamping laws designed at the UN and multi-lateral governmental-level.

//Anyway, your assertion fits oddly with the idea that “it’s possible California could leave the Union,” (even with a moribund Hollywood), secession which I believe would challenge even most conservative readings of the US Constitution, and certainly produce an overnight change as soon as the customs and immigration gates came down.//

The point of a Californian secession would be to enable Californians to discard the US Constitution and the rest of the Union would be able to keep it unmolested.

//You attribute any hypothetical civil war (or “unreconciled political division”), “mostly,” to an “education system producing liberals,” abetted by media that ignore facts (or “anything approaching a fact,” which latter would be acceptable?). So do you postulate some sort of liberal uprising or movement, instead of fascism? However, unlike the post, you don´t specify what form that would take.//

I’m really describing what we have now. The end result of this, I believe, will be a lot of legal battles, which will gradually take down the corrupt liberal power bases. They will still want power though and it will be much easier to settle for a grab at California, or part of it, than the whole union.

//Dr. Turchin lays out what he believes are the important elements of fascism or its equivalent. What would your new, liberal order be based on? Would it involve a “tyrant,” or would it instead be embraced by the established elites? If the latter, what would be the implications for the structural-demographic cycle? What would be the type specimen? Sweden? France? Canada? At what point in their history?//

Liberals plan and scheme because they think the world can be precisely fixed. This is dangerous fundamentalism and, if you look at history, it’s fundamentally stupid to think you can fix anything. The best systems, most stable systems, have a lot of slack. Earthquake proof walls are full of stones of irregular shapes. There is no recipe at any given time or place – but there is always something more preferable than something else at any given time or place.

//I might address your assertions about American education, media, political support, voting rights and so on, but they seem off-topic, as is the new definition of “globalist,” however interesting. Your point that political constitutions affect political development is relevant, but that is the only argument that seems germane to the post.//

It’s not a new definition of ‘globalist’. No sure where you are coming from here and you don’t offer another definition. Globalists hate nations and the people in them who have an affinity for them.

//But beyond your arguments Edward, that you would state your opponents are an, “…amazingly ill-informed liberal drama bubble;” “…less and less informed by the month;” …reject more and more factual knowledge…” [and] “Voting… something that the globalists and the lunatic liberals do not like….” “That the left reject everything makes them unreasonable” “…they lack organization, brains, good leaders and the ability to finance political campaigns…;” “…just mass stupidity,” makes you a troll, no matter how good or bad your arguments. They can be restated in a respectful fashion, and would gain force if they were.//

The last thing I want to do is pander to people who are getting everything wrong and take the advice of these people. Come back with something more interesting to say and earn my respect.

Dennis Smithson

“it’s fundamentally stupid to think you can fix anything”

Say what? I’m here to learn. You’re here to rehearse. Why would I want to help an extremist who says nutty things like you to rehearse?

Edward Turner

You need to check your rhetoric. You’re sounding like one of those very unreasonable liberals.

Yes, I’m so ‘extreme’ I’m suggesting we should change absolutely nothing at all… Stay calm, do nothing. That would be a revolution wouldn’t it? Comrades unite! Let’s not change anything, we should get on with our own lives and leave everyone in peace. Who’s with me?!

Michael

Peter,
RESULT
In the context of current epigenetics “revolution”, Plato, probably, tried to formulate some “epigenetic law” for political evolution.
Indeed,
1. Ancient Greeks knew on incredible ability of nymphs Magicacada sepden (periodic cicades) to merge by the millions within a matter of hour and to disappear shortly after having spent 17 ( prime number) of silence underground.
2.We may assume that Plato made similar observation – after a long period of time (Plato’s perfect number) certain epigenetic event and new people might emerge in human history.
3.In order to describe his conjecture, Plato used pre-Euclidean perfect numbers ( predicted by Euler and Ramanujan).
4.Following Euler theorem I established such perfect numbers. Hence, I calculated 3 perfect periodic numbers, associated with ” the 3 points and 4 intervals ” in Republic,8,546 :
496
33550336
26584599156983117446546926159553842176
( hence, I received a simple ( and beautiful) proof of nonexistence of odd perfect numbers, I also had found a gap between 3d and 4th periodic perfect numbers and developed a new way in search of Mersenne primes).
5. Thus, there is something rational as well as scientific in Plato’s conjecture. I think some aspect of conjecture could be tested even today in the Lab working with epigenetics and circadian rhythms now.

Forecaster

Hello Professor Turchin,

My thanks for the wonderful work you have been doing, which has greatly enhanced both our ability to understand past events and to predict future trends. Broadly, I agree with your conclusion that the United States will soon undergo a disintegrative crisis, and your reasons for making this prediction. However, I would like to suggest that there are some indicators that a second civil war might not exactly be where things are headed.

First, however, to reinforce your overall view, a number of economic indicators point to a massive financial crisis in the near future (as in this year or the next). These include unprecedented levels of indebtedness among both the private and public sectors, the price to earnings ratio of the stock market, and the fact that there has been a stock market crash at approximately the end of every decade since the 1980s (Black Friday, the dot com bubble, and the housing bubble). Basically, although there are a few sectors which are doing relatively well, such as agriculture and energy, the US economy as a whole is a gigantic bubble constructed on an untenable foundation of unpayable debt and artificially low interest rates. When it bursts, I do not believe that the government will be able to contain it, even temporarily, the way it did the 2008 crisis, because it will be attempting to patch a hole much bigger than the one back then from a much worse fiscal position.

The result will be a depression far exceeding the Great Recession and perhaps even the Great Depression. Much of the discontent which you observe to be unorganized at present will then intensify and crystallize. In addition, I expect the power of the governmental apparatus to weaken somewhat as a result of insolvency. Of course, it is possible for competent management to steer a course through a crisis, but this will almost certainly not be the case here given the extent of factionalization the federal government has already undergone. Instead, in-fighting will probably intensify as there will be so much less to divide.

Since the middle of the 1900s, there has been a general trend towards the breakup of large empires without subsequent reformation. The most notable have been the British, French, and Soviet Russian blocs. The EU will also soon probably join them. The Soviet example is particularly relevant, as the SU, like the US today, had not been defeated in a major war and seemed quite stable. But instead of undergoing a civil war, it simply collapsed relatively smoothly, to be replaced by successor states.

Additionally, there is the presence of nuclear weapons (which there also was in the Soviet case of course). Now, once sides are formed prior to a potential civil war, there are two possible situations with regard to the bomb. The first is that one side has a monopoly. The second is that more than one does. I regard the first as unlikely, because the US nuclear arsenal is not confined to one state or region, and because of the Soviet precedent. If there is no monopoly, it is hard to see how the principle of Mutually Assured Destruction would not apply.

The upshot is that in my view a disintegration without large-scale internecine armed conflict is more likely than a second civil war. But I would love to hear your thoughts on this!

[…] of state decay, demotic chaos and long-term political cycles, Peter Turchin has written a brief-but-interesting response to Tyler Cowen’s recent “No, Fascism Can’t Happen Here”. He ultimately reaches the same […]

KD

There is a fundamental problem in defining “fascism”. If Daley’s Chicago, a one-party political machine, can be called fascist, then we may be lurching toward fascism. The tendency of post-colonial societies has been to fragment on ethnic lines and then pursue political power as a means of delivering ethnic spoils to one’s own group. This is also characteristic of urban politics in America, where voting is based on ethnic identity over ideology.

It is quite conceivable if recent trends persist, that the American electorate will polarize on racial and ethnic grounds, and whatever side ends up with a majority, they will be a generational majority at least. America will then be run like a one-party urban machine. If the victorious side is the GOP, then I suspect it will take on characteristics that progressives will regard as “fascist”. If the victorious side is the Democrats, I suspect it will take on characteristics that conservatives will associate with national liberation movements in the Developing World.

Joost Douma

I agree. Further polarization on racial and ethnic grounds is quite conceivable, turning this cold civil war into a hot one. Globalization and automization have destroyed many jobs, while the winners live mostly in cities. A third of the country has been left behind, mainly because of the failure (and often downright refusal) to mitigate the transition through the creation of social safety nets, education and domestic investments in new skills and jobs. The left has to develop an economic perspective which will be much more inclusive, but the problem is one of legitimacy if we continue with the current generation of baby-boomers. Many of the Trump voters feel betrayed and in their eyes there is no difference between Trump and the Clintons, except that the Clintons claim a higher moral ground, which infuriated them even further. I do believe we are running out of time. We need a next generation of Democrats who embrace globalization and technological change, but demand at the same an economic policy that will benefit all citizens and not just the corporations. It can be done. Roosevelt did it and I think the times are no less dramatic. If this fails and the US after a period of great unrest and domestic violence will descend into some kind of dictatorship is possible, but too soon to tell

KD

One of the biggest worries I have with Trump’s election is whether it signals an ethnic/racial polarization of white voters, or at least working class white voters, behind the GOP. I would very much welcome a Democratic Party that white working class people felt comfortable within, and which was interested in serving their economic interests. I am afraid both the GOP and the Democrats are more concerned with corporate lobbyists and big donors than the welfare of the people who support their candidates. Perhaps it is truly time for a third party.

johne

Kevin Drum touches on this at https://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2018/03/which-party-has-been-better-for-the-white-working-class/ with a graph that shows better worker earnings under Democrats, but to little avail at the ballot box. Similarly, rural sociologists like Katherine Cramer in Wisconsin, Arlie Russell Hochschild in Louisiana and Robert Wuthnow nation-wide, have not found that rural areas have been cheated of government benefits, and in fact other programs and measures to help local economies may be automatically assumed to be only the crumbs that fall from the urban/immigrant/”poor peoples´” table. The current administration is evidently putting all its blue-collar eggs in the tax reform basket, which most economists think is misguided, and indeed, so far the corporate and investor reaction to their improved tax situation isn´t of the sort likely to grow the economy.

steven t johnson

“A tyrant-wannabe lacks most elements on which to base his or her power. We haven’t experienced a long civil war (at least, not yet), or a catastrophic defeat in an external war. The established elites, while fragmenting, are still very strong. Here I agree with much of what Tyler says in the paragraph I quoted above. An aspiring tyrant has to deal with the deeply entrenched bureaucracy, the powerful judicial system, and the mighty coercive apparatus of the American state (the FBI, the CIA, the military). Also important is that the frustrated elite aspirants are not organized in any coherent social movements. Tyrants never rule alone, they need an organization stuffed by dedicated cadres (a desirable feature of which is the animosity towards the old-order elites).”

I’m afraid I think there is an unconscious equation of revolution with tyranny, and tyranny with fascism. The middle term in this bizarre syllogism, “tyranny,” is moralism, pejorative. Well, you’re not the first person to hate revolution on abstract principles in addition to family history. If you drop the ideologically driven prejudice, the notion that fascism requires the overthrow of the old elites in the way a great revolution does is outright preposterous.

Witless anti-Communist thuggery says National Socialism, for instance, really is socialism, but that doesn’t make it so. Nor does learning it at your mother’s knee. Fascism does not overthrow old elites, but regiments them, intakes a limited number of new elite aspirants, moderates the intraelite struggle for the sake of victory against, first, the larger part of the people, and second, against foreign rivals. Every single word in this paragraph about the strength of the old elites is irrelevant. As to the general conclusion that fascists need an organization? It will largely be provided by the old elites, who as even this paragraph notes, are still strong.

As to the notion that a long civil war is necessary, there is no fascist regime I know of that has ensued in the aftermath of a the supposedly necessary long civil war. A domestic threat posed by the majority of the people to the elite rule, especially if they are hampered by other sources of weakness. It seems to me that the secular trend to economic stagnation is a real issue, but, despite the formal claims of SDT to incorporate the fiscal crisis of the state, I noted the suspicious lacuna in The Age of Discord. Even more to the point, the belief of the US elites that they should rule the world is very much under catastrophic threat. By their standards, the imperialist project of fascism, mobilizing the “nation” for conquest, could easily seem like the way out of insoluble dilemmas.

Peter van den Engel

It paints a clear picture. Of course both notions there has not been lost an external war, nor a civil one are mistaken. Notice the whole discussion is only about war/ but disregards economy, which has always been the prime driver of human evolution.
Both wars in Irack and Afganistan have been lost, although not in a military sense, because the end result in both nations is they are in more chaos than before and there is no guarantee terrorism has been beaten, as Bush claimed at the time.
There is a civil war going on in terms of social inequality; job los, insecurity igniting immigrant fears; although it is not a military one. You need to understand the underlying time/ energy meanings of the words war and civil war, meaning a conflict in general, either imposed on a foreign nation or internal and that the outcome means an equilibrium into the wanted direction or not.

Second, the notion deep state; secret agencies and the military; will prevent any ‘fascist’ dictatorship is wrong, because they represent the dictatorship themselves, being economicly improductive, costing gdp 40% income.
There really is no difference with communism, when Putin believed he controled the DDR through espionage and military force/ while its fall was the interlude of the collaps of USSR, because of failing economy. Deep state does not control the economy, it is even counter productive to that. While the ‘cicil war’ is only about economy.
Her ‘dictator’ is created out of her own equation and is driven by invisible ties of the same energy involved. It does not need to be organized: it organizes itself.

I agree there is some speech disorder about fascism and dictators, since both don’t need a mass movement per se. They can also do the contrary, surpress the people. I guess European fascim and nazism were much more mass driven events than South American dictators; because of mass illiteracy; so they were more like an elite controling the military and you start swapping their meaning, because they are closer to you in history.

charlie starkey

Reply to Steven T Johnson
The book title is Ages of Discord. Your comments would be useful if citations or examples were given and more comprehensible if all the sentences contained a verb.

Vladimir Dinets

I agree with Peter’s arguments, but find the subject mildly amusing, since the USA already have a Fascist regime. First, the president is a Russian agent, and Russia is a textbook example of a Fascist dictatorship. Second, all branches of US government are controlled by the Republican Party, which in the last twenty years has become a textbook example of a Fascist party. So yes, it can happen here and it already is happening.

Edward Turner

You used the word ‘Fascist’ a silly amount of times there. Can I remind you that the word ‘Fascist’ doesn’t offend anyone anymore because it has become a cliche?

“We have found no evidence of collusion, coordination, or conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russians” – House Intelligence Committee, Majority Staff

Your rhetoric that is not based on evidence is not constructive. You can’t build any ideas on a reality that doesn’t exist.

Liberals need to re-learn the idea of facts.

Dennis Smithson

I can’t tell what Mr. Dinetz’s political leanings are in US terms, but I can tell that you are a troll. Who will take your bait and help you rehearse your talking points?

Edward Turner

You believe that merely asserting Donald Trump is a ‘Fascist*’ makes him one, USA a ‘Fascist’ state and me a troll! Your views are not reality based. These are very poor comments that are close to being emotional outbursts. It’s not possible to have an intellectual discussion with them. I suspect you simply don’t want your views challenged. You don’t want to hear what any Trump supporter has to say. They are all trolls to you.

*Why the strange and repeated capitalization into a proper noun? It’s as though you have to admit it’s just a name and nothing more.

Loren Petrich

No personal insults, please. Address the content, not the person.

Dennis Smithson

Loren P.: This is an interesting point. Yet while sincere, it is misguided. You posit two aspects which I wish to clarify, namely (1) accusing someone of being a troll is an insult, and (2) addressing content is always the proper response. Let’s look at these aspects with a bit of care.

(1) Is use of the term “troll” insulting? Answer: it could be an insult, or it could be a factual assertion. Another example of such a term is “ugly.” It could be used insultingly, or it could be an assertion of fact. Of course, it is not complimentary to be termed a troll, or ugly, but that does not mean it is used as an insult; it could be used as a classificatory fact.
My intent was to call out Turner as a troll as an assertion of fact. Is it correct, as a fact? Here is what Wikipedia says- you may make your own judgment as to my claim that Turner is a troll:
“Internet troll – Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_troll
In Internet slang, a troll (/troʊl, trɒl/) is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting quarrels or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the intent of provoking readers into an emotional …”

This brings us to point (2)
(2) Is it always best to address the content, rather than the person behind it? The answer has to be no, because addressing the content of a troll’s message is falling into the trap that the troll has deliberately laid.
Thus, calling out a troll can be a factual statement and a warning to others that the astute response is *not* to address the content, but rather its package. That was my intent.

Thanks for your note.

Loren Petrich

How does the US Republican Party qualify as a Fascist party? I’d like to see some more detail about that. Aside from using “Fascist” as an insult that means “autocrat”, Fascist movements tend to have some things in common. Authoritarianism, distrust of democratic process, idolizing some charismatic leader, belligerent nationalism, wanting to restore some presumed national greatness, idolizing armed force, wanting to destroy some presumed national enemies, anti-intellectualism, distrust of the news media, …

Though Donald Trump seems like an obvious candidate for charismatic leader, he has had no career in either public office or party leadership, and much of the Republican Party distrusts him or dislikes him. Remember “Never Trump”?

Peter van den Engel

Interesting question. Basicly the language refers to psychology imposed on behavior, defining its character. Since humans (all biological life) are programmed on energy shortage, prevailing this in time, any above average shortage leads to a more determined (aggressive) reaction.
This is the general universal law, but it can manifest itself in thousands of variants.
The instinctively used language in reaction defining it can be history- or situation bound, so others have trouble understanding the proper meaning or how to redefine it.

In relation to fascism, since it belongs to a specific time period when the word was invented in relation to mass political conflict, the argument might be to reject it because this history will not repeat itself/ or to take it serious, because history tends to repeat itself (rime at least).
This defines the discussion in general. Seeking for the proper meaning, so you can attach causes and effects as they are known. In addition know how to react or what to think.

The problem is the word has never been reinvented and still is often used in heated political debate, creating disbelieve, since no one considers himself to be an operette figuere, caricature.
Another defenition of it in general political terms is right wing. Right wing can be defined on its turn, as the party in charge, being violent in general: more psysical, aggressive, or most materialistic. All defenitions lead to relative parity with the republican party, since they stand for business (material economy) and the democrats for the people/ although this defenition also contains some caricatural aspects.

So you see it gets ambiguous, as language is used to by its character functioning, because there are at the same time alternatives, depending on the situation.
However there is a general denominator in all these meanings, leading back to Plato’s defenition of intelligence (aristocracy) and being instinctive: material, the mob: democracy under his definition. The commons.

Because we are as societies driven by two general aspects in potential conflict: material being (economy) and intelligence (politics), there are evolutionary times the conflict reaches a peak/ or a collaboration leading to nationalism and/ or revolution. Especially strong when the two combine, like in the first half of the 20th century, when communism, fascism and nazism, capitalism, where (re)invented as prime polical expressions relating to different mass solutions of the observed problem. The fact mass media for the first time in human history played a major role in creating mass (political) consciousness at the time has made a determining difference too/ although the nazis were accused of misusing it, as if they invented the effect.

Getting to the current situation, there again is some form of material disparity in the (economic) system, reflected in mass behavior, hence the association with fascism, since it seems to be violent again, imposed on racial, gender, political or class differences.
It has a higher degree of urgency, since it is about material existence, safety again.
The overall trend is the same in the whole western world, because of its place and time in economic evolution, as natural physics inventor of it.
The (financial) system itself contains disparity, imposed on social behavior back reacting to it in protest: projected on immigrants, the prospect of using military, creating local violence, criticizing intelectuals being responsible for the system/ or their misunderstanding – and mass media no longer being able to express intelligence, because the average journalist is too dumb being a wage slave, or fed by press agencies no longer being able (have time) to think for him/or herself.

Trump is an altenative for angry masses, since he is an outsider and as a businessman bold and presumably creative enough to make a difference, since Bush and Obama both failed to do so. They represented the republican and democratic parties, both had their chance. So, in retrospect Trump was elected since there was no alternative party/ and he has to deal with deep state which represents old party interests. This leads to the notion (question) ‘fascism’ will be prevailed by elements of deep state/ although the argument has in the meantime swapped relations in an inverted version of what they mean. You need to decipher the code.

Joost Douma

If the use of the word Fascist is just meant as a smear, than I agree that it has become meaningless, just like the word Nazi (often mentioned together without any further distinction). If we use the term fascist or Fascism to weigh whether we will see a comparable development in the US as to what happened in Italy or Germany in the Thirties, than I think we should analyze what exactly Fascism encompassed. In terms of its (economic) policy, its relation to the Separation of Powers and with regard to truly open, independent elections as the hallmark of a democracy. My focus will be on Fascism or corporatism, since the Nazi’s never developed a coherent policy other than just to plunder the countries they had conquered as well as ethnic cleansing.
Italian Fascism involved a non-elective, corporatist political system in which the society was collectively managed by employers, workers and state officials by formal mechanisms at the national level. A popular slogan of the Italian Fascists under Mussolini was “Tutto nello Stato, niente al di fuori dello Stato, nulla contro lo Stato” (“everything for the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state”). This meant no elections and no Separation of Powers.
If we accept corporatism as the proper term to describe the current political situation in the US, than I think we can agree that the US is not a fascistic country. We have elections and the Separation of Powers is still intact (albeit both under attack through gerrymandering and the chaos at the White House).
The question then is does the current situation in the US shows signs of tendencies, which may ultimately lead to a kind of dictatorship equal to what happened in Italy or Germany? I actually believe we have entered unchartered waters. As a European who has just recently moved into the US, I am astonished and alarmed about how much this country has come into the grip of corporations. Corporations have the same civil rights as persons. The war on unions, one of pillars of Corporatism, has been very successful. Corporations now spend about $2.6 billion a year on reported lobbying expenditures—more than the $2 billion we spend to fund the House ($1.18 billion) and Senate ($860 million) (see article in the Atlantic, Lee Drutman, 20 April 2015). The big five (Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Google) dominate the internet and work closely with State Department and Department of Defense. The banking industry just concluded a successful campaign to roll back regulations. The last tax break is a handout to large corporations at the cost of investments in the public domain, while the deficit is growing faster than the GDP. The demolition of ACA, the list is endless.
I am also deeply alarmed by the ideology of the radical right, which holds the GOP in its power. It seems to be based on the ideas of Ayn Rand who was influenced by a rather obscure member of the young Hegelians who went by the name of Max Stirner. He wrote a small treatise ‘Der Einzige und sein Eigentum’. He advocated egoism and a form of amoralism, in which individuals would unite in ‘unions of egoists’ only when it was in their self-interest to do so. Stirner considers the world and everything in it, including other persons, available to one’s taking or use without moral constraint. He sees no rationality in taking the interests of others into account unless doing so furthers one’s self-interest, which he believes is the only legitimate reason for acting. He denies society as being an actual entity.
The upcoming attack by Paul Ryan c.s. on all the entitlements after having created the deficit in order to defend it seems to come straight out of Stirner’s playbook. Therefore, overall I would identify the current stage as a type of corporate controlled anarcho-capitalism.
So what are we heading for? Instead of moving towards a totalitarian society, I think we will see the opposite. A further breakdown of government and the rule of law. Fragmentation, series of financial shockwaves in the US and Europe, depressions, impoverishment (already the case in the UK) and violent social conflicts along with the rise of segregated, private enclaves in those regions that will benefit from the climate change.. Elsewhere, large-scale environmental disasters. I foresee in China the beginning of the era of digital tyrannies as a seemingly rational alternative. Russia will descend into chaos after of its current bandit state capitalism has collapsed. And in the long term? Humanity has faced a number of existential crises and each time we came out stronger. We will see.

Vladimir Dinets

It’s a bit boring to explain the obvious, but I guess I have to explain why I consider G.O.P. in its present form a fascist party. There is no universally accepted definition of fascism. However, here we have an ultra-right populist party with (1) an obscurantist agenda based on anti-scientific world view; (2) aggressive foreign policy supported by constantly increasing the military budget; (3) poorly educated ethnic-majority voter base; (4) appeal to its supporters dependent on sequentially sacrificing the interests of unpopular minorities, be it gays or Latino immigrants, and (5) constant attempts to subvert the democracy and turn it into a strongman-led oligarchy. If this is not fascism, I don’t know what is.

Edward Turner

Vladimir,

Thank you for providing a response that was not tl;dr. Unfortunately, however, I still don’t agree with you!

“There is no universally accepted definition of fascism.”

There are agreed definitions of fascism. Look in a dictionary. You may not like something but that does not make it fascism.

Dictionary: “A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, stringent socioeconomic controls, suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism.”

1. Centralization of authority
2. Dictator
3. Stringent socioeconomic controls
4. Suppression of opposition through terror and censorship
5. Belligerent nationalism
6. Racism

1 = Donald Trump is a proponent of state rights. As I understand it he is against greater centralization and big government. That is a liberal position.

2 = Donald Trump does not have the authoritarian powers of a dictator. The US President has powers but just because Donald Trump has those powers because the American voters voted for him to have them doesn’t make him a dictator.

3 = Donald Trump is against strictly regulating the economy. Take the administration’s stance on Cryptocurrency (wait-and-see approach, no tight regulation of this industry yet) and the liberalization of the previously tightly regulated mining and energy sector.

4 = Donald Trump has not suppressed opposition. The censorship done by Google, Twitter and Facebook is all one-way on libertarians and conservatives. Trump has sat by and permitted the free speech of so-called comedians (like Kathy Griffin), singers, actors and journalists and others to call for his assassination, simulate his assassination and similar threats made to his family. This would not have been acceptable directed at Presidents of previous administrations. Donald Trump has been very restrained. Exemplary behaviour. As for ‘terror’ there has been no political terrorism, except again against him. White powder was sent in a letter to his son – a false alarm but still a threat. The democratic gunman nearly wiped out a number of his GOP lawmen who were playing baseball. It is amazing that you do not remember any of these incidents. If they were instead directed at democratic politicians over the last year you would not have hesitated to list them, as I have.

5 = Donald Trump has been a nationalist but a peaceful one – so far. For belligerent nationalism try Obama and Hillary who invaded Libya and Syria, and before them the other war-making presidents who stood behind patriotism and the flag whilst doing so. Donald Trump has shot a few missiles but so far hasn’t begun any new wars and has set up historic peace talk with the North Korean dictator. Trump is not a belligerent nationalist.

6 = Donald Trump is not a racist and has never been one. Nobody has ever come up with an example of him being racist, while there are many examples of him not being a racist. It’s another empty smear.

Here are my replies to your “anything I don’t like I’ll just call it fascism” definition of fascism.

(1) an obscurantist agenda based on anti-scientific world view

What is an obscurantist agenda? One you don’t understand? That would explain a lot. Maybe you don’t understand the science either.

As for fascism being “anti-science” this is news to me and my recollection of Nazi Germany’s laboratories and rocket scientists.

(2) aggressive foreign policy supported by constantly increasing the military budget

You can use this criticism on every US President. So far, Donald Trump has not started any new wars and there may be peace talks with North Korea soon.

(3) poorly educated ethnic-majority voter base

This is an insult – and a personal insult – that is untrue. You are either ignorant of the education of many of his supporters or are just throwing out an insult. A greater number of black people voted for Donald Trump than they have any GOP candidate. The fact a lot of white people voted for him and form his voter-base does not make him fascist or racist. There is nothing wrong with doing what white people want. White people wanting things done their way is not racist. What’s racist is going out to deliberately screw someone else over.

(4) appeal to its supporters dependent on sequentially sacrificing the interests of unpopular minorities, be it gays or Latino immigrants

Simply not true. Donald Trump is supported by Peter Thiel, for example. who is gay, and like the accusation of racism this is an empty smear for which nobody has evidence offered any proof. He’s against illegal immigration and the Democratic slave-voter system. This is not “sacrificing the interests” of legal Latino immigrants. Once again, the idea there is anything remotely, nano-fascist, about this is silly.

(5) constant attempts to subvert the democracy and turn it into a strongman-led oligarchy. If this is not fascism, I don’t know what is.

He’s been in office for just over one year. There has been not one single attempt to “subvert the democracy” made by Donald Trump. He has suffered Obama and the previous administration spying on him during his election campaign. That subverts democracy. Paying for a fake ‘dodgy dossier’ on Donald Trump and then spending millions of dollars and a year of time falsely investigating him for Russian collusion – that is now over – subverts democracy. Getting social media to censor the supporters of your opponent in an election subverts democracy. You are falsely accusing Donald Trump of doing what the Democrats actually did.

Donald Trump is a strong leader but to call him a “strongman” as if he has the powers of a dictator, rather than those of a regular US President, is puerile sensationalist nonsense. Using rhetoric to influence the emotions of readers does not an argument make.

Loren Petrich

Vladimir Dinets has done a good job of summarizing the Republican Party’s Fascist tendencies. I must add that it is short on another thing: a party militia, something like the Nazis’ Brown Shirts and Italian Fascists’ Black Shirts. There are lots of right-wing militias, but they are not officially working for the party, at least not yet. Donald Trump has, however, praised some of the neo-Nazis and KKK members who showed up at Charlottesville.

Edward Turner’s defenses of Donald Trump are, as usual, totally laughable. For Trump, states’ rights do not seem to include the right to legalize marijuana, for instance. He does not have dictatorial powers because judges and other politicians aren’t letting him have such powers. Consider when he annoyed Congressional Republicans by treating them like his employees. As to regulating the economy, he has so far preferred crony capitalism. As to Edward Turner’s claims of which way the censorship is going, there are more things in Heaven and Earth than are dreamt of in Fox News.

As to pacifism, Trump has wanted a military buildup, including more nuclear weapons, he has wanted a big military parade in DC with tanks on the city streets, he has threatened to crush the Islamic State, and he has made North Korea seem like a great menace. However, he has also been very erratic, recently wanting to meet “Little Rocket Man”. As to Obama and Hillary, that was not an invasion of Libya but low-key support of rebels against Khadafy.

Trump’s record on race relations has not been good. Like discriminating against black people in his housing projects, and scapegoating Mexican immigrants for their alleged criminality. “Some of my best friends are…” is not much of an argument. As to anti-science, it’s stuff like rejection of global warming. The Nazis liked military technology, but many Nazis believed that relativity is “Jewish physics”, and some Nazis believed in a crackpot cosmology called the Cosmic Ice Theory.

What is “the Democratic slave-voter system”??? Some more nonsense from the right-wing “news media”?

Joost Douma

The Nazi’s also tries to make clothes out of banana’s, such a symbolic fruit

Peter van den Engel

One can clearly see the self organizing waves of human society, sort of how Plato descibed it. However what he called aristrocracy (intelligence) is not a single entity. It can be in a political sense, when different opposite central identities have to be reunited/ or in the inverted meaning, dissolve themselves.

Separation of powers is such an example. The los of a big war is another one, what happened to the nazis and the fascists.
The people, the commons are least organized in such aristocratic centres of intelligence/ but on the other hand when united, they create the biggest (military, judicial) force.
After the uniting wave they separate again, since society contains core functions each with their own reason and behaviour. So history can repeat itself.

The seperation of powers for instance was not to stop collaboration as such, for being a bad political idea/ but to stop the previous type of entanglement. Which was the southern state (Spain) ruling with military objectives, imposing their religion on subjected societies and have it controle the judicial state/ which was then executed by the state (blood councel) again, to close the circle.

Of course democracy still uses laws based on its religious philosophy and the laws it makes are not made by the judicial state. So in that defenition the separation of powers is an illusion/ but at the time was a proper solution to get rid of Spanish rule.

When defining the three powers, one is religion (philosopy of behavior), the other one judicial state (the implementation of strict law, separating layers of wordly interests, in categorizing priorities) and the overlapping state itself is the military force ensuring this, plus its parlement: the ongoing disussion between entities of interest in society: their aristocracy and commons.

What was missing at the time in centres of interest however was the money state: financial institution, since evonomy hardly existed as a central identity. It was scattered.
Actually the war with Spain in the 15th and 16th century was about economy, since northern Europe; thanks to shipping, the colonies and bookprinting; became independent on economic conditions and intelligence.
Although the financial state was not recognized as a seperate entity at the time, it still ruled the evolution between trade and military, exchanging places over time, as represented by elite infighting based on demographics, which can be found in historic archives.

After the industrial revolution though this financial state (also involving the people) actually did become the core centre of government (aristocracy), because all the state needed to do after that is redistribute money through its fiscal system and attachet judicial laws.

This completely changed its intelligence, because from then on it only depended on economic income of money.
It got new cores of interest which could impossibly be controled by the people, by voting, because only money decides.
It created an illusionary democratic state. If you would call collaboration a type of fascism, it lives on different levels because it is self organizing, not only a conscious political choice.

What defines fascism in general terms is its interests at the same time hurt other interests/ but is too powerfull to move aside. This definition implies all sorts of institutional power, depending on its level of agreement in society.

The current evolution of fragmentation is economic fragmentation, leading to centres of interest. Stronger economic (money) centres next to potentially stronger (military) people force. As you can clearly see happening in the western world, or at least sense at subcutaneous level, paradoxly especially in Spain.

This fragmentation is logical, since economic functioning is based on efficiency: use less labor with the same end result/ however deviding societies. Especially its fiscal base, but also in terms of social inequality, expressing itself on racial and gender differences as well, deciding who is weak and who is strong, very much like the nazis did.

It is the classical devision between trade (money instution) and military (political people), but this time the money institution is ruling the people/ and deviding them in seperate states, while the contrary to that was happening under the rule of economic growth in the previous 20th century, uniting people.
No wonder there is confusion, even on state aristocracy level.

Since in the old days the only way to react and unite was by war (fragmentation is only the interlude of that): the way societies organized themselves by using a political belief system, like the nazis and fascists did, instead of religion; this option lurks again.
However to make war you need money, which is looking at state debt exactly what is missing. However it depends on how serious this debt is taken. It could potentially be ignored, as the Germans did.

In my perspective it is a tug of war between two options, one is ultimately war; which would be extremely risky on a global scale because of nuclear weapons/ or dissolving the problem by choosing a new form of democracy: direct real time democracy electing subjects/ not people only once in four years, which is very well posible with current internet technology – in combination with a different financial system, since the current one is deviding, caused by its own misinterpretation of natural physics energy laws, which is unnessecary when adapted to its proper distribution. So people can vote in freedom again.

The last part however will be the hardest, direct democracy is already evolving itself.

Joost Douma

I am also resubmitting my earlier comments with a number of additions. Hopefully of interest.

If the use of the word Fascist is just meant as a smear, than I agree that it has become meaningless, just like the word Nazi (often mentioned together without any further distinction). If we use the term fascist or Fascism to weigh whether we will see a comparable development in the US as to what happened in Italy or Germany in the Thirties, than I think we should analyze what exactly Fascism encompassed. In terms of its (economic) policy, its relation to the Separation of Powers and with regard to truly open, independent elections as the hallmark of a democracy. My focus will be on Fascism or corporatism, since the Nazi’s never developed a coherent policy other than just to plunder the countries they had conquered as well as ethnic cleansing.
Italian Fascism involved a non-elective, corporatist political system in which the society was collectively managed by employers, workers and state officials by formal mechanisms at the national level. A popular slogan of the Italian Fascists under Mussolini was “Tutto nello Stato, niente al di fuori dello Stato, nulla contro lo Stato” (“everything for the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state”). This meant no elections and no Separation of Powers.
If we accept corporatism as the proper term to describe the current political situation in the US, than I think we can agree that the US is not a fascistic country. We have elections and the Separation of Powers is still intact (albeit both under attack through gerrymandering and the chaos at the White House).
The question then is does the current situation in the US shows signs of tendencies, which may ultimately lead to a kind of dictatorship equal to what happened in Italy or Germany? I actually believe we have entered unchartered waters. As a European who has just recently moved into the US, I am astonished and alarmed about how much this country has come into the grip of corporations. Corporations have the same civil rights as persons. The war on unions, one of the pillars of Corporatism, has been very successful. Corporations now spend about $2.6 billion a year on reported lobbying expenditures—more than the $2 billion we spend to fund the House ($1.18 billion) and Senate ($860 million) (see article in the Atlantic, Lee Drutman, 20 April 2015). The big five (Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Google) dominate the internet and work closely with the State Department and the Department of Defense. The banking industry just concluded a successful campaign to roll back regulations. The latest tax break is a handout to large corporations at the cost of investments in the public domain, while the deficit is growing faster than the GDP. News hours have turned into commercial rating machines, peppered with breaks of a pharmaceutical industry, which spends more money on advertisements than R&D in the midst of an opioid crisis, killing more than 40,000 people annually. The demolition of ACA, the list is endless.
I am also deeply alarmed by the ideology of the radical right, which holds the GOP in its power. It seems to be based on the ideas of Ayn Rand who was influenced by a rather obscure member of the young Hegelians who went by the name of Max Stirner. He wrote a small treatise ‘Der Einzige und sein Eigentum’. He advocated egoism and a form of amoralism, in which individuals would unite in ‘unions of egoists’ only when it was in their self-interest to do so. Stirner considers the world and everything in it, including other persons, available to one’s taking or use without moral constraint. He sees no rationality in taking the interests of others into account unless doing so furthers one’s self-interest, which he believes is the only legitimate reason for acting. He denies society as being an actual entity. Nietzsche identified him as an example of the new man after God had died.
The upcoming attack by Paul Ryan c.s. on all the entitlements after having created the deficit in order to rationalize it seems to come straight out of Stirner’s playbook. Overall, I would classify the current state of the Union as a type of corporate controlled anarcho-capitalism. It is alarmingly irrational, ignoring the old wisdom that what may seem beneficial for one corporation, may be highly harmful for capitalism as a whole. The absolute believe in the efficiency of the market while the whole system was on the verge of a complete meltdown in 2007/8 is shocking as well as the promotion of supply driven policies in the face of declining or stagnant demand (war on the minimum wage). Trump is not an incident. He is the ultimate personification of all the aspects of this type of destructive, amoral and most of all vulgar anarcho-capitalism.
So what are we heading for? Instead of moving towards a totalitarian society, I think we will see the opposite. A further breakdown of government and the rule of law. Fragmentation, series of financial shockwaves in the US and Europe, depressions, impoverishment (already the case in the UK) and violent social conflicts along with the rise of segregated, private enclaves in those regions that will benefit from the climate change. Elsewhere, large-scale environmental disasters with oceans as blue deserts filled with plastic and jellyfish. I foresee in China the beginning of the era of digital tyrannies as a seemingly rational alternative. Russia will descend into chaos after its current bandit state capitalism has collapsed and the “Stans” east of the Urals have begun to throw off the Russian yoke, resulting in a protracted civil war that will outdo Chechnya in sheer violence and cruelty. Putin’s ultimate legacy.
And in the long term? Humanity has faced a number of existential crises and each time we came out stronger. We will see, but this time it is going to be tough one.

Vladimir Dinets

What an improvement! A few people still object to me calling the Republican Party “fascist”, but at least everybody agrees that Trump is a Russian agent 🙂

Dennis Smithson

“Edward A. L. Turner – The Evolution Institute
https://evolution-institute.org/profile/edward-a-l-turner/
Edward A. L. Turner. Edward has been a researcher for Evolution Institute since 2011 and is currently Principle Research Assistant for the SESHAT: Global History Databank project and a Senior Research Assistant at the University of Hertfordshire in England. Other recent projects included research for “War, space, and the …”

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