20th century writers warned about the rise of someone like Trump and it seems that their fears are being realized.
It is difficult not to see why so many are concerned if you just consider Trump’s first few weeks in office. His executive orders have challenged the foundations of one of the world’s most distinctive democracies to the point where commentators are warning about an impending constitutional crisis over his controversial travel bans.
The Guardian published a fascinating article titled “‘It will be called Americanism’: the US writers who imagined a fascist future” that makes more disturbing reading. One of the paragraphs that stood out for me is this one:
In 1944, an article called “American Fascism” appeared in the New York Times, written by then vice president Henry Wallace. “A fascist,” wrote Wallace, “is one whose lust for money or power is combined with such an intensity of intolerance toward those of other races, parties, classes, religions, cultures, regions or nations as to make him ruthless in his use of deceit or violence to attain his ends.” Wallace predicted that American fascism would only become “really dangerous” if a “purposeful coalition” arose between crony capitalists, “poisoners of public information” and “the KKK type of demagoguery”. Those defending the new administration insist it isn’t fascism, but Americanism. This, too, was foretold: in 1938, a New York Times reporter warned: “When and if fascism comes to America it will not be labelled ‘made in Germany’; it will not be marked with a swastika; it will not even be called fascism; it will be called, of course, ‘Americanism’.”
As Trump settles in to his new role, I think we will see many more parallels between his actions and fictional despots and fascists. Whether he will utterly subvert America’s democratic safeguards remains to be seen but the initial indications are not particularly promising.
Another article worth reading is David Frum’s “How to Build an Autocracy” in The Atlantic.
— The Atlantic (@TheAtlantic) February 4, 2017
You can also listen to the article on SoundCloud if you’d prefer: