Published at 09:00 on 13 June 2018
Recently I linked a Twitter thread by conservative academic Tom Nichols on the essential nature of Trump’s followers. And yes, Nichols is very much a conservative. Go check out his Twitter account and scroll through his posts; you’ll see gems like this one.
That latter point is, of course, largely irrelevant. What matters most is how well Nichols’ particular theory explains the behavior it is attempting to explain, and it does that very well. I am not aware of any competing explanation that works as well as the one Nichols recently espoused. Mainly I bring up the point of Nichols’ ideological proclivities simply to counter the accusation that he is nothing but a leftist saying things that the leftist writing this blog likes to hear.
Enough digression. Time to crack out my introductory PoliSci text, the one I bought in the early 1990’s when I started delving into the humanities on my own. My strategy was to go to the University of Washington’s course catalog, identify courses on topics of interest, go to the campus bookstore, purchase their texts, and proceed to study them on my own.
The text in question is the third edition of Political Ideologies: Their Origins and Impact by Leon P. Baradat. Its latest copyright is 1988, so nobody can accuse it of either being watered down to not pertain to Trump, or deliberately slanted to overly pertain to him. It’s a good insight into what has been traditionally regarded as the essential nature of fascism. This is what Baradat had to say about fascism in his introductory paragraph to the chapter he wrote on it:
… The resulting political vacuum was filled by charlatans whose ideas constituted reactionary rejections of modern institutions and values. Men like Mussolini and Hitler called upon their people to foresake reason and prudence, to follow their leaders with unquestioned obedience toward mythical, irrational, and inevitably disastrous goals [emphasis added].
In the following paragraph, Baradat writes: “The veracity of the myths were of little consequence, for they were used only as a means for motivation, not as a source of truth.” Sound anything like what Nichols just wrote?
Baradat, of course, also wrote of war and genocide in that introduction, which has not happened yet with Trump; moreover, Trump is a rank amateur at political oppression compared to Hitler, who within weeks of gaining power had jailed pretty much every significant opposition figure. That’s why I used the phrase “Trumpism is fascist” in my title, not “Trumpism is fascism.” Its essential nature is that of a fascist ideology, even though its expression currently falls short of full-blown fascism.