Dancing With the Devil: Trump’s Politics of Fascist Collaboration

The deeply horrifying acts of collaboration with twentieth-century fascism were not limited to France and included collaborators in Belgium, Croatia, the IRA [in Ireland], Greece, Holland and other countries. At the same time that millions of people were being killed by the Nazis, many businesses collaborated with them in order to profit from the fascist machinery of death. Business that collaborated with the Nazis included Kodak, which used slave laborers in Germany. Hugo Boss, the clothing company, manufactured clothes for the Nazis. IBM created the punch cards and a sorting system used for identifying Jews and other marginalized people and sending them to the gas chambers. BMW and IG Farben used forced laborers in Germany along with Audi, the giant car company that “used thousands of forced laborers from the concentration camps … to work in their plant.”

The political and moral stain for collaboration with the Nazis was also at work in the United States and was evident in both FDR’s and the American business community’s initial supportive views of Mussolini. Moreover, as Noam Chomsky has pointed out, “In 1937 the State Department described Hitler as a kind of moderate who was holding off the dangerous forces of the left, meaning of the Bolsheviks, the labor movement … and of the right, namely the extremist Nazis. [They believed] Hitler was kind of in the middle and therefore we should kind of support him.” One telling incident of collaboration suggesting America’s deeply rooted affinity with fascist principles is visible in the America First movement of the 1930s. America First was the motto of Americans friendly to Nazi ideology and Hitler’s Germany. Its most famous spokespersons were Charles Lindbergh and William Randolph Hearst. The movement had a long history of anti-Semitism evident in Lindbergh’s claim that American Jews were pushing America into war. Historian Susan Dunn has argued that the phrase, America First, which was appropriated and used by Donald Trump before and after his election, is a “toxic phrase with a putrid history.”

The concept of collaboration functions historically to deepen our understanding of Trump’s associations with right-wing demagogues as a warning sign that offers up a glimpse of both the contemporary recurrence of fascist overtones from the past and what Richard Falk has called “a pre-fascist moment.” Trump’s endorsement of right-wing demagogues, such as Duterte, Le Pen and Erdoǧan, in particular, is more than an aberration for a US president: It suggests more ominously his disregard for human rights, the suppression of dissent, human suffering and the principles of democracy itself. Trump’s collaboration with dictators and right-wing rogues also suggests something more ominous. As Michael Brenner observes, ” … authoritarian movements and ideology with fascist overtones are back — in America and in Europe. Not just as a political expletive thrown at opponents, but as a doctrine, as a movement, and — above all — as a set of feelings.”

via Truth Out Dancing With the Devil: Trump’s Politics of Fascist Collaboration