Systemic corruption, crassness, overt racism, a view of misfortune as a weakness, unapologetic bigotry, and a disdain of the public and common good has been normalized under Trump after gaining strength over the last 50 years in American politics. Trump is merely the blunt instrument at the heart of a fascistic neoliberal ideology. We need to be wary, to say the least, about those mainstream politicians now denouncing Trump’s fascism who while in power submitted, as Stanley Aronowitz puts it, “to neoliberal degradations of health care, jobs, public housing, and income guarantees for the long-term unemployed (let alone the rest of us).”
What is often ignored in the emerging critiques of fascism is the history of neoliberalism’s legacy coupled with the mainstream media’s attempts to foreground many if its architects and supporters as celebrated opponents of Trump’s fascist government. Trump is the extreme point of a long series of attacks on democracy and former politicians such as Albright and Clinton cannot be removed from that history. None of these politicians have denounced state violence, nationalism, the myth of American exceptionalism, and the forces that produce obscene inequality in wealth and power in the US, or the oppressive regime of law and order that has ruled America ruthlessly and without apology since the 1980s.
Unchecked and systemic power, a take no prisoners politics, and an unapologetic cruelty are the currency of fascism because they are the wedge that makes fear visceral and violence more than an abstraction. This lethal combination is also a pathological condition endemic to brutal demagogues such as Trump. They demand loyalty not to an ideal that expands the meaning of justice and democracy but loyalty to themselves, one that stands above the truth and rule of law.