It is happening here.
The soul of America is like the character Two Face in the Batman movie series.
One defeat of the Party of Trump and its 73 million apparatchiks is not enough. In Trump, the United States has bred its own dictator in waiting and he’s got an army of servile apostles willing to fight and die for him. Vigilance by his opponents has never been more important.
“This Fuhrer dictatorship could produce only lackeys and profiteers of the most reactionary and aggressive part of German imperialist reaction. Its Germanic democracy reared the repulsive type of a human breed that was boundlessly servile to men of higher rank and just as boundlessly cruelly tyrannical towards men below it.”—The Destruction of Reason, Georg Lukacs
Incumbent President Donald Trump now owns the Republican Party, lock, stock and barrel. With 73 million restless apparatchiks clearly beholden to the cult of Trump, will it be long before the Republican Party gets rebranded as the Trump National Party; or, perhaps, the MAGA Party (Make America Great Again)? Maybe Trump sells-off his faltering real estate empire and creates a media conglomerate—consisting of television, radio,and the Internet/WWW—that spews out divisive, fascist, ultraconservative fare 24 hours a day, 7 days week. Trump Media would absorb the National Review, New York Post and similar conservative publications/websites.
Sky’s the limit for Trump: His 73 million followers include an increasing number of Blacks and Latinos who appear to revere him for his apparent strength, tough talk and sense of honor.
According to Fortune Magazine, “As Trump once put it: ‘Real power is fear. It’s all about strength. Never show weakness. You’ve always got to be strong. Don’t be bullied. There is no choice.’”
Adolf Hitler said that too
“Brutality is respected. The ordinary man in the street only respects brute force and ruthlessness. The people need to be kept in a salutary state of fear. They want to fear something. Why make a fuss over brutality and wax indignant over tortures? The masses want ti. They want something that will give them shudders of terror. Moralistic platitudes are essential for the masses. There could be no greater mistake for a politician than to be seen posing as the immoral superman. Of course I shall not make it a matter of principle whether or not to act immorally in the conventional sense. I do not abide, you see, by any principles whatever.”—(Adolf Hitler quoted in The Destruction of Reason by Georg Lukacs)
We are all familiar with these wicked sentiments expressed by Trump and Hitler and assorted cult leaders, or should be. The history books are replete with tales of dastardly kings, princes and dictators who said nearly the same things and lived and ruled by such dictates. Democracy has been the aberration in politics, not dictatorship or kingship.
The path to an American Hitler
The Destruction of Reason by Lukacs traces the development of irrationalism and fascism in Germany; specifically, the intellectual fertilizer that led to Hitler’s rise to power and National Socialism. His analysis reaches back to 1789 and includes commentary on Hegel, Kant, Nietzsche, Marx, Engels, and scores of other philosophical heavyweights.
In an epilogue to the book, titled Post World War II Irrationalism, Lukacs argues that the USA achieved all that Hitler sought without all the baggage of National Socialism, psychopathic leaders and the industrialized murder of the Jewish people. He kicks off the epilogue by quoting from Norman Mailer’s novel The Naked and the Dead, specifically the character of General Cummings:
“As kinetic energy, a country is organization, coordinated effort, your epithet, fascism. Historically the purpose of this war is to translate America’s potential into kinetic energy. The concept of fascism, far sounder that communism, if you consider it, for it is grounded firmly in men’s actual natures, merely started in the wrong country, in a country that did not have enough intrinsic potential power to develop completely. In Germany with that basic frustration of limited physical means there were bound to be excesses. But the dreams, the concept was sound enough. For the past century the entire historical process has been working toward greater and greater consolidation of power.”
Lukacs puts a fine point on the United States succeeding where Hitler could not:
“In contrast to [Nazi] Germany, the USA had a constitution which was democratic from the start. The ruling class managed, particularly during the imperialist era, to have the democratic forms so effectively preserved that by democratically legal means, it achieved a dictatorship of monopoly capitalism at lest as firm as that which Hitler set up with tyrannical procedures. This smoothly functioning democracy, so called, was created by the Presidential prerogative, the Supreme Court’s authority in constitutional questions (and the monopoly capitalists always decided which were the constitutional questions), the finance monopoly over the press, radio, etc., electioneering costs, which successfully prevented really democratic parties from springing up besides the two parties of monopoly capitalism, and lastly the use of terrorist devices (the lynching system—targeting Blacks). And this democracy could in substance realize everything sought by Hitler without needing to break with democracy formally.”
Lukacs also notes in passing that Hitler was a fan of American advertising and used what he learned from that field to ply his destructive trade in Germany and across Europe.
Now we turn to Trita Parsi the Executive Vice President of the Quincy Institute discussing the tortured soul of America. The insight could not have been penned any better than this:
“If Joe Biden was right and the 2020 presidential elections were a contest over the soul of America, then his victory is bittersweet. With almost half of the votes cast for Donald Trump, he is undeniably very much a part of the American soul…Trump is not an aberration, but a reflection of the ugliness that very much is, and always has been, a part of us. While the US may not yet be ready to grapple with this reality, the rest of the world can no longer afford to live in denial. Around the world, many hoped that the lies we have told ourselves of our American innocence—the lies that form the bedrock of American Exceptionalism and neatly separate us from the desperate impulses that brought forward Trump—would prove true. They didn’t.
“Almost eight million more Americans voted for Trump this past Tuesday than they did in 2016. They saw the divisions he fueled, the xenophobia he embraced, the children he caged, the white supremacists he refused to condemn, and the pandemic he bungled; and they weighed that against the tax cuts they won, the conservative Supreme Court judges he appointed, the climate chaos they can ignore, and the punishments he inflicted on the “liberal elites”. They decided they wanted four more years of Trump.”
As the legendary American actress Betty Davis said, as the character Margo Channing in All About Eve, “Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.”
John Stanton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.