We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Friday, April 21, 2017

Neofascism in the White House

Click here to access article by John Bellamy Foster from Monthly Review

Foster starts out this lengthy read published in the hard copy of Monthly Review by assessing the citizens that voted for Trump and his continuing base of support (which according to polls is declining). I skipped this section and focused on the seventh paragraph down to the subheading "The Trumpist Gleichschaltung". In this section of his paper Foster concentrates on the close relationship between capitalism and fascism that is missing from most of the current articles regarding the re-appearance of fascism in the current period. 
Here it is vital to understand that fascism is not in any sense a mere political aberration or anomaly, but has historically been one of two major modes of political management adopted by ruling classes in the advanced capitalist states.17 Since the late nineteenth century, capitalist states, particularly those of the major imperial powers, have generally taken the form of liberal democracy—representing a kind of equilibrium between competing social sectors and tendencies, in which the capitalist class, by virtue of its control of the economy, and despite the relative autonomy accorded to the state, is able to assert its hegemony. Far from being democratic in any egalitarian sense, liberal democracy has allowed considerable room for the rise of plutocracy, i.e., the rule of the rich; but it has at the same time been limited by democratic forms and rights that represent concessions to the larger population.18 Indeed, while remaining within the boundaries of liberal democracy, the neoliberal era since the 1980s has been associated with the steepest increases in inequality in recorded history.

Liberal democracy is not, however, the only viable form of rule in advanced capitalist states. In periods of systemic crisis in which property relations are threatened—such as the Great Depression of the 1930s, or the stagnation and financialization of recent decades—conditions may favor the rise of fascism. Moreover, then as now, fascism is invariably a product of the larger context of monopoly capital and imperialism, related to struggles for hegemony within the capitalist world economy. Such a crisis of world hegemony, real or perceived, fosters ultra-nationalism, racism, xenophobia, extreme protectionism, and hyper-militarism, generating repression at home and geopolitical struggle abroad. Liberal democracy, the rule of law, and the very existence of a viable political opposition may be endangered.
The "liberal" in the phrase "liberal democracy" (or the capitalist form of democracy) is the classical meaning of liberal, and must be distinguished from the current popular meaning that is defined by the concept of "social liberalism" which (like social democracy) presumes the existence of capitalism. 

Fosters continues on in the article to distinguish between the classical form of fascism that existed in the 1930s with the neofascism of today, and more specifically the fascist features of the Trump administration.