Is fascism coming to America?
The word “fascism” gets thrown around a lot. Many accuse the Trump administration of being fascist, or at the very least proto-facist. And while there are a number of pro-Trump Republican candidates that frankly fall into this category, we would probably know by now if Trump had a sinister fascist agenda. After all, it took Mussolini, Hitler, and Franco mere months to lay the foundations of totalitarian states that would murder millions. The Trump Administration has been around for almost two years. While certainly a very reactionary administration, one that certainly defends fascists and is supported by fascists, labeling them fascist blurs who the actual American fascists are, as well as our ability to assess the threat that they pose. More than that, it establishes a completely unrealistic sense of defeat among the left at a time when it is necessary to go on the offensive against the right.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there are 653 hate groups that fall into the categories of Alt-Right, anti-Immigrant, anti-LGBT, anti-Muslim, Christian identity, Holocaust Denial, Ku Klux Klan, Male Supremacy, neo-Confederate, neo-Nazi, neo-Volkisch, Racist Skinhead, Radical Traditional Catholic and/or White Nationalist in the United States. In 2017, 16 separate terrorist attacks were committed by right-wing extremists. That is 10 more than 2016. In addition, SPLC estimated that over 100 people have been killed or wounded by alt-right groups. Perhaps the most terrifying of these groups is Atomwaffen, whose young online-recruited members have military training and extensive plans for future acts of terror.
This shows that there is a potent domestic terrorist threat coming from the far-right, originating from decades of hysterical paranoia planted in the American mindset by the bipartisan, cynically named “War on Terror.” With the Trump Administration in office, these right wing elements have felt emboldened enough to come out of the shadows and strike more openly. With this being said, it is clear that these are tiny minorities within larger American society.
The largest public demonstration fascists and the extreme right could muster in recent memory was the first Unite the Right event in Charlottesville, Virginia held in August 2017. There they gathered a few thousand fascists, whose murderous actions don’t need to be repeated here. However, this doesn’t even begin to compare to the millions who showed up for both Women’s Marches or March For Our Lives. The right wing can never hope to pull that off. Not only that, but they are actually losing ground to the left.
This is the real reason why the fascists have resorted to terrorism. Despite Trump being in office, there has been a massive shift to the left among young people: according to the Wall Street Journal, roughly half reject the capitalist system. Democratic Socialists of America has grown by leaps and bounds in the last year and a half, and Bernie Sanders remains the most popular American senator, and possibly the most popular American politician. According to the Center For Economic and Policy Research, of the 262,000 workers who joined unions in 2017, 201,000 are below the age of 35.
What is needed now is not despair about a menacing fascism, but to continue the shift to the left in American society. The best way to defeat both the Trump administration and the violent fascist groups on the fringes is through solidarity and action against the deep inequality and racism that capitalist society in America has kept alive. With a greatly strengthened leftwing and labor movement, this process may have already begun.