Black Bloc Antifa protesters at the Trump Inauguration.
A large swath of the political left seems to consider Donald Trump to be a Hitler or Mussolini in the making, and maybe they are right. He does have that Mussolini chin sometimes. In many ways, though, he doesn’t quite fit the bill. The different instances of fascism share similar qualities, including strict control of the economy and the people. In Mussolini’s own words as the father of fascism, “Everything in the state, nothing outside of the state,” and, “If liberalism spells individualism, fascism spells government,” meaning actual liberty, not the false liberalism of the American left.
It is odd that a fascist president would work hard to reduce regulation of economic life and give individuals and states more latitude for action. The biggest mistake that Trump has made, if he were to be a fascist, is that he didn’t organize a private army of thugs. That is the first, most outward sign. Fascism, as with all authoritarianism, thrives on violence and uses it as a primary means to achieve its goals.
Authoritarianism is, however, a growing problem in America and around the world, or more directly, the acceptance of authoritarianism by the people as a valid method of ruling a state or nation, because authoritarianism cannot happen without the acceptance and blessing of the people. Over the years there have been disturbing trends that indicate that Americans are more open to the idea. People look to the governments, federal and state, to be the savior and ultimate problem-solvers for every issue, great and small.
Irony is lost on the members and admirers of Antifa, the self-styled “anti-Fascists,” that the methods they use and the doctrines they imbibe look more like those of the Hitler-Mussolini gangs than anything else. They recognize that chaos, violence, and disorder are the tools of the authoritarian, and that is what they relish.
This country seems to be in a curiously precarious place at the moment. The serious disease that we are facing in COVID-19 could provide a turning point if we, as a people, are not careful. There has been creeping authoritarian tendency and a bureaucratic state building for decades, which deeply interfere in American life and the economy and use threats of force. Far too many people now accept without question what politicians are doing to this country and the economy. There are very well-qualified experts who have vastly different views about what will happen in different scenarios, but authoritarian types ignore all but those whose advice coincides with their political pretensions.
This problem did not arise out of the blue. It is the result of an education system that has, to a large part, abandoned the importance of the individual and individual rights, and in its place has fostered collectivist ideals, the common good. Those individual rights, however, have, for several centuries, fostered the common good far better than socialist societies for which the common good is the objective. A government based on the common good is always abusive to the individual, because the rulers pretend to know what is best for everyone and use force to compel compliance. In Musslini’s terms, it requires “discipline, the coordination of efforts, a deep sense of duty, and a spirit of self-sacrifice.” Compelled self-sacrifice is called tyranny.
An alarming number of young people now are open to collectivist ideas, of which both socialism and fascism are examples. While the left makes a big deal of rhetorical differences between the two, there is little practical difference in every instance the world has witnessed. They are all based on thuggery and violence, they all sacrifice the individual on the alter of collectivism, and they all end in failure and misery for the people. Authoritarianism is not okay.
Originally published on Townhall Finance.
Daniel J. McLaughlin is the author of “Compassion and Truth-Why Good Intentions Don’t Equal Good Results.” Formerly a finance executive, he is now focused primarily on writing on economics, business, and politics. You can find him at daniel-mclaughlin.com.