Saturday, June 04, 2016

My spirited defense of Bush and Trump

I'm going back to one of my arguments, that in no way was Bush Junior the worst president in US history - he's the third worst. History and historians are pretty clear that James Buchanan was the worst ever, and even a President Trump is going to have to stretch to be worse (although it's not impossible). Reading more about Buchanan, I had no idea that he was involved in making the Dred Scott decision much worse, and that his mismanagement helped trigger the start of the Civil War at Fort Sumter.

I think history's pretty clear about Franklin Pierce being second-worst, even if historians themselves are a little vague (come on, Harding was just a buffoon, he doesn't rate, and Andrew Johnson's mistakes after the war are no comparison to the mistakes that allowed it). Accommodating the South and expanding slavery were Pierce's and Buchanan's response to the impending disaster, and they made it happen as much as actively evil people like Calhoun and Davis.

Bush can't handle this competition.

Moving on to Trump, it's outrageous to call him fascist - he's authoritarian, someone who respects and might want to emulate dictators and their violent repression, but without the ideological and intellectual development to espouse a theory of total domination of the individual by the state or ethnic identity. His personality is similar to Mussolini, but the only thing he cares about is Trump, not the crushing of the individual under ethnicity.

The only way I see to calling Trump fascist is to equate the word with authoritarian, which is stupid. English already has a word for someone with dictatorial tendencies, and if fascist becomes a duplicate for it then we don't have a word for the even-worse thing that fascism described. It reminds me of the tendency to redefine terrorism from violence directed at civilian for political reasons to politically-directed violence that the speaker disagrees with.

Since I haven't been feeling the Bern, I will give Bernie some applause for calling out the morons who have used violence to keep citizens from being able to hear Trump. What I find strange is the number of people on the left who think violently interfering with people's free speech and assembly rights is wrong, but non-violently interfering with those rights by blocking access and shutting down speeches is somehow good. My term for people who do that stuff is authoritarian, even though some might consider themselves anarchists.


Kevin O'Neill said...

"The only way I see to calling Trump fascist is to equate the word with authoritarian"

Google: an authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization.

Wikipaedia: a form of radical authoritarian nationalism that came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe

Mussolini: What is fascism?

Is Donald Trump a fascist? Provides examples of similarities and differences.

I've never *equated* fascism and authoritarianism, I've always believed that it also required the nationalistic element and the widespread suppression of dissent. Your comment almost seems to exclude authoritarianism as opposed to accepting it as one of the criteria.

Russell Seitz said...

As Kevin equates Fascism with: " the widespread suppression of dissent," and Brian's Authoritarianism Lite comes: "without the ideological and intellectual development to espouse a theory of total domination of the individual by the state " one might expect them to worry about folks who think "the climate crisis" changes everything ,

" by presenting our species with an existential threat and putting us on a firm and unyielding science-based deadline – might just be the catalyst we need to knit together a great many powerful movements", some of whom have stepped forward in defense of the totalitarian imperative by seeking to criminalize those opposing them.

Will Brian and Kevin be voting their ticket?

Or for Johnson & Weld?

Hank Roberts said...

> people .... who think violently interfering with
> people's free speech and assembly rights is wrong
> some of whom have stepped forward in defense of
> the totalitarian imperative by seeking to criminalize
> those opposing them.

Where don't those people show up?
Well, I never came across any among the Quakers in the 1960s antiwar movement.

At demonstrations, my place was mostly standing behind the pacifist Catholics and Quakers, facing toward the rear -- to deter the rock-and-bottle-throwers whose favored tactic was to show up at peaceful demonstrations and throw crap over the heads of the pacifists into the police lines, trying to provoke a police charge.

The tactic is to try to hollow out the political center where people who may disagree on many points can still cooperate -- and those people aren't featured in the media stories.

"... The first and biggest obstacle to your victory is that the vast majority of the people who sympathize with your issue are not violent extremists. They may agree with you in principle. They may even sound like violent extremists late at night over their beverage of choice. But when the hammer comes down, they won't be there....

"Most people, most of the time, just want to get along. They'll accept a little inconvenience, ignore a few insults, and smile at people they hate if it allows them to get on with their lives. Most people on both sides of your issue just wish the issue would go away. If you're not careful, those apathetic majorities will get together and craft a compromise. And where's your revolution then?

"... your first goal as a violent extremist is not to kill your enemies, but to radicalize the apathetic majority on your side of the issue. If everyone becomes a violent extremist, then you (as one of the early violent extremists) are a leader of consequence. Conversely, if a reasonable compromise is worked out, you are a nuisance.

"... In radicalizing your apathetic sympathizers, you have no better ally than the violent extremists on the other side . Only they can convince your people that compromise is impossible."

Kevin O'Neill said...

Russell, you need to read harder. I've always learned/believed that there were at least three components to Fascism; authoritarianism, nationalism, and suppression of dissent.

I'd probably hold my nose and vote glibertarians over fascists, but fortunately that isn't the real world choice.

We are in the economic circumstances in which we find ourselves precisely because of the undue influence neo-liberal, glibertarian economic theory exerted the past 35 years. Like Trump, they deserve all the ridicule they receive and more. One has to be pretty divorced from reality to throw even a crumb of credibility their way.

Brian said...

In the modern period, authoritarians are nationalistic, and in every period, authoritarians pretty much by definition suppress dissent. Authoritarians use nationalism as a crutch to power, but it doesn't completely dominate the individual, crush internal minorities, or lead to cross-border war (not as much any way).

So maybe I'm not getting your point Kevin, but I don't think fascist=nationalistic authoritarian. Fascism is worse. There are gray areas (late Franco, early Pinochet), but I think there's a meaningful distinction in ideology.

Russell Seitz said...

Spoken like like a true believer, Kevin.

At least Brian isn't blaming neosomethings for LA's water woes .

Monicaswicked stepmother said...

At least Trump's campaign slogan is accurate: "Make America Grate Again" - he is extremely abrasive.

david lewis said...

Hitler and his cronies evolved into horrifying force they became. Here's a description of what Hitler was doing as he ran for office in 1930:

"Hitler offered something to everyone: work to the unemployed; prosperity to failed business people; profits to industry; expansion to the Army; social harmony and an end of class distinctions to idealistic young students; and restoration of German glory to those in despair. He promised to bring order amid chaos; a feeling of unity to all and the chance to belong. He would make Germany strong again; end payment of war reparations to the Allies; tear up the treaty of Versailles; stamp out corruption; keep down Marxism; and deal harshly with the Jews"

He was taken to be a clown by many, until he demonstrated that he could get Germans to vote for him. The elites thought they could use him. Many assisted his rise to power.

McConnell laughed when given an opportunity to condemn Trump's recent attack on the judiciary, saying Trump has demonstrated an ability to win. The promise to Ryan was Trump will back the GOP House agenda. Who cares what he is?

Trump is calling for increasing the number of countries that have nuclear weapons. He is adamant he will militarize the US/Mexican border as he rounds up 11 million people to deposit them on the Mexican side. He toys with ideas such as defaulting on US national debt or paying off US Treasuries, a cornerstone of the international financial order, at some discount. He has accused his current principal political opponent Hilary Clinton of committing murder and he is presently calling out that she should be jailed. He was the most prominent voice for those who could not conceive of a black person being President who declared that Obama illegitimately occupied the office of President.

Trump is playing with forces he has partial understanding of. Obviously it remains to be seen what he and his supporters evolve into.

Kevin O'Neill said...

Russell, true believer? I watched the complete market failure of neo-lib/glibertarian policies circa 2007-8 and the ensuing aftermath of calls for and implementation of 'austerity' policies. Of course all of this was predictable (in the modern era) at least since Reagan. Though I'd argue it was stillborn with Hayek.

Have you so quickly forgotten that markets not only failed at setting the optimum price - they couldn't set *any* price at all. Only, god forbid, gov't intervention saved their sorry asses.

Yet even after TBTF was exposed as a systemic failure, neo-lib/glibertarians fought any change to the system, except to throw us *more* of the same.

Markets cannot fail - they can only be failed. Yep.

EliRabett said...

Berlusconi without the money. Mussolini without the Black Shirts

Jeffrey Davis said...

Libertarianism is perfume for a pig. Republicans use libertarian rhetoric and then vote lockstep with the party. So, libertarians come off as being either cynical or Aspbergerish.

Jeffrey Davis said...

Trump (meanwhile) has founded his appeal on nationalism and brutality. Ignore his promise to use torture at your/our peril: it's one of his few statements he hasn't walked back.

Russell Seitz said...

Eli, Can we settle on Evita without the hair ?

Alastair said...

Never mind the presidents - its the people who elected them who should get the blame. When the US voters re-elected GWB they signed the death warrant for civilization as we know it. There is no way back now.

Russell Seitz said...

Sure you don't mean FDR ?