You are using an outdated browser.
Please upgrade your browser
and improve your visit to our site.
It Can Happen

Yes, That’s Right: American Fascism

Why waste time debating the extent of Trump’s fascism when we ought to be fighting it instead?

“No, no,” some admonish: “Don’t get carried away. Sure, Donald Trump is dangerous, perhaps uniquely so. But … fascist? The need to label him a fascist says more about the labeler than about Trump.” This argument has sprung from certain quarters of the right, which was to be expected, but it has also sprouted from the left, where a point of view has arisen that the “hysterical” invocation of the f-word is as much a danger as Trump.

We have trouble seeing the hysteria. We chose the cover image, based on a well-known 1932 Hitler campaign poster, for a precise reason: that anyone transported back to 1932 Germany could very, very easily have explained away Herr Hitler’s excesses and been persuaded that his critics were going overboard. After all, he spent 1932 campaigning, negotiating, doing interviews—being a mostly normal politician. But he and his people vowed all along that they would use the tools of democracy to destroy it, and it was only after he was given power that Germany saw his movement’s full face.

Today, we at The New Republic think we can spend this election year in one of two ways. We can spend it debating whether Trump meets the nine or 17 points that define fascism. Or we can spend it saying, “He’s damn close enough, and we’d better fight.”

We unreservedly choose the latter course. And so we have assembled herein some of our leading intellectual historians of fascism; a member of the fourth estate who learned firsthand what the Trump lash feels like; a leading expert on civil-military relations; a great Guatemalan American novelist with a deep understanding of immigrants’ lives; one of our most incisive cultural critics; and a man with all-too-real experience in living under a notorious authoritarian regime. The scenarios they describe are certainly grim. We dare you to say, after reading these pieces, that they are impossible.