This is American fascism | open democracy



When one scratches beneath the surface, it becomes evident that many of these exonerations of the Franco regime as non-fascist potentially reflect academics’ own blind spots and sexism – ignoring the central role of one of the most powerful women in the world. Spain, Pilar Primo de Rivera, who headed the state-run “Phalanx Women’s Section” for more than four decades as heir to her brother’s fascist legacy. She was even proposed at one point as a potential wife of Adolf Hitler. A woman of immense power, she influenced education nationally and endeavored to instill fascist ideologies in young people through a “national Catholic” program – reflected in particular in books for children and educational programs of the time.

Franco, too, ardently defended the “national Catholicism” which linked religion to Spanish identity. His imagery and rhetoric attempted to match that of 15th-century Isabelle and Ferdinand, the two “Catholic kings” who, in 1492, expelled Muslims and Jews from Spain and began conquering the Americas. The deeply anti-Semitic Franco couldn’t go after the Jews in Spain because there simply wasn’t such a large Jewish population in the country; instead, Franco attacked communists, anarchists, socialists, gays and immigrants. He also stoked conspiracies of secret Masonic and Jewish cabals.

Today, in the right-wing media in the United States, similar rhetoric is frequently used against “globalists”, “Communist and Socialist Democrats” and “Hollywood”. The similarities don’t end there. The Franco regime frequently brandished the slogan “Una, Grande y Libre! (One, Great and Free) – a slogan one could easily imagine chanted at a Trump rally.

Comparatively, like Franco, Trump had no qualms about using images of Christianity to his advantage. Moreover, one can certainly see that a sort of “Christian nationalism” has developed in right-wing circles in the United States, advocated by Steve Bannon, Betsy DeVos and a slew of cronies. Trump created anti-Muslim policies, placed migrants in concentration camps, attacked transgender people, and, as Franco did with Mussolini and Hitler, desperately tried to forge alliances with dictators around the world. While history doesn’t repeat itself, it does, it certainly rhymes, and Trump’s ideology and political agenda is certainly a strain of fascism. The Trump brand is particularly Islamophobic, misogynist, racist, xenophobic, queerphobic, and against liberalism and socialism.

Not a checklist, but a formula with variables

Some researchers have attempted to create a sort of “fascist checklist”: is there a strongman figure? Is there violence? Are they using an imaginary past to legitimize their actions? Is there a militarized police? Imperialist tendencies?


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