US and World Politics

Year of the Plague: Danger of Fascism

By Chris Kinder

October 11, 2020–As you read this, the 2020 election day in the U.S. will have already passed, but is that the end of the story? All the signs say, no. During the delay between election day and the December 14th date for the electoral college to vote, many things can and will happen, and most of them are not good. States, for instance, will be inundated with mail-in ballots to count, and many of them are very poorly prepared for this task. And there will be sinister problems.

Enter Donald Trump and Co. The current unelected U.S. president has planned for months to stay in power without actually being re-elected. He has openly proclaimed that he will refuse to leave office. He has even projected the possibility of 12 more years, not just four. And he has ways to out-flank the popular vote completely.

Trump is arranging a coup

Trump’s poll numbers have increasingly been dropping as of this writing. It is becoming more and more likely that Biden will win the popular vote, perhaps even in a landslide. Trump is getting more and more desperate. Yet he continues to insist that his reelection is a forgone conclusion.

In order to make this prediction come true, he and Republican allies have used a deep treasure chest of deceptive tricks to suppress the vote, especially in districts with a high percentage of Black, Brown and Asian voters. Trump also rants endlessly against mail-in voting, claiming that there will be thousands of fraudulent ballots, for which there is practically no evidence whatsoever.

He has also ramped up war-mongering against China, accusing it of interfering with fraudulent ballots. There is no evidence or likelihood for this, just as there is not for Russia, for that matter. Repeat a lie often enough, and some fools will believe it. In this case, that means his numerous white-supremacist allies.

Gangs of thugs

Trump is openly urging far-right vigilantes like the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, Wolverine Watchmen, Three Percenters and others to intimidate voters en masse, and invade vote-counting centers to “challenge” (ie., reject) ballots from Black and Brown communities; and to cause enough chaos and violence in the vote-counting process to convince swing states and courts that the voting-counting process has been invalidated.

These fascistic militias have already been prepared with events such as the “unite-the-right” torchlight mobilization in Charlottesville which killed one protestor, and set an example for violent attacks on demonstrations against police brutality and murders of Black people. These groups are egged on by Trump’s falsely blaming the left for the violence, refusing to denounce white supremacists, and asking the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by” in the debate with Biden. The Proud Boys promptly took that slogan as their marching orders, and put it on their t-shirts.

Many rightists are also mobilized to oppose anti-virus measures, also urged on by Trump. Most of these have been rallies, but the potential for dangerous violence was blatant when the Wolverine Watchers and others conspired to kidnap, and possibly kill, the governor of Michigan over her virus shutdown orders. This plot was exposed by the FBI in early October.

Crimes cloaked in a fraudulent legality

It is important to understand that the U.S. is not a democracy, and never has been. A court decision that the vote count is invalid could throw the election to state legislatures. In the Constitution, the state legislatures choose the electors, whose vote alone elects the president. The popular vote is never mentioned in the Constitution. In the early days, the legislature-appointed Electoral College was it. In modern times, the electors have generally followed the popular vote, but if that vote was invalidated, legislatures could pick whoever they want for electors. If enough Republican-dominated states do this, it could lock-up the “election” for Trump.

And Trump could declare a national emergency, which his loyal Attorney General Barr will support. This could send the decision to the Supreme Court, which Trump and his co-dictator in the Senate have stacked with rightist constitutionalists. The Court could send the decision to the House of Representatives, which is allowed one single vote for each state’s representatives, where Republican controlled states out number Democratic states by 26 to 23, thus electing Trump. Either way, Trump’s coup would be “legal,” according to the constitution.

How Adolf Hitler came to power

All this is remarkably similar to the way Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany. Hitler’s party, the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP-Nazi) never won a majority in an election, as Trump has not and will not. In Hitler’s case, this includes even the election that was held shortly after Hitler was made chancellor, in 1933. In the 1932 elections, the Nazis actually lost a few seats in the Reichstag (parliament), though they remained the largest single party. Hermann Göring became the Reichstag president, but Hitler refused an appointment as vice-chancellor, saying he didn’t want to “play second fiddle.”

Deadly clashes in the streets between Nazi Brownshirts and Communists were ramping up, as a severe depression was sweeping away jobs in Germany, as in the rest of the world. Göring promoted a bill in the Reichstag to strengthen penalties against “acts of political violence,” hoping that Communists could be rounded up. Instead, a major case was made against five Sturmabteilung1 (SA) Brownshirts for killings of Communists (who were the majority of victims of the violence.) Hitler served as a defense witness, but the Brownshirts were convicted and sentenced to death. Though Hitler’s dictatorship would soon change this scenario, it was not secure yet.

Hitler’s cloak of fraudulent

Hitler’s chancellorship in January 1933 was a appointment by the German President Hindenburg, based on the Nazi coalition with two small parties, which gave him a majority in the Reichstag. Nazis staged torchlight parades throughout Berlin. But Hindenburg was still in charge of the military as long as he remained alive (about one year,) and Hitler was unable to pass an “enabling act” to make him the supreme leader until he established a stronger majority in the Reichstag.

The bombing of the Reichstag, planned and organized by the Nazis and blamed on the Communists, was key. Hitler got Hindenburg to sign off on a “Reichstag Fire Decree,” which declared an emergency that allowed Hitler to suspend most civil liberties, including habeas corpus, freedom of the press, and the right of free association and public assembly. Mass arrests Communists, and the banning of non-Nazi political parties soon followed.

The “Night of the Long Knives,” which murderously beheaded the SA, the leadership of which had threatened the leadership of the military, was the final act. This, and the death of Hindenburg in August of 1934 solidified Hitler’s full dictatorship.

“Don’t forget how people laughed at me”

In 1934, Hitler was quoted saying, “Don’t forget how people laughed at me 15 years ago when I declared that one day, I would govern Germany. They laugh now, just as foolishly, when I declare that I will remain in power!”2 Does this remind you of anything?

Even though Trump himself is a little short of being an actual fascist—he is more accurately a self-serving arrogant racist white supremacist, nationalist, opportunist, and know-nothing moron (one easily runs out of adjectives)—his actions are certainly moving the U.S. in the direction that Hitler mapped out. He has declared he will stay in power whatever the outcome. Although they are not centrally organized as were the Brownshirts, the hard-right militias and vigilante groups in the U.S. are coming together in a common cause to wreak havoc on the election process in support of Trump.

Trump will probably not be able to fire-bomb Congress as the Nazis did the Reichstag. But he can foment violence, and is able to declare an emergency which would pretend to invalidate the election result. He and his thugs could possibly manufacture other atrocities to blame on the left. He has already gone overboard on blaming Black Lives Matter protestors for the violence which is actually caused by white rightists. This poses the question of, how ready is the U.S. for fascism?

QAnon, a hard-right threat

While this question is hard to answer, we see clear indications of a growing hard-right threat. Take the QAnon conspiracy theory. Starting as an obscure and totally bizarre internet discussion just a few years ago, it has exploded into a rapidly spreading Nazi-like cult. It claims there is a secret intelligence agent, Q, who is exposing a secret Satan-worshiping “deep state” cult which kidnaps white children, keeps them in secret prisons run by pedophiles, who slaughter and eat them to gain power from the essence in their blood. This cabal, Q claims, is financed by Jews, particularly George Soros, and Jews in the media.

Trump’s mission, according to QAnon is to expose and destroy this horrific deep state cabal. Trump’s comment, so far? He said he doesn’t know much (no surprise there), but they “like me,” and this pleases him!

The QAnon “ideology” is not new. It is based squarely on an anti-Semitic tirade known as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. These “protocols” were a forgery, probably written in the early 19th Century in Russia by elements in the Russian Orthodox Church, in response to the influx of Jews into Russia from its conquests in Poland and the Ottoman Empire. Central to its mythology was the “Blood Libel,” which claimed that Jews kidnapped and slaughtered Christian children, and drained their blood for use in the dough used to make matzos for Jewish holidays.

Pogroms against Jews

Jews in Russia were confined to special villages called “pales,” and subjected to periodic deadly pogroms, or raids, carried out by Czarist military. The Czarist secret police may have had a hand in the Protocols as well, all used to justify the pogroms. The Protocols were published in the early 20th Century, translated and spread throughout Europe, including in Germany, which also had a long history of confining Jews to ghettos, and to certain occupations as well.

The Protocols were a gift to the Nazis. It was used in Hitler’s Mein Kampf, and it was promoted in the Nazi newspaper, Der Sturmer (The Storm). It was also made into a children’s book, which was required in the curriculum of all primary schools!

QAnon’s source material in the Protocols is also not that new in the U.S. Fascist lovers and supporters of Mussolini and Hitler’s Germany abounded in this country. Henry Ford echoed Nazi hatred of Jews, and had 500,000 copies of the Protocols printed and distributed in the U.S. The infamous Catholic priest, Father Coughlin, preached the Protocols on his national radio programs in the 1930s—one of the first mass uses of radio. And the Ku Klux Klan combined anti-Semitism with its white supremacist hate message.3

U.S. corporations supported Nazis

Many large U.S. corporations were also complicit in supporting Mussolini and the German Nazis, both before and during World War II. This included financial investment, supplying of resources, and industrial production. Oil supplies were critical to both Japan and Germany, and U.S. companies, chiefly Standard Oil, supplied both throughout the war, using round-about routes through South Asia, Central and South America, and Spain, which was a neutral power friendly to Hitler. U.S. directors of SKF—a huge trust financed chiefly by a Swedish bank—made sure that SKF’s production of ball bearings, critical for airplanes, were delivered to Germany during the war. Fifteen months after Pearl Harbor, U.S. aircraft production lacked a supply of new ball bearings, with the result that worn-out bearings caused crashes of U.S. fighter planes. This is just one example in a detailed ten-page story.4

After the war, fascism was an anathema throughout most of the world, but now it is out of the bottle again. Rightist populism and outright fascism is spreading. But what is the likelihood of fascism’s victory in the U.S. today?

Will Trump’s coup work?

Both Mussolini and Hitler came to power because they had ruling class support in the context of mass working class revolutionary movements which threatened to overthrow capitalism. Both fascist movements were based on violent organized bands, controlled from the top, and able to combat the workers movements and parties. Today’s fascists in the U.S. are a collection of dangerous armed bands who are capable of murderous attacks, and have the support of the right-populist president, but they lack a unifying national organization.

The ruling class’ power is not significantly threatened today. While still having many isolated struggles, and while ideas of socialism have been spreading, workers lack a revolutionary party, are not organized as a class, and so are not currently threatening the ruling class. Also, the bourgeoisie is showing serious doubts about Trump, as seen by the large increase of Wall Street financing for Biden rather than Trump. They liked the tax break, but did not really need it. What else do they have to gain from Trump? More chaos?

Democrats can’t solve anything

Biden will win the popular vote, and Trump and his thugs will try to disrupt it, that much is certain. But despite Trump’s legal resources in the undemocratic U.S. Constitution, and despite the surge in fascistic mobilization in the U.S., I think that Trump’s coup attempt will not succeed—this time. Trump will wind up in defeat, one way or another, but that will not be the end of it. While this prediction is tenuous, one thing is certain: a Biden victory will solve nothing.

The fascist mobilization is not going to go away, nor are the many problems of capitalist/imperialist rule in the U.S. and the world. The Democrats will not and cannot solve problems caused by the extreme wealth gap in the U.S., the unchallenged advance of climate change, the coronavirus pandemic, or the threats of fascistic gangs. Only the development of a revolutionary workers party, determined to overthrow capitalism, can solve the many problems we face.

1 The Sturmabteilung (SA) literally “Storm Detachment,” was the Nazi Party’s original paramilitary wing. It played a significant role in Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in the 1920s and 1930s.

2 It was at this time that Hitler declared that the “National Socialist movement will go on for 1,000 years!” “Germany: Second Revolution?” Time Magazine, July 2, 1934; quoted in “Hitler’s Seizure of Power, Seizure of Control (1931-1933),”

3 “QAnon is a Nazi Cult, Rebranded,” by Gregory Stanton, September 9, 2020.

(Stanton works with Genocide Watch, and the Alliance Against Genocide)

4 Anthony Gronowicz, “The history tells another story about the role of the U.S. in World War II,” on the action greens list. Professor Gronowicz teaches at the City University of New York, and is the author of several books.