1. Father of Fascism
Studies: Donald Trump Shows
Alarming Willingness to Use
Fascist Terms & Styles
2. Glenn Greenwald Blames Corporate Media’s ‘Faux
Objectivity’ for Trump’s Ascent
Clintons' $93 Million Romance With Wall Street
4. Trump Tells a Lie About Every Five Minutes, Literally
5. Civilian Control of the Military is Over, Welcome to
This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, March 16,
crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about an
article in which "the father of fascism studies" is asked whether Trump
is a fascist: the answer is ambiguous and not clear; item 2 is about
whether Greenwald complained about "faux objectivity" or its
totalitarian explanation, and I conclude the latter; item 3 is about
the enormous amounts of money that the Clintons got from the big banks,
and is quite good; item 4 is about the lies Trump indulges in, but has
a mistaken conclusion; and item 5 is an excellent and long article
about the strong grip the American military has now acquired (since Clinton,
also) on the civil population of the USA.
of Fascism Studies: Donald Trump Shows Alarming Willingness to Use
Fascist Terms & Styles
first item is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!:
This starts as follows:
"Fascism: Could it happen here?" That’s
a question increasingly being raised as Republican presidential
front-runner Donald Trump continues his bid for the White House. People
as varied as actor George Clooney, comedian Louis C.K. and Anne Frank’s
stepsister Eva Schloss have suggested Trump is a fascist. Earlier this
month, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto criticized Trump by
invoking the fascist dictators Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. Trump
has retweeted quotes by Mussolini. Is Donald Trump really a fascist? We
put the question to the father of fascism studies, Robert Paxton,
professor emeritus of social science at Columbia University and author
of several books, including "The Anatomy of Fascism."
It so happens that I know a fair amount
about fascism, but I never read a book by Robert Paxton (<-
Wikipedia) - who is said to be the "father of fascism studies".
I suppose this must be - at least
- qualified by the addition of "in the United States" and I should add
that the definition of "fascism" that he uses is certainly not
Here is that definition, quoted from Wikipedia. It comes from
Paxton's 2004 book "The anatomy of fascism":
Fascism may be defined as a form
of political behavior marked by obsessive
preoccupation with community decline, humiliation,
or victim-hood and by compensatory cults of
unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective
collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic
liberties and pursues with
redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing
and external expansion.
I am a psychologist, but this is far
too much of a psychological definition, and besides, it mostly
avoids references to sociology and wholly avoids a reference to
the economy. (And where are authoritarianism, totalitarianism,
and corporatism, for example?)
Next, it turns out that there is a Wikipedia lemma entitled "Definitions
of fascism" that starts as follows:
This in turn is followed by no less than twenty
attempted definitions, that include Paxton's, and that vary wildly.
What constitutes a definition of
fascism and fascist governments is a highly disputed subject that
has proved complicated and contentious. Historians, political
scientists, and other scholars have engaged in long and furious debates
concerning the exact nature of fascism
and its core tenets.
Most scholars agree that a "fascist regime"
is foremost an authoritarian form of government,
although not all authoritarian regimes are fascist.
Authoritarianism is thus a defining characteristic, but most scholars
will say that more distinguishing traits are needed to make an
authoritarian regime fascist.
Similarly, fascism as an ideology
is also hard to define. Originally, "fascism" referred to a political
movement that was linked with corporatism
and existed in Italy from 1922 to 1943 under the leadership of Benito Mussolini.
In case you are interested in fascism and in a plausible definition, I
refer you to this Wikipedia lemma. It certainly is interesting.
I will not discuss this lemma further here and now, except by saying
that I liked Dimitrov's definition, though mostly because this inspired my
father, and not because I think it is intellectually very good ; I liked
Emilio Gentile's definition; and I liked the Marxist definitions; and there was more that was good
in the lemma. 
Back to the article, which - after an introduction - starts as follows:
AMY GOODMAN: So, what do you think of Donald
Trump? Is he a fascist?
PAXTON: Well, I think
that Donald Trump shows a rather alarming willingness to use fascist
themes and fascist styles, which—and the response this gets, the
positive response, is alarming.
AMY GOODMAN: What is fascism?
PAXTON: Well, fascism is
a mass nationalist movement intended to restore a country that’s been
damaged or is in decline, by expansion, by violent attacks on enemies,
internal as well as external enemies, and measures of authority, the
replacement of democracy by an authoritarian dictatorship.
Having arrived at this point, I realized
that Paxton may be a big name in fascism studies, and that he is right
about fascism as an authoritarian dictatorship (which is missing in his above quoted definition) - but that his definition
of "fascism" certainly is not mine, and so I started looking around, and arrived at the
As to the direct question whether Paxton
thinks that Trump is a fascist (or not), the answer is more academic than heroic:
(...) But in general, I’m very leery of the use of the term too
casually. And I do see great differences between Trump and fascism.
I do not say that academics should
heroic, but also I do not have a lot of respect for this
claimed "father of
fascism" studies (in the United States) who is "very
leery of the use of the term too casually",
while he certainly knows there have been wide-ranging debates
term, and also that almost anything may be rapidly connected to
"fascism" or "nazism" in (especially) popular discussions - see Godwin's Law.
Also, I do not see much heroism in referring to "great differences between Trump and fascism" without articulating a single one.
Here is the last attempt of Amy Goodman to make Paxton say something
no: He again has nothing to offer but
his psychological judgement that an aggressive man like Trump is
frightening as a president of the USA. Well... I say: You don't need to
be "the father of fascism studies" (in the USA) to conclude that.
AMY GOODMAN: Do you think Donald Trump is a
danger to America or represents a danger that’s already here?
PAXTON: I think that his
violent and aggressive temperament installed in the powers of the
president of the United States is unpredictable and frightening.
What do I think of it? I suppose Paxton is an academic as I have
learned to know academics:
They certainly would - in very large majority - not have resisted the Nazis as my father, my
mother, and my grandfather did, and they often did nothing because they
were - so they claimed - much too preoccupied with "finding the correct
definition" of the dangerous evils they saw happening around them to do anything
risky against the dangerous evils they saw.
And while this might be a little unfair about Paxton - whom I don't
at all - it certainly holds for nearly all the Dutch academics
known quite well.
Greenwald Blames Corporate Media’s ‘Faux Objectivity’ for Trump’s Ascent
is by Donald Kaufman on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:
The Intercept’s Glenn
Greenwald—widely recognized for his reporting on the government
surveillance programs that National Security Agency whistleblower
Edward Snowden exposed in 2013—says the corporate media is largely to
blame for the rise of Donald Trump.
Why? “Because the rules of large media
outlets—venerating faux objectivity over truth along with every other
civic value—prohibit the sounding of any alarms” about Trump or other
dangers, he writes.
I treated Glenn
Greenwald's article yesterday - except that I did not
consider that "faux objectivity"
is the main problem with much of present day journalists: For
was a flag of unreason, so to speak, that both masks and expresses
their fundamentally totalitarian
attitudes. (In the form of: "Listen mate, we are not totalitarian - are you crazy? We merely agreed to say all the
same things, don't you see?")
Would I be that mistaken? Here are some
(not all) of the quotes from Greenwald that Kaufman gives:
And I said or implied that these "newly invented concepts"
are not what they are represented as ("objectivity") but are a
stage make-up that hides totalitarianism
for the simple reason that this is
what is implied: if every journalist says essentially the same,
this is not journalism anymore but propaganda,
and if it is all the same it cannot but be totalitarian.
Contrary to what U.S. media corporations
have succeeded in convincing people, these journalistic neutrality
rules are not remotely traditional. They are newly invented concepts
that coincided with the acquisition of the nation’s most important
media outlets by large, controversy-averse corporations for which
“media” was just one of many businesses.
But I agree Glenn Greenwald also wrote things that suggests he blames
the forced objectivity:
Large corporations hate controversy (it
alienates consumers) and really hate offending those who wield
political power (bad for business). Imposing objectivity rules on the
journalists who work for their media divisions was a means to avoid
offending anyone by forcing journalists to conceal their perspectives,
assumptions, and viewpoints, and, worse, forcing them to dishonestly
pretend that they had none, that they float above all that.
Glenn Greenwald is probably correct that
"large corporations hate controversy" - but in this case it isn't just
about "large corporations" but about such corpo- rations as engage
in journalism - and since a free press is essential to real democracy, to attempt to prescribe to journalists what they should say and to force "them to
dishonestly pretend that they had" no "perspectives, assum- ptions, and
viewpoints" is to force a totalitarian
attitude on them, and to make it impossible that they write as real
journalists (or indeed as real persons), which again makes it impossible for anyone who reads their stuff to know what
really may be happening.
Greenwald is also quoted on the consequences:
This framework neutered
journalism and drained it of all its vitality and passion, reducing
journalists to stenography drones permitted to do little more than
summarize what each equally valid side asserts. Worse, it ensures that
people who wield great influence and power—such as Donald Trump—can
engage in all sorts of toxic, dishonest, and destructive behavior
without having to worry about any check from journalists, who are
literally barred by their employers from speaking out (even as their
employers profit greatly through endless coverage).
But again I say: If that is
the case, then the
"journalists" who let themselves be made into "stenographic drones"
allowed themselves to be changed from journalists into
- well: "persons"
who all express the same viewpoints, because they like
and they don't want to give problems or be a nuisance to their bosses or the
Which again makes them into totalitarian
"journalists", by my criterions. And therefore: No, I don't think I was
3. The Clintons' $93 Million Romance
With Wall Street
third item is by Richard
Behan on AlterNet:
This starts as follows, and this is also
an excellent article:
For 24 years Bill and Hillary Clinton
have courted Wall Street money with notable success. During that
time the New York banks contributed:
The total here is $83.72 million for the
six campaigns, disbursed from 11 banks: Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, UBS,
Bank of America/Merrill Lynch, Wells Fargo, Barclay's, JP Morgan Chase,
CIBC, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, and Morgan Stanley.
- $11.17 million to Bill Clinton's
presidential campaign in 1992.
- $28.37 million for his re-election in
- $2.13 million to Hillary Clinton's
senatorial campaign in 2002.
- $6.02 million for her re-election in
- $14.61 million to Hillary Clinton's
presidential campaign in 2008.
- $21.42 million to her 2016
I note that a middle class worker
must work something like 20 years to make one million
dollars, for which reason collecting $83.72
millions from 11 banks is quite a feat - and no: these many
millions are not paid to Bill and Hillary because they look nice, are
witty, make fine jokes, have interesting personalities etc. but simply
as rewards for the things they did or would do for those large sums
But the above list by no means comprises all:
Then there were the speeches.
Sixteen days after leaving the White House in 2001, Mr. Clinton
delivered a speech to Morgan Stanley, for which he was paid $125,000.
That was the first of many speeches to the New York banks. Over the
next 14 years, Mr. Clinton's Wall Street speaking engagements earned
him a total of $5,910,000:
I take it these were all in reward for the
things Clinton did for these banks while president, for that is the
only plausible explanation why big banks would be willing to pay him $
125,000 for a talk of an hour: Not to hear his voice or his jokes.
- $1,550,000 from Goldman Sachs.
- $1,690,000 from UBS.
- $1,075,000 from Bank of
- $770,000 from Deutsche Bank.
- $700,000 from Citigroup
As Behan says:
No other political couple in
modern history has enjoyed so much money flowing to them from Wall
Street for such a long time—$92.57 million over a quarter century.
Then there is this on the private
wealth of the Clintons:
Over that period of time, while
one or the other held public office almost continuously, the couple
accumulated a net worth of $125 million. Measured by family wealth,
this inserted the couple into the top 1% of American families by a
factor of 16 ($7.88 million is the threshold).
I say. I have to admit that it is not
clear to me how they got these $125 million, but the Clintons surely
are rich (whether they are worth 85 million or 125 million) and they
got much of their money from "talks given to banks".
Here is what they did for all the money they got (bolding added):
Over the 24 years of the
romance, the Clintons first reoriented their political party, gave it a
new name, the New Democratic Party, and put it at Wall
Street's service. Then they engineered financial opportunities for
the New York banks of immense value, running into the hundreds of
billions. And through the years as president, senator and secretary
of state, the Clintons supported Wall Street's interests at every
That seems quite correct, and in case you
wonder about "the New Democratic Party": This refers to Clinton's (and Blair's and Kok's) "Third Way" bullshit that
made rightist "liberal" parties out of what had been
(in England and Holland) social democratic parties. (Blair and
Kok loved it: It made them rich.)
And here is what the Clintons did for Wall Street (i.e. the big banks):
Wall Street's grip on
the New Democratic Party, however, and its influence in the Obama
administration, appeared in the Department of Justice as well. Eric
Holder joined the administration from the law firm of Covington
Burling, which represents in Washington most of the Wall Street banks.
Charged with prosecuting their criminal behavior, Holder found the
banks “too big to fail.” Instead of criminal indictments and lawsuits,
Holder negotiated with each of the banks a financial penalty to be paid
from corporate funds. No corporate executives were jailed, no personal
fines levied, no records of criminal conduct filed, no salaries
reduced, no bonuses denied.
And that is called: enormous corruption. There is a lot more in the article, which is
Trump Tells a Lie About Every Five
The fourth item is by
Janet Allon on AlterNet:
This starts as follows:
GOP frontrunner Donald Trump
accelerated just about everything last week. He amped up his violent
rhetoric and his denials that his rhetoric has anything to do with the
violence at his rallies (or violence against people of color in his
name in general). You could say he put his pedal to the metal in terms
of his rate of telling lies, half-truths and distortions. Notably, he
also lied about being a "truthful" man, "maybe truthful to a fault," he
whined at a North Carolina rally.
This is correct (and see the next quotation),
but I should say that there is no evidence presented in the
article for the claim in the title: I did not find the phrase
"five minutes" in the article.
Then again, Trump does lie a lot:
Don't worry, Donald. You're not
too truthful. You're not at all truthful, actually. Politico
decided to do a little fact-check on the Trumpster's statements over
the course of the week, the kind of vetting magazines at least try to
do with their articles, and found this startling number: "More than
five dozen statements deemed mischaracterizations, exaggerations, or
simply false." Politico politely called these "misstatements." We're
not sure why, since that connotes that they were somehow accidental.
Trump "misstates" things on purpose, consistent with his true identity
as a salesman, to put it charitably, or con artist as people like Marco
Rubio have pointed out.
Yes, I agree: To call intentional lies - in
the attempt to become the most powerful man on earth - "misstatements"
is bullshit. It's quite possibly a misstatement to say that the temperature will be 25 degrees today if the news said
that it will be 15 degrees today; it turns into a lie if you insist that
because it will be 25 degrees today it follows that everyone has to eat your ice
cream. Donald Trump engages in lies, and indeed also in "mischaracterizations" and "exaggerations", and he does so because he thinks this may make him the
most powerful person on earth.
The article ends as follows:
Sadly, the fact that Trump is a
compulsive liar is far from the most dangerous or scary thing about him
anymore as he continues to revel in the violent atmosphere he is
perfectly happy to perpetuate to his own benefit
No, definitely not: The violence is ugly, but
Trump is not yet president. The lies are more dangerous, for it is by
means of the lies (and the mischaracter- izations
and exaggerations) that Trump tries to become the most powerful man on
earth (and not by means of the violence).
5. Civilian Control of the Military
is Over, Welcome to Civilian Subjugation
The fifth and last
item today is by Gregory D. Foster on Naked
This starts as follows and is part of a
long and interesting article:
This is one of several items, and it shows a
quite shocking injustice, or so would I say.
Item: The Pentagon elects not to reduce
General David Petraeus in rank, thereby ensuring that he receives full,
four-star retirement pay, after previously being sentenced on
misdemeanor charges to two years’ probation and a $100,000 fine for
illegally passing highly classified material (a criminal offense) to
his mistress (adultery, ordinarily punishable under the Uniform Code of
Military Justice) and lying to FBI officials (a criminal offense).
Meanwhile, Private Chelsea (née Bradley) Manning continues to serve a
35-year prison sentence, having been reduced to the Army’s lowest rank
and given a dishonorable discharge for providing classified documents
to WikiLeaks that included incriminating on-board videos of a 2007
Apache helicopter attack in Baghdad that killed up to 18 civilians,
including two Reuters journalists, and wounded two children, and of a
2009 massacre in Afghanistan in which a B-1 bomber killed as many as
147 civilians, reportedly including some 93 children.
What do these episodes have in common?
In their own way, they’re all symptomatic of an enduring crisis in
civil-military relations that afflicts the United States.
The above quotation is immediately followed by this:
What do these episodes have in common?
In their own way, they’re all
symptomatic of an enduring crisis in civil-military relations that
afflicts the United States.
Hyperbolic though it may sound, it is a
crisis, though not like the
Flint water crisis, or the international refugee crisis, or the ISIS
crisis, or the Zika crisis. It’s more like the climate crisis, or a
lymphoma or termite infestation that destroys from within, unrecognized
and unattended. And yes, it’s an enduring crisis, a state of affairs
that has been with us, unbeknownst to the public and barely
acknowledged by purported experts on the subject of civil-military
relations, for the past two decades or more.
I agree, and it is "an enduring
crisis", and it already lasts a long time. Here are some of the
financial reasons why this constitutes a crisis:
Rapacious defense spending: The
U.S. military budget exceeds that of
the next 10 countries combined, as well as of the gross domestic
products of all but 20 countries. At 54% of federal discretionary
spending, it surpasses all other discretionary accounts combined,
including government, education, Medicare, veterans’ benefits, housing,
international affairs, energy and the environment, transportation, and
agriculture. Thanks to the calculations of the National Priorities
Project, we know that the total cost of American war since 2001 — $1.6
trillion — would have gotten us 19.5 million Head Start slots for 10
years or paid for 2.2 million elementary school teachers for a decade.
A mere 1% of the defense budget for one year — just over $5 billion —
would pay for 152,000 four-year university scholarships or 6,342 police
officers for 10 years. What we spend on nuclear weapons alone each year
— $19.3 billion — would cover a decade of low-income healthcare for
825,000 children or 549,000 adults.
Incidentally, another way of saying the
above is that Eisenhower's "military- industrial complex" (<-
Wikipedia) won in the USA since Reagan; and that therefore it gets more
than half of the taxes, which again makes the USA the biggest warring state
in the world, and does so by far.
To end this review, here is a quotation that is (like the others) still from the beginning:
As I said, there is a whole lot
more in the article, that is recommended. I leave it here simply
because there is too much to comment on in a Nederlog that is dedicated
to several subjects, like all the crisis files.
The essence of the situation begins, but
doesn’t end, with civilian control of the military, where direction,
oversight, and final decision-making authority reside with duly elected
and appointed civil officials. That’s a minimalist precondition for
democracy. A more ideal version of the relationship would be civilian
supremacy, where there is civically engaged public oversight of
strategically competent legislative oversight of strategically
competent executive oversight of a willingly accountable, self-policing
What we have today, instead, is the
polar opposite: not civilian supremacy over, nor even civilian control
of the military, but what could be characterized as civilian
subjugation to the military, where civilian officials are largely
militarily illiterate, more militaristic than the military itself,
advocates for — rather"mischaracterizations"
and "exaggerations" than overseers of — the
institution, and running scared politically (lest they be labeled weak
on defense and security).
That, then, is our lot today. Civilian
authorities are almost unequivocally deferential to established
military preferences, practices, and ways of thinking. The military
itself, as the three “items” above suggest, sets its own standards,
makes and produces its own news, and appropriates policy and
policymaking for its own ends, whatever civilian leadership may think
or want. It is a demonstrably massive, self-propelled institution
increasingly central to American life, and what it says and wants and
does matters in striking ways.
More precisely: My father was a son of a middle class owner of a small
painting firm, that went broke 5 times between 1929 and 1931 "because"
as my father said "the people simply could not pay the bills". And it
was this fact; the arisal of Nazism in Germany; the persecution of the
Jews; and especially Dimitrov's courage and wit in the trial about the fire of the Reichstag that made my father into a communist in 1935 (and later his father as well).
 I may
return to it, but I do not have the time nor the space to consider the
definitions of "fascism" today. But as I said: this is an interesting