Jan 23, 2017
Crisis: On Revolt, Fascist Trump, Emperor Trump, Compulsive Trump, Dangerous Trump
Sections                                                                     crisis index

Revolt Is the Only Barrier to a Fascist America
2. Congratulations, America! You've Elected an Actual Fascist

America's President Will Try to Rule Like a Roman Emperor
The Psychological Condition that Best Explains Donald Trump's
     Twisted Worldview

Donald Trump Poses a Never-Before-Seen Threat in American

This is a Nederlog of January 23, 2017. (It may be that there will be no Nederlog tomorrow, because I have troubles with my teeth again.)

Summary: This is a crisis log with 5 items and 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about a good article by Chris Hedges; item 2 is about a somewhat good article by DeVega; item 3 is a disappointing article about Trump as a Roman emperor; item 4 likewise is a quite disappointing article about diagnosing Trump (with a diagnosis that seems unique to the diagnoser, who also hardly defines it); and item 5 is a somewhat good article by Peter Dreier.
As for today (January 23, 2017): I have meanwhile attached a message to the openings of both of my sites which points out that for somehing like a year now both of my sites more or less systematically, but unpredictably, show the wrong date and the wrong files, indeed going so far back as 2015, and as if I did not write anything since then.

Today, the Danish site is correct, but the Dutch site still shows it is January 18 while it has been properly uploaded five times in more than 120 hours.

Someone really wants that my sites are not being read.

More about this later.
1. Revolt Is the Only Barrier to a Fascist America

The first item is by Chris Hedges (<-Wikipedia) on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:

The ruling elites, terrified by the mobilization of the left in the 1960s, or by what [political scientist] Samuel P. Huntington called America’s “excess of democracy,” built counter-institutions to delegitimize and marginalize critics of corporate capitalism and imperialism. They bought the allegiances of the two main political parties. They imposed … obedience to the neoliberal ideology within academia and the press. This campaign, laid out by Lewis Powell in his 1971 memorandum titled “Attack on American Free Enterprise System,” was the blueprint for the creeping corporate coup d’état that 45 years later is complete.

Yes indeed: I have arrived at a very similar explanation for what is happening in the USA and indeed has been happening there since the 1970ies, which has been described by several journalists and observers as "a coup d'état in slow motion".

And this Republican coup d'état has mostly succeeded by now:

The destruction of democratic institutions, places where the citizen has agency and a voice, is far graver than the ascendancy to the White House of the demagogue Donald Trump. The coup destroyed our two-party system. It destroyed labor unions. It destroyed public education. It destroyed the judiciary. It destroyed the press. It destroyed academia. It destroyed consumer and environmental protection. It destroyed our industrial base. It destroyed communities and cities. And it destroyed the lives of tens of millions of Americans no longer able to find work that provides a living wage, cursed to live in chronic poverty or locked in cages in our monstrous system of mass incarceration.

Yes, I agree again: This is a fair summary - in my eyes, at least, and these eyes have been scientifically trained and know a lot about politics - of what happened over the last 45 years or so in the USA.

And incidentally, as a side-remark, because this explains quite a lot about the coup: It was mainly brought about through corruption: Most people can be bought and are willing to betray their own principles and betray others for a little money for themselves.

Then there is this:

This coup also destroyed the credibility of liberal democracy. Self-identified liberals such as the Clintons and Barack Obama mouthed the words of liberal democratic values while making war on these values in the service of corporate power. The revolt we see rippling across the country is a revolt not only against a corporate system that has betrayed workers, but also, for many, liberal democracy itself. This is very dangerous. It will allow the radical right under a Trump administration to cement into place an Americanized fascism.

“Ignorance allied with power,” James Baldwin wrote, “is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.”

Again yes: That is what the Clintons and Obama did: Speaking propaganda to their voters, they decided to deregulate the complete American economy, and allow the rich to transport their factories to China and India, because their profits are much larger there.

And Chris Hedges is also right that (i) now also liberal democracy is under attack, indeed both from the right and from "the left" (which is very dangerous), and indeed
(ii) ignorance and stupidity are the most ferocious enemies of real justice, and of sound fact-based politics (and are far less mentioned as important forces in history, politics and religion in the American media than even fascism, and that while half of all Americans have an IQ of maximally 100).

Then there is this:

It turns out, 45 years later, that those who truly hate us for our freedoms are not the array of dehumanized enemies cooked up by the war machine—the Vietnamese, Cambodians, Afghans, Iraqis, Iranians or even the Taliban, al-Qaida and ISIS. They are the financiers, bankers, politicians, public intellectuals and pundits, lawyers, journalists and businesspeople cultivated in the elite universities and business schools who sold us the utopian dream of neoliberalism.

Yes and no, but mostly yes. The reason I say no is mostly that I do not think that the rich and the "politicians, public intellectuals and pundits, lawyers, journalists and businesspeople" hate "us" (and "us" is not well described, but OK): They despise people who could not make it as losers, and they normally think such people are inferior, either for not having money or for not being well educated.

There is a difference, but I will leave it resting.

This is about what the rich - that here include (schematically but adequately) around 10% of the total population, made up from the rich as 1%; their helpers as 9%; and the exploited and deceived rest at 90% - did to the 90%:
They have given themselves the legal power to carry out a tax boycott, loot the U.S. Treasury, close factories and send the jobs overseas, gut social service programs and impose austerity. They have, at the same time, militarized our police, built the most sophisticated security and surveillance apparatus in human history and used judicial fiat to strip us of our civil liberties. They are ready should we rise up in defiance.
Yes indeed, though the Americans have one thing that the Europeans all lack: Guns.

I do not know, but eventually this may make a difference, for in the USA there are at least tens of millions and probably over a hundred million people who own some sort of arms. Then again, this is probably also behind the massive increases in heavy armor of the American police.

Here is a prediction by Chris Hedges:
What comes next, history has shown, will not be pleasant. A corrupt and inept ruling elite, backed by the organs of state security and law enforcement, will unleash a naked kleptocracy. Workers will become serfs. The most benign dissent will be criminalized. The ravaging of the ecosystem propels us towards extinction. Hate talk will call for attacks against Muslims, undocumented workers, African-Americans, feminists, intellectuals, artists and dissidents, all of whom will be scapegoated for the country’s stagnation. Magical thinking will dominate our airwaves and be taught in our public schools. Art and culture will be degraded to nationalist kitsch. All the cultural and intellectual disciplines that allow us to view the world from the perspective of the other, that foster empathy, understanding and compassion, will be replaced by a grotesque and cruel hypermasculinity and hypermilitarism. Those in power will validate racism, bigotry, misogyny and homophobia.
Again I say yes, with two minor qualifications.

First, I agree that the rich will try to steal as much as they can of the non-rich, and this is reasonably well described by the term "kleptocracy". Then again, I think myself this is better systematized, if indeed perhaps a bit less descriptively adequate, by my term neofascism.

And second, while I agree that the neofascist forces are made up of "
a grotesque and cruel hypermasculinity and hypermilitarism" that "will validate racism, bigotry, misogyny and homophobia", much that is predicted might be alleviated by intelligent humanism (let's say).

Then again, I do agree that the forces on the right are now extremely formidable, indeed not because they are in majority (they are not), but because they succeeded in getting all the formal powers of the American state, which they will abuse as much as they can.

This is the ending of this article:

The moment we defy power, we are victorious. The moment we stand alongside the oppressed, and accept being treated like the oppressed, we are victorious. The moment we hold up a flickering light in the darkness for others to see, we are victorious. The moment we thwart the building of a pipeline or a fracking site, we are victorious. And the moment those in power become frightened of us, we are victorious.

I do not know if we can build a better society. I do not even know if we will survive as a species. But I do know these corporate forces have us by the throat. And they have my children by the throat. I do not fight fascists because I will win. I fight fascists because they are fascists.

I am sorry, but I cannot agree with the first paragraph, and my reasons are my family history: Both my father and my grandfather resisted the Nazis, and were arrested in June of 1941, convicted by Dutch collaborating judges as "political terrorists", and were put in concentration camps, where my grandfather was murdered.

My mother was also in the resistance, and both of my parents survived 12 years of Nazism and were poor all their lives, in considerable part for being and remaining communists. (Both were quite intelligent, with IQs over 130.)

So therefore I will not say you or anyone is "victorious" if they oppose the forces of neofascism: The fascists succeeded in slaughtering 60 million people before they were defeated. And whether the neofascists will be defeated is an open question.

But I agree with the second paragraph and indeed I have faught "
fascists because they are fascists" in fact since 1977, which is meanwhile 40 years ago - when I was first called "a dirty fascist" because I did not believe Marx was the greatest philosophical genius ever and because I believed in truth and science, unlike 95% of the students and staff of the University of Amsterdam (who in fact all were interested in science not because they liked science, but because they liked money - and indeed nearly all of them made considerable amounts of money by their titles). [1]

This also shows another modern problem that my antifascist parents and antifascist grandparents did not have: Extremely much of politics these days is filled by the dirtiest and most contemptible liars and deceivers. [2]

And this is a strongly recommended article.

2. Congratulations, America! You've Elected an Actual Fascist President

The second item is by Chauncy DeVega on Salon:
This starts as follows:

America’s increasingly abnormal politics have now surrendered to dystopia.

Donald Trump, a serial liar, narcissist, failed businessman, political con artist, adulterer, professed grabber of women’s genitals without their permission, man who does not read, ignoramus, admirer and fan of despots and dictators, encourager of vigilante violence against innocent people, actor in a porn video, person who does not pay his employees, member of the Vladimir Putin fan club, racist landlord, preferred candidate of neo-Nazis and other fringe racists, professional wrestling villain, and candidate who incites violence against his political opponents, is now the 45th president of the United States of America.

Donald Trump is also a fascist authoritarian in the American mold and leader of the world’s most powerful and influential “democracy.”

I say. I mostly agree though not with all, but that doesn't matter much.

But I do have one fundamental problem with this, and indeed with most prose that mentions fascism: It rarely is defined, and if it is defined then the definition - there are at least 22 different ones: See my On Fascism and Neofascism: Definitions for considerably more and also with a decent definition of fascism - usually is not very good, and quite often quite bad.

And the terms "fascism" and "fascist" also are not defined in this article, although some attempts are being made in this article. Here is the first one:

There were some bold voices who said that Trump had “authoritarian tendencies.” But very few commentators had the courage to plainly state that Donald Trump was a fascist — even though the evidence was growing then and is now insurmountable.

I don't quite think so, and I have been following politics closely for years, as my crisis series shows. Here are a few points:

First, I probably agree with DeVega (he doesn't discuss this here) that the mainstream media have been mostly lying about Trump, and I don't just mean that they may have denied Trump is a fascist.

But second, there also are (so far, at least) the non-mainstream media, and if I merely check the index of the crisis series of 2016 (which covers 17 MB of html, which is far too long to read through for the purpose of one article) I find 33 mentions of the terms "fascist", "neo-fascist" or "neofascist" (and cognates) just in the index alone.

Third, I think both Chris Hedges and Robert Reich are important journalists, public intellectuals, and "pundits" according to some, and both used the term "fascist" for Donald Trump in 2016.

And fourth and last, I think you should keep in mind that Trump was merely one of many and then one of several of the Republican presidential candidates for a long time in 2016, while as a presidential-elect he was not given much of a chance of winning the presidency by most pollsters.

And here is DeVega's argument that Trump is a fascist:

Consider the following.

  • Donald Trump does not believe in freedom of the press.
  • Donald Trump threatens his political enemies with violence and/or prison.
  • Donald Trump uses ethnocentrism, bigotry, nativism and racism to mobilize his voters.
  • Donald Trump does not believe in standing norms of democratic governance or tradition.
  • Donald Trump is a misogynist.
  • Donald Trump is obsessed with “strength” and his own “virility.”
  • Donald Trump promises “law and order.”
  • Donald Trump is a militant nationalist.
  • Donald Trump traffics in conspiracy theories and lies.
  • Donald Trump admires authoritarians and political strongmen.
  • Donald Trump’s most recent press conference was modeled on the way Vladimir Putin manipulates Russia’s news media.
  • Donald Trump has surrounded himself with a cabal that consists of family members and self-interested Cabinet appointees, who — like him — stand to enrich themselves through the agencies they are supposed to administer in the public interest.

Yes and no: Yes, Trump has those characteristics. But no, these may be the characteristics of a neoconservative, a rightwinger, an authoritarian and more, and not necessarily of a fascist.

And DeVega does not define fascism, nor does he define neofascism, which is in my opinion - and I did both, and took considerable trouble - the better term for Trump.

Here is the last bit that I'll quote from this article:

Donald Trump is a fascist. It’s not an easy thing to say. Own those words. Acknowledge the truth of the situation that America (and the world) now faces.

What to do now?

As I just said, I have defined both fascism and neofascism and I think it is a rather obvious conclusion that Trump is a neofascist rather than a fascist.

And while I agree with DeVega to a fair extent, I think he should read some more about fascism and neofascism, and use clear definitions of these terms.

3. America's President Will Try to Rule Like a Roman Emperor

The third item is by Jim Sleeper (<- Wikipedia) on AlterNet and originally on Open Democracy:

This starts as follows:

As Donald Trump rampaged through the Republican primaries last March, I argued here and on the New York National Public Radio station's Brian Lehrer Show that neoliberal Democrats as well as free-marketeering Republicans were leaving it to Trump to do what his Inaugural Address has given him no choice but to do: become the dictator of the nationalist, plutocratic regime that he is installing under the banner of what he called "a historic movement the likes of which the world has never seen before."

Hm. I do not think that this is a very correct or enlightening description of Trump or of American politics. And a far better one is in item 1.

Here is some on Trump:

We've heard Trump say that he could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot someone without loosing his supporters. We've watched him call on "Second Amendment People" to deal with Hillary Clinton, whom he also vowed to persecute and "lock up," only to declare, even more frighteningly after defeating her, that "I don't want to see her hurt," as if that were his seigneurial prerogative, not a matter for an independent judiciary.

What we may not have noticed is that his frightening course has become path-dependent and historically all-too familiar. For one thing, he's less a challenger than would-be savior of the American (and global) "regime" of casino-style financing, predatory lending, and degrading, intrusive consumer marketing that has made this financer of casinos and a predatory self-marketer its president.

This is more or less correct (I think), but not new. Then there is this, which is new to the best of my knowledge:

Perhaps the best guide to what lies ahead is Chapter III Volume I of Edward Gibbon's Decline and the Fall of the Roman Empire.

It so happens that I have read all of that, indeed with considerable enthusiasm, but I also think that there are much more enlightening writers on Trump and also that, while there is something to Sleeper's identification of Trump as a would be Roman emperor, there are considerably better and shorter references.

I give one such reference after considering a quotation of Gibbon given by Sleeper:

Augustus was sensible that mankind is governed by names; nor was he deceived in his expectation, that the senate and people would submit to slavery, provided they were respectfully assured that they still enjoyed their ancient freedom. A feeble senate and enervated people cheerfully acquiesced in the pleasing illusion...

Yes, but then again everybody intelligent knows that the vast majority of all politicians and all dictators (as Augustus was, if partially hidden behind formalities that made it appear a bit different) are liars.

For this we do not need Gibbon, and since I have read all of Gibbon, I have just reread
Chapter III of Volume I, but did not discover anything there that was not covered at least as well, and with more relevant facts, by recent writers about Trump.

So I think this reference may not have been quite honest, and indeed I myself, who also read Suetonius's "The Twelve Ceasars" quite long ago, and who reread it again
very recently (last week), found Suetonius far more relevant to Trump than Gibbon.

Finally, here is the last bit that I'll quote:

You may have noted recent news reports that Trump is considering creating his own private security force, independent of the Secret Service, a move which The American Prospect has rightly dubbed, “a precedent-breaking decision" that "raises troubling questions about transparency and accountability.

But I did find the following in Chapter III of Volume I - and I quote from my copy of Gibbon:

In return for this imaginary concession, Augustus obtained an important privilege, which rendered him master of Rome and Italy. By a dangerous exception to the ancient maxims, he was authorised tp preserve his military command, supported by a numerous body of guards, even in time of peace, and in the heart of the capital. (p. 56)

That is - rather precisely also - what Sleeper just described Trump as doing...
I conclude - all in all - that Sleeper knows less from Latin history than I do.

4. The Psychological Condition that Best Explains Donald Trump's Twisted Worldview

The fourth item is by Jeremy Sherman on AlterNet:
This has the following diagnosis of Trump:
The evidence mounts to overwhelming: He's a pathological climber. The self-declared "ratings machine" suffers from "Impressive Compulsive Disorder,” a condition that is like hoarding, not of stuff but of impressive power.
I say, for while I am a psychologist I never heard of "Impressive Compulsive Disorder” (I did hear of Obsessive Compulsive Disorders) and indeed the only one I found who used this term (with "Impressive") is ... Jeremy Sherman (Ph.D.).

Here is how Sherman sees Trump:

Read between the lines, his worldview goes something like this:

Life is nothing but a dog eat dog game. The only value is being top dog. Winning is its own reward and the only reward. The power you gain by winning isn’t for anything else.

Winners play the game undistracted by other values. All other supposed values are just means to that end. Duping others into thinking you care about other values, for example, welfare or making America great again, is how you play to win.

Losers lose because they’re distracted by other values. To win, you need to use other people’s values against them. Other values are the loser’s handicap. You can get them to help you win by convincing them that you care about what they care about.

I can't say I found that enlightening, and it can be said much shorter: Trump is an authoritarian who only cares for power and has no conscience. Quite possibly so, but
I think my analyses of Trump - as a megalomaniac neofascist, indeed - are considerably more specific and do explain a lot more.

Here is the final bit that I'll quote from this:

To understand why Trump is an absolute hypocrite and liar, willing to say or do anything to climb, one has to pay attention to what’s missing in him. He lacks conscience. That may seem a moral accusation, but I mean it here merely as a psychological diagnosis based on the evidence. Unconstrained by any other value, he’ll say and do anything to win.
We could call him a narcissist or sociopath but it’s more than that. Not all narcissists and sociopaths need to keep gaining and hoarding power the way he does.

No, this is mostly bullshit:

Trump has 9 out 9 marks of a megalomaniac (which he is anyway, in plain English, and without any special psychological knowledge), that are called "grandiose narcissists" by psychiatrists, whereas Sherman's
"Impressive Compulsive Disorder" seems wholly private to Sherman, and has not been defined properly by him at all.

I am sorry, but I don't think this is quite honest.

5. Donald Trump Poses a Never-Before-Seen Threat in American History

The fifth and last item today is by Peter Dreier (<-Wikipedia) on AlterNet:

This starts as follows:

I have watched, listened to, and read many commentaries on the inaugural address but so far none of the mainstream pundits have used the one word that best identifies Donald Trump: fascist.

Either Chris Hedges and Robert Reich are not pundits or Peter Dreier is mistaken, for both called Trump a fascist in 2016 (and see item 1). I agree there have been less than there should have been, but these two did so, and they seem sufficiently well-known to classify them as "public intellectuals" or "pundits".

Then again I have been following 32 magazines closely and daily for over 3 1/2 years now, so it may be Peter Dreier missed this.

Here is Dreier's opinion on fascism (which Dreier does not define):

The United States is not Weimar Germany. Our economic problems are nowhere as bad as those in Depression-era Germany. Nobody in the Trump administration (not even Steven Bannon) is calling for mass genocide (although saber-rattling with nuclear weapons could lead to global war if we’re not careful).

That said, it is useful for Americans to recognize that we are facing something entirely new and different in American history. Certainly none of us in our lifetimes have confronted an American government led by someone like Trump in terms of his sociopathic, demagogic, impulsive, and vindictive personality (not even Nixon came close).

First, as I have been pointing out now for nearly a year, there are differences between fascism and neofascism, and Trump is more of a neofascist than a fascist.

And second, while I agree Trump is a neofascist (rather than a fascist) and while I also agree that the USA is better of than Weimar Germany, I should say (once again) that although I agree that Trump is "demagogic, impulsive, and vindictive", I'd rather call him a psychopath than a sociopath, for psychopaths must be - in some sense - ill, whereas sociopaths need merely have different norms from the prevalent ones, and I think that should not be part of psychiatry (merely having different norms than the majority). [3]

Then there is this:

We need to suspend our textbook explanations about the American presidency in order to recognize Trump’s ignorance about our Constitutional principles and the rule of law; and his lack of experience with collaboration and compromise. We’ve never seen a president with so little familiarity with the truth; he is a pathological liar, on matters large and small.

Hm. First, I don't think there is anything wrong with good textbook explanations. Second, to be convinced of "Trump’s ignorance" (etc.) we need a considerable amount of knowledge ourselves. And third, while I agree that Trump "is a pathological liar", it seems to me - as a psychologist - that Trump is pathological, for he is a megalomaniac aka grandiose narcissist, which is a recognized psychiatric disorder.

Them there is this:

Trump has populated his Cabinet and top advisors with some of America’s wealthiest and greediest people, corporate robber barons, militarist zealots, Wall Street titans, right-wing conspiracy theorists, anti-Semites, and racists, some of them (like Trump) born wealth but who have demonstrated no inclination for public service or even noblesse oblige.

To deflect attention away from the super-rich, Trump – like fascists throughout history – points his fingers at and scapegoats others.
Yes, apart from the fact that I think Trump is a neofascist rather than a fascist (as Dreier said in the beginning).

Here is the last bit that I'll quote from this article:

Trump’s speech included no mention of human rights. He avoided any reference to police abuses or the epidemic of gun violence made possible [by] our lax gun laws. He said nothing about rising inequality. He ignored the dramatic spike in hate crimes – against Muslims, Latinos, Jews, gays and lesbians, and others – that has plagued the country since his election in November. He evaded any mention of homelessness, climate change, or the plight of refugees around the world.

We should not have expected, and did not get, any remarks about civil rights or civil liberties – tenets which Trump has consistently violated and defamed throughout this career and his campaign.

Yes, though this is not a proof that he is a fascist or neofascist, though I agree this Trumpian behavior is problematic.

[1] The reason I am absolutely certain of this paragraph is that I have tried for 11 years to change things in the University of Amsterdam, while I was physically ill all the time; that I have created a student party that got elected; that I have done three full studies; that I was denied the legal right of doing an - excellent - M.A. in 1988 because the parasites who taught philosophy were utter incompetent liars and cheats; because I talked with many students, many lecturers, and many professors, but nearly all did not believe in truth or believed it was far more important for them to collaborate with the Marxists in power than to oppose them; because all universities in Holland were in the hands of the students from 1971 till 1995, and the students were mostly marxists and led by the Dutch Communist Party till ca. 1983, after which most turned into postmodernists; and because I found at most 1 in 20 among both the students and the staff who were pro science and pro truth between 1977 and 1993 in the University of Amsterdam.

Also, I was more offended than some might have been by being called "a dirty fascist" (as a matter of course) by many students between 1977 and 1988, because both of my parents were communists for 45 years (and my father also was a member of the top of the party in the 1950ies); were in the resistance in WW II; while my father and grandfather were arrested because of resisting in 1941, and sent to the concentration camp, where my grandfather was murdered.

For these reasons - that include that I myself was a member of the Dutch CP until 1970, when I refuted Marxism and got out of the CP - I was more offended by being called "a dirty fascist" by many quasi-communist sons and daughters of the rich than
some others might have been...

Finally, the whole story has been available on the internet since 2001 for those who can read Dutch: See ME in Amsterdam. This was never contradicted by anyone in any respect or about any fact.

And both the University of Amsterdam and the City of Amsterdam simply pretended not to know anything of it.

[2] And here I do not refer to the positions of the rich, who always lied, but to the positions of the non-rich, who were much better informed in the 1930ies and - apart from Nazism - until the 1980ies, simply because the media and the press were far better than they are now.

[3] Incidentally, a brief bit about psychiatry and psychology, most of which is related to my being a philosopher of science (see: Scientific Realism versus Postmodernism):

I am a psychologist, but I do not think much of psychology is a real science, like physics or chemistry are. In fact, I think so since 1980, and while I have explained this several times, the overall best explanation is by Paul Lutus, who also did this several times. The most recent one is "No Theory, No Science".

I do think some bits - statistics, methodology, neurology, and more - are scientific, but indeed these are not enough to make psychology a real science.

And I think considerably worse about psychiatry: This is definitely not a science at all.
I have explained that i.a. here:
DSM-5: Question 1 of "The six most essential questions in psychiatric diagnosis"

But I do agree some people really get mad, and while I do not think at all that any DSM (<-Wikipedia) is scientific, it is a diagnostic system for madness. It is not good (there are far too many diagnoses, and they are mostly not clear), but it is the most
recent diagnostic system for psychiatric disorders.

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