The Rise of Fascism, or Is It the Return of the Robber Barons?



Some thoughts on national suicide

One of the brightest men I know, a retired Russian professor of economics in Moscow, commented that he felt I was perhaps overly disturbed by the rise of fascism. Actually, fascism does not exist. Reading history often blinds one to present reality with the belief that events replicate themselves and unfold according to earlier patterns. 

Fascism was a complex phenomenon which is not being duplicated today. Aspects of it - virulent nationalism, racism, autarky and the control of industry and labor by the state, authoritarian rule - these all exist in some places and to some measure today. But history is no certain guide to the future or even to the present. And Mussolini and Hitler are not reincarnated in modern authoritarian regimes. 

Yesterday my wife was returning to Maastricht from the north of the Netherlands by train. Outside of Utrecht the train suddenly stopped. Some poor man thinking he was making a rational decision threw himself in front of the train. The suicide meant that a ride that should have taken 90 minutes to Maastricht turned into a four hour nightmare, getting out at Utrecht again, switching to local trains, standing up in over-crowded corridors. 

I see Trump and his gang hijacking his nation and jumping in front of a train. By dismantling health care, public education, public housing, environmental safeguards, controls on financial institutions, he and his cronies hope to enrich themselves. And they enlist angry impoverished white working-class voters with the allure of white supremacy. Similar movements exist in Europe, Africa and Asia, of course: in Hungary, Romania, the Ukraine, Austria, Germany, the Balkans and Greece, even here in the Netherlands. It is not the abstract rise of fascism I fear as a European, but the very real return of the Robber Barons. And a 90 minute journey that will take four hours - or much more.



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