Liberal Fascism: A Closer Look

Ask the average, reasonably educated person what comes to mind when he or she hears the word “fascism” and the immediate responses are “dictatorship,” “genocide,” “anti-Semitism,” “racism,” and “right-wing,” Delve a bit deeper—and move a bit further to the left—and you’ll hear a lot about “eugenics”, “social Darwinism,” “militarism,” and “nationalism.”

WHAT IS FASCISM?

The term fascism typically causes a knee-jerk reaction as something evil and “less than desirable.” We almost immediately think of Nazism; our minds go to Hitler and Mussolini. We consider totalitarianism a synonym of fascism. Totalitarianism relates to a government where the ruler or ruling group has complete control or authority over everyone; completely autocratic, authoritarian, or dictatorial. A totalitarian government gives no room for political parties. Totalitarianism has become a catchall for brutal, soul-killing, Orwellian regimes. But that’s not how the word was originally used or intended. Interestingly, Mussolini himself coined the term to describe a society where everybody belonged; where everyone was taken care of; where everything was inside the state and nothing was outside; where truly no child was left behind.

It has been suggested that true American liberalism is a totalitarian religion, though not necessarily an Orwellian one. It is nice, not brutish. It is nannying, not bullying. But it is definitely totalitarian—”holistic” if you prefer. In other words, today’s liberal politics sees no realm of human life that is beyond political significance, from what we eat and drink (consider New York City’s attempt to outlaw so-called “big gulp” sugary drinks in 2013), to what we smoke, what we say, how we have sex, who we have sex with, how we dress, whether we can say “Merry Christmas,” toys offered to children in fast food meals (used to enhance kids to eat unhealthy food), all-male sports, guns, religion, and gender-based pronouns. Liberals prefer to place their faith in “priestly” experts who “know better,” and who tend to badger and scold. They use science to discredit traditional notions of religion and faith, but speak the language of pluralism and spirituality to defend “nontraditional” beliefs.

WHAT IS LIBERAL FASCISM?

First, let me say there is no definition of “liberal fascism” that is agreed upon between the parties in America today. Jon Bergeron (2015) says, “Far too often socialism and communism are compared to what is currently the political embodiment of the modern leftist ideology in the U.S. These leftist and communist ideas include anti-capitalism, total destruction of the individual in favor of the state, and big government takeover.  We have all heard this stereotype. However, I think there is a far more accurate political ideology floating in the minds of modern leftists, thirsty for revolution to take down ‘the man’ and change the ‘bourgeois system.’ I am speaking of fascism.” Bergeron says typically the masses believe Fascism is reserved only for evil white conservative men who spout evil fascist rhetoric like small government, individualism, self-reliance, capitalism, less dependency on government, traditionalism, and self-responsibility with strong ties to self-sustaining autonomous Christian family units.

That’s because America has bought into the Orwellian leftist language and indoctrination that fascism is of the evil American Right; however, closer examination reveals startling comparisons to the modern American left. Fascism could not be any further from the American conservative! Very few realize that fascism by its very nature was an extremely leftist populist movement taking root in Mussolini’s Italy and spreading like wild fire throughout Europe. Fascism was born out of socialism (the prized ideology among the left) and was an evolved state-centric version of socialism which became popular around the early to mid 1900s. It was “new” and full of revolutionary change.

With fascism, as with all large bloated governments that leftists think can cure all our qualms, the utopian lie is propagated by the state which supposedly aims to build a communal National Socialism state-sponsored family. Fascism was to transcend class differences exactly like socialism preached. Mussolini’s Fascist Party advocated the abolition of the senate and the creation of a national technical council on intellectual and manual labor, industry, commerce and culture; the creation of various government bodies run by worker’s representatives; and the obligation of the state to build rigidly secular schools for the raising of the proletariat’s moral and cultural condition. This all seems hauntingly similar to the modern American leftist’s ideal America. Their rhetoric is far closer to Fascism than the Republican Party’s strong stress on individualism, capitalism, individual responsibility, and reduced government intervention. Remarkably, it also flies in the face of John F. Kennedy’s stanch command, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

Liberal fascism is fond of preaching about the need for an all-powerful state to coordinate society at the national or, worse yet, global level. Most of all, they share the belief that with the “right amount of adjustment” we can finally realize the utopian dream of creating a better world here on earth. In other words, why wait for the Christian promise of heaven on earth when the Messiah returns? Let’s make our heaven here and now with just a little tweaking and a little legislating. In America, where hostility to big government still remains central to the national character, the case for statism must be made by the liberals against a backdrop of “pragmatism,” fairness, and decency. In other words, liberal fascism must be nice; it must be for our own good.

“I call my philosophy and approach ‘compassionate conservatism.’ It is compassionate to actively help our fellow citizens in need. It is conservative to insist on responsibility and results. And with this hopeful approach, we will make a real difference in people’s lives.” —George W. Bush

How do today’s liberals respond to the compassionate conservatism of the likes of George W. Bush? They use a secularized vocabulary of “hope,” constructing quasi-spiritual philosophies like Hillary Clinton’s “politics of meaning.” Hillary’s new spirituality comes complete with persuasive albeit false teachers. She felt no constraints as she sought out religious components to mesh with or compliment her socialist one-world globalist worldview; something she’d begun quietly embracing several decades earlier.

Does being obsessed on a community or national level about health, nutrition, and the environment make you a fascist? It’s a funny and strange question, I know. Thankfully, the answer is Of course not! The notion seems to be that fascism stems from holding in high regard the interest of the public good—illnesses, cost of health care, availability and affordability of health insurance—but it does so at the cost of the individual. Fascism says the individual has no right not to be healthy. Accordingly, the state has the right and the obligation to force us to be healthy, whatever it takes. To the extent that modern health movements seek to harness the power of the state in order to promote their agenda, they unfortunately flirt with classical fascism. Environmentalism is another area where the state is willing to bully us into complying in the interest of “making the planet a better place to live.” What makes this bullying palatable is the extent to which the state will go to apply shame, guilt and logic to force our hand.

For example, legislators have been hard at work making it illegal to smoke in your own car, or even outdoors, if other people could conceivable be near you and exposed to second-hand smoke. Free speech, too, is under relentless attack where it matters most—relative to elections. Alexis de Tocqueville (1994) wrote in Democracy in America, “It must not be forgotten that it is especially dangerous to enslave men in the minor details of life… I should be inclined to think freedom less necessary in great things than in little ones” (p. 320).

Fascism is a religion of the state. It assumes the organic unity of the body politic and longs for a national leader attuned to the will of the people. It is totalitarian in that it views everything as political and holds that any action by the state is justified to achieve the common good. It takes  responsibility for all aspects of life, including our health and well-being, and seeks to impose uniformity of thought and action, whether by force or through regulation and social pressure. Everything, including the economy and religion, must be aligned with its objectives. Any rival identity is part of the “problem” and therefore defined as the enemy. Contemporary American liberalism embodies all of these aspects of fascism.

Why are today’s liberals unwilling to acknowledge the intellectual history of their political philosophy? Liberalism stands on the shoulders of giants from the initial Progressive Era. This is made obvious by their tendency  to use the word “progressive” whenever talking about their liberal core convictions. They consistently claim it is conservatives who have their roots in fascism. Of course, you won’t see liberals today running around shouting from the rooftops that they intend to conquer the world by force of arms. They show no signs of being part of a nationalist or eugenics movement. Instead, they speak of having the best of intentions when it comes to society. Whether this is true or not is not necessarily clear.

THE ORIGINAL PROGRESSIVE ERA (1890-1920)

Progressivism is the term applied to a variety of responses to the economic and social problems seemingly caused by rapid industrialization introduced to America. Those who agreed with this concept wanted to stop child labor and put major regulations on big business.The major goals of the Progressives were to promote the ides of morality, economic reform, efficiency and social welfare. Progressivism began as a social movement and grew into a political movement. The early Progressives rejected Social Darwinism. Rather, they believed that the problems society faced (poverty, violence, greed, racism, class warfare) could best be addressed by providing a good education, a safe environment, and an efficient workplace. Progressives lived mainly in the cities, were college educated, and believed that government could be a tool for change. Progressives concentrated on exposing the evils of corporate greed, combating the fear of immigrants, and urging Americans to think hard about what democracy really means.

Progressivism was the reform movement that ran from the late 19th century through the first decades of the 20th century, during which leading intellectuals and social reformers in the United States sought to address the economic, political, and cultural questions that had arisen in the context of the rapid changes brought with the Industrial Revolution and the growth of modern capitalism in America.

On a national level, Progressivism gained a strong voice in the White House when Theodore Roosevelt became president in 1901. Roosevelt believed that strong corporations were good for America, but he also believed that corporate behavior must be watched to ensure that corporate greed did not get out of hand. He felt this must be accomplished through government regulations for trust-busting and other activities of corporate greed. Progressivism ended with World War I when the horrors of war exposed people’s cruelty.

Upton Sinclair’s book The Jungle (1906) caused Roosevelt to push Congress to pass numerous reforms like the Meat Inspection Act , the Pure Food Act, and the Drug Act. He also helped invest the Interstate Commerce Act with new powers, and created the new Department of Commerce and Labor in 1903. This new agency was empowered with the ability to investigate corporations. Roosevelt also set aside over 50 wildlife sanctuaries and parks that are still in use today. Roosevelt built the Panama Canal, which made trade with other countries much easier. 

Many Americans bought into President Woodrow Wilson’s progressive claims that the war would make the world safe for democracy.

DOES PROGRESSIVISM HAVE A PLACE IN AMERICA TODAY?

The push for a progressive takeover of Congress began long before Trump won office. One audacious plan began to take hold in early 2016, as a crew of organizers for Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign traveled the country, staging revival-style rallies. In fact, when watching video of Sanders’ rallies, I had the sense I was watching the sermons of a hybrid preacher/politician/prophet. Members of Congress and the Justice Department are just two elements in a movement where different groups with different agendas jostle for donations and influence in the 2020 presidential election.

Some, like Democracy for America and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, were in place years before the Sanders campaign. California billionaire Tom Steyer, the Democrats’ largest donor, has spent millions of his own money on NextGen America, a group that aims to mobilize young voters. He is pulling out all stops to register first-time teenage voters as liberals. This hedge-fund-manager-turned-activist vows to build the largest progressive operation in America. And he has the money to at least try to pull it off.

History has shown that in virtually all extreme leftist movements, be it communism, Nazism, socialism, or Fascism, murder, violence, and censorship are often used to push the party agenda. Does this sound absurd? The Southern Democrats, avid supporters of slavery, stopped at nothing to frighten Blacks into servitude, pushing those who transgressed (or tried to leave the plantation) into compliance, take Black women for themselves, keep Blacks beholden to their “masters” for their very sustenance, and to discourage and punish Republicans and freethinking Democrats who dared vote to grant freedom or, indeed, any rights, to Blacks. The intimidation was horrendous, evil, violent, constant, inhumane, unthinkable, and absolutely unbelievable.

This historic pattern is cyclical. To the extent that outright public lynching, stonings, murder, and violence are unlikely today, nevertheless, extreme leftists are quite adept at countless other discriminatory, persecutory, New Jim Crow methods of keeping minorities down. And that’s just their behavior toward those they deem less-than-human or not their equal. Beyond that, many recent events (Charlottesville, VA) show us that anyone who rises up in support of conservative values can fall victim—directly or indirectly—to the violence of the Progressive Movement. I can think of two brilliant mantras that warn us relative to history. First, we are told that those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Second, George Orwell expressed in 1984, “He who controls the past controls the future.” In other words, if the government is capable of editing, rewriting or erasing history in order to present a sanitized picture of what occurred, then the future is whatever the government creates it to be.

Toward what do the Progressives of today believe they are progressing? The chances are more than good that they have no idea. Somehow “progress” means greater equality, greater understanding, greater tolerance, greater peace, and greater evolution. Somehow. But it’s never entirely clear how. In almost every sense, modern Progressives mean that anything they deem good is progressive while all else is not just wrong but evil. Is there an actual end to the progress of Progressives? Is there a threshold of equality that must be crossed, one that would at least allow us to claim victory? Is there some utopia just around the corner, achievable in some viable way?

Just as the Progressives of today have no real sense of where their progress might or should lead, they have even less sense of their origins. And to the extent that any of them do know, they don’t want us to know. But is everything the Progressive Movement stands for bad for America. Likely, no. Perhaps it is the manner in which they want to cram these many changes down our throats that’s wrong. What is the endgame, anyway? Do the leftists want to help you and I achieve our every want and desire (something that is no doubt seated deep in our will, mind and emotion) at the expense of our mind and our spirit? Do they want us to want our desires (which they have now determined for us to be additional unalienable rights) to the extent that we’ll become beholden to the state in order to have these desires met? And do they now want to tell us want we want and what we should want? Does big government want to become our sugar daddy?

Nothing has been more devastating and dangerous politically in the 20th and 21st  century than leftist thought. If we look at 20th century communism alone we see that an alarming 85 to 100 million worldwide have perished under leftist regimes. These governments have also been guilty of censorship, labor and internment camps, blanket violation of civil liberties, mass incarceration of so-called “undesirables,” blockade of international humanitarian aid, refusal of scrutiny of their human rights violations, suppression of free expression of religion (especially Christianity), and many other forms of oppression. We’ve already seen a systematic attack of Christianity in America. Progressives do not want alternatives to the Big Bang, Darwinism, humanism, big government as our “father,” and other questions about the origin and meaning of life being preached or taught. Militant atheists are fond of explaining that Christian parents cramming their “religion” down the throats of their children is nothing less than indoctrination and a form of child abuse.

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS

The atmosphere of intolerance, censorship, and incipient violence created by both the thuggish hard left and the ideologically preening elite left will have dire results for everyone. It’s inevitable. It undermines support on the left and right alike for free expression and a minimum of interference—by coercive government or coercive mobs—in assembly, organizing, and expression. If serious Progressives, including opponents of Trump, want to stop this cycle of illiberalism, they have to stop demonizing the right and start training their rhetorical fire on the vandals in the street and the ideologues in the newsroom. Doing so will not only safeguard Americans’ liberties—which are critical to a free and “progressive” America as our Founding Fathers intended— it might well save lives. In the meantime, the Trump administration and the Justice Department need not only to think about how to stop the current spate of violence, but move to stop it before it gets even worse. Appeasement is not an option. I cannot imagine how to even begin a dialog with these so-called Progressives. They don’t want to talk. They think there’s nothing to talk about. I suggest we on the other side of the aisle keep our rhetoric to a minimum and show love and respect. 

God bless the United States of America.

References

Bergeron, J. (March 27, 2015). “Why Modern Leftists are Fascists.” Return of Kings. Retrieved from: http://www.returnofkings.com/58601/why-modern-leftists-are-fascists

de Tocqueville, A. (1994). Democracy in America. State College, PA: The Pennsylvania State University.

Orwell, G. (1948). 1984. Paris: Hatier.

 

 

Liberal Fascism

Dinesh D’Souza, in his seminal book Death of  a Nation, wrote, “Progressive Democrats are in fact the inventors of racism and white supremacy, and the Republican Party fought them all the way. Progressives and Democrats were also the groups that were in bed with fascism and Nazism in the 1920s and 1930s, while Republicans opposed this cozy alliance.” D’Souza notes that all the villains of the civil rights movement—Birmingham sheriff Bull Connor, Selma (AL) sheriff Jim Clark, Arkansas governor Orval Faubus, Georgia governor Lester Maddox, Mississippi governor Ross Barnett, Alabama governor and presidential candidate George Wallace—were Democrats. Every one of them.

D’Souza adds, “So we have the remarkable spectacle today of the party of racism, fascism and white supremacy blaming the party of anti-racism and resistance to fascism and white supremacy for being racist, fascist and white supremacist.” It is quite sad to me that middle class Americans, people of color, and those of alternative lifestyle, are buying into the fiction of GOP racism and white supremacy; additionally, they are convinced the Democrats have their best interests at heart; that a “blue wave” in America means a kinder, loving, supportive, understanding, equal-rights, open-minded government.

I must admit that President Trump’s claim “I’m a nationalist” has done more to poison America’s opinion of him than is warranted. I’m convinced that Trump means exactly what nationalism is: “…a political, social, and economic system characterized by the promotion of the interests of a particular nation, especially with the aim of gaining and maintaining sovereignty over the homeland.” Trump proposes true, effective border security and enforcement of immigration laws for the sole purpose of maintaining the sovereignty and security of America.

WHAT IS LIBERAL FASCISM?

Ask the average, reasonably-educated person what comes to mind when he or she hears the word “fascism” and the immediate responses are “dictatorship,” “genocide,” “anti-Semitism,” “racism,” and (unfortunately) “right-wing.” The Urban Dictionary—at urbandictionary.comdefines liberal fascism as …a term to describe the alt-Left political movement… a group of liberals who believe that any free speech that opposes their views should not be allowed… who oppose and try to quiet any person or group who does not follow or believe their set of values and beliefs. Liberal fascists also believe that every American should follow and adhere to the liberal Democratic views and policies regardless of their political background or system.

There is no word in the English language that gets thrown around more freely by people who don’t know what it means than “fascism.” Roger Griffin, in his book The Nature of Fascism, defines fascism as “a genus of political ideology whose mythic core in its various permutations is a palingenetic form of populist ultra-nationalism.” Roger Eatwell, author of Fascism: A History, says that fascism’s essence is “a form of thought that preaches the need for social rebirth in order to forge a holistic-national radical Third Way.” It is a mass movement that combines different classes but is prevalently of the middle class, which sees itself as having a mission of national regeneration. Interestingly, fascism is both “anti-liberalism” and “anti-conservatism.”

Jonah Goldberg, author of Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning, believes that fascism is primarily a secular religion. Goldberg writes, “…many modern liberals and leftists act as if they know exactly what fascism is. What’s more, they see it everywhere—except when they look in the mirror.” George Orwell, in his infamous 1946 essay “Politics and the English Language,” said the word fascism has no meaning except insofar as it signifies something not desirable. The New York Times is noted for promoting modern intellectuals who  raise the possibility that the GOP is a fascist party, and that Christian conservatives are the new Nazis.

Goldberg asks, “…why aren’t we hearing similar denunciations of groups ranging from the National Council of La Raza—that is, ‘The Race’—to the radical Hispanic group MEchA, whose motto—‘Por La Raza todo. Fuera de La Raza nada’—means ‘Everything for the race, nothing outside the race?’ Why is it that when a white man spouts such sentiments it’s ‘objectively’ fascist, but when a person of color says the same thing it’s merely an expression of fashionable multiculturalism?” Progressives and liberals today offer no answer at all to such questions. They would much rather maintain George Orwell’s  definition of fascism as anything not desirable, thus excluding their own fascist hate mongering.

I believe the major pitfall in all this is that fascism, properly understood, is not a phenomenon of the right at all. Instead, as Goldberg states, it is and always has been a phenomenon of the left. Let’s remember that fascism and communism are not polar opposites—schools of thought from across the gulf between left and right—but are closely related, historical competitors for the same constituents, seeking to dominate and control the same sociopolitical space. Goldberg writes, “American Progressivism—the moralistic social crusade from which modern liberals proudly claim descent—is in some respects the major source of the fascist ideas applied in Europe by Mussolini and Hitler. Unfortunately, even those well-read Americans who understand this comparison simply smile and say, “Yeah, but it can’t happen here. Not in America. Not in the 21st century.”

Angry left-wingers shout that all those to their right, particularly corporate fat cats and the politicians who love them, are fascists. America is experiencing “nice fascism.” In many respects, fascism not only is here in America, but has been here for nearly a century. What we call liberalism—the refurbished edifice of American Progressivism—is in fact a descendant and manifestation of fascism. The main objectives of the Progressive Era—widespread social activism and political reform that swept across America from the 1890s to the 1920s—were eliminating problems caused by industrialization, urbanization, immigration, and corruption in government.

A NEW PROGRESSIVE ERA

Today there is a growing constellation of voices and organizations trying to build a new progressive reform movement. It’s no accident that liberals now call themselves progressives and that the main Democratic Party-oriented think tank in Washington is named the Center for American Progress. Obviously there are differences between the Progressive Era of the early nineteenth century and today’s progressive movement. But take a look at the following list of factors:

  • a conservative president who is deeply unpopular
  • a country facing profound economic and security challenges
  • new technologies upending traditional media
  • a cohort of new immigrants
  • a bulging generation of young people ready to transform the political landscape

Is this a description of 2018 America? Surprisingly, no. This is a list of factors present in America in 1932 at the tail-end of the Hoover administration. We know how that turned out for our beloved country. FDR and his fellow progressives built social programs and international institutions that ushered in an era of unrivaled dependency on the “nanny state” for prosperity and stability. They used a fresh, new medium—commercial broadcast radio—to reach citizens, and built a new “majority coalition” from the emerging demographics of that time period. As in FDR’s day, the new medium of the Internet has all but replaced commercial broadcast radio. In 2017 alone, smartphone shipments in North America amounted to more than 200 million units. Sales of these devices exceeded $50 billion. Imagine the opportunity this presents for progressives to saturate the marketplace with propaganda touting the supposed benefits of a social rebirth in America.

IS PRESIDENT DONALD J. TRUMP A FASCIST?

The United States’ supposed lurch toward authoritarianism—or maybe full-on fascism—has become an obsession among progressives and even a few centrists and conservatives. The word fascism has recently reemerged as a key piece of political terminology in our country. The headlines immediately after Donald Trump’s election as president in November 2017 read like a disturbing question and answer session. I remember the textbook definition from my Political Science class at Penn State, and it does not ring true with what progressives want us to believe about America today: 

Fascism is a political ideology that seeks to organize the government and economy under one centralized authority, with strict social controls and suppression of all opposition. It advocates a single-party rule, and rejects the autonomy of any ethnic group that it does not consider to be part of the nation. Typically, this ideology supports policies of nationalism and racism and solidifies power through terror and censorship. 

Frankly, I don’t see any indication that Donald Trump seeks to create a centralized “big government” in America; that is the design of liberals. Nor do I see any tendency for him to push for a single-party system, or the rejection of individual rights based on race or socioeconomic class. Trump is not a racist, and has no designs to solidify power through terror; nor does he want to repeal the First Amendment. Whenever President Trump has to address issues relative to illegals pouring into America unfettered, he looks at the safety and security, indeed, the economy, of the United States. There is no “smoking gun” of Trump claiming (publicly or privately) that Hispanics are sub-human; that legal immigration to our great country (especially from war-torn, despotic, dehumanizing, poverty-stricken nations) is evil and must be stopped at all costs, in any form (legal or undocumented), with no exceptions. I just don’t see it.

I am grateful, however, that he insists on immigrants coming into our country through established, legal channels, and that he stands firm against undocumented aliens entering America. How many of us truly understand the tremendous threat of allowing anyone to simply walk across the border without knowing who they are, where they’re coming from, why they’re emigrating, and where  they go once they’re here. Recently, intelligence sources have determined that Islamic extremists bent on attacking America from within have allied with Mexican drug cartels. They’re being aided and abetted by drug lords (indeed, narco terrorists). Allowing illegal aliens into this country unconstrained represents a clear and present danger to the sovereignty and security of the United States.

President Trump’s concern over massive illegal immigration is at the root of his claim to be a nationalist. He intends to put America first.

Bizarre claims that President Barack Obama was a Kenyan Muslim spy weren’t meant to be taken at face value; rather, they were designed to undermine trust in anything Obama said. “Donald Trump is a fascist” sounds more like a campaign slogan spouted by the opposition than a statement of fact. Bill Maher recently stated on his show, “If liberals believe President Trump is a fascist or an authoritarian leader capable of using force to suppress the opposition they should rethink their beliefs about guns.” This is a solid example of rhetoric spouted by pundits that tends to incite concern and panic. What evidence does anyone have that President Trump has designs on elevating his presidency to a dictatorship?

Key Trump administration officials have been confronted at restaurants. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) urged protestors to hound Trump officials at restaurants, gas stations or department stores. Progressive pundits and the liberal media almost daily think up new ways of characterizing President Trump as a Nazi, fascist, tyrant or buffoon. Celebrities openly fantasize about doing harm to Trump. Just as Barack Obama was not a centrist, neither is Trump. Obama promised to fundamentally transform the United States. Trump pledged to do the same and more—but in the exact opposite direction. Democratic Party leaders are obviously not in agreement with the direction—right of center—Trump’s policies are taking. I believe the current Progressive meltdown is about more than just political differences; it is mostly about power—or rather, the utter and unexpected loss of it.

Donald Trump is not a fascist. Fascism has been an all-purpose insult for many years, but it has a real definition, and according to scholars of historical fascism, Trump doesn’t qualify. Rather, he’s a right-wing populist. He doesn’t want to overthrow the existing democratic system; nor does he want to scrap the Constitution. He doesn’t romanticize violence itself as a vital cleansing agent of society. But if this populist upheaval isn’t fascism or anything close to it, what is it?

The Trump phenomenon is a distinctly American upheaval: admittedly ugly in its overtones at times (which tends to rub people the wrong way), and occasionally disruptive of valuable traditions and institutions, but basically a necessary remedy to the centralizing dynamic of consensus liberalism. “It is certainly true,” said neoconservative intellectual Irving Kristol, “that any kind of populism can be a danger to our democratic orders. But it is also true that populism can be a corrective to the defects of democratic orders—defects often arising from the intellectual influence, and the skillful entrepreneurial politics, of our democratic elites.”

Today’s Democrat elites—the liberals and progressives who run our institutions—have become too complacent in their dominance and too conformist in their opinions. The populist movement that’s turning our politics upside down won’t win them over, but it will weaken their influence and rattle their piety. When the dust settles and the United States is still the free and vibrant place it was before—when the nation hasn’t metamorphosed into some fascist dystopia—they just might engage in a little honest, candid, self-criticism. In the meantime, I suggest taking any accusation that Trump is a fascist with caution.