“Fascism is capitalism in decay”
~ Lenin, apparently
American capitalism has become poisonous. Capitalism in and of itself isn’t – as as has been previously argued on this blog – but the corporatist, neoliberal stitch up the American people have to endure is in decay, and has spawned a monster.
It’s easy to characterise Trump as a fascist, but this isn’t actually accurate. Despite occasional suggestions of breaking from right wing economic orthodoxy he generally can be seen as the quintessence of corporatist America.
Fascism obviously isn’t an ideology of the left – it doesn’t just go hand in hand with fervent racism and nationalism, but also a hatred of Trade Unionism (if you know your GCSE history, you’ll remember that Hitler banned them – ironically on May Day) and a cozying up to big business (despite rhetoric that may suggest otherwise). Despite this though, Fascists aren’t far right in the sense of being extremely economically right wing – they aren’t lefties by any stretch but neither do they believe in the neoliberal ‘night watchman state’, and Nazi policies of autarky spit in the face of free trade and globalisation. If you like, Fascists occupy an economic grey area – their raison d’être is jingoism and murder, rather than socialism or capitalism. Thus I disagree with Lenin’s words when he claimed that “fascism is capitalism in decay”.
Trumpism, however, is very different. As stated earlier, Trump does occasionally break the norm when it comes to right wing economics, but it would be a mistake to see this as anything more than brash populism or, if you’re being charitable, a flash of individuality. He certainly is, however, spawn of the Reaganite/Thatcherite consensus that enveloped the world in the 80s – an ideology that enshrined greed as moral imperative. It was this environment that gave birth to Donald Trump.
Let’s have a look at Trump on the economy. Trump wants the following done to tax:
- The abolition of inheritance tax (or the ‘death tax’ as it’s known in the States). This is the absolute neoliberal dream, destroying this social leveller.
- Massive tax cuts, with the current seven bands of income tax being reduced to four (with the top band paying a mere 20% rather than the current 39.6%)
- Cutting corporation tax
And yes, he talks about closing loopholes – but who else does that, I wonder?
Not only is Trump’s tax policy right wing, but so are other aspects of his policies – repealing Obamacare and not raising the minimum wage, for instance, while his pledge to schmooze with Wall Street bigwigs once he’s President to get advice on the economy further reveals the insubstantiality and falseness of his occasional economic populism. While it’s true that the huge tariffs he promises on China and Mexico also break the neoliberal mould, this can be put down to his own racism and conspiracy theory born paranoia rather than wanting to smash the status quo.
How is this economic right-wingery linked to his authoritarianism though?
Neoconservatism in the USA has long gone hand in hand with elements of the American capitalist elite. This is typified in the behaviour of American arms companies, helping to constantly spur on an insatiable lust for war. When war does happens, in a new perverse form of dollar imperialism, countries are reshaped into the right wing ideal, with Iraq for instance having small-statism enforced on it post 2003.
Trump is the best example of this deadly mix. His policies and personality are the perfect combination of the poisonous individualism of neoliberalism (which in its purest form is one of the most extreme types of capitalism) and the ignorant militarism of neoconservatism. Corporatist monsters like Donald Trump (or indeed Ted Cruz) growing and gaining momentum seems to be the natural result of this therefore. They are the quintessence of this status quo rather than revolutionaries fighting against it, as their mix of economically right wing and nationalist/authoritarian beliefs prove. They are merely a slight step ahead of the extremism of fellow Republicans, and thus are seen with shock and awe as if it wasn’t inevitable.
Clearly, therefore, this is the final evolutionary stage of a self destructing and unsustainable type of capitalism that worships greed and gold as gods. Thus Trumpism is capitalism in decay.