And my dark conductor broke
Silence at my side and spoke,
Saying, “You conjecture well:
Yonder is the gate of hell.”
– A.E. Housman, “Hellgate”
It is discouraging, but unsurprising, to read how many people are telling us that, while the ascendancy of the narcissistic sociopath Donald Trump to the White House is a disappointment, we shouldn’t overstate how bad things will get. This is, of course, simply another demonstration of Herstein’s First Law, “never underestimate human capacity for denial.” Trump’s overt fascism is transparent, as is his racism, bigotry, greed, criminality, not to mention the emotional stability a spoiled three year old. But we won’t speak of such things, because we are too busy with the process of “normalizing” the inexcusable, and pretending that unsupported allegations, innuendos, and wild-eyed conspiracy theories against Clinton count more than the irrefutable facts that absolutely damn Trump. It is just another election, a bit disappointing for those of us who are not White Supremacists, neo-Nazis, or otherwise completely devoid of the possibilities of either intelligence or decency, but nothing to really worry about …
Some folks who voted for Trump claim to be less than happy with Trump’s win, but this point of hypocrisy will not be allowed to pass. The utter speciousness of those who would equivocate between demonstrated facts of Trump’s well documented words and actions, and the thirty years of histrionic, and long debunked accusations against Clinton, scarcely serve to justify any pretense that they are “just as bad” as the other. But why permit facts to get in the way of one’s decision making, when your cherished opinion – carefully sculpted for you over thirty years by professional liars – is so much more precious? No, the people who voted for Trump are every bit as tarred by that decision as if they’d been wearing a white hood and robes at the time they cast their ballot.
It is scarcely possible to imagine the galactic stupidity of those persons who insisted that Trump would moderate his positions and his rhetoric once he was elected, but happily for all of us, we do not have to stretch our minds to such unimaginable lengths as to try and imagine the unimaginable: because those people are right here amongst us, sparing our tragically limited imaginations with their indisputable facticity; they could hardly be more blatant if the all came with little blue name tags that said, “Hi! I’m a Fascist Apologist! Ask Me How!”
The Butthurt-Baby-Elect’s cabinet appointments and twitter storms confirm beyond even the abstract possibility of reasoned doubt that he remains the same narcissistic sociopath now that he was before the election. None of this last really merits a link; it is too obvious, and anyone capable of typing words into a browser can find such a tsunami of evidence as to numb even the strongest-willed mind. (Those, of course, who reject mind altogether in favor of pure Will shall continue to march triumphantly behind Trump’s banners.)
I have already pointed out (following Robert O. Paxton’s fine analysis; see the links above), that fascism comes to power through an initial alliance with traditional conservative elites. These conservatives believe they can control the fascists as a tool against emerging liberal movements. But having given them power, these traditional conservatives are ultimately trampled underfoot by the populist fascism they never properly understood. Thus, the GOP has seen the last scintilla of any genuine conservatives with integrity destroyed and driven out, first by the Tea-Baggers and their corporately funded movement, and now by the overtly ineducable dogmatic racists, nationalists, and fundamentalists who carried Trump to the White House. (Against the overwhelming will of those who actually showed up to vote, it must be added.)
Think I am kidding? Then why are you now longing for the “good old days” of Shrub (George Bush the Little)?
There are, I know, persons on the far left who actually welcome this decent to hell, on the grounds that it will finally stir “The People” into a truly popular action, that will ultimately make everything better. If the sarcasm and disdain dripping from that previous sentence was insufficiently obvious to you, then you might consider limiting your reading to “Dick and Jane” narratives.
I’ll end this bitter screed with a couple of highlights from Paxton’s studies on fascism. The first is one I’ve quoted before, but these days it cannot be repeated often enough. Fascism is:
… a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation or victimhood 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.” Robert O. Paxton, Anatomy of Fascism  Kindle edition.
The second is a summary rather than a direct quote. It also comes from the final pages of Anatomy of Fascism. Paxton makes these supplementary points regarding what he calls fascism’s “mobilizing passions:”
- A sense of overwhelming crisis beyond the reach of any traditional solutions.
- The primacy of the group, toward which one has duties superior to every right, whether individual or universal, and the subordination of the individual to it.
- The belief that one’s group is a victim, a sentiment that justifies any action, without legal or moral limits, against its enemies, both internal and external.
- Dread of the group’s decline under the effects of individualistic liberalism, class conflict, and alien influences.
- The need for closer integration of a purer community, by consent if possible, or be exclusionary violence if necessary.
- The need for natural chiefs (always male), culminating in a national chieftain who alone is capable of incarnating the group’s historical destiny.
- The superiority of the leader’s instincts over abstract and universal reason.
- The beauty of violence and the efficacy of will, when they are devoted to the group’s success.
- The right of the chosen people to dominate others without restraint from any kind of human or divine law, right being decided by the sole criterion of the group’s prowess within a Darwinian struggle.
I wish I was a young man, but more than that, I wish I was a courageous man, because then I might be able to struggle meaningfully (which does NOT mean violently) against the disaster that has engulfed us.
And again the sombre guide
Knew my question, and replied:
“At hell gate the damned in turn
Pace for sentinel and burn.”
– A.E. Housman, “Hellgate”