What Is Fascism?
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus
Hardcore Leftists don’t like President Trump, so they hurl names at him. The favorite epithet chosen by dozens who signed a full page ad placed in the New York Times is “fascist.” Anyone can contact these people and their organization via the internet: “REFUSEFASCISM.ORG.” Leftist bomb thrower Bill Ayers is one of the more well-known signatories. Another is over-the-hill actor Ed Asner who rarely misses an opportunity to bang his drum for something way over on the Left.
That ad, appearing two weeks before the inauguration, called for resistance to Trump becoming President, and action “outside of normal channels” if his inauguration weren’t prevented. For readers who didn’t know what fascism is, these far left-wingers tossed in the name of Hitler to ensure widespread hatred for the incoming President. The goal expressed in the ad was to create “a situation where the Trump/Pence regime is prevented from ruling.” In saner days, no newspaper would publish such a screed. It might also have led to prosecution for encouraging violence.
For the sake of sanity, however, let’s look at the word “fascism.” According to the 2,478-page Random House Unabridged Dictionary (Second Edition, 1987), fascism belongs in the category known as economics. This thick reference tome tells us fascism is a system characterized by “regimenting all industry, commerce, etc., and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism, and often racism.”
A fascist doesn’t seek to own the means of production. He wants to control it. His preference sets him apart from a communist who owns everything. What the fascist does is tell producers what to produce, when to produce, how much to produce, whom to hire, whom to fire, what price to charge, etc. He is indeed a totalitarian, but he differs markedly from a communist who, remarkably, is more honest – though still freedom’s deadly foe.
Hitler was a fascist who didn’t own major industries outright. He just controlled them. Same with Italy’s Mussolini. But is Trump a fascist? Not even close. His campaign repeatedly included pledges to do away with government-imposed regulations. He promised to unleash America’s productive sector by getting government and many of its unnecessary and burdensome regulations out of the picture. On the other hand, an honest observer seeking to label Barack Obama’s economic practices should have hung the fascist label on him. His determination to regulate industry can hardly be denied. But there’s so little unwillingness in Leftist circles, and so much dishonesty that relies on public ignorance of definitions, that one American leader can be wrongly labeled fascist and another, who deserves the tag, gets completely spared.
Further, is hanging the odious charge of racism on Trump accurate? Ask black American Ben Carson, or Indian American Nikki Haley, or Jewish American Jared Kushner. Disagree with Trump’s choices for high government posts if you want, but skip the dishonest charge of racism.
Only “aggressive nationalism” fits Trump. But his “Make America Great Again” campaign ought to be praised, not condemned.
The real problem here is the woeful awareness of the average American, especially those who “benefit” from higher education. Most of the teachers at the collegiate level spout nonsense, not only about economic groups, but also about a great deal more. As has often been said, “Somebody ought to do something” to counter widespread issuance of misinformation. Happily, someone did do something when Robert Welch created The John Birch Society in 1958. Yet this organization has for decades been falsely labeled fascist and racist. Why should anyone be surprised?
Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.