trump_flicker_face_yessAs the world gasps at wonderment and despair as American politics circles the sewer, three emerging and competing theories combine to explain the phenomenon of Donald Trump:

These People are Stupid Fascist Redknecks
(Chris Hedges)

He’s a Great Guy
(Piers Morgan)

These People are ‘Disrupted’, Alienated, Misunderstood
(Matt Taibbi)

The arguments for him – and his followers – being an expression of a neo-fascism is given weight if we map his speech  against the key fascist tenets as laid out by Umberto Eco: “a cult of action, as celebration of aggressive masculinity, an intolerance of criticism, a fear of difference and outsiders, intense nationalism and resentment of national humiliation.”

“I get things done better than anybody”

“I’m fed up with the guys back there, the media, they’re the worst”.

“I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody. and I wouldn’t lose any voters”.

“A total and complete shutdown of muslims entering the country”

“We’re going to make America great again”

“We’re losing everything. I will make that stop.”

But it’s not just fascist, it’s exposing a whole deeper set of broken relationships and processes.

Whatever the result, it may not be an ending but a beginning of  a new form of manic, hyper politics. As collapsonomics kicks-in, value systems fade and ultra-alienation holds sway, new movements are emboldened.

Chris Hedges argues:

“If Clinton prevails in the general election Trump may disappear, but the fascist sentiments will expand. Another Trump, perhaps more vile, will be vomited up from the bowels of the decayed political system. We are fighting for our political life. Tremendous damage has been done by corporate power and the college-educated elites to our capitalist democracy. The longer the elites, who oversaw this disemboweling of the country on behalf of corporations—who believe, as does CBS Chief Executive Officer Leslie Moonves, that however bad Trump would be for America he would at least be good for corporate profit—remain in charge, the worse it is going to get…”

He is right on this, though arguably wrong that Clinton can defeat Trump. She will, in fact, become like a lightning-rod for discontent as she personifies everything that the Trumpistas hate and will unify a broken Republican Party.

But Hedges analysis is mirrored also by Ralph Nader: “If and when Bernie Sanders is brought down by the very party he is championing, the millions of Bernie supporters, especially young voters, will have to consider breaking off into a new political party that will make American history. That means dissolving the dictatorial two-party duopoly and its ruinous, unpatriotic, democracy-destroying corporate paymasters.”

This may be optimistic.

Certainly the re-playing of Trump’s Snake Lyric ‘poem’ (an act he’s been doing since January at least) strengthens the hand of those arguing he’s a crude fascist. While it’s tempting to consider him a cretinous vaudeville show – or  a fictional character from Season Three of the Simpsons  – he just won Florida, Illinois and South Carolina.

It’s one of the most insidious pieces of political rhetoric I have ever seen. It manages to combine dehumanising people to animal form – and a very specific type of animal (which is a classic tipping point into fascism), and it codify’s women as victims.

It  plays on the deep-rooted conflation of race and sex, as the crude snake metaphor is played out and it talks of people in humanitarian need as vermin.

Perhaps more worrying Donald Trump evidently thinks Snakes go “Grrrr”. If your President can’t tell the difference between a snake and a bear you know you are in trouble. We should check he knows that cows go moo and ducks go quack.

Chris Hedges argues that: “Lower-class whites are embracing an American fascism. These Americans want a kind of freedom—a freedom to hate…. they want the freedom to revel in hypermasculinity, racism, sexism and white patriarchy. These are the core sentiments of fascism. These sentiments are engendered by the collapse of the liberal state.”

It’s a process we are becoming familiar with here. But if Matt Taibbi’s analysis seems naive he is right in that what we are watching our very own Truman Show pulling apart the empty broken reality of American politics. He writes that Trump is: “‘in position to understand that the presidential election campaign is really just a badly acted, billion-dollar TV show whose production costs ludicrously include the political disenfranchisement of its audience. Trump is making a mockery of the show, and the Wolf Blitzers and Anderson Coopers of the world seem appalled. How dare he demean the presidency with his antics?

But they’ve all got it backward. The presidency is serious. The presidential electoral process, however, is a sick joke, in which everyone loses except the people behind the rope line. And every time some pundit or party spokesman tries to deny it, Trump picks up another vote.”

Taibbi is right in his glorious essay about the brokeness of the political system and its inadequacy in facing crisis. The Trump enthusiasts have to take responsibility for their own racism but we have to take responsibility for the venal useless political fakery that masquerades for governance and that the media elite collude in.

Taibbi writes:

“The press went gaga for Rubio after Iowa because – why? Because he’s an unthreatening, blow-dried, cliché-spouting, dial-surveying phony of the type campaign journalists always approve of.”

That nexus of media – political spin is one thing Trump has bust out of and people love it.

Fools Gold

But it’s getting very serious and the stakes are extremely high.

I’m not convinced that Anonymous with #OpTrump are going to cut it either.

Their plan to ‘take down’ Trump may feed-in to hacktivist fantasy politics but it’s also going to feed the paranoid hunger of the baying Trump masses. A famous Australian pamphlet of the 1970s critiquing the use of bombs and violence to take down the establishment of the day argued ‘You Can’t Blow Up a Social Relationship’. In the same way I’m sure Anonymous can take Trump offline but that won’t make the phenomenon he feeds off disappear.

Fascist politics need to be confronted but they also need to be undermined and the alternative needs to be credible, articulate and have the ability to move people.

The attempt to physically confront the Trump spectacle may not be so clever a tactic in a country that is armed and where the police seem to act regularly outwith the rule of law.

Can the situation be salvaged before it tips further from farce to tragedy?

It’s not clear it can because the problem is not just the Trump phenomena but the far deeper issue that the very idea of collective action, solidarity or community, also known as ‘humanity’ has been so undermined it looks like where there was the soul of America there is just a black hole.