107. Modesty (IV)
For four years the left has declared that Donald Trump is a “fascist”; his electoral loss is, supposedly, a defeat for fascism at the ballot box. Trump supporters, for their part, scorned the accusation; and yet the left is not telling an outright lie, life would be easier if this were so. The left works in half-truths and, in actuality, the left is genuinely terrified by Trump; and it is correct to see Trumpism as the American form of fascism.
The left recognises the underlying pattern in Trump: he is an entertainer who, speaking from the heart, has built a populist nationalist movement that aims at restoring national glory and destroying the managerial state and its ideologists. Functionally, these are all the characteristics of the phenomenon we call “fascism”: a recurrent phenomenon that comes about when a democracy collapses, an authoritarian correction by a charismatic man. This man is a solidified leftist: Mussolini and Napoleon, for example, were leftists who followed the left so far but no farther. It is, therefore, entirely consistent for Trump to stand by leftist policies of a decade ago; he is not reactionary.
Tump’s subjective policies have little in common with fascism—just as the policies of Hitler and Mussolini had little relation to those of Napoleon. Trump is, to use the contemporary phrase, “just being himself”; every man who self-consciously models himself on Hitler or Mussolini has no success. The man who is just being himself, obeying his inner instinct and intuition, resembles them; for these leaders were simply following their instincts and intuitions, not copying others.
The left speaks purely from the head, through moralised intellect. This is why the left adored Barack Obama: he was the embodiment of the archetype of the wise old negro; he was a preacher. The left, like parishioners leaving a church in the 1820s, spoke with priggish admiration: “Wasn’t the sermon by the Reverend Obama simply divine? So much to reflect on.” “Indeed, I have bought my wife a collection of his sermons for Christmas; they are edifying and improving for a Christian woman.” This is no surprise: the left is a deformation of Christianity; it speaks through rhetoric that mainly appeals to women and feminised men.
The right speaks through art, not rhetoric: Trump, constrained by the abbreviated form of Twitter, has found a popular poetic voice to speak from the heart to the heartlands. He is a popular artist and a joker, specialising in observational humour. The line between humour and pathos is thin: when Trump speaks of Mexican rapists coming over the border, is that a funny exaggeration or a sad truth? And are you laughing because he has articulated a forbidden truth? Actually, are you laughing or crying? Have we come to this? The clown always cries behind his mask.
The right speaks of awakening because the right is about observation: to perceive is to understand. The person who makes observations is awake; it is not a matter of morality. To make straightforward observations is aristocratic: the middle class, fawning over their preachers and thick in hypocrisy, tell pretty lies; the aristocrat says what he sees—and this is to be close to God, to the falcon that is high above and sees all.
Trump seeks rebirth to make America great again by reaching back to the roots of the country, even down to the Amish. To do so, unlike other politicians, Trump tells a story; he does not offer a manifesto or a technical fix: he offers a compelling narrative that gives people meaning—a myth. Napoleon was not simply a great general; he is remembered—while Wellington, the man who defeated him, is forgotten—because he was a storyteller; he made himself into a legend, right down to exile.
Trump has no interest in the swastika or the tricolour; but he does, indeed, represent a recurrent tendency—travelling under many labels, from Caesar and Napoleon to Hitler—that will be played out until the end of time.