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Is Donald Trump a fascist? Well, he’s not Mussolini or Hitler just yet – but he’s not far off

Is Donald Trump a fascist? The question is usually posed as an insult rather than as a serious inquiry. A common response is that “he is not as bad as Hitler”, but this rather dodges the issue. Hitler was one hideous exponent of fascism, which comes in different flavours but he was by no means the only one.

The answer is that fascist leaders and fascism in the 1920s and 1930s were similar in many respects to Trump and Trumpism. But they had additional toxic characteristics, born out of a different era and a historic experience different from the United States.

What are the most important features of fascism? They include ultra-nationalism and authoritarianism; the demonisation and persecution of minorities; a cult of the leader; a demagogic appeal to the “ignored” masses and against a “treacherous” establishment; contempt for parliamentary institutions; disregard for the law while standing on a law and order platform; control of the media and the crushing of criticism; slogans promising everything to everybody; a promotion of force as a means to an end leading to violence, militarism and war.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/trump-fascism-populism-authoritarianism-hitler-mussolini-a8949496.html

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Posted by on June 11, 2019 in North America

 

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Shocked by the rise of the right? Then you weren’t paying attention

The morning after both Donald Trump’s victory and the Brexit referendum, when a mood of paralysing shock and grief overcame progressives and liberals on both sides of the Atlantic, the two most common refrains I heard were: “I don’t recognise my country any more,” and “I feel like I’ve woken up in a different country.” This period of collective disorientation was promptly joined by oppositional activity, if not activism. People who had never marched before took to the streets; those who had not donated before gave; people who had not been paying attention became engaged. Many continue.

Almost three years later the Brexit party, led by Nigel Farage, is predicted to top the poll in European parliament elections in which the far right will make significant advances across the continent; Theresa May’s imminent downfall could hand the premiership to Boris Johnson; Trump’s re-election in 2020 is a distinct possibility, with Democratic strategists this week predicting only a narrow electoral college victory against him. “Democrats do not walk into the 2020 election with the same enthusiasm advantage they had in the 2018 election,” said Guy Cecil, the chairman of Priorities USA, the largest Democratic political action committee.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/may/24/country-racist-elections-liberals-anti-racism-movement

 
 

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Why we stopped trusting elites

For hundreds of years, modern societies have depended on something that is so ubiquitous, so ordinary, that we scarcely ever stop to notice it: trust. The fact that millions of people are able to believe the same things about reality is a remarkable achievement, but one that is more fragile than is often recognised.

At times when public institutions – including the media, government departments and professions – command widespread trust, we rarely question how they achieve this. And yet at the heart of successful liberal democracies lies a remarkable collective leap of faith: that when public officials, reporters, experts and politicians share a piece of information, they are presumed to be doing so in an honest fashion.
The notion that public figures and professionals are basically trustworthy has been integral to the health of representative democracies. After all, the very core of liberal democracy is the idea that a small group of people – politicians – can represent millions of others. If this system is to work, there must be a basic modicum of trust that the small group will act on behalf of the much larger one, at least some of the time. As the past decade has made clear, nothing turns voters against liberalism more rapidly than the appearance of corruption: the suspicion, valid or otherwise, that politicians are exploiting their power for their own private interest.

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/nov/29/why-we-stopped-trusting-elites-the-new-populism

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2019 in Reportages, Uncategorized

 

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From Christchurch to Colombo, Islamists and the far right are playing a deadly duet

How should we make sense of the Easter Sunday church and hotel bombings in Sri Lanka that killed more than 250 people and wounded 500? Now that Islamic State appears to have claimed responsibility for the attacks, the question arises: is this merely the latest symptom of an epidemic of Islamist violence, motivated by a belief in offensive jihad (“holy war”)?

The answer is complex and not necessarily in line with public perceptions. Islamist terrorism has been decreasing globally, and particularly in the west, since its peak in 2014-15 when Isis established its caliphate. In recent years, however, far-right supremacist terrorism has risen sharply, to more than one-third of terror attacks globally, even accounting for every extremist killing in the US in 2018. Yet it was more likely to be overlooked or tolerated by western polities, because of cultural history, familiarity and legal protections extended to domestic groups (such as US constitutional safeguards for freedom of speech and the right to bear arms). Thus, attacks by Muslims between 2006 and 2015 received 4.6 times more coverage in US media than other terrorist attacks (controlling for target type, fatalities, arrests).

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/apr/25/christchurch-colombo-islamists-far-right-sri-lanka

 
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Posted by on May 9, 2019 in Asia

 

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Why we stopped trusting elites

For hundreds of years, modern societies have depended on something that is so ubiquitous, so ordinary, that we scarcely ever stop to notice it: trust. The fact that millions of people are able to believe the same things about reality is a remarkable achievement, but one that is more fragile than is often recognised.

At times when public institutions – including the media, government departments and professions – command widespread trust, we rarely question how they achieve this. And yet at the heart of successful liberal democracies lies a remarkable collective leap of faith: that when public officials, reporters, experts and politicians share a piece of information, they are presumed to be doing so in an honest fashion.

The notion that public figures and professionals are basically trustworthy has been integral to the health of representative democracies. After all, the very core of liberal democracy is the idea that a small group of people – politicians – can represent millions of others. If this system is to work, there must be a basic modicum of trust that the small group will act on behalf of the much larger one, at least some of the time. As the past decade has made clear, nothing turns voters against liberalism more rapidly than the appearance of corruption: the suspicion, valid or otherwise, that politicians are exploiting their power for their own private interest.

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/nov/29/why-we-stopped-trusting-elites-the-new-populism

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2019 in Economy

 

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To understand the far right, look to their bookshelves

I used to live in Tucson, teaching at the University of Arizona. The post-9/11 US, just half an hour away from the Mexican border, was a strange place to be. Armed vigilantes patrolled the desert hunting for illegal immigrants. Every day the local radio spewed paranoia and xenophobia. They talked about “true Americans” in small towns with “pure values”, as opposed to the corrupt liberal elite in the cities. A radical-right rhetoric was beginning to form, but it was still on the margins.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/apr/01/far-right-bookshelves-jordan-peterson-thilo-sarrazin

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2019 in North America

 

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Slavoj Žižek, il marxista che difende l’Europa

Slavoj Žižek è sempre sorprendente. Si può spesso non essere d’accordo con il filosofo marxista sloveno, da molti considerato un battitore libero e un pensatore eterodosso e radicale. Ma leggendo il suo ultimo libro, Come un ladro in pieno giorno, e intervistando l’autore al festival Libri come a Roma, emerge dal suo pensiero un elemento molto interessante e non scontato, soprattutto in vista delle elezioni europee del 26 maggio: il suo fortissimo europeismo.

“In un mondo in cui le decisioni vengono prese in incontri riservati di ‘leader forti’ non c’è posto per l’Europa come la conosciamo. Ovviamente, Trump si sente più a suo agio in compagnia di leader autoritari con cui può ‘fare affari’, soprattutto se agiscono solo per conto del loro stesso stato. ‘America first’ può fare affari con ‘Cina first’ o ‘Russia first’, o il post-Brexit ‘Regno Unito first’, non con un’Europa unita. L’obiettivo di Trump è quello di fare affari economici con singoli partner che possano essere ricattati fino alla sottomissione, per cui è di estrema importanza che l’Europa agisca come un’unica forza economica e politica”, si legge nel libro.

https://www.internazionale.it/opinione/jacopo-zanchini/2019/03/27/slavoj-zizek-europa

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2019 in European Union

 

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The most powerful currency today

Many years ago, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, I remember seeing the world’s hierarchies clearly defined with three distinct divisions at immigration: a visa on arrival section, temporary detention cells, and the everyday immigration queue. Brown South Asian citizens lined up for a rare opportunity at obtaining a visa on arrival, meanwhile mainly black Africans filled the detention cells, and westerners, presumably carrying their exalted passports, filled the seamless immigration queues. Malaysia offers visa-free access to more African countries than most, and yet suspicion was reserved for holders of wretched papers. Observing this, it was clear that cemented hierarchies of access based on nationality were stark and crystal clear.

Passport privilege remains an entirely unaddressed, unsustainable inequity, and the most consistently overlooked factor that defines every single immigration debate and “crisis” of movement and migration. Those soaked in the warm, comfortable balm of a privileged passport—freely traveling the world, subject to no scrutiny or suspicion, waltzing through immigration points with a 90-day entry stamp and a smile, moving and settling at a moment’s notice, protected from presenting an ocean of evidence to justify your legitimacy as a decent human being—are often completely oblivious to the rare power they possess.

https://africasacountry.com/2018/12/the-most-powerful-currency-today/

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2019 in Reportages

 

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They Are Both Worse!

Back in the late 1920s, Stalin was asked by a journalist which deviation is worse, the Rightist one (Bukharin&company) or the Leftist one (Trotsky&company), and he snapped back: “They are both worse!” It is a sad sign of our predicament that, when we are confronted with a political choice and obligated to take a side, even if it is only a less bad one, quite often the reply that imposes itself is: “But they are both worse!” This, of course, does not mean that both poles of the alternative simply amount to the same. In concrete situations, we should, for example, conditionally support the protests of the Yellow Vests in France or make a tactical pact with liberals to block fundamentalist threats to our freedoms (say, when fundamentalists want to limit abortion rights or pursue an openly racist politics). But what it does mean is that most of the choices imposed on us by the big media are false choices – their function is to obfuscate a true choice. The sad lesson to be drawn from this is: if one side in a conflict is bad, the opposite side is not necessarily good.

http://thephilosophicalsalon.com/they-are-both-worse/

 
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Posted by on March 1, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

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Why Secondary Contradictions Matter: A Maoist View

Already a quick glance at our imbroglio makes it clear that we are caught up in multiple social struggles: the tension between the liberal establishment and new populism, the ecological struggle, struggles for feminism and sexual liberation, ethnic and religious struggles, the struggle for universal human rights, struggles against the digital control over our lives… How to bring all these together without simply privileging one of them (be it economic, feminist, or anti-racist…) as the “true” struggle that provides the key to all other struggles? Half a century ago, when the Maoist wave was at its strongest, Mao Zedong’s distinction between “principal” and “secondary” contradictions (from his treatise “On Contradiction” written in 1937) was common currency in political debates. Perhaps, this distinction deserves to be brought back to life in the context of our question.

When Mao talks about “contradictions,” he uses the term in the simple sense of a struggle of opposites, of social and natural antagonisms, not in the strict dialectical sense articulated by Hegel. Mao’s theory of contradictions can be summed up in four points:

-First, a specific contradiction is what primarily defines a thing, making it what it is: it is not a mistake, a failure, the malfunctioning of a thing but, in some sense, the very feature that holds a thing together. If this contradiction disappears, a thing loses its identity. A classic Marxist example: in all history hitherto, the primarily “contradiction” that defined every society was class struggle

https://thephilosophicalsalon.com/why-secondary-contradictions-matter-a-maoist-view/
Why Secondary Contradictions Matter: A Maoist View
 
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Posted by on February 20, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

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