The opening to this piece made it sound like it was just about some argument between two public-ish, intellecutal-ish, journalist-ish people. Blech.
But I kept reading, and it’s actually an excellent defense of and argument for the use of “semi-fascist” to describe Trump and his movement.
The fact of the matter is this: Trumpism at its core is a movement fixated on restoring national greatness through the charismatic leadership of a single providential individual who “alone can fix it.” It is obsessed with national decline and attacking internal enemies. Although more loosely organized and weaker than those of the classical Fascisms, MAGA also has paramilitary formations that have tried to carry out this project to the point of attempting the overthrow an elected government. From the very beginning of his political ascent, he attracted the interest and enthusiasm of the extreme right: he was the kind of thing they’d been looking for for a long time. Perhaps now a disappointment, perhaps now a failure, but certainly a step in the right direction as far as they were concerned.
It’s worth the read, even if the opening was a bit insider-baseball cringe.
Although, for what it’s worth, within the cringe was my first introduction to A.O. Hirschman’s Rhetoric of Reaction. I immediately recognized all three arguments, and I’m quite certain I’ve made some of them myself. I’m definitely going to read Hirschman now, and I’m sure I’ll notice these “theses” all over the internet.
In the construction of his arguments he closely follows something similar to A.O. Hirschman’s famous theses from his Rhetoric of Reaction: the “perversity thesis,” where any action actually result in the opposite of its intent, the “futility thesis,” where any action will actually accomplish nothing, and the “jeopardy thesis,” where any action will threaten some already accomplished social good. These three simple guides provide a template for the pundit for a long career in journalism. They give the appearance of thoughtfulness and counter-intuitive brilliance, when they just methods to generate rote responses.