Saturday, August 5, 2017

Fascism and the Denial of Truth: What Henry Wallace Can Teach Us About Trump
"In response, Wallace wrote "The Danger of American Fascism," an essay in which he suggested that the number of American fascists and the threat they posed were directly connected to how fascism was defined. Wallace pointed out that several personality traits characterized fascist belief, arguing that a fascist is "one whose lust for money and power is combined with such an intensity of intolerance toward those of other races, parties, classes, religions, cultures, regions or nations as to make him ruthless in his use of deceit or violence to attain his ends." Wallace also claimed that fascists "always and everywhere can be identified by their appeal to prejudice and by the desire to play upon the fears and vanities of different groups in order to gain power." Fascists are "easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact" (my italics), he contended. Moreover, Wallace noted that fascists "pay lip service to democracy and the common welfare" and they "surreptitiously evade the laws designed to safeguard the public from monopolistic extortion." Finally, Wallace identified that fascists' primary objective was to "capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they keep the common man in eternal subjection." Wallace was writing in the context of an existential threat to democracy posed by Nazi Germany, Italy and Japan. However, his essay is prescient in that he identified the existence of a domestic form of American fascism that emerged from the political context of enlightened thought, rule of law and limited government. Wallace drew a clear distinction between European fascism and the kind of fascism found in the United States. Rather than resort to overt violence, American fascists would "poison the channels of public information," Wallace reasoned."