It’s Happening Here — A US Version of Fascism

Fascism is always the bastard child of bankrupt liberalism. This was true in Weimar Germany. It was true in Italy. And it is true in the United States, writes Chris Hedges. 

The Last Piggy Bank – by Mr. Fish

By Chris Hedges

The parting gift, I expect, of the bankrupt liberalism of the Democratic Party will be a Christianized fascist state.

The liberal class, a creature of corporate power, captive to the war industry and the security state, unable or unwilling to ameliorate the prolonged economic insecurity and misery of the working class, blinded by a self-righteous woke ideology that reeks of hypocrisy and disingenuousness and bereft of any political vision, is the bedrock on which the Christian fascists, who have coalesced in cult-like mobs around Donald Trump, have built their terrifying movement.

Trump, as the writer Jeff Sharlet points out, has morphed from the Elmer Gantry huckster of politics — holding out the illusion that we can all get rich like him — to the peddler of dark conspiracies about the deep state and pedophiles running the Democratic Party, to full blown fascism.

If he comes back to power the nihilistic violence that plagues the country, with over 500 mass shootings this year alone, will explode. Conspiracy theorists will threaten and murder “enemies” and “traitors” with impunity. The judiciary, law enforcement and legislative bodies — currently in a state of paralysis — will be transformed into organs of personal and political vengeance.

The censorship by stealth practiced by Silicon Valley and the Democrats will become crude, overt and pervasive. The military, already infested with commissar-like Christian fascist chaplains, will be led by true believers such as retired lieutenant general Michael Flynn. It can happen here, as Sinclair Lewis predicted.

Blaming Russia, or third party candidates who never poll in significant numbers for the election of Trump and the rise of Christian fascism, is infantile. The Libertarian Party received 1.2 percent of the vote in the last presidential election. The Greens, 0.26 percent. The death blow to democracy is not those who vote for fringe parties, but apathy.

Eighty million eligible voters did not vote in the last presidential election, no doubt because they did not expect much to change in their lives whoever was in office. And they were probably right.

The root cause of our political distress lies with a liberal class that places corporate and personal profit above the common good. Liberals have conspired, since the presidency of Bill Clinton, to strip the country of manufacturing, and with it, jobs that sustained the working class. They have been partners in the transformation of democratic institutions into tools to consolidate the power and wealth of corporations and the ruling oligarchs.

They forgot the fundamental lesson of fascism. Fascism is always the bastard child of bankrupt liberalism. This was true in Weimar Germany. It was true in Italy. It was true in the former Yugoslavia with its warring ethnic factions. And it is true in the United States. 

And now we will all pay. 

“Our time more closely resembles the 1930s than it does the 1990s,” Benjamin Carter Hett writes in the introduction to his book The Death of Democracy: Hitler’s Rise to Power and the Downfall of the Weimar Republic.

The billionaires and corporations, whose sole obsession is the greater accumulation of wealth and power, will accommodate themselves to the Christian fascists, as the German industrialists did to the Nazi Party.

Fascism, after all, is a faux populism. It is an efficient mechanism for abolishing labor unions and using fear and coercion, including violence, to prevent rival mass movements. Trump, back in power, will demand that he, his family and inner circle, profit from power.

1892 Bellamy Salute during the Pledge of Allegiance was outlawed in 1942 during WWII. (Wikimedia Commons)

The billionaire class and corporations will shower him and his buffoonish court with wealth in exchange for the ability to exploit with impunity and demolish government regulations and oversight. Fascist leaders, including Trump, have nothing but contempt for their followers. They share this trait with the titans of business.

We were warned. The seeds of fascism, like the climate emergency, were apparent decades ago. The leading scholars of fascism told us that unless American society halted its slide to ever greater levels of social inequality and returned democratic power to a betrayed populace, fascism would metastasize and consume the state. The ruling class, blinded by greed, a lust for power and willful ignorance, was as deaf to these warnings as they were to those of climate scientists.

Robert O. Paxton, who taught European history at Columbia Unhiversity, in 2004 wrote The Anatomy of Fascism. He explained that “the language and symbols of authentic American fascism” would “have little to do with the original European models. They would have to be familiar and reassuring to loyal Americans as the language and symbols of the original fascism were familiar and reassuring to many Italians and Germans, as Orwell suggested.”

Fascist leaders always appropriate national and religious language, symbols and myths. Germany’s fascism was rooted in Teutonic legends. Italy’s fascism was grounded in the ancient Roman Empire. Francisco Franco’s fascism was fused with the Catholic Church. Fascists do not seek to be exotic. They seek to be familiar.

“No swastikas in an American fascism, but Stars and Stripes (or Stars and Bars) and Christian crosses,” Paxton writes. “No fascist salute, but mass recitations of the pledge of allegiance. These symbols contain no whiff of fascism in themselves, of course, but an American fascism would transform them into obligatory litmus tests for detecting the internal enemy.”

Fritz Stern, a refugee from Hitler’s Germany and a leading scholar of German fascism, warned a year later in 2005 of the looming danger posed by a Christian fascism when he was awarded a prize by the Leo Baeck Institute.

Hitler at Walhalla in Donaustauf, Bavaria, June 6, 1937. (Schmid/Archiv Gemeinde Donaustauf)

“Twenty years ago, I wrote an essay called ‘National Socialism as Temptation,’ about what it was that induced so many Germans to embrace the terrifying specter,” Stern told his audience. “There were many reasons, but at the top ranked Adolf Hitler himself, a brilliant populist manipulator who insisted and probably believed that Providence had chosen him as Germany’s savior, a leader charged with executing a divine mission.

God had been drafted into national politics before, but Hitler’s success in fusing racial dogma with Germanic Christianity was an immensely powerful element in his electoral campaigns. Some people recognized the moral perils of mixing religion and politics, but many more were seduced by it. It was the pseudo religious transfiguration of politics that largely ensured his success, notably in Protestant areas.”

Stern, who wrote The Politics of Cultural Despair: A Study in the Rise of the Germanic Ideology and was university professor emeritus at Columbia University, devoted his career to analyzing how German fascism was made possible. He intimately grasped from his experience growing up in Nazi Germany, and his scholarship, how democracies disintegrated. He saw the deadly warning signs. He knew the seduction fascism held for the disenfranchised. 

“There was a longing in Europe for fascism before the name was ever invented,” he told me in an interview in 2005 for The New York Times. “There was a longing for a new authoritarianism with some kind of religious orientation and above all a greater communal belongingness. There are some similarities in the mood then and the mood now, although also significant differences.”

Stern, who died in 2016, said fascist movements were fertilized by widespread despair, feelings of exclusion, worthlessness, powerlessness and economic deprivation. Those who felt abandoned were easy targets for demagogues who peddled magical thinking and who had refined the art of the “mass manipulation of public opinion, often mixed with mendacity and forms of intimidation.”

Donate to CN’s
Fund Drive

Noam Chomsky, in an interview I did with him in 2010, also saw the ominous route we were traveling.

“It is very similar to late Weimar Germany,” Chomsky told me when I called him at his office in Cambridge, Mass.

“The parallels are striking. There was also tremendous disillusionment with the parliamentary system. The most striking fact about Weimar was not that the Nazis managed to destroy the Social Democrats and the Communists but that the traditional parties, the Conservative and Liberal parties, were hated and disappeared. It left a vacuum which the Nazis very cleverly and intelligently managed to take over.”

Jeff Sharlet, who has reported for two decades on the far-right, makes the same point about the Americanized face of fascism in his book The Undertow: Scenes from a Slow Civil War.

Sharlet notes that “the purification project of the old fascism has also ‘been proved’ too extreme to be practical for a nation in which the Rightest ascendancy can contend for the loyalty of a third of Latinx voters.

This time, White supremacy welcomes all. Or, at least, a sufficient veneer of ‘all’ to reassure its more timid adherents that border walls and ‘Muslim bans’ and ‘kung flu’ and ‘Black crime’ and ‘replacement theory’ somehow do not add up to the dreaded r-word, which anyway these days, in the new authoritarian imagination, only happens in ‘reverse,’ against White people.”

And how do fascists define the internal enemy?

The internal enemy, Paxton writes, is accused of seeking to revoke “the First Amendment, separation of Church and State (creches on the lawns, prayers in schools), efforts to place controls on gun ownership, desecrations of the flag, unassimilated minorities, artistic license, dissent and unusual behavior of all sorts that could be labeled antinational or decadent.”

Fascist movements derive their justification for indiscriminate violence from the blood of martyrs. Ashli Babbitt, who was shot dead during protests on January 6, by a Black Capitol Hill police officer, is an updated version of the Nazi’s first holy martyr, Horst Wessel. Trump, on trial for fraud is, in the eyes of his supporters, being martyred by the courts.

“It is the first death which infects everyone with the feeling of being threatened,” Elias Canetti writes in Crowds and Power.

“It is impossible to overrate the part played by the first dead man in the kindling of wars. Rulers who want to unleash war know very well that they must procure or invent a first victim. It need not be anyone of particular importance, and can even be someone quite unknown. Nothing matters except his death; and it must be believed that the enemy is responsible for this. Every possible cause of his death is suppressed except one; his membership of the group to which one belongs oneself.”

When I finished two years of reporting across the country in 2006 for my book American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America, I was convinced Christian nationalism was fascist and an existential threat to our democracy. The liberal church, rather than call the Christian fascists out as heretical, foolishly embraced dialogue, giving the Christian fascists a religious legitimacy. It was a disastrous mistake.

This failure, coupled with the refusal by the ruling class to address the dislocation and financial distress of workers and their families who flocked to the megachurches, ensured the ascendancy of our homegrown fascism. We would either reintegrate the working class into society, which meant well-paying stable jobs and a halt to the mercenary exploitation by corporations, I wrote then, or continue down the road to fascism. Now, here we are.

“The radical Christian Right calls for exclusion, cruelty and intolerance in the name of God,” I wrote in the final chapter of American Fascists:

“Its members do not commit evil for evil’s sake. They commit evil to make a better world. To attain this better world, they believe, some must suffer and be silenced, and at the end of time those who oppose them must be destroyed. The worst suffering in human history has been carried out by those who preach such grand utopian visions, those who seek to implant by force their narrow, particular version of goodness.” 

Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for 15 years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East bureau chief and Balkan bureau chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning NewsThe Christian Science Monitor and NPR.  He is the host of show “The Chris Hedges Report.”

Author’s Note to Readers: There is now no way left for me to continue to write a weekly column for ScheerPost and produce my weekly television show without your help. The walls are closing in, with startling rapidity, on independent journalism, with the elites, including the Democratic Party elites, clamoring for more and more censorship. Bob Scheer, who runs ScheerPost on a shoestring budget, and I will not waiver in our commitment to independent and honest journalism, and we will never put ScheerPost behind a paywall, charge a subscription for it, sell your data or accept advertising. Please, if you can, sign up at so I can continue to post my Monday column on ScheerPost and produce my weekly television show, “The Chris Hedges Report.”

This column is from Scheerpost, for which Chris Hedges writes a regular columnClick here to sign up for email alerts.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

Donate to CN’s
Fund Drive



79 comments for “It’s Happening Here — A US Version of Fascism

  1. LeoSun
    October 13, 2023 at 14:02

    “American” FASCISM, “Color it Orange?!?” Oh, hell, no!!! Imo, “ American” fascism is rife w/all the colors of the rainbow!!! And, imo, Code f/BLUE is where The Divided $tates of Corporate America is at, i.e., “INC.,” “The [LA$T] Piggy Bank.” (Mr. Fish).

    “Everywhere there’s lotsa piggies living piggy lives. You can see them out to dinner w/their piggy wives. Clutching forks & knives, to eat the bacon!!!” Awh, dawn, don dah, duh!

    Sad but true, “Trump Derangement Syndrome,” LIVES! Alongside, “Bidenomics,” manufacturing fascism masquerading it as democracy. “Fascist leaders, [POTUS’ 40-46] including Trump, have nothing but contempt for their followers. They share this trait with the titans of business.” (Chris Hedges).

    Concluding, “we” are flocked. “A Nation of $heep begets a government of wolves.”

    Never say die, “Shout-Out,” to 70+ Spot f/On Commentors’ COMMENTS aka “CN’s Readership!!! KEEPING IT LIT!”

    …p.s., imo, the Red & Blue Left, Right, & Center “call for exclusion, cruelty and intolerance in the name of God,” i.e., “Biden makes sign of the cross in bizarre moment w/Israeli PM Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu.” It.s f.u.b.a.r.

  2. Janet
    October 12, 2023 at 13:52

    What an ignorant rant. Hedges should try talking to the disaffected and fed-up African Americans in Chicago or New York; or the Hispanics in some of the southern border towns. You might be surprised to hear that they have written off the Democratic Party for, among other things, its racism and immigration policy that’s hurting them most of all. Chris throws around the term “Christian fascism” without acknowledging that, in the West today, it’s Christians who are under attack. Their churches are vandalized, their info booths on campuses are attacked, and their speakers are shouted off the stage by liberal-leftists. It’s not conservatives who are imposing censorship; and Trump never colluded with Big Tech and Social Media to censor opposition voices — but Biden and the Democrats did. Finally, do your homework and count how many of Biden’s imposed regulations and exec orders have been overturned by the courts because they violated the Constitution, usually by discrimination against some population, or because government overstepped its authority. That’s where Chris should look for “fascism.”

    • Peter Panther
      October 13, 2023 at 13:55

      … eg Liberal-Left? wtw. The rest is bitter.

    • James White
      October 13, 2023 at 19:55

      Could not agree more Janet. The term Fascism has been functionally obsolete since the end of WW2. When both relevant Fascist governments were overthrown. It is overused in much the same way that the term Communist was once in the U.S. That era ended with the demise of Sen. Joseph McCarthy. The only purpose of using it now is to hurl it as a childish insult at those who disagree with you. It’s faux-intellectual posturing. For anyone to refer to Trump as a Fascist without considering the evil deeds of the Biden Regime and the DNC is laughable. No President or party in my lifetime has abused the Constitution anywhere near what Biden and the Democrats are doing right now in plain sight. Both the FBI and DOJ have been corrupted beyond repair. Even the courts are either compromised by activist Judges and juries or under siege by Soros funded corrupt prosecutors and his lawfare zealot armies. The CIA owns the Washington Post and New York Times. Any dissent by reporters is punished by termination. The darkest fears of a corrupted Republic are manifest.

  3. Bushrod Lake
    October 12, 2023 at 11:31

    These remarks are remarkable! The divides are transparent unlike our institutions (CIA, FBI etc.) and our government…IMO we need to stop hating one another. Most people want similar things. Peace, safety, friendship. Biden is pretty clearly a nobody, and Trump is beneath consideration in normal times but they have their charms. We need to control irrationality, not deny it.
    Passions are stronger than reason, but reason needs its place to lead (for our survival, now). We are well endowed, if we use it – the reason endowment.

  4. Abu Lincoln
    October 12, 2023 at 10:17

    Global Nuclear War is The Greater Evil.

    We can possibly survive almost anything else, but we can’t survive Global Nuclear War.

  5. Abu Lincoln
    October 12, 2023 at 10:15

    It is happening here ….

    If you doubt this, get a Palestinian flag, then try to march with it.
    Democrats are now fully against a right to protest. If you doubt me, go ask AOC or Mayor Adams.
    Advancing from their early position where the Democrats voted strongly against a right to strike.

    When you see your rights to strike and protest being taken away, then …. it is happening here.

    October 12, 2023 at 06:20

    Corporate interests have been funding holy rolling con men since the Depression. Churches enjoy exemption from taxation not because they are the way, the truth, and the light, but because they serve as the compliance assurance arm of state power. Their role is to convince us that obedience to the sociopaths who rise to the top of every power structure is a moral obligation that will be rewarded with the things in the afterlife that they deny us in our real lives. It is what George Carlin succinctly called the greatest BS story ever told.

    When Christianity took over the demoralized remnant of the once-mighty Roman Empire, its fanatics systematically plundered and erased a millennium of human progress. The difference this time is that there is science, which cannot be deleted; it is now essential to keep advanced technological society functioning. While science has not and cannot “prove” religion false, it has convincingly demonstrated that religion’s underlying presuppositions are misunderstandings of the natural world and the human place in it. What’s coming is a necessary phase – 2,300 years ago, in “Politics” Aristotle documented that when democracy fails, people always clamor for a god-king to make them feel safe again – but it cannot and will not long endure. It brings to mind a supernova, the final bright flaring of a star that has run out fuel, before it collapses in on itself and goes dark forever. This is the back-and-forth pattern that repeats again and again in the long saga of our species, the latest iteration of the endless struggle between superstition and reason.

    And can we please let go of the facetious comparisons to Weimar? Germany was defeated, dismembered, defenseless and impoverished, ruled by a fake democracy imposed on her by the victors of WWI to continue strip mining her remaining resources under the guise of war reparations. The US on the other hand is the unchallenged global hegemon.

    • October 13, 2023 at 15:05

      ..all considered: Capitalism has turned space’s once most special species into one compl. Achilles Tendon.
      Back to the harbor tea-break bag-throwing party..

  7. Mikael Andersson
    October 11, 2023 at 23:32

    Dear Chris, I completely admire your work and thank you for this article. If not Trump, who will put an end to Biden? Or, if Biden must remain as the lesser of two perversions, how can anything good be made from him and his clique? You identify the crisis very accurately. I am interested in your suggestions – given your very detailed observation of the actors – concerning what to do. How to stop creeping fascism, when both major parties are devoted.

    • drezzo
      October 12, 2023 at 05:11

      Totally agree. The current regime is full blown fascist, that much is for certain . “the other guys Gunna turn fascist” is a theory and may turn out to be true. Either way the decline of the hegemon is a given.

  8. Jimm
    October 11, 2023 at 22:14

    “Conspiracy theorists will threaten and murder “enemies” and “traitors” with impunity” if Trump returns to power. A truly baseless statement. And next, “The judiciary, law enforcement, and legislative bodies — currently in a state of paralysis — will be transformed into organs of personal and political vengeance.” Sorry Chris, we’re already there. Maybe, Chris, it’s time you examined your own prejudices.
    The remedy to “conspiracy theory” is transparency in government which tragically hardly exists. It is this transparency that Assange threatened to provide that has him in a cage. Much conspiring in high places manifested his current fate, and yes, a fate even the gutless Trump failed to free him from.

    • Susan
      October 12, 2023 at 16:10

      Thank you Jim. A friend sent this out to an anti war group who I no longer belong to because they are all in on war with Russia and China. I responded to this article the same way I left the group. Trump was not the problem, the Government controlled by the oligarchs is the problem. Trump it the tool with which they drove Democrats to become robots. Trump is hated by the Blue bloods because he is crass and loud and not one of them. The Democrats are turning into hateful tools. The Republicans that I deal with can actually have a reasonable argument, without using the MSM to make their arguments. Russiagate was profound for me watching the Democrats in unison believe the story of Russia collusion. Today even having been soundly debunked they go on. The same with Ukraine being a Nazi state and believing the actor fool Z because he is Jewish it can’t be a nazi state. We will not become a fascist state because we are already in an oligarghy

  9. James P McFadden
    October 11, 2023 at 21:57

    Jake Sullivan’s speech last spring
    outlines an alternate version of American fascism. When you throw out all the BS, rhetoric (innovative is used 8 times), propaganda, and misleading populist nonsense — sounds like an economic plan to put the National Security Managers (NSMs) in charge of setting economic policy and war production goals as was done during WW2. Free markets and global corporate autonomy, which deindustrialized the US, will be replaced by top-down National Security Manager control. Because the global neoliberal project failed to maintain US growth, profits and hegemony, the NSMs’ plan is to centralize control as the fascists did in Nazi Germany. He sounds like they plan to treat the American public and businesses as an occupied foreign country where they will implement a “foreign policy” on the middle class in the hope that this national structure will restore corporate profits. He talks often of “creating middle-class jobs” or “good jobs” — which eerily sounds like low paying jobs because he never says “high-paying jobs.” This will be a war economy to enable wars against Russia, China, and to maintain our colonies (Latin America, Africa, Europe) and force them to do our bidding as is currently happening in Ukraine. Global supply chains in our colonies will be maintained to take advantage of cheap foreign labor. The question in my mind is whether the multi-national corporations will go along with this NSM power grab — or whether multi-nationals will back Trump who might promise laissez faire policies at home that don’t raise tariffs or corporate taxes. The technologies Sullivan will be pushing are primarily military computer AI tech. NSMs are now clearly thinking that autonomous drones with AI are the future of warfare based on what is happening in Ukraine. Sullivan ends with a nonsensical call for China to bail out western banks’ bad loans, and a plan to blockade new tech as if the west is the only creator of these ideas.
    Here are a few quotes (with my thoughts in parentheses).

    “All of that is part of what we have called a foreign policy for the middle class.” (treating America as an occupied state)

    “A modern American industrial strategy identifies specific sectors that are foundational to economic growth, strategic from a national security perspective, and where private industry on its own isn’t poised to make the investments needed to secure our national ambitions.” (NSM ambitions are world domination)

    “This is about crowding in private investment—not replacing it. It’s about making long-term investments in sectors vital to our national wellbeing—not picking winners and losers.”

    “technologies that will shape our future, from artificial intelligence to quantum computing to synthetic biology.” (synthetic biology for war terror)

    “it isn’t feasible or desirable to build everything domestically. Our objective is not autarky—it’s resilience and security in our supply chains. Now, building our domestic capacity is the starting point. But the effort extends beyond our borders.” (control of colonies)

    “but we are unambiguously committed to not leaving our friends behind.” (ie our Sardine colonies can’t switch sides)

    “bold public investments in our respective industrial capacity” (public money subsidies to the military industrial complex)

    “We’re negotiating chapters with thirteen Indo-Pacific nations … ensure more resilient supply chains for critical goods and inputs.” (surrounding and walling in China with the new iron curtain)

    “China now needs to step up as a constructive force in assisting debt-stressed countries.” (asking US to bail out western banks)

    “we are competing with China on multiple dimensions, but we are not looking for confrontation or conflict.” (BS considering our war ships are off their coast)

    • James White
      October 12, 2023 at 11:57

      Jake Sullivan is a intellectual lightweight. But next to Blinken and Nuland he looks like a Rhodes Scholar. Biden picks all of these weak and dumb cabinet members because he is insecure about anyone else looking smarter than him. Finding people who are dumber than Biden is never easy. That is what makes Blinken perfect to lead Biden’s Sate Department. Try to think of a weaker and less effective Secretary of State in world history. Blinken oozes incompetence and his lack of self-confidence is evident whenever he speaks.

      • Bart
        October 13, 2023 at 11:50

        I would give anything to know what went on in December of 2021 when the above lightweights met to consider the draft agreement that Putin sent to NATO and the White House. Was there any dissent? Will they all remain silent when they write their books?

  10. Hank
    October 11, 2023 at 20:54

    Chris Hedges needs to lay down the book of Revelation, and pick up Marx and Lenin.

    • Susan Siens
      October 12, 2023 at 11:12

      Good one! And always good to see Marx’s name not used in vain! I told one Substack that I would cancel my sub if I heard the words Marx, Marxist, or Marxism misused one more time. If a writer carefully delineates the history of so-called “cultural Marxism,” then I’m okay as it has absolutely nothing to do with Marx.

  11. Drew Hunkins
    October 11, 2023 at 17:43

    More TDS from Chris.

    Trump’s the victim of the establishment’s lawfare bc he’s a perceived threat to them. Regardless of how liberals like Chris feel about the big bad Trumpenstein, he’s probably the only viable candidate right now who will do two very important things 1.) Tone down the anti-Russia zeitgeist and rhetoric, thereby reducing the chances of World War III, and 2.) get control of the absurd out-of-control immigration that could cause hardship to tens of millions of working U.S. citizens by putting downward pressure on wages, increasing housing and rental costs, and depleting social services.

    Oh, and equating Ashley Babbit, an other hardworking yet confused prole with as a Nazi like martyr is pretty sick.

    Finally, Chris writes this essay right at the time when the hammer of American Zionism is really coming down hard right now here domestically — big U.S. financial firms (dominated by Israeli partisans) have announced a future employment blacklist against Ivy League college students who are pro-Palestinian/anti-Israeli imposed apartheid.

    This is scary. Who the heck gave these Zionist punks this authority?

  12. Jeff Harrison
    October 11, 2023 at 14:32

    “Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise. I know, I’ve tried to deal with them.”

    These are the words of that notorious liberal – Barry Goldwater. It’s been around for quite a while. It’s not the Democrats and its not the Republicans, it’s the entirety of the political class. The whole government is corrupted – the judiciary renders partisan decisions, the legislature is only looking out for their party, not their constituents, the military is out to control the government so that the military is happy with it. We’re forked.

  13. JonnyJames
    October 11, 2023 at 14:29

    Chris points out that millions in the US (roughly half of eligible voters) don’t vote.

    In the classic People’s History (H. Zinn) there is a passage that paraphrases like this:

    after NAFTA, de-regulating Wall St. and other right-wing policies, Bill Clinton was warned by his advisors that he was “alienating his base”. Ol’ Bubba retorted with his trademark snicker: “Whadda they gonna do? Vote Republican?”

    The cruel joke is on us.

  14. herm
    October 11, 2023 at 13:37

    While I can appreciate the wider point of this article, I don’t think Trump is either competent enough, nor his reach far enough, for him to accomplish what Hedges warns of here. I also don’t think it fair to blame the fall of democracy to “apathy.” We have two parties that are moving in fascist directions, is it apathetic to see neither choice as “saving democracy”? I think Hedges widely misses the mark here, particularly in our age, in the words of Anne Csae and Angus Deaton, of Deaths of Despair.

    • Mikael Andersson
      October 11, 2023 at 23:35

      Herm, that was the assessment of the prevailing establishment in Germany in 1933. They assessed Hitler and party to be insufficiently competent and unable to pose a threat. He was designated Chancellor of a minority government and proved them wrong.

      • James White
        October 12, 2023 at 12:08

        We had Trump as President already and he never once annexed the Sudetenland. The Hitler comparisons are the most lazy, overused and never amount to anything more than a smug insult. Look at the world today and argue that anything is any better than when Trump was President. We are on the verge of WW3 with carnage in Ukraine and Israel/Gaza. Inflation is out of control and a recession is already in Europe with a possible global depression next year. There is a wealth of world history other than Hitler to think about once in a while.

        • Susan
          October 12, 2023 at 16:21

          Not to mention James. 6new wars the d party proudly pushed along with the NYT WP NPR FOX MSNBC FT BBC and on and on. Barry did more damage to the country and turned democrats into something unrecognizable Lets also not forget the real war criminals in Washington served in both republican and Democratic admins The coup already happened it is called an oligarchy.

  15. izzy
    October 11, 2023 at 13:32

    The Deplorables vs. the Libtards.
    A grudge match that consumes all else, and apparently engineered for that purpose. Either way, our corporate overlords prevail. Hitler is dwarfed by the current batch of operators.

    • Anon
      October 11, 2023 at 23:15

      Why contextualize Machievellian (us vs them) when a a more universal engineering scheme is afoot: engineered austerity as political policy practiced through min wage freeze (with a “nice family tent” stick as backup)!
      Oh & tnx 4 commenting Izzy, (& of course tnx Chris & CN for truterm: Fascism)…

  16. Carolyn L Zaremba
    October 11, 2023 at 13:19

    I would like to add that Hedges’ book “American Fascism: The Christian Right and the War on America” was excellent. Since it was published not enough people took up that struggle and now here we are, a country riddled with superstition, the brain dead, the ignorant, and supporters of genocide in Gaza. And the latter are Joe Biden and the Democrats.

    • rosemerry
      October 12, 2023 at 01:26

      I completely agree.

      • Susan Siens
        October 12, 2023 at 11:18

        And ditto to both of you. I was on a social media site called Spinster and I’m closing my account because I could not believe the vicious racism of, in particular, western Europeans who have been fed a diet of Israeli Strong [barf] by the BBC and the Guardian for so long they know nothing of reality. Once again, people who want their own liberation while caring nothing for others’ liberation, and that has no validity in my book. And if western Europeans are suffering due to their governments’ complete indifference to their well-being, so what.

        That said, I will disagree to at least a degree with Hedges. I was in church one morning (mainstream) and came out to find a tract on my windshield from an obviously fundamentalist sect. There was really nothing in the tract that I disagreed with! including that we do not run our own country, that is run by an elite [sic].

  17. Ames Gilbert
    October 11, 2023 at 13:13

    I’m amazed that Chris Hedges does not think Biden and his cohort as dangerous as Trump. Look back at Biden’s rhetoric and deeds over five decades, and he looks like a prime example or product of what Sheldon Wolin presented as “inverted totalitarianism”, a modernized version of fascism. For example, just consider the “Patriot Act”, legislation that was mostly written by Biden years before, keeping it in his back pocket until the opportunity arose. Look at his devotion to corporate interests, his lies, his corruption over the years. Look at his appeals for more vicious punishments for ordinary people, time after time. Look at his fake support for unions (“I’m a union man”) then actually what he did to the railroad workers, as another recent example. He is a corporatist and a warmonger through and through. There isn’t a single attack on our freedoms and privacy that he hasn’t supported or instigated over the years. He is using the DoJ and other legal tools to attack his opponents. So, he is an actual fascist now. Trump may well be a fascist in the making, and may become a full–blown one if he is re–elected, but Biden is a real, functioning fascist right now, armed with and abusing his immense power over us and our futures.

    • Alan sklan
      October 11, 2023 at 19:25

      I agree about Biden. I have yet to see Trump act like a fascist as president.

    • Mikael Andersson
      October 11, 2023 at 23:37

      Thank you Ames. Our assessments of Biden are the same. Chris might comment.

    • Adriana Dell
      October 12, 2023 at 11:14

      Spot on, I couldn’t agree more! How could anyone delude themselves that Biden is some kind “progressive”? Look at his track record ffs.

    • Susan Siens
      October 12, 2023 at 11:21

      ONE HUNDRED PERCENT! I don’t want to hear about Trump’s racism when I watched a video of Biden speaking against school integration and for classing powder cocaine differently from crack cocaine. And why isn’t his son in prison for using the latter?

  18. Caliman
    October 11, 2023 at 13:02

    “The liberal class, a creature of corporate power, captive to the war industry and the security state, unable or unwilling to ameliorate the prolonged economic insecurity and misery of the working class, blinded by a self-righteous woke ideology that reeks of hypocrisy and disingenuousness”

    Could not agree more. Why, then, given the desperation of the above class to save and enhance themselves and their group privileges by serving monied power, and containing within their ranks almost the entirety of the professional media/security/military class (as has been seen over the past 8 years of Trump derangement) does the author look to a marginalized group of Christian rightists led by a 78 year old for the “great threat?”

    Fascism, the marriage of corporate and political centralized state power, is already here with its unique American attributes of corporate identity politics married to imperial police/security/military dominance.

    “Its members do not commit evil for evil’s sake. They commit evil to make a better world. To attain this better world, they believe, some must suffer and be silenced, and at the end of time those who oppose them must be destroyed. The worst suffering in human history has been carried out by those who preach such grand utopian visions, those who seek to implant by force their narrow, particular version of goodness.”

    A better description of the liberal elite of this country would be hard to achieve …

    • J Anthony
      October 12, 2023 at 06:40

      Both “sides” are mirror-images of each other. I thought Hedges made clear here that they are equally contemptible and a threat to decency.

  19. Carolyn L Zaremba
    October 11, 2023 at 12:57

    Well, Chris, if you are looking for a fascist beast, look no further than Joe Biden. Did you not his his violent and insane speech yesterday? A world leader calling for and supporting genocide? With his stooges standing behind him? You picked a bad day to blame Donald Trump for something. He is reprehensible and so are the Christsofascists, but who do you think is backing the destruction of the Palestinians? The Christofascists, that’s who. Biden is a vicious and demented old man who has gone off the deep end. His own crime family is under scrutiny, so I suppose he identifies with Bibi, who has been under investigation and lawsuits for years. Trump is merely a master opportunist who has spent his life grifting off of a capitalist system that was ripe for exploitation. Biden, on the other hand, is a long-serving war hawk and war criminal with dementia and a host of toady/handlers behind him.

    • Susan Siens
      October 12, 2023 at 11:22

      So good to read such sensible comments!

    • Susan
      October 12, 2023 at 16:28

      Could not have said it Better!

  20. Helen Marshall
    October 11, 2023 at 12:50

    Yes, Trump and the MAGA folks are a serious threat…but today’s Dimocratic establishment is not much better…It is increasingly clear that Biden will do just about anything to hang on to the power he sought for so many decades, and the Clintons/Obama et al are right there with him.

    • Carolyn L Zaremba
      October 11, 2023 at 13:21

      I agree.

    • Alan Sklan
      October 11, 2023 at 19:27

      I don’t feel threatened by Trump and Maga folks.
      Why do you?

      • J Anthony
        October 12, 2023 at 06:43

        You may feel different if that doofus ever has the power of the presidency again. While you may not feel personally threatened by the notion, it would not bode well. Seems both sides’ constituencies are mirror-images of each other and equally contemptible, which I thought was made clear, but I guess not….

      • James White
        October 12, 2023 at 07:26

        Of course it is the elite, who are in power right now who fear Trump and even more so, what they refer to sneeringly as MAGA. As I tell my friends who vote consistently for Democrats, you voted for the oligarchs. I voted against them. The globalists who are now in charge, and destroying the country and by extension the rest of the world are: The DNC, Deep State, FBI, DOJ, CIA, ‘think’ tanks, Wall Street, technology corporations, Hollywood and large media companies. Nearly all of the vassal states of Cebtral and Western Europe are in lock step. Viktor Orban is the lone voice of reason in Europe. But one by one, Eastern Europe nations are sounding more like Orban. More than half of Europeans now know that the war in Ukraine was a glaring error. Their leaders have yet to admit defeat. But the voters are poised to oust them. Trump is problematic. He acts like a petulant 5 year old most of the time. But his policies were sound. A strong economy, opposition to open borders, ending the forever wars and getting along with the rest of the world instead of trying to threaten other nations constantly. Peace and prosperity beat the constant chaos that the Biden Regime orchestrates. And the heads of European vassal states have to constantly promote to keep their hold on power. You can have a half million dead Ukrainians or live in peace and trade freely and fairly with Russia and the rest of the world. Cui bono?

    • Susan Siens
      October 12, 2023 at 11:23

      That was what Patrick Lawrence outlined in one of his excellent essays, and it is truly frightening. Nuclear war perhaps?

  21. Kauai John
    October 11, 2023 at 12:34

    While not as famous as “It can happen here”, Heinlein wrote many stories about the Christian takeover of America. hxxps://—%22.

    He morphed from a socialist to a “prudent imperialist” recognizing the need for a “Clint Eastwood” savior to rescue the USA. It didn’t happen until “Stranger in a Strange Land”.

    • Carolyn L Zaremba
      October 11, 2023 at 13:23

      Waiting for any kind of “savior” is a serious mistake. That opens the door for demagogues and cults of personality. The only thing to save humanity is humanity itself. It’s ability to do so is being whittled away by the dumbing down of the population.

  22. vinnieoh
    October 11, 2023 at 12:33

    I do not understand the sense (syntax?) of this passage:

    “And how do fascists define the internal enemy?

    The internal enemy, Paxton writes, is accused of seeking to revoke “the First Amendment, separation of Church and State (creches on the lawns, prayers in schools), efforts to place controls on gun ownership, desecrations of the flag, unassimilated minorities, artistic license, dissent and unusual behavior of all sorts that could be labeled antinational or decadent.””

    • Carolyn L Zaremba
      October 11, 2023 at 13:26

      Nationalism is the problem. Building walls and fences to keep out “the other” and keep in the hapless prisoners of a culture of ignorance and endless emptiness. Religion has a lot to answer for here. Marx recognized the dangers of religious obscurantism and the history of early Christianity confirms the cult’s hatred of learning and knowledge.

  23. Richard Musser
    October 11, 2023 at 12:19

    Fascism is already here Mr. Hedges; no need to wait for some premier “Christianized fascist state”. We have already achieved uniformity of thought, courtesy of a well oiled propaganda machine that spews out 90% of the “information” ‘mericans are exposed to. We have already achieved a super militarized state where state violence is treated with the solemnity of a religion. We already have a prison industrial complex that has jailed a full generation of Black leaders, stolen Black wealth, and permanently deformed our delusion of liberal “democracy”. It’s already here; stop pretending neo-liberalism doesn’t enact it’s own share of a fascist agenda.

    • Carolyn L Zaremba
      October 11, 2023 at 13:02

      Americans have allowed themselves to be hypnotized by their televisions for a very long time. I got rid of mine more than a decade ago. Brain washing machines are what they are. This is why we must support all independent investigative journalists every day. I support at least ten. Hedges has lost his edge. His book about the Christofascists is excellent, but these days he has let his religious and bourgeois side take over. As to violence. The Old Testament Bible of the Christians (and the Jews, for that matter) is filled with violence and fanaticism from cover to cover. Then again, Trump is not a Christiana believer. He is a typical amoral vacuum, a trait which all crooks and politicians have in common.

  24. Larry G
    October 11, 2023 at 12:04

    I have no problem with calling Trump a fascist as long as we acknowledge that liberals are fascists, too. They use different symbols, but liberalism or the New Left also is fake populism. It also is a collision between big business and government. It also is a cult. It also caters to the billionaires. Democrats have a secular, fundamentalist godless religion, called wokeness, and it rings just as hollow as Christian fascism.

    • Carolyn L Zaremba
      October 11, 2023 at 13:04

      Which is why I stopped supporting Democrats long ago. I joined the Socialist Equality Party and work for the overthrow of capitalism, as all moral and intelligent people must.

    • J Anthony
      October 12, 2023 at 06:46

      Agreed. Today’s Dem party and it’s bourgeois liberal constituency has made it’s transition to the right complete.

  25. Bart Anderson
    October 11, 2023 at 11:10

    Good column.
    I expect bad things will probably happen, but a takeover by one party seems unlikely since the Republicans and Democrats are bitter enemies and closely matched.
    One note about the photo showing students giving the “Bellamy salute” … It was promoted by Christian socialist Francis Bellamy and originated in 1892. Nothing to do with fascism, which later adopted a similar salute.

      October 11, 2023 at 13:12

      As the caption clearly explains.

  26. Lee Vail AKA Kalev Efrayim
    October 11, 2023 at 10:18

    Democracy? Two wolves and a lamb voting on what’s for dinner.

    • October 11, 2023 at 22:50

      What is that supposed to mean? Anything that can be said in a parable can be converted back to plain language.

        October 12, 2023 at 03:56

        The two major parties and the lamb is the public.

  27. mgr
    October 11, 2023 at 09:31

    People with nothing to lose are likely to do anything. This is why astronomical and ever accelerating wealth concentration feeds everything else. The great despair of the American public lies in the visceral awareness that the “American dream” is dead and gone and with it upward mobility. Everyone is trapped where they are with no way out, running endlessly in a wheel like a hamster just to survive. We are entering a neo-feudal system of few nobles and many serfs. If you are not in the <1%, then you are food. We can thank Milton Friedman, for one, and his vacuous "profit above all" principles for putting us squarely on this path. Out of that despair comes totalitarian rule.

    Young people are the necessary demographic for the corporate DP. Not that the cDP with its corporate donor system works for anyone except their elite clients. But for the cDP to survive, it needs to look like it has young people in mind. A primary concern for young people, and justifiably so, is climate change. They certainly have "skin in the game" more than any other demographic. The Republican leaders are honest in their climate change refusal. The cDP is simply devious. The cDP will dance and look busy but do nothing of consequence to address climate change. They are just running out the clock as they preserve the status quo for their elite clients. But without the youth, there is no future for the cDP. Thus, we have "woke." The cDP does not give a shit about woke but it is great for keeping young people docile as they are being neutered from making a difference. Of course, this kills us all.

    • Carolyn L Zaremba
      October 11, 2023 at 13:08

      When I was a young person we were opposed to war and worked against the Vietnam atrocity with all of our might. Today’s young people still have to work against war and now they are also working to save the environment on top of that. They remain politically naive in many ways, but it’s rough being young now. Even rougher than when I was a teenager in the 1960s. We must teach them that supporting ANY capitalist party is a waste of time and energy and that their antiwar and environmental instincts must be supported by a political party of the workers of the world with a clear program and aim. “Woke” was never progressive. A bunch of bourgeois liberals (many of whom fell off the freedom train a long time ago) is never going to change anything.

      • mgr
        October 11, 2023 at 15:01

        Carolyn: Yes. Actually, I was there with you. I think perhaps that for both of us, this is where we learned what the US government and society really is behind the smiley face mask.

        I would suggest that the most essential moral principle for peace, prosperity and sustainability is summed up by Emmanuel Kant’s dictum (paraphrasing), “Don’t use people as a means to an end but treat them always as the end itself.” Without that firmly in place in people’s hearts and minds, I believe that any system will end up eating its own.

        Much success to you, and to us all.

      • Donna Ross
        October 12, 2023 at 11:26

        Agree…which is why I support Cornel West for POTUS!

  28. Tony
    October 11, 2023 at 09:12

    Democracy in Germany was already in serious danger before Hitler came to power. The national parliament, the Reichstag, barely met.

    I imagine that Hitler could barely believe his luck when the military presented him with the gift of a pledge of allegiance to him personally.

    Good article on a very disturbing subject.

  29. Lachlan Watts
    October 11, 2023 at 08:29

    The threats you warn of are real and present, but these threats come not from Trump and his supporters, but from Biden/Obama and the Democrats, corrupt DA’s, corrupt judges, corruption at the apex of the FBI and CIA, and corrupt military officials.
    January 6 has been transmogrified into the American version of crystal night with the same consequence of creating a one-party state. The first inmates in Hitler’s concentration camps were his political opponents. Following Hitler’s playbook Biden and his cronies are using the judicial system to silence Trump and the MAGA army.

    • Rebecca Lee
      October 11, 2023 at 10:18

      I agree.

    • Frank
      October 11, 2023 at 10:29

      They come from both left and right.

      • JonnyJames
        October 11, 2023 at 14:18

        But there is no left/right in mainstream US politics. This is not 1934, or 1968 – policy has shifted hard right and hard authoritarian.

        The US voter has only two “choices” in the multi-billion dollar Elections Inc. process: right-wing authoritarian or right-wing authoritarian.

        We live in a age of what Yanis Varoufakis calls “Technofeudalism” or what I call Techno-Totalitarian Oligarchy.

        Chris said years ago that in the US “there is no way to vote against the interests of Goldman Sachs” That sums up US ‘democracy’

        The Best Democracy Money Can Buy! (Greg Palast)

        • Frank
          October 12, 2023 at 12:05

          I agree 100%. I was using right and left in the common parlance of the mostly asleep at the wheel public. I should have used the terms Republican and Democratic.

      • J Anthony
        October 12, 2023 at 06:53

        Both parties are right-wing now. I think this is even more clear now with Dems’ stance on Israel/Ukraine, and the weak attempts at pretending to care about the plight of their own citizenry.

    • Carolyn L Zaremba
      October 11, 2023 at 13:13

      Good point. Far too few people, especially the young, are versed in the history and lead-up to the Third Reich. It’s not entirely their fault. They are not taught any real history. I recommend two books, “The Unfathomable Ascent” and “1924: the year that made Hitler”, both by Peter Ross Range. Trump is an opportunist and the Democrats provide plenty of opportunity. No capitalist is going to stop the massive grift that is the ripping off of the world.

    • James White
      October 11, 2023 at 13:40

      January 6 was Nazi Pelosi’s ‘fire in the Reichstag’ reenactment. Pelosi refused then President Trump’s advance offer of National Guard troops to guard the Capitol for the demonstration. The crowd was full of FBI planted agents and FBI CHS’s (Confidential Human Source) who coerced the crowd to enter the Capitol. Pelosi ordered the Capitol Police to open the doors of the House buildings to lure the protestors in. This was entrapment of protestors in a staged theatrical performance.
      Several of the protestors who were not even present in the House that day received 20-30 year prison terms. This was entrapment by the FBI, guilt by association and draconian DOJ prosecution for a ‘thought’ crime. It could not be more Orwellian.
      The attempted murderer who fired on a Republican softball team and critically wounded and very nearly killed Rep. Steve Scalise got 3 years in prison. Note the contrast in the offenses and punishments meted out.

      • Lois Gagnon
        October 11, 2023 at 15:24

        I hadn’t heard that scenario before, but it fits the pattern of behavior of collusion between the keepers of the corporate state and the FBI. They have been working in concert to put down any threat to the status quo since the end of WWll.

      • michael
        October 11, 2023 at 23:05


        • James White
          October 12, 2023 at 07:55

          Yes, really michael. The Democrat party and Deep State continuously con nearly half of the country with ever more massive lies. Psychological Operations. Their first big con once they were voted out of power was the Trump-Russia hoax. Many people are still buying that one. The Jan. 6 theater is just the latest. Pelosi’s plot to kneecap Trump and threaten anyone who votes for him with lengthy prison terms. Three years for attempted murder and 30 for ‘parading?’ There is a special place in Hell reserved for Biden, Pelosi and Hillary. But they are also mere tools of the Globalists. Cynical people who consider themselves superior beings. Look around you at the present state of the world and then consider who is in charge. It is clearly only those elite people who despise ordinary folks and seek to dominate them like sheep or cattle. Like some deranged James Bond criminal enterprise, they profit from other people’s misery to maintain their obscene wealth and power. Ask yourself why half a million Ukrainian people have died. For what purpose? The kind of people who refer to a genocide as ‘a good investment.’

      • J Anthony
        October 12, 2023 at 07:02

        What evidence is there for any of that? Are you actually denying that Trump encouraged that riot? Because there is clear evidence of that. Maybe it was allowed to happen on some level, which would be due to the rightwing sympathies of most security/intelligence agencies. Anything else is speculation.

        • Susan Siens
          October 12, 2023 at 11:28

          There is a load of evidence for what James writes. Have you wondered why they have not released the 10,000 hours of video of the Capitol “insurrection”? They’ve actually admitted that the crowd was filled with federal and Metro DC agents, usually the ones breaking windows, etc, as well as making sure the blockades outside were ineffective.

        • James White
          October 12, 2023 at 11:43

          If this is news to you, J Anthony, then perhaps reconsider getting your ideas from any of the following: MSNBC, CNN, PBS, ABC, CBS, NBC, FoxNews, NY Times or Washington Post. If you follow any of those, you are being demoralized. Once you are brainwashed, even speculation is beyond reach. If the stick you in prison for 20 years for a thought crime, you will understand then. But too late.

Comments are closed.