Patrick Lawrence: This Isn’t Fascism

Political confusion and deluded notions of fascism colored Max Azzarello’s tragic death by self-immolation.

Former President Donald Trump speaking at an event in Tampa, Florida, in July 2022. (Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

By Patrick Lawrence
Special to Consortium News

On April 19, just as a court in Lower Manhattan finished selecting a jury to hear the farcical “hush money” case against Donald Trump, a 37-year-old Floridian named Max Azzarello set himself ablaze across the street from the courthouse.

Azzarello, by subsequent accounts, was a peaceable man, an agreeable neighbor, and was much taken up with questions of social justice. He was also no slouch on the academic side: Azzarello had a degree in anthropology from the University of North Carolina and a master’s in urban planning from Rutgers.

To go by the mainstream press reports, Azzarello seems to have lost it somewhat after his mother died two years ago this month. But it is not anyone’s place, other than those close to him, to go any more deeply, or even this far, into the man’s psychiatric profile.

Max Azzarello did have something to say to the rest of us as he stood in the park across from the Center Street Courthouse, however. Just before setting himself ablaze, he held up a placard that read, in all caps, “TRUMP IS WITH BIDEN AND THEY’RE ABOUT TO FASCIST COUP US.”

We ought to pay attention to this. An apparently capable man, by all accounts a compassionate man, died dreading an imminent Fascist takeover in America. This makes me very angry. To go straight to my point: A human life is wasted in consequence of a ridiculous, paranoiac idea that has for some time circulated among us either out of foolishness or for the most cynical of political motives.

I was very sad to learn of Aaron Bushnell’s self-immolation before the Israeli Embassy in Washington on February 25. I was sad to read of Max Azzarello’s final act, too, but in a different way.

Bushnell died for “what people have been experiencing in Palestine at the hands of their colonizers,” as he put it in his final moments. An Air Force enlistee, Bushnell declared he could “no longer be complicit in genocide.” His last words were “Free Palestine!” One would rather Bushnell were still with us, but his was an honorable death.

Azzarello died in a state of confusion and delusion, and I draw this conclusion from the message on his placard. His death honored no one. I will go so far as to say there are many among us who dishonorably bear responsibility for it.

Readers of this column may have noted over the months that I am a stickler for nomenclature. To name things properly is essential to our understanding. It enables us to act, if we are so inclined, because we are clear in our minds as to what is to be done.

Misnomers on a Sinking Ship

To name things improperly causes all kinds of problems. It leaves us confused and deluded, as in the case of Max Azzarello. It can paralyze us. Or if we choose to act, we are likely to act wrongly. As in the case of Max Azzarello.

There are so many misnomers abroad among us, amid the panic on our sinking ship, one sometimes grows weary of language altogether. Russia is an aggressor, China is an imperialist power, Israel is a democracy, and so on through the Orwellian lexicon: War is peace, etc.

On the domestic side, the Jan. 6, 2021, protests at the Capitol were an attempted coup. Or an insurrection. We have Donald Trump is a tyrant. We have Donald Trump is a dictator — “King Trump,” I am now reading in The New York Times. And we have it that America, as per the late Max Azzarello and countless other like him, is on the eve of a Fascist takeover.

Much of this, let’s call it the pollution of public discourse, comes from the liberal authoritarians. Rachel Maddow, to take one of the more pitiful cases, wants us to think Trump the dictator will end elections, destroy the courts, and render the Congress powerless. The MSNBC commentator has actually said these things on air.

One-man rule is the theme, if you listen to the Rachel Maddows. The evident intent is to cast Donald Trump in the most fearsome light possible, as it becomes clear Trump could well defeat President Biden at the polls come Nov. 5.

We can mark this stuff down to crude politicking in an election year, surely. There is nothing new in it. But this is not the point.

There is a straight line between this relentless, politically motivated fear-mongering and the thought that Fascism in some American incarnation is hard upon us — a straight line, this is to say, from our Rachel Maddows to the self-immolation of Max Azzarello. This is the point.

Definitions of Fascism

 Italo Balbo (left), Benito Mussolini, Cesare Maria de Vecchi and Michele Bianchi during March on Rome, October 1922. (Unknown/Illustrazione Italiana, 1922, n. 45/Wikipedia)

I cannot quite tell what people mean when they speak of fascism in our current circumstances. And so far as one can make out, a lot of people who use the term, and maybe most, do not know what they mean, either.

Fascism, in the generic usage, arose in the years after World War I, and for a long time there were more versions of it than one could count. There was Hitler’s, of course, and a variant in Austria. The Croatians had the Ustaša, the Portuguese, under Salazar, had their Estado Novo, and Spain had its Falangists. You had fascist movements in France, Scandinavia, Latin America.

These shared a common ideology, but there were as many differences as similarities, one movement to the next. And so “fascism” gets a small “f” if we mean the broad interwar phenomenon.

Fascist movements were invariably and vigorously anti-Marxist. They considered parliamentary democracy a waste of time, there was a reactionary aspect to all of them. They thought in terms of totalizing mobilizations of the population. Twentieth-century liberalism was out of the question.

But the differences were often pronounced. Some fascist movements were secular, some put religion at the core of the ideology. António de Oliveira Salazar, the Portuguese dictator from the 1930s through most of the 1960s, had no use for the godlessness of Nazism (although he borrowed plentifully from the Reich).

Some fascists thought the Enlightenment was a mistake, while others were highly rational as they served their constituencies. Some were populist, others capitalist. The Nazis claimed to be socialist, but depended on Germany’s big industrialists.

The first Fascist government was Benito Mussolini’s, which came to power in 1922. It gets a capital “F” because Il Duce named his party the National Fascists. When you read The Doctrine of Fascism, Mussolini’s 1932 treatise, it is clear his thinking was in the “new man” mode fashionable at the time. “Like all sound political conceptions, Fascism is action and it is thought,” Mussolini began. And a short while later:

“Fascism wants man to be active and to engage in action with all his energies; it wants him to be manfully aware of the difficulties besetting him and ready to face them. It conceives of life as a struggle in which it behooves a man to win for himself a really worthy place, first of all by fitting himself (physically, morally, intellectually) to become the implement required for winning it. As for the individual, so for the nation, and so for mankind.”

Mussolini’s Fascism is a complicated read, I have found. “Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power,” he once said. Did he mean the corporatization of the economy as we use this term?

In theory no, in practice yes, I would say. Corporatism refers to a system wherein people are represented in the polity according to their interests or functions — farmers, industrial workers, business-owners, and so on. It has something in common with the Medieval guild system — which Mussolini referenced in his Doctrine.

But by the mid­-1930s, Il Duce’s intent on the economic side was to erase the distinction between political and corporate power precisely by way of the merger he spoke of. The state sector, was, by then, very large.

Is there anything in this pencil-sketch of a century-old ideology that should threaten us? With this history in view, brief and unscholarly as it is, what do we think of the placard Max Azzarello held up in Lower Manhattan just before committing what amounts to suicide?

I suppose it might make America’s many-sided crisis — political, economic, social — more comprehensible if we name it to suggest it has a frightening antecedent. But this is profoundly counterproductive. So long as we, some of us, go on persuading ourselves we face the threat of fascism or Fascism, either one, we simply obscure what it is we actually face.

We name it wrongly, to return to my earlier point. I do not see fascism in any form anywhere on America’s horizon. To call it such is to render ourselves incapable of acting effectively.

What we face has no precedent in our history, it seems to me. It is a thoroughly decadent form of democracy — elite, Hamiltonian democracy as against popular, Jeffersonian democracy. Nothing too exotic here.

Liberal Authoritarianism

Italian novelist Umberto Eco. (PEN World Voices Festival/Flickr)

De Tocqueville warned us nearly two centuries ago about “soft despotism,” meaning the liberal authoritarianism that now confronts us. I term this apple-pie authoritarianism because it is a peculiarly, even uniquely American phenomenon — which was the prescient French traveler’s point.

Martin Wolf, a Financial Times columnist, published a piece a few weeks ago under the headline “Fascism has changed, but it is not dead.” Wolf cited Umberto Eco, the Italian novelist, who, in turn, published a long essay called “Eternal Fascism” in The New York Review of Books many years ago.

Social frustration, blind allegiance to leaders, a suspicion of difference, hostility toward ostentatious wealth, a populist belief in the sovereignty of the populace: These are the worrisome signs of an incipient return to the Fascism of the 1920s and 1930s, according to these two. (And I assume Eco meant Mussolini’s, cap “F,” as he served in a Fascist youth brigade of some kind.)

What is Wolf, leaning heavily on Eco, writing about? These are subjective features that describe who knows how many societies at any given time. To answer my own question, Wolf uses Eco’s précis of his memories of Mussolini to cast Donald Trump as a Fascist threat — his very own outing in the Rachel Maddow mode.

Of the structural characteristics of fascism or Fascism, Wolf, and before him Eco, seem to have more or less nothing to say. Why is this?

Wolf might have engaged, for instance, the extreme over-corporatization of America’s political economy and the near-impossibility of finding where the Fortune 500 ends and the U.S. government begins. But this would have implicated liberals as well as conservatism in the soft despotism that, indeed, besets the United States.

Considering Max Azzarello’s placard one more time — “Trump is with Biden”– he seems to have got that right. How sad that he mistook what he thought he saw for fascism. He would otherwise still be with us.

Patrick Lawrence, a correspondent abroad for many years, chiefly for The International Herald Tribune, is a columnist, essayist, lecturer and author, most recently of Journalists and Their Shadows, available from Clarity Press or via Amazon.  Other books include Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century. His Twitter account, @thefloutist, has been permanently censored.

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66 comments for “Patrick Lawrence: This Isn’t Fascism

  1. LeoSun
    May 3, 2024 at 11:08


    “This ain’t no disco. This ain’t no country club, either!” This is Washington’s D.C., f.u.b.a.r., “Gerontocracy,” Biden-Harris, “functioning @ a 3-7 year’s old mentality. Generally being capable of some degree of communication & performance of simple tasks under supervision.”

    “Ladies & Gentlemen,” this is the show!!! Outta the gate, Biden-Harris “larping,” live action role playing. The ‘reality’ show, FASCISM, Lives!!! “F” or lower case “f,” What difference does it make?” Basically, “we” are SCREWED! W/ a Capital “F!”

    “We” were warned!” North Korea called it, 11.14.19, “Rabid dogs like Baiden [sic] can hurt lots of people if they are allowed to run about. They must be beaten to death with a stick, before it is too late. Doing so will be beneficial to the U.S.”

    “This is not the first time Biden has invited the scorn of North KoreA. In May, [2019], North Korea called Biden, “a fool of low I.Q.,” for referring to Kim as a dictator & a tyrant.” hxxps://

    “Considering, Max Azzarello’s placard one more time — “Trump is with Biden”– he seems to have got that right. How sad that he mistook what he thought he saw for fascism. He would otherwise still be with us.” PATRICK LAWRENCE


    About the “THEY’RE ABOUT TO FASCIST COUP US.” IMO, the Coo Coo Ka Chew, was done & dusted, years ago, i.e.,

    ….. 12.12.2000, per SCOTUS’ Ayatollahs, gift giving, a “Cease Fire”aka HALTing the Re-Count. Haunting U.S., ever since “Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S. 98. December 12, 2000, that settled a recount dispute in Florida’s 2000 presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore.”

    I digress. IF, ever, there is a deep-dive into the “psychiatric profile”of America’s “Eagles,” fingers crossed, it’s found the Americans “self-immolation was not suicide, rather it was a devotional act of embodied practice, the importance is not to take one’s life, but to burn.” (As in Christianity, suicide is strictly prohibited in Buddhism).

    In Buddhism, the practice of self-immolation is called, “Courageous compassion.” In brief, it is an extreme form of Buddhist practice, not an instrumental device to bring about calculated political change. Not a form of suicide.

    ………..i.e., “A self-immolating monk, “says with all his strength and determination that he can endure the greatest of sufferings to protect his people.”

    ………. “By setting himself on fire, the monk embodies his vows in the most powerful way he can. By doing it in front of others, he hopes to awaken those who don’t recognize that they too are living in a burning house, and that they must find their own way to quench those flames or to escape.”

    However, Thích Nh?t H?nh, Vietnamese Buddhist monk and activist (1926–2022) advised the self-immolation of Qu?ng ??c (1963) was not suicide, rather it was a devotional act of embodied practice: “the importance is not to take one’s life, but to burn.”

    February 25, 2024, Aaron Bushnell, 25, wearing his USAF fatigues, died after setting himself on fire outside the front gate of the Embassy of Israel in Washington, D.C.

    April 18, 2024, Max Azzarello, “went to the Big Apple,” died, disheveled, wearing his street garb, set himself ablaze across the street from the courthouse hearing, jury selection, in The DNC v. Donald John Trump, in NYC.

    April 22, 2022, “EARTH DAY,” Wynn Alan Bruce, climate activist, “set himself on fire in the plaza of the United States Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C. The fatal self-immolation, which took place on Earth Day, was characterized by Bruce’s friends and his father as a protest against the climate crisis.”

    April 23, 1963, Similarly, after Bruce’s action on April 23, Buddhist teacher Kritee Kanko, Bruce’s friend, stated that “this act is not suicide.”Rather than intentional self-destruction or instrumental self-sacrifice, Nh?t H?nh and Kanko encourage us to see manifestations of courageous compassion.

    ……. “Buddhist self-immolation first hit the headlines in North America in 1963, with journalist Malcom Browne’s now iconic, Pulitzer prize-winning photograph of the Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thích Qu?ng ??c sitting in flames at an intersection in Saigon.” hxxps://

    ……. “it’s important to try and understand what the practice of self-immolation is about in Buddhism. In brief, it is an extreme form of Buddhist practice, not an instrumental device to bring about calculated political change.”

    TY, Patrick Lawrence, CN, CN’s Readership, You Rock! “Keep It Lit! Ciao

  2. John Puma
    May 2, 2024 at 02:17

    And while attention is diverted, yet again, by continuation of endless and senseless debate, the empire with no name, nor characteristics, is actively & gleefully provoking total nuclear annihilation on two fronts, while vigorously campaigning to open a third.

    “Genuine” fascism wouldn’t so much as make a pimple on this system’s rear end in terms of seething contempt for life, human and otherwise.

    • Susan Siens
      May 2, 2024 at 15:33

      What a brilliant comment!!!!! … the empire with no name, nor characteristics, …

  3. Stephen Morrell
    May 1, 2024 at 20:06

    From a Marxist perspective, the essence of fascism that distinguishes it from ‘ordinary’ bonapartism is the smashing of the organised workers movement and its political organisations by a mass movement of the lumpenproletariat ‘officered’ by the petty bourgeoisie. All social ‘deviants’ also get destroyed on the way. Historically, fascism has been the ‘reward’ for a failure to make a necessary socialist revolution when it was on the cards to address a profound economic and social crisis, which routinely dog capitalism. Such crises produce armies of the unemployed (the lumpenproletariat) and a frenzy in the middle classes at the prospect of proletarianisation, and this drives them to desperation and fascism precisely because a social revolution to overthrow capitalism has failed.

    Fascism is the necessary adjunct to the capitalist state machine when the latter is failing to rein in a revolutionary situation (eg, Italy 1919-20, Spain 1936-38, Germany 1923). Fascist movements grow exponentially when the capitalist class decides it must resort to them. They have many flavours, varying with each national/nationalist/racist terrain they grow in, but the fascism’s common thread is a reactionary ‘restoration’ of a mythical past that never existed, concomitant with an extermination of all ‘deviants’ preventing this. And once a fascist movement gains state power, its leadership integrates its own mass movement into the capitalist state machine, or otherwise ‘dismantles’ it, and thereafter tends to evolve toward ‘normal’ bonapartist rule.

    In short, fascism is the bourgeoisie’s last resort to resolve a social crisis when all else has failed, and the US regime isn’t there yet despite its patently numerous bonapartist appetites and characteristics.

    Clara Zetkin’s “Fighting Fascism — How to Struggle and How to Win” is worthwhile, as is Trotsky’s classic “The Struggle Against Fascism in Germany”.

  4. May 1, 2024 at 19:49

    Lawrence is right to push back on the cavalier use of the term “fascism” today, but he fails to offer a solid alternative. Fascism is not the merger of corporations and the state: that’s just capitalism which we’ve been living under for centuries. Fascism is what the one percent resorts to when narrative and propaganda alone cannot be relied upon to keep the 99 percent in line. A previous commenter pointed to Trotsky’s dissection of this question and I fully agree. For more from Trotsky, see this handy collection of essays: hxxps://

    • Michael G
      May 2, 2024 at 11:06

      “Fascism should more appropiately be called corporatism, because it is a merger of state and corporate power”
      -Benito Mussolini
      As quoted by the Author above.

      “What is the essence of Trotskyism? It’s that when Lenin developed his theory’s, he said that the main danger to humanity is Imperialism. Is capitalism has becomome Imperialism. A global system of monopoly capitalism that is holding back development and impoverishing people all over the world. And the duty of revolutionaries is to oppose Imperialism. And Trotskyism, all of it’s different manifestations and interpretations is always an attempt to say, no, no, it’s not about fighting the Imperialists..”
      “…Trotskyism is a way that you can claim to be a Marxist or a Socialist or a Revolutionary but not focus on fighting the Imperialists. Fight some other battle, but not against Imperialism. That is the essence of what Trotskyism is.”
      -Caleb Maupin

      “..radical intellectuals and radical students have always played a really important role in successful revolutions. And I don’t think it’s an accident that when the Trotskyist movement is shrinking in on itself, where it gravitates to, is the universities to catch the revolutionary minded young people and make sure they don’t end up in the arms of the real revolutionaries.”
      “..Fascism is just Imperialism trying to save itself..”
      -Joti Brar

      “The definition of a radical is someone who looks at the structural effects of Policy”
      Michael Parenti

      • Will In Madison
        May 2, 2024 at 20:06

        “Fascism should more appropiately be called corporatism, because it is a merger of state and corporate power”
        -Benito Mussolini
        As quoted by the Author above”.

        pretty sure there is no proof that Mussolini actually said that. Myself, I’m at a loss as to what to call the current crop of right wing Americans-the phrase Neo Fascist comes to mind. Christso-Facist? Dominionists? Christian Nationalist? The bad cops to the Democrat’s good cops (I forget which one is supposed to be Mutt and which one is Jeff)? My brother says the difference between the American Right and the Liberals is a matter of differing views on fiscal efficiency: The Right prefers to beat into submission and then work their human draft animals to death, while the liberals like to use Skinnerian behavioral modification for control and also like to take a bit better care of their draft animals so that they will do better work and can be worked a bit longer. In any case, Trump differs from “real German/Ukranian Fascists” only in that he has no real ideology-he has great potential as a murderous f*ck (not giving Biden a pass re Palestine, Africa and every other place we are killing people). Overall this article presents a stupid argument. Sure, I agree its the same old game, but it’s also pointless semantics (although I sense that some who post here would like to see the gloves to come off and terrible things rain down on the American population. It certainly good divert us from our murderous foreign policy but I sort of doubt that it will).

  5. David Otness
    May 1, 2024 at 19:00

    “Fascism comes to America dressed in the garb of the Democratic party, and within hours, the biggest bloodbath ever seen since the end of the second World War is due to begin on the tent city of Rafah, where sit 1.6 million people, almost 3/4 of them women and children, facing an onslaught of Israeli tanks, artillery, and infantry.
    And the International Criminal court is on the verge of issuing for Netanyahu and his gang of killers. . . . Or, are they?”
    ~ George Galloway in his opening monologue for today’s ‘Mother of All Talk Shows’ on the internet.

    Priorities. Peeves. How very, very, profoundly and dystopically sad.

    • Iron Felix
      May 2, 2024 at 11:36

      Threats are coming out of Washington to sanction anyone involved in issuing warrants against Netanyahu and his gang of thugs.

      • Susan Siens
        May 2, 2024 at 15:36

        And sanctions only seem to improve the circumstances of those sanctioned! This form of warfare is passe.

    • Will in Madison
      May 2, 2024 at 20:22

      Not sure it would be the biggest blood bath since WWII…Vietnam comes to mind, or you could just look at the cumulative post war slaughter of East Timorese , Chileans, Iraqis, Syrians, Ukrainians/Russians, Congolese, Angolans Nicaraguans, Hondurans, Mexicans ect ect. We put our dirty little fingers everywhere. Doesn’t make what we are allowing to happen to Palestine any less disgusting….but it’s only a continuation of what we do or foment everywhere and always. I assume the Ben Gurian Canal and it’s security is our interest in this case….well that and oil.

  6. bardamu
    May 1, 2024 at 16:43

    I doubt Azzarello killed himself over a misunderstanding in vocabulary, but the considerations are interesting otherwise.

    Fascism has been a term of caricature since at least the 1940’s, but this helps Westerners deny our resemblances to fascists at least as readily as it allows us to libel various opponents. Moreover, the terms “liberal,” “conservative,” “centrist,” and “radical” have become at least as suspect, all by the usual process of rigorous and persistent misapplication.

    Western leaders are not fascists as was Mussolini or Hitler or Franco, who were all also authentic nationalists in some sense. But still less are they “liberals” in the sense of Locke or Mill or (for Americans) of Franklin Roosevelt or John Kennedy, let alone of George McGovern. However, Joe Biden is a corporatist (I am being polite), and Mussolini was a corporatist. Joe Biden funds genocide and Hitler commanded followers to perform genocide. Each were or are antidemocratic, anti-representative, misanthropic, anti-egalitarian, and leaning towards autocracy as hard as circumstances might allow.

    Azzarello probably did have his other problems, and he probably did make some conclusion that the rapidly consolidating autocracy that he called fascist would impact his personal life in some way that may not have been correct. But, if anything, he seems to have been further along than most in his appreciation of the nature of that autocracy otherwise. In whatever subtle ways Western rulers are not fascist, it is because those who succeed the the Fords, the Rockefellers, the Dulles brothers, et alia have adapted to new technologies and overseas markets and proletariats and produced new ways to exercise autocratic power.

    It seems more than likely that Azzarello understood all this better than most anyone who survives him. We probably do need a new terminology, but if it is to be accurate, it will retain all of the old terror.

  7. shmutzoid
    May 1, 2024 at 13:56

    ‘Divested of its ideological and organizational paraphernalia, fascism is nothing more than a final solution to the class struggle, the totalistic submergence and exploitation of democratic forces for the benefit and profit of higher financial circle” — Michael Parenti

    Parenti’s definition has a simple and elegant ring of truth. ………Capitalism—-> Imperialism—–> Fascism

  8. Andrew
    May 1, 2024 at 13:52

    I think the tragedy of Max Azzarellois that he was trying to say something he couldn’t quite articulate. Are Biden and Trump on the same side? Yeah, they are both on the side of the wealthy, not on our side. Are they fascist? That’s where it gets complicated.

    I would agree that fascism is thrown around too haphazardly which dilutes its meaning. Most often it either is thrown at those one disagrees with or it leads to useless and ultimately meaningless arguments like, is Trump a fascist? If so, he would be more of a de facto fascist rather than an ideological one, mostly because he doesn’t care enough to delve into the specific ideologies. Trump is all about Trump. As for the inverse question, is Biden a fascist? It also bears examination and the answer again comes down to: not really. Biden is a neoliberal, and fascism would prove a step too far for such a limited man. What Mr. Lawrence calls the contest between Hamiltonian vs. Jeffersonian democracy, I see more as a contest between far-right Republicans and near-right Democrats. And that’ mostly at the elite level, for the rest of us, it’s like Walter Benjamin said: “Fascism attempts to organize the newly proletarianized masses while leaving intact the property relations they seek to abolish. It sees its salvation in granting expression to the masses–but on no account granting them rights.”

    As for Azzarello’s warning they’re about to “fascist coup us,” the threat of fascism is real. Fascism acts as a defense mechanism or immune system of capitalism. And as we have seen capitalism has been in crisis in the US for many years (which has become particularly acute in the past few), so it is logical to assume that more fascist elements will have been coming to the fore.

    Liberals often look to fascisms of the past, and I remember Eco’s 14 common features of fascism being thrown around by them during the Bush II years. But I tend to look at Shane Burley who took into account these past movements and tried to define the core of fascism as this: twinned beliefs in inherent inequality and essentialized identity (in which various social signifiers like race, gender, etc., both inform their past, tell them their allegiances and drive their personality) which we see in abundance not just on the far right, but also amongst Mr. Lawrence’s liberal authoritarians as well. We’ve been sliding into this for years. No coup necessary.

  9. Selina Sweet
    May 1, 2024 at 12:40

    What a terrific group here providing their knowledge and insights with such thoughtfulness and passion for the “good” and “true”. You voices are so important to be heard! Deeply informed and considered. Thank you to you each.

  10. Martin
    May 1, 2024 at 12:01

    i appreciate mr lawrence explaining why this man self-immolate (another failure of our free press), but from my non-academic perspective mr azzarello’s insight came quite late. as for sticking to what things actually mean: let’s pay dues to mr mussolini and work with that definition (fascism = corporatism, and this is imo indeed a tool of imperialist capitalism). there was this study a while back about which proposals become law and which don’t. corporate elites are in control. don’t fear fascism is coming, it is already here. what we see is that it is just getting tired of wearing those masks all the time.

  11. nwwoods
    May 1, 2024 at 11:41

    May 1, 2024 at 10:16
    “Do people seriously think Biden is a fascist and Trump isn’t?”

    Do people seriously think Trump is a fascist but Biden isn’t?

    • Mark J Oetting
      May 2, 2024 at 05:48

      Unfortunately many do depending on which side of political media propaganda machine they listen to. These are the Biden and Trump voters rationalizing their vote on which candidate will not bring fascism to the nation but ignoring the reality of what the real issues are that must be resolved to save our nation. Case in point is the overwhelming support in Congress for the three war bills from both parties .

  12. May 1, 2024 at 11:30

    You are correct in citing the many and various attributes associated with different fascist regimes, which points up the fact that it has not been uniform in its iterations. The single, undebatable, core principle without which a state cannot be categorized as Fascist is the Corporatist element, that is the union of government and corporate business. I have to wonder how it is you gloss over the fact that that is exactly the ruling arrangement America has now. If this unity of government and corporate business defines Fascism then that is what we have had in this country for generations.

      May 1, 2024 at 14:03

      But the author does not argue that alone constitutes fascism.

  13. May 1, 2024 at 11:05

    “Fascism wants man to be active and to engage in action with all his energies; it wants him to be manfully aware of the difficulties besetting him and ready to face them. It conceives of life as a struggle in which it behooves a man to win for himself a really worthy place, first of all by fitting himself (physically, morally, intellectually) to become the implement required for winning it. As for the individual, so for the nation, and so for mankind.”

    Very similar description to what’s expected from “Christian Soldiers” sharing in Christ’s Mission of Regime Change of the Oligarchic Plutocratic Pyramid Systems of the this MONEY serving Material World as Nihilism expands.

  14. Burnis Tuck
    May 1, 2024 at 11:04

    Move along, folks. Nothing to worry about.

  15. mgr
    May 1, 2024 at 10:45

    What is the difference between a totalitarian government and a democracy without transparency in governance?
    Nothing at all. And, here we are.

  16. May 1, 2024 at 10:41

    Great comments, especially the first two.

  17. Dienne
    May 1, 2024 at 10:16

    Do people seriously think Biden is a fascist and Trump isn’t? Do we think Trump won’t continue the genocide of the Palestinians? That he won’t send in police and military thugs to shut down protests? That he won’t use the combined state and corporate power to shut down all dissent and direct all the benefits of “society” upwards to the wealthy and powerful? I mean, what, seriously, are the differences between Biden and Trump? And how are they not both fascists (or Fascists)? Right-wing, militaristic, reactionary, totalitarian, corporatist – whatever aspects of fascism you focus on, both Biden and Trump are all in.

    This article is extremely light on substance – if you’re going to argue Trump isn’t a fascist, I’d think I could at least find an argument in here somewhere that at least purports to defend that. This is just a right-wing anti-liberal, pro-Trump screed.

    • Caliman
      May 1, 2024 at 12:36

      I believe the author’s point was that neither Biden NOR Trump are what would classically be called fascists … however, if you/we are concerned with hegemonic and undemocratic governance, both aged and decrepit totems of the rackets that rule (the D’s and the R’s) more resemble each other than provide a difference.

      Any “screed” observed is in the eye of the beholder …

    • Wade Hathaway
      May 1, 2024 at 13:35

      I’m not sure the author is necessarily pro-Trump. I’m not that smart of a guy but my take away is that if we continue to force the current political situation into a definition of F/fascism, we are missing important factors, unique to the american experiment. The records of both Trump and Biden make them an untenable candidate, neither of them deserving the vote to lead a nominally democratic government. My sense is that there is something unique to american liberalism that cycles between proper functioning and horrific dysfunction. The current cycle finds us in a era where things are just not working and this allows the worst of the lot to get attention and ascend to leadership. If we keep chasing the fascism definition, we may miss what actually needs fixing.

      • Will in Madison
        May 2, 2024 at 20:33

        history doesn’t repeat itself so much as it rhymes. In any case, my “liberal big ten university” hated by the trumpers and known for the anti war/anti apartheid activism among it’s students in the past is again sending in the cops to bust student heads for protesting against genocide in Palestine…so I guess it does repeat?

    • Chris G
      May 2, 2024 at 11:23

      Wow!? Trump is an ignorant, undisciplined, narcissist who grew up in a very privileged white world, the son of wealthy a real estate landlord. His view of politics is essentially juvenile and woefully uninformed. He is no fascist. Let’s review recent history.

      George W. Bush got us into two disastrous wars, set up a world-spanning torture regime, and instituted mass illegal warrantless surveillance of Americans. He also used his FBI stooge, Robert Mueller, to terrorize and entrap Muslim Americans in cooked-up terrorism plots to keep fear alive in the US while pursuing his own brand of corporate politics.

      Barack Obama campaigned on Hope and Change. Then he proceeded to keep the two wars he inherited going, picked up his Nobel Peace Prize, and then expanded those two wars into four more: Libya, Syria, Somalia, and Yemen, killing and displacing tens of millions in the process. He also launched a widespread terror campaign across the Middle East earning the title of Drone Assassination-in-Chief. On the home front, he effectively pardoned the Bush/Cheney war criminals as well as the Wall Street banksters, and instead foreclosed on millions of families who were victims of Wall Street fraud. And don’t forget his assault on whistleblowers who wanted to expose the government’s crimes.

      Trump did none of those things. He criticized the disastrous wars and wanted to have good relations with Russia. That was his biggest crime and the Democrats in league with the Deep State and the MSM have been working non-stop to demonize and delegitimize his election, and so ensure he would never be allowed near power again. He simply is not a trustworthy employee of the Oligarchy.

      As for Biden, he represented the corporate state of Deleaware for 50 years in Congress. He was a champion of the War on Drugs which was actually a War on People (mostly black and brown). His 1994 Crime Bill gave us mass incarceration and helped devastate lives, families, and urban inner cities. He was a cheerleader for the war in Iraq. He was responsible for the Bankruptcy law that created a generation of student debt slaves. He bragged of his authorship of the PATRIOT Act. He was Obama’s point man in the US-engineered coup in Ukraine and is now working diligently to support Ukraine’s assisted suicide. Finally, to insure his place in history alongside history’s greatest criminals he is working in close partnership with Netanyahu to carry out a genocide of Palestinians in the Israeli-controlled concentration camp known as Gaza.

      Yet, we are being led to believe that it is Trump who is the anti-Christ incarnate. And sadly, many otherwise decent Americans have fallen for this entirely phony and manipulated narrative.

  18. susan
    May 1, 2024 at 09:44


    Capitalism is designed to ensure that the rich and powerful are able to maintain their position by enslaving the majority world in precarious work with few rights. It requires unfair trade, unequal access to resources and control over educational and financial systems to survive.

    Hummm, sound familiar?

  19. Share
    May 1, 2024 at 08:48

    “Considering Max Azzarello’s placard one more time — ‘Trump is with Biden’– he seems to have got that right. How sad that he mistook what he thought he saw for fascism. He would otherwise still be with us.”

    I honor and will never forget Aaron Bushnell, Norman Morrison, Alice Herz and now Max Assarello. Each one self-immolated to honor humanity and bring attention to the senseless killing (or squashing of the human spirit/lifestyle in the case of “F/f – ascism”). Mr Assarello was trying to inform that Biden and Trump are identical and they are NOT for the 99%. I have seen so many definitions modified
    (e.g. anti-semitic does not include brown Semites,
    Zionist is ALL Jews,
    genocide- well, is it or isn’t it?
    anti-war is anti-[Jewish-only] semitism
    the list is endless)
    so I don’t really care what F/f-ascism definition Mr Assarello meant. I know from his actions he was trying to get attention that our government leaders aren’t acting in good faith. Even though this author sees Assarello as deluded, I do not and I thank the author for informing me of Assarello’s message.

    • Dfnslblty
      May 1, 2024 at 09:36

      Agreed, Share.
      and —
      >> It is a thoroughly decadent form of democracy — elite, Hamiltonian democracy as against popular, Jeffersonian democracy. Nothing too exotic here.<<
      As a wordsmith, Mr Lawrence, I would trust that your understanding of decadent would subsume trump and his anti-democratic & autocratic incarnation of democracy.

    • Selina Sweet
      May 1, 2024 at 12:11

      Well said Share. Love thy God will all thy heart, soul, mind. All these remarkable people who gave their lives to wake us up to the profound violence being done to our human family and appeal to us to remember love – in its forms of empathy, compassion, kindness, “right action” , generosity, justice, the “thinking heart”, “right relation” , love and power balanced by truth” -is what matters most. Instead of worship of power over, vengeance, cupidity, self-centeredness at others’ expense, control, exclusivity, greed, sloth, envy, wrath, avarice, hubris. Actions always speak louder than words, don’t they?

    • Maria-Eugenia
      May 1, 2024 at 12:33

      “I honor and will never forget Aaron Bushnell, Norman Morrison, Alice Herz and now Max Assarello.” Please don’t leave out the name of Huguette Gaulin. She was a Quebecois novelist and poet. She cried out “Vous avez détruit la beauté du monde!” (“You have destroyed the beauty of the world!”) as she…..

      • Share
        May 2, 2024 at 13:06

        I was only able to find a wikipedia entry without much information that you didn’t include here. I will indeed add Huguette Gaulin to my list of the self-sacrificers by “flaming death” (Alice Herz wrote that phrase) whom I will never forget. And I will also not spell Max Azzarello’s name wrong if I write it again. My first cat was Max, and I had a subsequent black cat I named Max (Brother Max formally).

    • Rafael
      May 2, 2024 at 01:31


  20. Em
    May 1, 2024 at 07:29

    Patrick Lawrence has, with an accompanying picture of Donald Trump, once again artfully and definitively propounded : This Isn’t Fascism.
    And as a former iconic, worshipped mainstream TV news anchor used to posit at the close of each his nightly broadcasts:
    And that’s the news!
    All the viewers went to bed resting assured that what ‘the man’ had spoken was the only reliable truth worth knowing.

  21. R. Dieters
    May 1, 2024 at 07:21

    What Max Azzarello correctly identifies is a trend towards totalitarianism. Call it what you want, but that’s what it is. I’ve noticed that on the one extremities of the political spectrum, the right side is prone to calling it ‘communism’ (The UN planning to take over the world trough ‘cultural marxism’ etc.) and the left side calls it ‘fascism’. As those are the terms in which those sides are used to in recognizing totalitrianism.

    I for one think Max Azzarello is already a step further in recognizing the current political discourse is but a divide-and-conquer of the public opinion kabuki theatre in order to marginalize the interests of the many in order to prioritize those of the few.

    In the end, it doesn’t matter whether Biden or Trump serves the interests of the proverbial 1% (in reality more like 0,00001%), the point is the interests of the 99% are hardly taken into account at all. In an age where the concentration of (economic) power is accelerating, this is a worrying trend indeed.

    And that’s exactly what I think Max Azzarello’s placard meant to say.

    • Share
      May 1, 2024 at 08:59

      Your comment wasn’t through moderation before I made my comment. Yours is exactly what I would have written if I were more eloquent. I agree a hundred percent.

    • ks
      May 1, 2024 at 11:23

      Exactly the word that came to my mind – totalitarian. It reinforces Patrick Lawrence’s point that the right word, and the understanding of that word, matters.

      I suspect Max Azzarello meant ‘totalitarian’ when he wrote ‘fascist’ (which, in my understanding, is disorderly, arbitrary, cruel and, yes, depraved as well as anti-democratic,) but we’re just not in a position to know. I admire his courage, whatever he meant.

    • nwwoods
      May 1, 2024 at 11:46

      Excellent comment.

  22. Iris
    May 1, 2024 at 04:38

    “The first group of privatizations occurred in the first fascist nation, Italy, in the 1920s; and the second group of privatizations occurred in the second fascist nation, Germany, in the 1930s. Privatizations started under Mussolini, and then were instituted under Hitler.

    That got the fascist ball rolling; and, after a few decades of hiatus in the wake of fascism’s embarrassing supposed defeat in WW II, it resurfaced and then surged yet again after 1970, when fascist forces in the global aristocracy, such as via the CIA, IMF, Bilderberg group, and Trilateral Commission, imposed the global reign of the world’s main private holders of bonds and of stocks: the world’s aristocrats are taking on an increasing percentage of what were previously public assets.”

    “Only, this time, it’s called instead by such names as “libertarianism” or “neoliberalism,” no longer “fascism,” so that only the true-believing fascists, the aristocrats, will even know that it’s actually fascism. It’s their Big Con. It’s their Big Lie. Just renaming fascism as “libertarianism” or “neoliberalism,” has fooled the masses to think that it’s pro-democratic. “Capitalism” has thus come to be re-defined to refer to only the aristocratically controlled form of capitalism: fascism. The ideological battle has thus apparently been won by a cheap terminological deceit. That’s all it takes for dictatorship to be able to win.”

    “The core of fascism is the idea that there is some elite, whether ‘Aryan’ or ‘chosen by God,’ or otherwise, who should run things, and that everyone else exists in order to serve that elite. Inevitably, this official elite consists of the people whom the powers-that-be assign as constituting the owners of almost everything that’s valuable. Increasingly, things become those people’s private possession — even what was formerly a public asset becomes now private. Beaches become private. Schools become private. Natural resources become private. It’s not just the art that was stolen by the Nazis and privatized to them and/or shown at museums that they control, which becomes private; it’s whatever the elite want to have, and to control: it’s all now private. That’s the fascist ideal.”

    “In a libertarian society, there is no commons or public space. There are property lines, not borders. When it comes to real property and physical movement across such real property, there are owners, guests, licensees, business invitees, and trespassers — not legal and illegal immigrants.”
    ~ Jeff Deist, president of the Mises Institute

    So, the monopolized oligarchy wants to end nation-states, borders, Constitutions, environmental protections, citizenship itself. They want a world of Big Owners and Others…. who will own nothing.

    And the way they get us to that point is by enforcing central banks’ own CBDCs (central bank digital currency) that is PROGRAMMABLE, meaning they would control what you can and more importantly, cannot buy. Purchasing bans would depend on your social credit status, based on arbitrary guidelines.

    Article: Zionist Logic by Malcolm X

    • Selina Sweet
      May 1, 2024 at 12:19

      Iris. Thank you heartily for this chunk to chew on. Enlightening. Educative. Substantive. Ties a lot together. Makes a lot of sense. Recognizable.

    • Joseph Tracy
      May 1, 2024 at 12:59

      Excellent review of the driving force of fascim, corporate totalitarianism, imperial militarism or whatever you care to call it. Mussolini popularized the term and Patrick’s obfuscation of the word corporatism cannot dismantle Mussolini’s vision of fascism as a modern version of the Roman Empire. Mussolini was well aware of the powerful roll of corporations in modern states and trying to apply P Lawrences obscure definition doesn’t wash. Here is my apple computer dictionary definition of corporatism:
      | ?kôrp(?)r??tiz?m |noun
      the control of a state or organization by large interest groups: roughly one hundred years ago, the free market began to be replaced with corporatism.

      One key historic origin of the concept of corporate organization is from the New Testament where the church is compared to a body with all parts directed by the head( Christ in theory , but a priesthood , high priest or imperial leader by the time of Constantine). The need for obedience to this conception is central as was Mussolini’s idea of all people dynamically working for the same great goal. In the church this need for mind control gave birth to the great inquisition and later its loss of centralized power in the protestant revolution ; in fascism it led to secret police, sophisticated media propaganda and celebratory mass rallies around flags and military power, death camps, and invading armies. Variations of this dynamic of Imperial rule have usually included 3 components: 1) the right of the rulers to rule( superiority over others( racial, cultural ideological), God, military might) which always implies the dispossession of local ownership and identity and creation of a subservient slave or working class which can only be escaped by service to the rulers 2) the creation of a priesthood defining social norms ( today this is the press, Academia, Wall Street) 3) Hierarchical Enforcement ( police, military, weapons, jails, courts).

      Malcom X’s description of the elite ownership of planetary “resources”which would better be understood as the living biosphere, has been well understood as the goal of all empires, from Babylon to the Ottomans, from the Discovery doctrine of the Roman church to the US version of the Anglo Empire of Britain. What makes Patrick Lawrence argument that we are not witnessing a particularly fascistic emergence of the current Anglo/Israel led empire a particularly troubling argument is its timing.

      What are we witnessing as the actions of empire and how do they compare to European and Japanese fascism? We are seeing and openly being commanded by a ruling minority to support the brutal extermination of the remaining Palestinians in the Levant. We are being lied to by state approved media about the origin, the reasons, and the prospect of success in the Nato+Ukraine vs Russia +Donbass+Crimea military conflict and so feeding hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians , Gallipoli style to their deaths from Russian artillery. We are seeing an ever expanding censorship of inconvenient facts and opposition protest cast as heresy..We just saw the “liberal democrat” president sign away the 4th amendment and allow absolutely un-hindered police state surveillance. We are seeing the Imperial control over a European ruling elite + Japan + Philippines in an all but announced 3rd world war with Russia and China. In these endeavors the press compares the 2 war parties to the adults in the room, and any expressing doubt and disagreement as unruly children in need of adult supervision. We are also continuing to watch a gathering of the ruling elite at the WEF in Davos as they outline the a world government of the “stakeholders”.

      What has obscured the fascistic qualities of the Anglo empire is that since ww2 the killing and theft has fallen on third world others which is also where the most extreme militarized control systems have been imposed in the name of stopping “socialism”, stopping nationalization of food supply or resources , and exalting the glories of the “free” market.

      Resistance is now manifest in the global call for a more multipolar distribution of power that could end the centralized abuse and corruption that comes with every empire and creates vassal states.. The dollars fall is manifest in the shift to gold and commodities and the lost control of the resources of the global south. The power of the resistance is shown in the long roll call of failed wars. the fascistic ruthlessness of the west is shown in those same wars. So what we call these desperate wars and media lies is less important than what is obvious to anyone who hates violent systems of abuse.

      What we are not seeing is anything remotely resembling the consent of the governed, a real balance of powers, a free and independent media. Using the word’fascism’ to describe what is being established by the Anglo Israel Investment Capitalism led empire is hardly a big mistake. The words applied are just vocabulary. The meaning and danger of this insane clinging to power is too ominous for any words.

    • Joy
      May 1, 2024 at 18:27

      Yanis Varoufakis calls it “Technofeudalism.” No matter what you call it, if it succeeds, or continues, we are all screwed.

    • Arch Stanton
      May 3, 2024 at 06:53

      Thank you for writing this – it’s a brilliant synopsis of what’s happened and happening.

  23. Afdal
    May 1, 2024 at 03:29

    I think Trotsky probably had the most coherent definition of an incoherent phenomenon. Fascism is simply what happens when capitalism faces a systemic crisis and a revolution threatening to overthrow it is defeated. Fascism is the brutal repression that follows in order to protect the capitalist class from any further threats to its power. It’s a very broad definition, but it does describe the various historic forces that have described themselves as fascist. Using this definition, fascism is not simply something you “resist” or see coming as a tangible threat, it’s just a state of affairs you will end up with if you don’t resolve a systemic crisis in workers’ favor. The resulting conclusion is that the most effective way to avoid fascism is to empower workers by building institutions of democratic self-governance.

    This leads I think to a critique Lawrence’s defense of Hamiltonian or Jeffersonian “democracy”. Fascism becomes more likely the more powerful, unaccountable, opaque, and undemocratic the form of government you already have. Because if people in a given country have a history of tolerating these things, they are primed to accept the even more dictatorial measures of fascism as a response to crisis. In fact if people have been convinced that the system they already have is “democracy”, then who could blame them for concluding that democracy doesn’t work and they need to go back to some other form of governance to resolve a crisis?

    So I believe the most important form of resistance comes in educating people on what democracy actually is and isn’t. The option of only two political parties both funded by the ultra wealthy isn’t democratic. A billion-dollar industry of unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats isn’t democratic. The ability of these unelected bureaucrats to coerce elected officials to do their bidding certainly isn’t democratic. But the problem of definitions goes even deeper than that.

    The Founding Fathers’ conception of democracy was profoundly undemocratic from its inception. From the Greek Classical period to the end of the Renaissance it was recognized that democracy was defined in opposition to elections. In fact if you look back to some of the early European dictionaries after the invention of the printing press, you can still find “democracy” defined as a system of governance by random lot. Jefferson himself had a huge library, was classically educated, and was certainly aware of this. Yet, if you read the notes to the Philadelphia convention, Jefferson and nearly every other Founding Father had something hostile to say about rule by the people. Jefferson and Madison eventually chose to appropriate “democracy” anyway, while they and the other Founding Fathers drafted a government modeled after an ancient oligarchy. So they took the word and repurposed it to describe democracies’ historic rival. This was the original Orwellian con, the biggest swindle of the modern republic. “Jeffersonian democracy”, “Hamiltonian democracy”… phrases like these are inherently charged with political distortion. As long as we are unable to recognize the profoundly anti-democratic nature of the modern republic, we leave ourselves vulnerable to any charlatan ready to convince the masses that the only alternative is some fascist strongman to rule over them.

    • Selina Sweet
      May 1, 2024 at 12:29

      Áfdal, so helpful your presentation of the original deceit of repurposing “democracy”to mask the truth of oligarchy. We’ve been fooled from the beginning! I have long scorned our Presidents’ refusal to educate the public on democracy. And how it is that we do not have one. And what that means to us in our daily life. You have added a whole new layer of how the people have been duped and betrayed. Thank you for your clear mind and exposition.

    • Roger Batchelder
      May 1, 2024 at 12:50

      I recommend Trotsky’s “Fascism: What it is and How to Fight It”.

    • Joy
      May 1, 2024 at 18:41

      I like several quotes of Thomas Jefferson, however flawed a man he was. One that speaks to this current topic is his idea of a republic, ” ” governments are republican only in proportion as they embody the will of their people, and execute it.'”
      The double quotes are due his using quotes around the statement himself in a letter to Samuel Kercheval, July 12, 1816. Perhaps the source of the quote is well known to a better student of history, but I appreciate this idea.

  24. Akela
    May 1, 2024 at 00:20

    There’s a manifesto on Substack under Max Arrazello’s name on the stack The Ponzi Papers, which is still up as of writing this. He appears to have had concerns about mass financial manipulation of the economy using cryptocurrencies.

    Not sure if the author was aware of this, but it may be of interest to anyone following this.

  25. firstpersoninfinite
    May 1, 2024 at 00:20

    “Wolf might have engaged, for instance, the extreme over-corporatization of America’s political economy and the near-impossibility of finding where the Fortune 500 ends and the U.S. government begins. But this would have implicated liberals as well as conservatism in the soft despotism that, indeed, besets the United States.”

    Well, it seems obvious that if despotism is already present in both parties, fascism can’t be far behind. Yet, other than our deepening derangement of language, what difference does it make what you call it? Unless fascist policies are embedded as law in your constitution, every right of the citizenry is open to fascist opportunities by those who don’t believe in law. Obviously, neither major party in this country believes in constitutional or international law. Whether that failure is merely despotic or merely fascistic is simply a matter of what lens time is using to observe the present. All despotism leads to fascism eventually, unless it is checked by populist sentiment revealed to be once more the will of the people in the present moment. FDR said to the rich: if I don’t curb your power, they’ll come after you with pitchforks. Nearly 50 years later, that flash of insight was still working for the majority. Then came Reagan and the Third Way Democrats. Milton Friedman had an aneurism and called it a flash of genius. We are still reeling from the results of that time. The only question now is whether we can put back on the shelf the Think Tanks, the Christian Fascists, the Wall Street monopolies, the War Industry, and everything else that came out of WWII for the sake of a gold-plated Puritanism in the future. Slavery and Puritanism make up the Tree of Life upon which America waits to be crucified. And the savior this time won’t be spawning any entity as ruthless and imperial as the Catholic Church. Just a revolution of nothingness. Change alone will be verboten. And we will call that unchanging fate the last, needful revolution.

    • Dienne
      May 1, 2024 at 10:23

      Well said.

  26. May 1, 2024 at 00:08

    Fascist is a very handy term to throw at anybody we dislike.

  27. Jeff Harrison
    May 1, 2024 at 00:00

    The root of fascist is the Roman term Fasces. You can see two fasces on the obverse face of a mercury dime. They’re the two things that look like a bundle of sticks bound together with a hatchet head coming out the middle on top. For the Romans, the whole concept of the Fasces was that the bundle was a whole lot stronger than any one stick and with the hatchet head it symbolized the political power of Rome.

    We also need to get a few things straight. There are political systems and economic systems. They aren’t the same. Communism, socialism, capitalism are all economic systems. Democracy, dictatorship, plutocracy are all political systems. With citizens united the United States has ceased to be a democracy (where the people have the power) and become a plutocracy (where the rich have the power).

    As Patrick has said “Readers of this column may have noted over the months that I am a stickler for nomenclature. To name things properly is essential to our understanding. It enables us to act, if we are so inclined, because we are clear in our minds as to what is to be done.” No statement could be closer to the truth than that.

    • Michael G
      May 1, 2024 at 10:37

      Modern Political Philosophers recognize Communism, Nazism and Christianity.
      Communism has never existed. Everybody knows what a Nazi is, and all mythologies are called Christianity because they killed the most people. They won.
      Economics is even less complicated. Capitalism and Socialism.
      Capitalism manifested out of the exploitation of labor. Socialism is labor owning the means of production.

      “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.”

  28. Michael G
    April 30, 2024 at 21:04

    Fascism then, is the marriage of corporation and state, with some unspecified degree (…”to become the implement required for winning…”) of scumbag thrown in.
    I heard another definition the other day. And it is unavoidably in our future.

    “…Fascism is just Imperialism trying to save itself…”
    -Joti Brar

    • ks
      May 1, 2024 at 11:32

      Succinct description from Joti Brar! Up close, fascism looks like the dissolution of society, not the return to order it claims to be.

  29. April 30, 2024 at 20:19

    My sense is the basic difference between Fascism and Nazism, is that while the Italians are looking back to Rome, the Germans, having lost the Kaiser and WW1, were drawn back to Germanic tribalism.
    The reality is there are centripetal and centrifugal forces in any society. The anarchies of desire, versus the the tyrannies of judgement. Too far in one direction and everything scatters to the winds. Tower of Babel. Like playing on adolescents angst, rather than treating it as normal, biological growing pains.
    The other side involves spiraling down any of the various rabbit holes, where the Icon is absolute. Why feedback loops need circuit breakers.
    Nodes and networks.

  30. hetro
    April 30, 2024 at 19:32

    Classic fascism for ordinary people is Nazi Hitlerism and its associates. Max’s placard wasn’t big enough to contain detailed discussion of his imagery. Give the man a break. He was protesting what most of us see right in front of us as kindred to megalomaniac sadism and oppression, justified with the most grotesquely absurd “arguments” and faces cloaked with crocodile tears justifying a vicious persecution and killing spree. If you don’t want to call this “fascism” let’s hear something equally as resonant.

  31. Patrick Powers
    April 30, 2024 at 18:24

    According to George Orwell, fascism is any authoritarian regime that the speaker doesn’t like. Theorize all you like, but this is how the word is actually used.

  32. JonnyJames
    April 30, 2024 at 18:13

    No, it ain’t your grandfather’s fascism, it’s much more sophisticated. It sure aint democracy, that’s for sure.

    The very fact that we have the very same two geriatric, cognitively-challenged, genocidal Zionist freaks shoved in our faces AGAIN, should underline the fact that there is no functioning democracy in the USA. Money is “free speech” and unlimited political bribery is now legal.

    I agree, we don’t have classic “fascism” but we do have what Sheldon Wolin termed “inverted totalitarianism”. (Democracy Inc.) Chris Hedges has written a lot about this as well.

    The DT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner thinks his Uncle Bibi will give him a deal on waterfront property in Gaza at rock bottom prices, he can use the bodies of dead Palestinians as landfill. The DT crowd is just as rabidly Israel First and genocidal as the JB crowd – of course.

    So, we can be directed by the MassMediaCartel to get all worked up about the DT / JB but it won’t make a dime’s worth of difference which scumbag becomes POTUS. So which brand of Genocide will you vote for? If you vote for either one, you might be accused of supporting genocide.

  33. Tim N
    April 30, 2024 at 18:09

    Yes! The Marxist history professor Paul Street actually gets upset when someone writing in the mainstream press condemning Trump doesn’t call Trump a “Fascist.” Many writers and thinkers like Street seem to think that Trump is somehow still President, and overlook the unpleasant fact that senile old imbecile war criminal Genocide Joe Biden is the man at the top. Biden is worse than Trump by any metric you’d care to use, but Trump! is still afoot, ready to destroy our beloved democracy (in fairness Street does understand that we don’t have democracy here).

    • Carolyn L Zaremba
      April 30, 2024 at 22:47

      Yes, far too many easily led people think that all of the U.S. empire’s problems began with Trump when in fact Trump is a RESULT of the swing to the far right that has been building since the 1970s. Actually, one can say that the U.S. has been susceptible to right-wing fanaticism since the end of the 19th century. There have been interruptions to this “America first” nonsense on occasion, but looking back, they have only been interruptions. Thomas Paine drew attention to the beginning of the move away from revolutionary democracy in his own time and wrote about it, too. Today he would not be surprised, but appalled.

      • Iris
        May 1, 2024 at 04:50

        Exactly. When I tell people that we have been in far right territory for over fifty years now, they look at me as if I had two heads. I refer them to the article Privatization is at the Core of Fascism, which clearly outlines this fact.

    • Joseph Tracy
      May 2, 2024 at 23:41

      Hitler was worse than Mussolini, but that doesn’t make Mussolini good. The 2 parties unite when it comes to fascistic imperial wars, allowing unlimited surveillance, bailing out banks, castrating the Bill of Rights, secret torture, funding Salafists to destabilize Syria, supporting lockdowns and repressing the negative impacts of vaccines……

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