Tuesday, September 26, 2017

No, Dinesh, the Nazis Weren't Socialist

As white supremacists have taken on ever more prominent roles in the Republican party over the last couple years, conservative commentators have had an increasingly difficult time distancing themselves from accusations of racism and even Nazism. Whereas they once distanced themselves from a candidate who was caught doing Nazi cosplay, today they barely show concern over an outright racist like Steve King. Instead they've resorted to increasingly ridiculous arguments that it's liberals who are the real racists. One particularly popular variant on social media, which recently got turned into a book by faux-academic and ex-con Dinesh D'souza, is that Nazis were actually socialists, and therefore anyone who supports leftwing policies like universal healthcare is really a Nazi too.

"Nazi," the argument goes, is short for the National Socialist German Worker's Party. Sounds pretty left wing, right? QED. Nevermind that Hitler's actual polices weren't remotely socialist, or that he had commissars summarily executed during Operation Barbarossa.

Sadly, most of the people who try to argue against this point aren't much better informed, and will usually just assert, "That's stupid and wrong. Nazis were right wing" and leave it at that. But because Nazism was such an incoherent pseudophilosophy, the actual answer is much more complex.

While the party had "socialist" in the name, the "national" part is the key word. Just as "virtual reality" isn't reality and a "tofu burger" isn't a hamburger, the modifier "national" changes the meaning of "socialist" completely. Traditional socialism claims that resources and the means of production should be controlled by the people, where "people" is understood to be the workers. But despite the inclusion of "Worker" in the full title of the party, the Nazis limited their concept of the people (the volk) to those of German blood. Jews, Roma, foreign nationals -- they didn't count. They were either intended to be excluded from the commonweal, or enslaved. "National Socialist" thus meant that the nation would be controlled by ethnic Germans for the good of ethnic Germans.

Now, this is how National Socialism was understood in the first years of the party, before Hitler became its driving force. Once Hitler took over, he introduced a further concept, the Fuehrerprinzip, the idea that there's no need for consulting the volk, because the Leader becomes the embodiment of the General Will. Through some never-explained magic, the Leader isn't really a person acting on his own whims and desires, but is an almost divine incarnation of the volk.

And Hitler's idea of how to run the country wasn't remotely socialist. He did demand strong state control over industry, but he did so by colluding with business owners, not by nationalizing factories or mines -- quite the opposite, in fact; industries already under state control were privatized. The Fuehrerprinzip was applied to industry, with factory owners operating as mini-Fuehrers who would look out for the well-being of their workers in the same way Hitler looked out for the well-being of all Germans.

That being said, the early Nazi movement wasn't monolithic. Hitlerism was the strain that gained control of the party, but there were other factions, including a genuinely socialist wing. (At least socialist as far as the volk were concerned; everyone else was still left hanging.) This wing of the party was led by Gregor Strasser and Ernst Roehm, and centered on the SA (the Stormtroopers or Brown Shirts). Prior to Hitler taking power, the Nazis relied on the SA for street fighting and other bits of political violence, and as such Hitler couldn't purge them from the party. However, once Hitler became Chancellor and he had control of the military and police, he no longer needed Roehm or Strasser. In June of 1934, Hitler ordered their murder, along with the murder of hundreds of other SA leaders in what became known as the Night of Long Knives. (Note: This isn't to say that Roehm and Strasser were good guys. They were just as antisemitic as any other Nazis, though they couched it in terms of evil Jewish bankers controlling the world and keeping the working man down.)

So the next time you here a right winger saying the Nazis were socialists, don't just say, "No they weren't," point out that Hitler murdered all the actual socialists in the party.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Apropos of Absolutely Nothing

One of the most annoying things about growing up on military bases overseas is the lack of access to mass media. When I was a kid, living on base meant you only had one English-language TV station, though I understand nowadays that's increased to a whopping eight thanks to cable and satellite. Being run by the military, these stations didn't run commercials, but to keep the schedule regular they needed something to fill breaks, so they ran PSAs instead. Many of them were the standard Ad Council stuff -- "This is your brain on drugs," "I sort glass," etc. -- but a lot of it was produced by the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service on crappy camcorders with a budget equal to a high school play.

There were many subjects for these PSAs -- don't waste electricity, don't litter, don't take government issued pens home from work, don't incinerate yourself by using too much lighter fluid on the grill. And of course the ever popular OpSec -- don't say anything related to military operations where people can hear. These weren't just aimed at soldiers. Dependents were expected to keep their mouths shut too, and these PSAs ran during Sesame Street and Scooby-Doo just as much as Cheers and Falcon Crest.

Sadly(?) only a few of the ads from the '80s, when I was growing up, are on YouTube, but there are plenty of modern versions available. They're highly informative and should be viewed by anyone who comes out of the civilian world with no knowledge of basic information security.

Not that I have anyone in mind.



Sunday, February 5, 2017

Grey Isn't White, But Neither Is It Black

Trump may finally have waded into shit so deep even his toupee is going to disappear. In an interview with Bill O'Reilly set to air during the Super Bowl pregame, he's going to draw a moral equivalency between the United States and Russia
O'Reilly pressed on, declaring to the president that “Putin is a killer.”

Unfazed, Trump didn't back away, but rather compared Putin's reputation for extrajudicial killings with the United States'.

“There are a lot of killers. We have a lot of killers,” Trump said. “Well, you think our country is so innocent?”
Some people are  seeing this as an almost Chomsky like argument--America is a corrupt country that has no business criticizing others. However, this misses a couple points.

First of all, the pure Chomskyite argument is one of moral outrage--throughout its history, the US has committed a number of atrocities (slavery, genocide and ethnic cleansing against natives, wars of imperialism, supporting dictators over democracy whenever it benefits American business interests), and we have to do better, and until we do, our criticisms of foreign governments are hypocritical. That's the exact opposite of Trump's argument here. He's shrugging off our evils and saying, "Hey, let's embrace this. If we've done bad shit, why shouldn't we pal around with dictatorships? Let's be badasses together. Fuck yeah!"

But that's the second key difference. The more nuanced argument isn't that America is evil, but rather that we're not good.

Look at WWII, the classic example where America likes to pretend we were the White Hats striding in to kick Nazi ass and make the world safe for democracy. Sure, we had to align ourselves with the Soviets, but that was an alliance of convenience that we repudiated almost immediately after the war. And yes, the British Empire wasn't the most noble enterprise in history, but we used Lend-Lease, the Atlantic Charter, Bretton Woods and the Marshall Plan to push the Brits towards dissolving the empire. So, go us.

Critics, however, point out that the truth is more complicated. The United States forced racial minorities to live in ghettos, and we put the Japanese into concentration camps. The Nazi eugenics program was an industrialized version of programs at work in the United States -- programs that lasted all the way to 1980 in some cases. There were individual US bombing raids that killed more civilians than the entire Blitz. And that's not even touching on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

 Conservatives often take umbrage at such comparisons. They tend to have a binary worldview--everything must be black or white, and if you're arguing that America wasn't wearing a white hat, you must think we were bad guys no different than Nazis. But that's ridiculous. Morality exists in shades of grey. No one is pure white or pure black (though the Nazis were about as close as you can get). Out of all the powers in WWII, the US was the lightest grey, but to deny that we were grey is to rewrite history.

But when you look at Trump's comment, he's not making an argument about shades of grey. He's adopting the conservative binary view of morality and saying, "Well, we're not white hats, so we might as well embrace villainy."

And in doing so he's papering over the major differences between the US and Russia. No, we aren't morally pure here. Some of our Eastern European allies are less than democratic. Pushing NATO right onto Russia's doorstep is provocative and we should've found a better way to secure Eastern Europe's security. But our excesses these days (at least until a couple weeks ago) are in foreign policy. Domestically, there's no comparison. No American president within living memory has ordered the murder of a domestic political opponent or critic--the fact that Daniel Ellsberg and Seymour Hersh are alive is proof of that; if Nixon didn't do it, no one did. The US hasn't locked up homosexuals in decades. Political dissent is not punished. Is America perfect? No, far from it. Our foreign policy in particular could use some serious revision. But less than perfect is a far cry from being wicked. We get things wrong, but we strive to become better; Putin embraces what he is, and now Trump wants America to do the same.

Anyone who takes pride in all that the US has accomplished, flawed though it might be, should be aghast at what Trump is suggesting about us.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Let Americans Become the Devils Who Torture Mike Pence's Soul

Mike Pence and Paul Ryan both claim to be good Christians and patriotic Americans. Both have stated in the past that they oppose Trump's Muslim ban, and yet today they stand behind the administration in it's offensive action. Perhaps America should remind them that they once had a conscience.

Print out these two tweets, write across the top of each, "These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me," and mail them to Pence and Ryan.


Addresses:

Vice President Mike Pence
The White House.
1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW.
Washington, DC 20500


Congressman Paul Ryan
1233 Longworth HOB
Washington, D.C. 20515


 And make sure you tell your friends to do the same. The goal here is to recreate that scene at the end of Miracle on 34th Street when the mail carriers come in with sack-loads of letters addressed to Santa, but every one full of these tweets to remind Ryan and Pence of what they claim they stand for.

Will it make a difference? Outwardly, probably not. But if these men are the Christians they claim to be, the rebuke will sting their conscience. It will trouble them in the small hours of the night as they try to sleep, knowing that they have sold their souls for a little bit of power on Earth. If they will not stand up for what is right, Americans must become their devils and torture their souls.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Here a Cuck, There a Cuck. Everywhere a Cuck-Cuck

As anyone who's ever read Shakespeare knows, our concept of cursing has changed over time. Ol' Bill's plays are full of quaint zingers like "zounds" and "'slid," themselves bowdlerizations of equally perplexing phrases like "God's wounds," and "God's eyelid."

Part of the issue is a natural erosion of what constitutes offensive language. As David Milch has said numerous times, if he'd made the characters in Deadwood talk like actual 19th Century roughnecks, they'd sound like Yosemite Sam. What shocked people back then is mild to us today. To make his characters feel as uncouth as they would've in their period, Milch and his writers had to upgrade "damnation" to "cocksucker".

But this also indicates a second, broader issue -- the categories which offend us change over time. From Shakespeare's day until the early 20th Century, profanity--taking God's name in vain and wishing people to Hell--was every bit as bad as vulgarity--the Seven Words You Can't Say on Television--but since the '60s, religious cursing has been majorly downgraded. Nowadays "go to Hell" is only offensive for the sentiment, while "oh my God," won't raise eyebrows from anyone but the most devout clergy members.

One way to think of it is to divide language into three classes--(A) that which can be used in polite company, (B) that which you can use around your friends but would never use at work or in front of your parents, and (C) that which is absolutely verboten. Back in the time of Deadwood, "God damn you," would've been in Class B, whereas telling someone to go fuck themselves would've earned you a broken nose at the very least. Most everything in Class C in the 19th Century is Class B today, and much of what would've been Class B back then is Class A today.

Some might argue that this is a sign of our enlightenment--that we've thrown off the shackles of Victorian prudery and are no longer beholden to the view that there are words that shouldn't be said; others would say the exact opposite--that our acceptance of such coarse language is a sign of modern depravity.

They're both wrong.

Just as one piston in a car never goes up unless another one comes down, so too growing acceptance of vulgarity has been accompanied by the establishment of new taboos. But whereas the old taboos focused on the sexual and excretory, the modern taboos focus on insults about someone's identity. Racial epithets are the most obvious, but derogatory terms about sexual orientation and gender are rapidly taking on the same stigma, as are terms like "retard" and "cripple" that a few decades ago could be thrown about in casual conversation, even in public.

Which brings us to the term "cuck". Those who've been following the emergence of the Alt-Right over the last few years have long since grown accustomed to the term, but it's started leaking into the mainstream this year thanks to our most esteemed and revered soon-to-be Maximum Leader. The word derives from "cuckold," one of those great SAT words that's teetered on the brink between obscurity and archaicness for decades, preserved mainly because authors like to throw it into their books despite the fact that nobody's used it in actual conversation since 1908. A "cuckold" is a man who's wife is cheating on him, and especially one whose wife has been impregnated by another. The term derives from cuckoos and their habit of laying eggs in some other bird's nest, thus absolving themselves of the responsibility of parenthood.

If that were all there was to it, "cuck" would make a great addition to our vocabulary, even if it did come out of neo-Fascism. It's short, begins and ends with harsh consonants, and its meaning is insulting without treading on taboo areas. Frankly, it's amazing Chaucer or Shakespeare didn't invent it.

But of course, nobody on the Alt-Right is even half as smart as Chaucer or Shakespeare. They didn't actually come up with the word. Instead, they stole it from porn. Cuck videos are more or less what you would expect--a woman has sex with one guy while her boyfriend watches (often forced to watch) or sits obliviously in the next room. But there's a wrinkle--most cuck videos are interracial, with a black dude stealing a white chick from a white dude. And if you listen to how the Alt-Right deploys the word, that racial connotation is absolutely intended. They use "cuck" in an almost sociological sense--a cuck isn't just a guy who's too wimpy to keep his girlfriend satisfied; he's a guy who's standing idly by as black men grab up all the white women, thus tacitly condoning "white genocide" (another favorite term from the Alt-Right). The implication, of course, is that if you don't want to be a cuck, you need to posse-up and ride out to serve justice on black men, like something out of Birth of a Nation.

So, where does that put "cuck" on the continuum of acceptable language? The plain meaning is no worse than "bastard," and it's not something any television network would censor, though the similarity to other, harsher words might get you funny looks if you used it in public. But that racial tinge suggests we should treat it the same way we would n----r, s--c or k--e. The problem is that most people aren't aware of the baggage the word carries. To them, it just appeared in conversation one day, de novo. Americans are horrible at understanding coded racism--there are still people who don't see anything wrong with "welfare mother"--and explaining how "cuck" relates to white supremacy is going to end in rolled eyes and mutters about "hypersensitive liberals".

There's also the temptation to turn the word around and use it against the Alt-Right--to say, "Who's the cuck now, huh?" every time Trump sells them out. If they're not going to abide by civilized discourse, why should we?

Well, there is the fact that we're the ones fighting for the maintenance of civility. We don't want to be like the soldier in Vietnam who said, "We had to destroy the village in order to save it." If your enemy attacks you with mustard gas and small pox, you don't respond with your own CBW weapons--you prepare a war crimes tribunal. Convincing people that "cuck" should be a taboo term might be a bridge too far at this point, but we can still fight its normalization. Instead of trying to declare cuck beyond the pale, we treat it as the ad hominem insult it is, and mock those who use it for resorting to childish name calling. Remember, Internet arguments are a spectator sport; the point isn't to convince your opponent that he's wrong, but to convince those who are watching the argument unfold. If you treat "cuck" as a stupid, immature insult, even without explaining why, the people around you will get the idea, and they'll look askance anytime they encounter an Alt-Righter using the word.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Trump Proposes Anime Tariff

Japanese newspapers are reporting details on Trump's meeting with Prime Minister Abe, and it bodes ill for the anime industry. According to the Yomiuri Shimbun, Trump is deeply disturbed at the way Asian animation companies have been taking work away from Americans. He specifically singled out South Korean sweatshop studios, but he also noted the disturbing increase in the number of Americans who are turning to Japanese shows for their entertainment needs. "In order to make Hanna-Barbera and Filmation great again, we're going to have to impose a 25% tax on anime licensing fees," Trump reportedly told Abe (this was translated from a Japanese translation of Trump's remarks, so something may've been lost).

Crunchyroll and Funimation released a joint response calling Trump's proposal "an unmitigated attack on localization companies that provide hundreds of jobs" to Americans.

More to come as the story develops.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Niemoeller Instinct

It's already started.

Whether you turn on TV, read the paper, or go online, you're sure to hear it. The muttering of people who don't want to acknowledge that they're living in a nightmare. "Well, maybe Trump won't be that bad," they say. "Maybe we should give him a chance." "Some of his domestic policies are kinda liberal."

"Maybe it won't be that bad."

This is the wishful thinking of people in denial, people who can't admit that America as it's existed for the last 240 years is dead. They want Trump to take off his mask and show that the last eighteen months were just an act. They'll take any twitch of his eyes as a sign of conciliation. They gush about his speech last night and say, "He's right. We've got to bring the nation together."

They want everything to go back to normal.

It's not going to.

It will never be normal again.

The only mask that came off last night is the one that hid middle America's white nationalism, the contempt large parts of this country feel towards immigrants, people of color, women, sexual minorities, and non-Christians. That is something we can never walk back. Pretending otherwise is like being the woman who says, "Well sure, he just punched me, but he was angry. He's not really like that." By the time the evidence piles up that, yes, actually, he really is like that, it's too late.

During the 1930s, the German minister Martin Niemoeller felt the same way. He watched as Hitler consolidated his power and lashed out against his enemies, but Niemoeller did nothing about it. Later he wrote,


First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.


That's how fascism works. One enemy at the time, starting with the smallest and least popular.

But the problem here is that people don't believe Trump is fascist. The word's been abused for so many years that it's lost its power. People -- even those who should know better -- reflexively flinch when you use it to describe anyone in a major political party, especially the leader of a party.

But Trump is a fascist. What he represents is a fascist movement.

The term is notoriously hard to define -- in no small part because the manifestos written on the subject are mostly incoherent gibberish. But one of the best definitions comes from the Italian scholar Umberto Eco, who actually grew up in Italy under Mussolini. He laid out fourteen points of what he calls "Ur-Fascism," or "Eternal Fascism," and Trumpism hits every single one.

The Cult of Tradition

The key tenet of any fascist movement is the myth of a lost Golden Age which has been stolen from us, and which only The Leader can bring back. Hitler had the mythical Wagnerian Age of the great Nordic heroes, and the First Reich of the Holy Roman Empire, which had been undone by Those People. Trump has MAGA -- the hazily defined period when the United States was totally awesome, Americans all worked in factories producing actual stuff, and Those People knew their place. Like the Wagnerian Age, this period never existed. It's based upon schoolbook history which elides all the bad bits and exaggerates America's accomplishments. (Note Trump's constant invocation of Patton, as though Old Blood and Guts actually won WWII instead of the overwhelming power of the Red Army.)

Rejection of Modernism

As Eco notes, Fascists certainly embrace all the shiny chrome of the modern world, but the ideals of the Enlightenment are trash to them. Even before Trump, the Alt-Right was fighting against feminism and multiculturalism for the ways they "destroy" science fiction and video games by opening them up to different perspectives. Our modern world is built upon the idea of embracing the Other; Trumpkins consider this an existential threat to our culture.

Action for Action's Sake

In 1990 Trump gave an interview with Playboy that's highly illustrative of his views on government power:

What were your other impressions of the Soviet Union?

I was very unimpressed. Their system is a disaster. What you will see there soon is a revolution; The signs are all there with the demonstrations and picketing. Russia is out of control and the leadership knows it. That's my problem with Gorbachev. Not a firm enough hand.

You mean firm hand as in China?

When the students poured into Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government almost blew it. Then they were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength. That shows you the power of strength. Our country is right now perceived as weak... as being spit on by the rest of the world—

Why is Gorbachev not firm enough?

I predict he will be overthrown, because he has shown extraordinary weakness. Suddenly, for the first time ever, there are coal-miner strikes and brush fires everywhere—which will all ultimately lead to a violent revolution. Yet Gorbachev is getting credit for being a wonderful leader and we should continue giving him credit, because he's destroying the Soviet Union. But his giving an inch is going to end up costing him and all his friends what they most cherish—their jobs.
He doesn't view any of these events through a moral lens -- all he cares about is whether a leader was strong or weak, with strength being defined in the simplistic terms of General Ursus in Beneath the Planet of the Apes: "The only thing that counts in the end is power! Naked merciless force!"

But Eco's point here is more nuanced.

Thinking is a form of emasculation. Therefore culture is suspect insofar as it is identified with critical attitudes.

Every time Trump has been pressed about policy specifics, he's brushed them off as unimportant. When pushed by advisers to prepare for the debates, he brushed them off and made fun of Clinton for actually making the effort.  To him, leadership is about making snap decisions, doesn't matter if they're informed decisions. Doing something is important, not doing it right.

Eco goes on to identify fascism with, "such expressions as 'degenerate intellectuals,' 'eggheads,' 'effete snobs,' and 'universities are nests of reds.'" To this we can add, "elites," "social justice warriors," and, of course, "cuckservative".

Disagreement is Treason

True culture is monolithic and any crack in its facade is intolerable. The suggestion that a multiplicity of ideas brings strength is heretical. There is one solution, it is obvious, and anyone who disagrees is a cuck. Trump supporters are upset that the cosmopolitan elites embrace the multiplicity -- different genders, different sexual orientations, different cultures, different religions. These guys from New York City (Trump excepted, of course) are an alien influence within the United States.

Fear of Difference

The monolithic culture is also fragile and cannot withstand differences from without, either. The Outsider must be shunned, for anything that is different -- Muslims and Mexicans, let's say -- is a threat to the monolith.


Appeal to a Frustrated Middle Class 

Though in the case of Trumpism, it's not so much the middle class as a privileged racial caste having its power challenged, but the phenomenon remains the same one Eco describes: "a class suffering from an economic crisis or feelings of political humiliation, and frightened by the pressure of lower social groups."

Obsession with a Plot

Fascism preys upon the minds of its followers by presenting them with a narrative -- everything wrong with their lives isn't a product of uncaring, impersonal forces that can only be fixed through broad systemic changes. It's a conspiracy. Those People are out to get you, and you can only stop them if you get them first.

Trump embraces conspiracy mongers like Alex Jones and then spins their fantasies as his own. Why is ISIS ascendant? Why is the US letting Muslim refugees into the country? Could it be because Barack Hussein Obama is secretly on their side? Maybe. I dunno. But it could be. And why is he doing that? Does it have anything to do with gay marriage? Black Lives Matter? Sure, why not. Trump's approach is scattershot, and he'll never spell out what he believes (if, indeed, he believes any of this). Instead, he throws out hunks for people to grab onto and make up their own narratives. The only thing that matters is his followers believe there's some plot to keep them down, and only he can save them.

Humiliation by the Wealth and Force of the Enemy

If we used to be great but we no longer are, naturally somebody else must've taken our place (Fascism requires a belief that the world is zero-sum). Their existence is a humiliation to us. We have a natural right to be the best in the world. (Remember, because we're a monolithic culture, considering the other side's point of view is not allowed.) China, they're eating our lunch. Iran is hoodwinking us. They're getting together behind our backs and laughing at us for not wearing the right brand of tennis shoes. Of course, because we're naturally great, it'll be easy to stomp them into the ground, if only we had the right leader who didn't kowtow to them and deal with them as equals. Someone who'll come along and say, "This deal is no longer applicable. We want to renegotiate everything, and we're going to get the better half of the bargain."

Life is Permanent Warfare, and Pacifism is Trafficking with the Enemy

Why are we negotiating with Iran when we should be stomping the shit out of them? Why did we leave Iraq without stealing the oil? That's weak. Weak is bad. Life is struggle and struggle is life. In everything there is a winner and loser -- thus has Trump defined his entire life.

Contempt for the Weak
 If you've ever had the mispleasure of dealing with Trump's Alt-Right supporters online, this should be familiar to you. Any complaint about the social structure of our country is met with reflexive jokes about "safe spaces" and "drinking your tears." Men who side with feminism are "cucks" who stand aside and let their girlfriends get fucked by black dudes. Fascists are weak, therefore they must believe they are stronger than someone. And doubly so for The Leader, who validates his manhood by the fact that everyone bows down before him. Listen to the stories about how Trump treated Christie -- and Christie accepted it all because he wanted Trump to make him strong.

The Cult of Heroes

Heroism isn't just something to be respected in others -- not being a hero yourself is a failing. We've seen this repeatedly with Trump and his attempts to make his draft-dodging heroic -- avoiding STDs was his "personal Vietnam," and spending money to pay employees was his personal sacrifice. Even he realizes he's wanting in the grand scale of things and has to build himself up with bravado while tearing down real heroes like John McCain.

The Ur-Fascist Transfers His will to Power to Sexual Matters

Does this one need any explication? We've all seen the Access Hollywood video.

Selective Populism

Sayeth Eco,

For Ur-Fascism, however, individuals as individuals have no rights, and the People is conceived as a quality, a monolithic entity expressing the Common Will. Since no large quantity of human beings can have a common will, the Leader pretends to be their interpreter. Having lost their power of delegation, citizens do not act; they are only called on to play the role of the People. Thus the People is only a theatrical fiction. There is in our future a TV or Internet populism, in which the emotional response of a selected group of citizens can be presented and accepted as the Voice of the People.

 Hey, did I mention Eco wrote this in 1995?

In Trump's world, the voice of his followers (which echoes his own, naturally) is the only legitimate populism -- Black Lives Matter, Occupy Wall Street, feminism, and other social movements are illegitimate intrusions of the Outsider. The Vox Populi is that which supports Trump, and everything else can safely be ignored.

For now this echo chamber is limited to Fox News, Breitbart and the like, but we already see signs of it encroaching on CNN with their inclusion of Lewandowski and his ilk on panels. Add to that Trump's veiled threats against the Washington Post and the strong likelihood that he'll limit press access to his White House and you can see the shadow of a monolithic media environment.

Ur-Fascism Speaks Newspeak

Eco isn't talking here about individual euphemistic phrases, but more broadly of Orwell's original conception -- a language stripped bare of the vocabulary for dissent. Much has been made of Trump's simplistic language, and how he barely speaks at a fifth grade level. Without nuance, his ideas sound plausible to those who are ignorant of the subject. The complex arguments necessary to refute him are too long and detailed, and they end up sounding like flimflammery next to Trump's straightforward rhetoric.

We see this, too, in his followers. A phrase like "social justice warrior" reduces a slew of complex issues to a simple, pejorative phrase. Once somebody calls you an "SJW," the conversation is over. The merits of your argument don't matter -- it's SJW logic, and SJW logic is wrong by definition. Shut up and go away.

The goal of Trumpkins and the Alt-Right is to illegitimate opposing ideas. In the next few years we can expect the basic premises of modern, pluralistic society to not only come under attack, but to be declared incoherent due to their complexity.

This is what we face over the next few years. Trumpism is not merely an alternate political view. It is an assault on the very fabric of post-Enlightenment civil society. Pluralism, multiculturalism, even religious liberty outside mainline Christianity are all going to come under assault as Republicans gain control of all three branches of government, and Trump gains control of the Republicans.

America is already over. All that's left is the screaming.