You remember that a while back I wrote there was an old joke that was told in pre-Nazi Germany. It was that Hitler’s stormtroopers, the Sturmabteilung (SA), were actually “beefsteak” Fascists. They were brown on the outside (they wore brownshirts, remember) but Red on the inside. That was because while they were nationalists, and militarists, and rabid anti-Semites, they weren’t terribly fond of capitalism or big business.
Which is why, by the way, once Hitler was in power, he bent to the will of his wealthy and conservative backers by killing off the Brownshirt’s leadership (particularly but not exclusively Ernst Röhm) in the Night Of The Long Knives massacre of 1934.
Okay, I’m revisiting that joke today because increasingly I’m reminded of it as I watch the current Republican Party. That’s because the GOP, or “GQP” as some people are calling it these days, seems to have set out to rebrand itself as the party of the working class…so long, that is, as the workers in question have blue collars but white faces. Preferable quite pale ones at that. And no Hispanic surnames or accents, please.
Conservatives? No. They're Red Fascists...
Think I’m joking? Or think they are? I’m not and they’re not. Check out the following articles: “Top Republicans Work To Rebrand GOP As Party Of Working Class,” by Susan Davis, Morning Edition, NPR, April 13, 20215:00 AM ET and “Republicans push 'blue-collar comeback' – but is the party a true friend of the worker?,” by Richard Luscombe, The Guardian, Sat 27 Feb 2021 14.32 EST. Or even go all the way back to Trump himself, who said pretty much the same thing back in 2016. See “Trump: GOP will become 'worker's party' under me,” by Nick Gass, Politico, 05/26/2016 07:44 AM EDT.
Now you can argue, and should argue, that the GOP is really as about as committed to the needs of the proletariat as Pablo Escobar was to the Betty Ford Clinic. But, that’s not the point. Whatever the GOP may actually be doing and thinking, it is presenting itself as a populist working-class movement. That’s what it wants people to see it as, so that it can gain votes.
Ah, but there’s the thing. The party is wedding itself to a very specific ideology. The GOP is offering itself as a vehicle for people who want an America which is socially conservative but fiscally on the Left. They want a society which is devoted to the working and lower-middle classes, which is militantly nationalist (America First!), which is tolerant of violence (so long as the violence is directed toward people who are unlike them), and which is intolerant of ethnic or other minorities. Further, they are fine with a certain authoritarianism, at least when it is authority which supports them. And most of all, it means an activist government which manages the economy, distrusts free enterprise, and directs the rewards of economic activity to those who “really deserve it,” i.e., themselves.
What does that sound like?
Well, among other it things, it sounds a lot like the SA, brown (i.e., conservative) on the outside, and red on the inside.
The irony is that many conservatives, and most libertarians (small or large “l”), hold that Fascism is actually a left-wing phenomenon. And, to give them their due, almost all the European Fascisms of the interwar years got their start on the left. Mussolini was a former socialist and the first platform of the Fascist party sounds a lot like any good Progressive manifesto. The Nationalist Socialist German Workers Party, before Hitler got it, was one of many little groups that advocated some kind of soldiers’ and workers’ communism.
Where the conservatives and libertarians are wrong, however, is that even if some Fascisms got started on the Left, absolutely none of them (at least none that succeeded in coming to power) actually stayed there. They all made deals with the rich and the powerful…the political elites of their time…and came to power by crushing unions, murdering social democrats, imprisoning liberals, and, wherever possible, killing off radical elements in their own movements. (Again, Röhm is a good example. But, if you’re interested in other directions the Nazi party might have gone had things been a little different, check out Gregor and Otto Strasser. They weren’t good guys, certainly, but they weren’t Himmler either. They’ve got a Wikipedia entry.)
But, regardless of what Fascism is or was, the fact remains that there exists one variant of Fascism in which you find combined thuggishness, a taste for bullying and confrontation, nationalism, racism, authoritarianism, and a primitive kind of socialism or even communism. The economics of that system does not include free enterprise. Capitalism and capitalists are permitted to exist, and to have some form of autonomy, but ultimately both are at the mercy of a governmental or, more likely, party regulators, drawn from the party faithful, and valued for their loyalty rather than competence or expertise.
In other words, economic power was meant to shift from both capitalists and from government bureaucrats. Instead, the fruits of industry were instead to go to good party comrades who might know nothing about the businesses they were supposed to oversee, but who had fought in the streets for the Führer or the Duce or #45 (Jan 6, remember), and therefore deserved to be rewarded.
And that is the system which looks very much like what the GOP is drifting towards — to wit, a theory and practice of economics in which the entrepreneur and the efficient manager, the small business owner and the successful professional are all at the mercy of the Party Faithful who are the right color and the right class and vote the right way…but who may not be able to make change, run a shop, write a line of code, or fix a broken pipe…
What this means is that if you are a libertarian, small “l” or large, or a pro-business conservative of the any sort, then you need to get out of the Republican Party as fast as you can. It is no longer the party of free enterprise. Rather, it is a the party of rent-seeking thugs of the sort who add nothing of value to the world, but who extract 20% off the top of anything you have or earn, and afterwards expect to be thanked profusely for not taking more.
Where do you go after you leave the GOP? I don’t know. Form your own party, maybe? Join the Democrats and try to move them gently to the right? Join the Libertarian party and try to move them toward…I don’t know…sanity?
Pick any of these. But you must do something. For even compromise with liberals and progressives….which is to say, me and those like me…is better than what will come your way under Trump and this creature, this Red Fascism…
Which is to say…
But with brass knuckles, and a bullwhip.
Until next time…
Onward and Upward.
Copyright©2021 Michael Jay Tucker