Does Trumpâ€™s ascent signal rise of fascism in the U.S.?
More strident opponents have likened Mr. Trump to Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.
The comparison was inflammatory, to say the least. Former Gov. William F. Weld of Massachusetts equated Donald Trumpâ€™s immigration plan with Kristallnacht, the night of horror in 1938 when rampaging Nazis smashed Jewish homes and businesses in Germany and killed scores of Jews.
But if it was a provocative analogy, it was not a lonely one. Mr. Trumpâ€™s campaign has engendered impassioned debate about the nature of his appeal and warnings from critics on the Left and the Right about the potential rise of fascism in the United States. More strident opponents have likened Mr. Trump to Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.
The discussion comes as questions are surfacing around the globe about a revival of fascism, generally defined as a governmental system that asserts complete power and emphasises aggressive nationalism and often racism. In places like Russia and Turkey, leaders like Vladimir Putin of Russia and Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey employ strongman tactics. In Austria, a nationalist candidate came within three-tenths of a percentage point of becoming the first far-right head of state in Europe since World War II.
â€œâ€œOn a world level, the situation that affects many countries is economic stagnation and the arrival of immigrants,â€ said Robert Paxton, a professor emeritus at Columbia University and one of the most prominent scholars of fascism. â€œThatâ€™s a one-two punch that democratic governments are having enormous trouble in meeting.â€
Americans are used to the idea that other countries may be vulnerable to such movements, but while figures like Father Charles Coughlin, the demagogic radio broadcaster, enjoyed wide followings in the 1930s, neither major party has ever nominated anyone quite like Mr. Trump.
Mr. Trump has provided plenty of ammunition for critics. He was slow to denounce the white supremacist David Duke and talked approvingly of beating up protesters. He would not condemn supporters who launched anti-Semitic blasts at journalists. At one point, he re-tweeted a Mussolini quote: â€œIt is better to live one day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep.â€
Mr. Paxton said he saw similarities and differences in Trump. His message about an America in decline and his us-against-them pronouncements about immigrants and outsiders echo Europe in the 1930s, Mr. Paxton said. On the other hand, he said, Mr. Trump has hardly created uniformed, violent youth groups. Moreover, fascists believe in strong state control, not get-government-off-your-back individualism and deregulation. â€” New York Times News Service