Realpolitick: The Rise of Spectacle and Fascism

By: Bill Whaley
16 February, 2016

“Fascism sees its salvation in giving these masses not their right, but instead a chance to express themselves.” Walter Benjamin— (The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction).


The rise of Trumpism, based on the skillfully applied lessons learned from showbiz by a master manipulator has injected the Republican party with a way for supporters to identify Trump as their proxy for anger. In the process Trump has destroyed a sacred cow, speak no ill of another republican. He ridicules George W. Bush for starting the Iraq War and not keeping American safe, lambasts fellow candidates, who are bought and paid for by big money, and promises to “make American Great Again” while he builds a wall and deports 11 million brown people. Donald thinks big.

Socialist Demo Bernie Sanders offers American idealism to millennials and long-frustrated leftists, children of the 60s. Bernie’s authentic passion transmits feelings of justice. Though he and his acolytes are criticized for being idealists, they seem to be advocating the principles found in the radical notion that “all men are created equal” and that we human beings should have the right to health and happiness. But “equality” before the law and advocating “human dignity” goes too far for most Americans.

Clinton, whose tight relationship with Wall Street has moved the established demos to the right, contrasts sharply in terms of “rhetoric” with Republican extremists but less so in terms of who pulls the funds campaigns. While Clinton gives lip service to a woman’s right to choose and surely agrees that Black Lives Matter, she has also supported the doctrine of “endless war” doctrine. Ultimately, she and Bill serve as the primary Punch and Judy show demos, who represent Wall St. How else did two broke political careerists build a post Presidential fortune?


While Bernie’s ideas and Hilary’s “virtual ideas” of reform are looked down upon as “unrealistic” or un-American, Michael Moore’s entertaining new film, Where to Invade Next shows the way toward a more compassionate America in example after example from various countries that organize themselves around principles of compassion and human dignity.

The unmistakeable and disheveled man from Flint tours Europe, North Africa, Iceland and Tunisia while showing how modern education helps students achieve much in Finland; how the rehabilitation of criminals in Norway and Sweden restores human dignity; how health care in Germany and Italy improve the quality of life; how Iceland reformed finances and created gender friendly institutions, how nutritious school lunches in France (of course) contribute to compassion and human dignity.

Ironically, the “progressive ideas” that have been implemented in other countries paid vacations and family leave, national health care, free university education, and decriminalization of drugs were ideas that originated in the United States. Workers are treated well by manufacturers and profits rise. Social reforms have been implemented at human laboratories in Italy, France, Germany, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Tunisia, Iceland, and Slovenia. (Moore even names several countries where American students can study for free and take courses in English.)

Perhaps the most moving scene in Moore’s film concerns a classroom in Germany where he shows teachers and students discussing the Holocaust so that the German people will never forget what they refer to as their “original sin.” Can you imagine American schools teaching our own original sin: the genocide of the American Indians and the enslavement of Black Americans? We are dependent on the Grammys, the Pow Wow, movies and art to learn about America’s “forbidden” past.

For all Donald Trump’s hilarious truth telling to Republicans, the man capitalizes on the stone-cold image of the fascist leader who promotes “hate speech” and racism.

Sanders, despite his meaningless moniker, offers Americans little more than a return to the equitable ideas named in the Declaration of Independence, ideas negated later by the revisions to the U.S. Constitution, where Black Americans were defined as 3/5th s of a person; Indians were considered nonpersons; and women did not have the right to vote. So much for Antonin Scalia and “originalism.”

The history of Hilary Clinton offers  evidence of a fantastic resume summed up by yuppie “careerism.” She’s intent on little else than securing a historical job. For all the good she may have done, she and Bill operate a successful family business, much stimulated by influence peddling: he signed off on bills deregulating the banks and upping the incarceration rates for people of color. Hilary seems to revel in presenting herself as a model of Britain’s “iron woman,” Maggie Thatcher. She happily joined the Obama administration as Secretary of State for “endless war.”

We felt good after Barack Obama got elected. But “feelings” of hope and change did not alter the systemically unfair fascist “property relations” (as Walter Benjamin points out above). Call it “inverted fascism.”  The gap between the rich and poor has widened under Obama. Systemic racism ignited the Black Lives Matter movement. The federal and state governments neglected, exploited, and then poisoned the poor people of Flint.

Is the idea of making clean water available too expensive? Too progressive? Too idealistic? Is the idea of common decency a “socialist” proposition?

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