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As Donald Trump addressed the media over this years midterm elections results, an argument broke out between the president and CNN’s Jim Acosta. When questioned about his racial scaremongering over the migrant caravan, Trump responded with his usual ‘fake news’ spiel then labelled Acosta as a‘rude, terrible person’. Acosta refused to give the microphone back to a female white house staffer which has since been used as an excuse to revoke his White House pass.
In an attempt to justify themselves, the White House have circulated an Infowars doctored video of the incident claiming, he laid his hands on the young woman. Infowars, for those who aren’t aware is a far right conspiracy theory site known primarily for its maverick host Alex Jones. Jones is a Sandy Hook truther who infamously went viral after ranting that the Pentagon has a “gay bomb”, chemicals from which it has allowed to leak into the water supply turning “the friggin’ frogs gay!”. The fact that the White House have showcased this video this shows a clear threat of fascist influence in the White House.
Trumps treatment of the press has long since been compared to that of other fascist regimes. Like Hitler and Mussolini, he clearly shows nothing but contempt for the free press. This is not however, his most overt flirtation with fascism. Trump once retweeted the Islamophobic posts of Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of fascist group Britain First, who has been convicted of hate speech in Northern Ireland. Likewise, after events in Charlottesville led to the murder of socialist organiser Heather Heyer in a cowardly neo-Nazi attack, Trump stated that not all the far right protesters were neo-Nazis and white supremacists and laid the blame for the violence equally on what he called the “alt-left”.
The Trump presidency’s fling with fascism exposes a clear American hypocrisy. Whilst it has long been propagated that the United States is a bastion of liberty and democracy, its historical ties with fascism prove it to be anything but. In response to the threat of communism during the cold war, the US abandoned its ‘principles’ in order to fight the ‘red menace’. In blatant disregard for the constitution, Eisenhower signed into law the Communist Control Act of 1954 which outlawed the communist party and criminalised membership. During the first red scare, the US deported a number of “foreign aliens” they suspected of sedition and additionally during the era of McCarthyism, the US imprisoned numerous communist leaders under the Smith Act.
It is however, in foreign affairs where America’s relationship with Fascism is most flagrant. In Chile, the United Sates supported Pinochet’s coup against democratically elected Marxist – Salvador Allende, leading to the rise of the notorious Caravan of Death. Similarly, in Indonesia American embassy officials gave a list of suspected communists to Fascist death squads who embarked on a genocide of up to 3 million people. In perhaps the most disgusting example, United States intelligence recruited the “Butcher of Lyon” Klaus Barbie, a Gestapo functionary who American forces used to track down and execute Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara.
Donald Trump’s actions are another chapter in a deep seated tradition of fascism within the American establishment. The lack of a communist scapegoat has meant that he has not seen the support previously seen by J Edgar Hoover and Ronald Reagan who went on similar crusades. However, the threat Trump and his cabal pose to democracy cannot be discounted. If his overt courting of fascism is not successfully challenged then the underlying fascism of the American establishment will no longer remain in the shadows.
Last week, Brazil held the first round of its general election which resulted in the far-right candidate and former army officer Jair Bolsonaro winning 46% of the popular vote far exceeding polling expectations. Bolsonaro is infamous in Brazil for his extreme right rhetoric on social issues including homosexuality claiming “I would be incapable of loving a gay son,” and has defended the beating of gay children. He is a firm believer in neo-liberalism, the tightening of relations with the United States and Israel and is an ardent opponent of secularism. His success is a clearly a worrying development for the Brazilian left.
Recent political occurrences in Brazil have been characterised by left-wing vs right-wing violence comparable to other countries around the world today. Earlier in the year, the Socialist and Liberty Party councillor Marielle Franco was assassinated on the streets of Rio while Bolsonaro himself was stabbed at a recent rally.
Last week’s election results have also fuelled violence with a Bolsonaro supporter being run over by a university professor and Bolsonaro supporters have reportedly roamed the streets seeking “undesirables”, on one occasion assaulting and marking a woman with a swastika as she was seen wearing an anti-Bolsonaro shirt.
Bolsonaro has been compared to Trump but in reality, he represents a deep long simmering fascism held in South America. He is the modern-day incarnation of General Pinochet, a product of the American backed death squads of the 60’s and 70’, hunting down and murdering suspected communists.
He is a political face of Operation Condor, the US backed genocide of leftists across South America that started in 1975. Proof of this can be found in his views on the military dictatorship that controlled Brazil from the 60’s until the 80’s which he calls a “glorious” period of Brazilian history.
During former president Rousseff’s impeachment vote he dedicated his vote to her torturer and agent of the dictatorship Colonel Brilhante Ustra. Bolsonaro, rather than being seen as the global south’s answer to Trump and the European far right, should be seen as the reincarnation of South American reactionary political forces.
Bolsonaro also represents a fundamental shift in Brazilian populism, rejecting the protectionist and corporatist economics of Getúlio Vargas and the Integralists in favour of free market deregulation. Thus, Bolsonaro can be seen as a direct answer to the South American ‘pink wave’ of the last decade by the forces of finance capital. This reactionary force can similarly be seen today in Venezuela and Nicaragua where both countries socialist governments are fighting militant protestors, seeking to overthrow their countries ruling parties in a way similar to the “Euromaidan” uprising in Ukraine, 4 years ago.
Bolsonaro isn’t just part of a global trend in the upsurge of far-right activity, he is a modern representative of the brutal military dictatorships of the past. He and his supporters have made no qualms about their goals. Bolsonaro in 1998 stated that the Pinochet regime “should have killed more people.” His victory in the second round later this month would see not only the reversal of the policies enacted by the Workers Party, it would see the most aggressive wave of counter-revolution since the Contras.