Turner: Fascism, and authoritarianism more generally, is about particular political movements in the early 20th century. They generally feature a leader with dictatorial powers, a single party and the ability to enforce the will of party through military means. You can think of Mussolini’s Italy, Hideki Tojo’s Japan and Nazi Germany.
Some key elements of fascism include the following:
- A reversionary desire to return to an imagined state of greatness from the past.
- A celebration of heterosexual masculinity. You could think of Vladimir Putin’s need to take off his shirt or Donald Trump’s obsession with the size of his hands.
- A charismatic leadership style.
- An absolute disregard for facts and a celebration of myth.
- An integration of the corporation and the state, which is what Mussolini wanted to do and feels reminiscent of what Trump wants to do today.
- A deep, structural racism. There is always someone on the outs. In Japan, it was particular minority groups. In Germany, it was obviously the Jews, but it was also gypsies, queers and communists, among others. And you can see that kind of racism, that kind of in-group and out-group dynamic here, with Trump.
Many people have called Donald Trump a populist. I don’t think that’s quite right. His anti-elitist rhetoric is certainly in that vein, but his racism, his sexism, and his emphasis on a return to a formerly great America, belong to the fascist line.