U.S Conservatism as Proto-Fascism
Orcinus has a well reasoned comparison of the behaviour of the U.S. conservative movement manifesting itself in the U.S. Republican party, the Christian fundamentalist movement, right-wing media, and more extreme racist groups to behaviour displayed by historical fascist states (Germany under Hitler, Italy under Mussolini, Spain under Franco).
Orcinus has a well reasoned comparison of the behaviour of the U.S. conservative movement manifesting itself in the U.S. Republican party, the Christian fundamentalist movement, right-wing media, and more extreme racist groups to behaviour displayed by historical fascist states (Germany under Hitler, Italy under Mussolini, Spain under Franco). The essay is notable in it’s detailed identification of traits which are indeed well matched to Fascism, and the degree to which this rise of Imperialist ideology is uniquely American and contemporary.
I would argue the comparison is slightly mismatched in that I think there is a clearer identification with an imperialist agenda that has characterised the actions of the British, Carlist Spanish, Roman empires and other colonialist activities carried out by smaller European nations prior to World War 1 through to post-colonial struggles in Africa and Asia, Zionist expansionism in Palestine beyond U.N. mandated borders of Israel, and the behaviour of the South African Apartheid regime.
These regimes acted with an intention of bringing their conception of civility, progress and welfare to “uncivilised” nations, “freeing” them from tribal chiefs and “pagan” beliefs. Religion, whether explicit (in the case of the Spanish Conquistador-an and South African regimes) or implicit (British Protestant Christian and Missionary motives) functioned to justify the conquests. Post World War 2, such imperatives were reshaped as resisting atheist Communist (in actuality, popular nationalist) struggles in China, Indochina, Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Borneo, Malaya) and Africa (Mozambique, Angola, Namibia). The spectre of atheism inherent in Communism was as much the motivating force behind the U.S. colonialist support of the French in Indochina, the U.S. bombing massacres of Korea and the commitment of troops into Vietnam as any fear of the loss of corporate exploitable resources through collectivisation.
An outstanding 1974 documentary Hearts and Minds covering the U.S. involvement in Vietnam has been reprinted and is showing in the U.S. It is absolutely essential viewing to understand the repetition of the agenda of exceptionalism that drives the U.S. position towards the rest of the world. As noted before, the Monroe doctrine has shaped U.S. foreign policy for nearly two centuries. While there is now a more brazen call that “might makes right” in U.S. conservative rhetoric, it is not so very different from earlier foreign policy attitudes.
Fascist rhetoric can be seen as broadening the imperialist agenda, making the implicit apparatus behind the traditional emperor (or monarch in the case of Queen Victoria in Britain) more concrete and diversified as a political party (i.e. the Nazi party) and drawing in secular objectives (i.e. German industrialists) alongside religious moral objectives (i.e. the Spanish Catholic support of Franco’s Fascists).
So while Orcinus’s comparison is illuminating, as s/he acknowledges, the match between the U.S. conservative movement and a fascist state is not perfect. But the principles that Fascism and Imperialism share – surety in the manifest destiny of the expression of control, a denial of universalism, a belief in an unequal nature of imperial state and alien individuals and states, and a belief in the need to co-opt those aliens towards the imperative of the imperial state are features that the ideology of the U.S. conservative movement matches.