Donald Trump’s anger at China is one of many signs of the rise of neo-fascism in American politics at a time when neither Congress nor the courts seem interested in limiting the president’s power. Trump’s unique form of neo-fascism was initially expressed by his attempts to crack down on critical journalists for “treason” and by proclaiming white ethnic nationalism by declaring an “emergency.”
This allowed him to criminalize immigrants held in concentration camps and confiscate taxpayer money to build a wall on the border with Mexico that was never approved by Congress.
Emerging fascism is taking on ever more drastic forms because of Trump’s efforts to determine the investment rules of American companies and to provoke a trade war with China.
In late August, Trump announced that he wanted to intensify the trade war with China by imposing an additional 5 percent tariff on Chinese goods worth 250 billion U.S. dollars. For example, a 30 per cent tax will be levied on 1 October, coupled with a 15 per cent special levy on other imports worth USD 300 billion, which came into force on 1 September, in contrast to the previously planned rate of 10 per cent. Still, the biggest controversy is not Trump’s saber-rattling with China per se, but his one-sided attempt to prevent American companies from continuing to do business with China.
....better off without them. The vast amounts of money made and stolen by China from the United States, year after year, for decades, will and must STOP. Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing..— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 23, 2019
This “instruction” was politically motivated and consistent with Trump’s “America First” agenda, visible also in the following statement: “We don’t need China and frankly we would be much better off without it.”
For those who defended the neo-fascist leader, arguing that the statement was not serious and that he didn’t really want to command U.S. companies: Trump saw it very differently. He stated on Twitter that his injunction was permissible under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977.
For all of the Fake News Reporters that don’t have a clue as to what the law is relative to Presidential powers, China, etc., try looking at the Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977. Case closed!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 24, 2019
According to a report in the New York Times, this law was mainly used to prosecute terrorists and drug traffickers and was originally intended to allow a president to unmask criminal regimes, not to do so because of a economic relations with one of the country’s most important trading partners.
A sign of how much more Trump is going compared to the years of the “war on terror” under George W. Bush is the warning from Bush’s former adviser on international economic relations that any use of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act would be an abuse in these circumstances and for these purposes.
The law should only be applied in cases of an extraordinary threat to national security and in real national emergencies, not “to live out the president’s resentment.”
Trump’s argument is not particularly surprising, given that he has long flouted the rule of law and has shown little interest in consulting Congress and the courts on enactment of laws and orders. This president governs by issuing decrees and will not allow such inconvenient obstacles as constitutionality and judicial or congressional oversight to get in his way.
A closer look at the 1977 law to which Trump refers shows that it does indeed give a president the authority to regulate foreign trade in times of emergency. But the powers granted by the law do not go as far as President Trump claims. It allows the executive to prohibit the import or export of goods and any foreign currency transactions in which a foreign state or a citizen of the same country is subject to an “unusual and extraordinary threat” to national security and economy has any interest.
The crucial point here is the fact that this power can only be granted in times of ‘unusual and extraordinary threat’ — so no rational argument could be used to interpret the law in such a way that it also includes simple trade disputes between competing heads of state. Nor does the law apply to trade disputes that occur in what Trump himself claimed in August in an “strong and good” economy, or the best economy ever.
So President Trump wants to dance at two weddings at the same time: on the one hand, he declares a national economic emergency, on the other, he celebrates the economic vitality and growth of the United States.
But don’t be mistaken: Trump is well aware that the American economy is in danger of recession as a result of his escalating trade war with China. The problem is that he is too arrogant and too vain to ever admit that increasing economic instability is a consequence of his own actions. He will not change course, even to prevent the impending recession.
In his growing desperation and in response to a self-inflicted “crisis,” Trump is now moving to demonize people in US domestic politics. For example, the head of the Us Federal Reserve, Jay Powell: When the US President’s incipient trade war with China also made its impact on the stock market, Trump called on Powell to cut interest rates in an immediate manner in order to avoid further uncertainty in the economic growth.
The fed chief initially refused, saying that the Fed’s limited ability to stimulate the economy because of the uncertainty and volatility created by Trump’s trade war. He was then insulted on Twitter by a hyperventilating Trump, saying, “Who is our greater enemy, Jay Powell or President Xi?”
The impact of a declining economy on Trump’s political future should not be underestimated. A president with a 40 percent approval rating cannot afford to continue losing public support if he is to be re-elected in 2020.
A massive economic recession will almost certainly lead to a significant decline in the already weak approval rating, which means that reaching a second term for President Trump will be increasingly distant if the economic conditions will continue to deteriorate at the end of 2019 and 2020.
So, while the US president is letting himself out over enemies at home and abroad, the ultimate irony in this case is that Trump is himself his worst enemy, and he will have caused the looming recession himself.
Recent political events suggest that the United States is indeed facing a state of emergency, even if it is not a state of emergency caused by economic downturn. Rather, the nation is haunted by the epidemic of neo-fascism.
By neo-fascism, in this context, I mean a political system characterised by extreme forms of nationalism, racism and xenophobia, an authoritarian disregard for the rule of law and, more recently, active efforts by the rule of law. Government to impose new “rules of the game” on the capitalist economy, contrary to the neoliberal principles of the “free market”. This icing on the cake of fascism is known from the Nazi Germany of the Third Reich and gives the government the power to make important investment decisions for private companies.
Us capitalism has long been characterised by an authoritarian organizational structure: corporate hierarchies exercise power at the expense of workers’ say in the workplace, while preventing trade union movements and democratic conditions in the workplace. But the variant of corporate neo-fascism that Trump is trying to introduce transcends all forms of fascism that have existed in modern history. Governments have in the past played the role of junior partners in strengthening the plutocratic power of the entrepreneurial class over politics. In free-market capitalism, they are not a legitimate driving force in setting investment conditions for the economic and private sectors.
Most Americans are reluctant to use the term “fascism” in Trump’s policies, since the idea that the US could ever become a fascist nation has always been strictly rejected. The ethos of “It Can’t Happen Here” was put on paper by the American author Sinclair Lewis more than 80 years ago, which means that Americans have always been blind to the neo-fascist elements of politics that are right before them. unfolded in their eyes.
But at the end of the day, the “fascist/non-fascist” contrast is very problematic, dangerous, and self-destructive for those who still respect the principles of democracy and the separation of powers. For if the Americans wait with the question “Is it fascism?” until the neo-fascist state has been fully institutionalized, then this debate will be purely academic and completely meaningless. The time to discuss a fascist threat is when it emerges, not after it has been implemented.
Time is running out for those who could stop Trump’s neo-fascist policies and restore the rule of law in the country. Congress would have the opportunity to put an immediate end to Trump’s efforts to impose corporate neo-fascism on the American economy.
It is precisely the emergency law that Trump invokes that states that, in any case imaginable, the President must consult Congress before exercising any of the powers granted by the Emergency Act, and that he will “be aware of such authorities must be discussed regularly with Congress”.
It must provide the legislature with regular information on how emergency powers are used. Congress is therefore free to reverse the “emergency” declared by Trump. This is possible because he has abused his political power by pursuing an authoritarian, self-glorifying policy that gives the president unprecedented authority to enforce a corporate, neo-fascist regime.
Congress should immediately begin impeachment proceedings because of Trump’s inability to act as head of state. The president’s unfitness is expressed, for example, in his recent claim that God “selected” him to determine trade policy, and in his efforts to lead his trade war with China. emergency powers.
With Trump’s neo-fascist policies having received little headwinds so far, there is growing concern that his actions in the trade war will make him even more powerful. Apart from legislative or judicial measures, there is hardly anything that stands in the way of the President in his mission to eradicate the remnants of the separation of powers laid down in the American Constitution. If impeachment or a national strike and nationwide mass protests fail, Trump’s neo-fascist policies are likely to intensify in the future.