The Conservative Political Action Conference held over the weekend in Maryland was dominated by ex-president Donald Trump, who delivered a fascist rant on Saturday night and won the straw poll of delegates with 60 percent of the vote.
Trump was preceded by the former president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, who has taken up residence in Florida following the fascistic assault by his supporters on government buildings in the capital a week after his successor Lula took office two months ago.
There were also speeches by various Trump acolytes like Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz. Trump praised them in his own remarks, particularly for supporting those jailed for the attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.
Trump’s speech, nearly two hours long, was clearly the main event. It was devoted to a combination of obsessive self-praise and virulent and repeated attacks on socialism, Marxism and communism. He attributed these terms to the Biden administration and the Democratic Party, which are both thoroughly and unshakably committed to the defense of capitalism and American imperialism.
Behind the incessant denunciations of socialism—both capitalist parties passed a resolution through Congress repudiating socialism only a month ago—is the fear of the mounting radicalization of the working class. The growth of strikes and social anger among working people, displayed most recently in East Palestine, Ohio, where residents flocked to a town meeting to denounce Norfolk Southern Railroad for spilling huge quantities of toxic chemicals, terrifies the ruling elite.
Trump echoed the language of his fascist supporters who claim there is a deliberate plot to use a flood of immigrants to replace the (white) population of the United States. He did not attribute this plot, as they do, to Jewish billionaires, but he singled out one Jewish billionaire, George Soros, a frequent target of the neo-Nazis because of his financial support for the Democratic Party. The inference was certainly not lost on his audience, particularly given the violence of Trump’s language.
Trump took his vituperation of immigrants to a new level, claiming that the United States was becoming a “socialist dumping ground for criminals, junkies, Marxists, thugs, radicals, dangerous refugees that no other country wants,” and that Biden’s policies had created a “lawless open borders crime-ridden filthy communist nightmare.”
He thanked the leadership of the Border Patrol union, and promised to “use all necessary state, federal and legal resources to carry out the largest domestic deportation operation in American history.” Gang members would be deported summarily, without any judicial procedure.
In the style of fascist leaders of the 20th century, he combined this vilification of those he treated as subhuman with a pretense of concern for the living standards of working people. He claimed to defend Social Security and Medicare and to oppose major cuts in these programs, long a staple of Republican Party leaders.
He also pretended to oppose imperialist war, declaring he would “expel the warmongers” (without identifying any of them, since many of them are in the US military, which he praised to the skies). “I am the only candidate who can make this promise: I will prevent, and very easily—World War III,” he said. “Very easily.”
Trump did not actually condemn the US-NATO war against Russia in Ukraine, but he criticized the European countries for allegedly not paying their fair share of the cost. He claimed he could settle the war “in one day,” through his personal influence on Putin and the awe which both Putin and Xi would feel for a United States under his leadership.
The substance of this was an argument that he would build up the power of the armed forces to such an extent that no world leader, even in Russia and China, would dare to oppose the will of the American president. If Trump were to return to power, he seemed to say, he would effectively rule the world from his White House throne.
The real target of such a military buildup would be the working class at home. Trump made this clear when he called for the mobilization of the National Guard in every city in the United States which had a significant crime problem. “Cities where there’s been a complete breakdown of public safety, I will send in federal assets including the national guard until law and order is restored,” he threatened.
Trump combined this visceral fear of a political struggle of the working class against capitalism, which is the substance of genuine socialism, with attempts to split the working class along the lines of race, gender and nationality. He made ferocious denunciations of immigrants, gays and lesbians, and particularly the transgendered. The latter make up a small proportion of the US population, but have become the preferred targets of Republican governors, state legislatures, and the leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination.
He closed with a Nazi-style characterization of the cities as centers of filth and moral pollution, which he would cleanse, and a pledge to build “new freedom cities along the frontier” and support “baby bonuses for a new baby boom.”
There was more than a whiff of Nazi “lebensraum” in the last comment, and the speech as a whole suggested that Trump had consulted the book of Hitler’s speeches which his first wife said was the only volume he had in his nightstand and which he regularly read.
The CPAC conference as a whole was an orgy of fascist reaction. It is notable that among the participants was former Democratic Party Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, who only two weeks ago participated in the “Rage Against the War Machine” rally, which was characterized by an orientation of sections of the middle class to the extreme right.
Trump and the Republicans are seeking to capitalize politically on the war-mongering policy of the Democratic Party and the Biden administration, which is focused entirely on the escalation of the US-NATO war against Russia. At the same time, the Democrats have worked to politically rehabilitate their “colleagues” in the Republican Party in the aftermath of the January 6 coup, on the basis of waging war abroad and war on the working class at home.