In a campaign speech in Washington D.C. on Saturday, former president and leading Republican candidate Donald Trump delivered a fascist diatribe against what he called the growing danger of socialism and communism in the United States. Trump announced that if elected he will order the Department of Homeland Security to carry out mass deportations of left-wing people, citizens and non-citizens alike.
Speaking at a conference hosted by the right-wing Faith and Freedom Coalition, Trump spoke in warlike terms: “At the end of the day, either the Communists destroy America, or we destroy the Communists.” Employing apocalyptic language borrowed from his political idol, Adolf Hitler, he continued: “This is the final battle. With you at my side, we will drive out the globalists, we will cast out the communists.”
Trump added: “We are headed toward communism. There’s never been a period of time like that in our country’s history. And that’s the way communism starts. And we can’t let it happen.”
Trump elevated the need to purge socialists and communists from the United States to the center of his re-election campaign.
He called for mass deportations of immigrants with left-wing views: “Using federal law, section 212 (f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, I will order my government to deny entry to all communists and all Marxists. Those who come to join our country must love our country. We don’t want them if they want to destroy our country… So we’re going to be keeping foreign Christian-hating communists, socialists and Marxists out of America. We’re keeping them out of America.”
But Trump went beyond this, adding that his campaign would also seek to expel US citizens for their political views: “Today I’m announcing a new plan to protect the integrity of our immigration system. Federal law prohibits the entry of communists and totalitarians into the United States. But my question is, what are we going to do with the ones that are already here, that grew up here? I think we have to pass a new law for them.” (Emphasis added.)
Such statements have never been made before by a major political figure in the United States.
Through laws like the Denaturalization Law of 1933, the Reich Citizenship Laws and the Eleventh Decree to the Reich Citizenship Law of 1941, the Nazi government deprived hundreds of thousands of Germans of their citizenship rights on the grounds that their socialist views or Jewish or Roma background placed them outside the “Volksgemeinschaft.” Trump and advisors like Stephen Miller are students of Hitler and of the political history of the Nazi Party and are well aware of these laws. Trump used to sleep with a book of Hitler’s speeches in his bedroom and told his presidential staff in 2018 that “Hitler did some good things.”
What is called “American democracy” has degenerated to the point that the prime contender for the Republican Party and the former president of the United States is a Nazi. Using the language of Hitler, Trump is elaborating the fundamental aim of fascism, which historically is directed above all at the socialist movement and the destruction of all organized resistance in the working class.
Trump speaks not just for himself. A substantial section of the ruling class is convinced that it confronts a massive social movement of workers that poses the greatest danger to its wealth and privileges.
Trump’s present actions make clear that had the coup attempt of January 6, 2021 succeeded, Trump would have abolished the Constitution and brutally repressed opposition from below with extreme state violence. The mob which he conducted to the Capitol building came within seconds of capturing leading political figures, including Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The plot failed despite the fact that the Democratic Party took no action to prevent it from succeeding.
The Republican Party has followed Trump down the path of fascist reaction. On Tuesday, Florida Senator Rick Scott issued a video statement declaring, “Let me give you a travel warning. If you are a socialist or communist, I would think twice if you are thinking about taking a vacation or moving to Florida.”
In recent months, disoriented political pundits like Chris Hedges and muddle-headed activists have oriented themselves toward fascistic supporters of Trump under the banner of “left-right unity.” As Trump’s speech should make clear, they are advocating a coalition with forces that would arrest or deport them, if not worse.
As for the Democrats, they cannot state the fascist danger out of a fear of triggering massive social protests in defense of democratic rights.
The Democratic Party is attempting to remove Trump from the political scene through an appeal to the military-intelligence agencies by prosecuting him under the Espionage Act for keeping documents after he left the White House that reveal state secrets. They are far less concerned with Trump’s fascism than they are with the possible disruption of the US-NATO war against Russia or, even worse, the development of a working class movement against capitalism.
For as real and bitter as their divisions are with one another, the factions of the ruling class agree on their hatred of socialism. In February, the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly for a resolution “denouncing the horrors of socialism.” All 219 Republican representatives voted for the resolution, as did a majority of House Democrats, including congresspersons who were endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America. The vote came weeks after the Biden administration worked with House Republicans and Democrats to illegalize a potential railroad strike.
Leon Trotsky referred to the American ruling class as “the strongest and the most terrified” ruling class in the world. The ruling class knows it sits atop a volcano of social tensions, amid spiraling health and economic crises. The class struggle is erupting internationally and the trade union bureaucracies lack sufficient legitimacy in the eyes of workers to effectively block and isolate strikes. Poll after poll show rising support for socialism, especially among young people.
The ruling class is terrified that the emerging working class movement will acquire a self-consciously socialist leadership, as it did in Russia in 1917. In 2017, on the centenary of the Russian Revolution, historian Simon Sebag Montefiore warned, “The October Revolution, organized by Vladimir Lenin exactly a century ago, is still relevant in ways that would have seemed unimaginable when the Soviet Union collapsed,” and complained that Vladimir Lenin was not assassinated before 1917. In the Washington Post, Anne Applebaum urged readers: “Remember, at the beginning of 1917… most of the men who later became known to the world as the Bolsheviks were conspirators and fantasists on the margins of society. By the end of the year, they ran Russia.”
Six years later, these fears have been propelled by the crisis of capitalism to occupy the center stage of American politics.