Jason Stanley is a Yale professor and the author of five books on fascism and its basis in the politics of us versus them. In this nine-minute video from Big Think, he defines fascism based on 10 traits that authoritarians use to gain and maintain power.
We have annotated Stanley’s list with brief examples that show how Trump and his faction are putting the fascist ideology into practice:
1. The Mythic Past
“In the past, we were great.”
Example: Trump’s slogan is “Make America Great Again,” which suggests a harkening back to an era when the patriarchy was unchallenged in its control of the United States.
Fascist propaganda is based around a friend/enemy depiction.
Example: During his first impeachment, Trump tweeted: “Such atrocious lies by the radical left, do nothing democrats. This is an assault on America, and an assault on the Republican Party!!!!”
Science and expertise don’t matter. Only the leader says what is true or false.
Example: Trump said, “I love the poorly educated.” About his administration’s record, Christine Todd Whitman, Republican EPA director for George W. Bush, said, “I’ve never seen such an orchestrated war on the environment or science.”
To kill democracy, get the people used to lies.
Example: Fact checkers tracked 30,000 lies told by Trump while he was in office.
Convince people that one race, religion, sex is better than the others.
Example: Trump has made innumerable racist public statements over the past 40 years.
Fascists propaganda convinces followers they are victims of equality.
Example: In the runup to the special election in Georgia in January 2021, Trump told a crowd of supporters: “We are all victims. Everybody here. All these thousands of people tonight. They’re all victims. Every one of you.”
7. Law and Order
The leader can’t violate the law.
Example: Trump’s multiple claims of immunity and his refusal to produce documents, including his tax returns.
8. Sexual Anxiety
Women and children are under threat, and you need a strong man to protect them.
Example: Generally, Trump is known for abusive behavior toward women in his personal life and his cruelty to the children of immigrants, hundreds of whom he locked up in cages. However, in 2019, he claimed his border wall would keep women safe from Mexican rapists.
9. Sodom and Gomorrah
An urban/rural divide. Cities are decadant. “Real Americans” live in rural areas.
Example: In his inaugural address, Trump claimed that American cities are under seige from crime and violence. He famously declared, “This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.”
10. Arebeit macht frei (“Work shall make you free”)
Minorities are lazy.
Example: Former Trump COO John O’Donnell quoted Trump in 1991 saying this about an African American executive at his casino: “I think that guy is lazy. And it’s probably not his fault because laziness is a trait in blacks. It really is. I believe that. It’s not anything they can control.”