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No, Donald Trump Is Not A Fascist

Even for those who abhor the Republican nominee, it's important to get the terminology right.

Trump at a campaign rally Austin, Texas on Aug. 23
Trump at a campaign rally Austin, Texas on Aug. 23
Pierre-Marcel Favre

GENEVA — In such times of confusion, it is no surprise that some big words get frequently misused, even by highly educated people. Some people, including at least one former university lecturer, have begun calling Donald Trump a fascist. It is false. Let me be clear: I am certainly no fan of this grotesque candidate, but calling him a fascist makes no sense.

The word "populist" is already widely misused in Europe, but it arguably applies to the American billionaire. "Far-right extremist" may be debatable, but "fascist" is not appropriate in any way. Excessive caricature is noxious.

Just as the far left is made up of many elements (anarchists, Leninists, Trotskyites, Maoists), the far right also brings together a range of supporters: royalists, neo-fascists, ultra religious, ultra conservatives, regional separatists, and so on.

Fascism, we must remember, is first and foremost an ideology, a party, and a nationalist regime of an utterly authoritarian nature, driven by social mobilization and with a strong affinity for uniforms. There was only one country that fully adopted fascism on a long-term basis — and actually invented it: Italy, from 1922 to 1943. Unless one lumps together fascism and National Socialism, that is. Still, Mussolini's supporters were very different from the fundamentally racist, imperialistic Nazi criminals.

Salazar and Franco?

Was Portugal's Salazarism (1926-1974) fascist? Not so much. It was an ultra-conservative dictatorship with an economic regime based on corporatism that implied the negation of the class struggle and the denial of labor rights. But it had no fanatic mass party seeking a broader power conquest.

General Francisco Franco was both a putschist and a bloodthirsty dictator, but he was never a fascist. The fascist party, the Falange, whose leader Antonio Primo de Rivera was executed in 1936, was very present in the Spanish political arena, but never held power. Franco's supporters could be found among the conservative and reactionary forces, the Catholic clergy and the army, but he and he alone was in power.

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Gen. Franco giving a speech in Eibar in 1949 — Photo: Indalecio Ojanguren/CC-BY-SA

There were fascist parties in Eastern Europe: the Iron Guard in Romania (1927-1941), Szálasi's Arrow Cross Party in Hungary (1939-1945) and the Ustaše in Croatia (1941-1945). But they were not meant to last. Then, George Oltramare, a collaborator in Nazi-occupied France, achieved some popularity here in his home city of Geneva. In England, Oswald Mosley funded the British Union of Fascists in the early 1930s, but he never made it to the government. In France, in the time of the Popular Front, an alliance of left-wing movements, many organizations flirted with fascism but never really mobilized masses of followers.

During the Algerian war (1954-1962), there were cliques like Young Europe with hundreds of members and possibly thousands of supporters. The short-lived French far-right paramilitary Organization of the Secret Army (OAS) gathered people from all walks in life, including former members of the Resistance Movement. One of the OAS's leaders, Raoul Salan, was certainly factious but not fascist.

Don't cry for them

What can we say about South America's countless military coups? The only fascists were the supporters of Argentina's Peronism, a political movement named after President Juan Peron and his wife Evita Peron (1945-1955). Their successors, like the Kirchners, were rotten to the core, but were not in the least fascist.

And though he's not a credible leader, Donald Trump is certainly a cause for great concern. But calling him a fascist is both false and counterproductive. The U.S. presidential election is democratic. No one is forced to vote for anyone. Blacks, Latinos and educated whites will almost certainly not support Trump. Major players of the Republican Party establishment do not support him. Unlike the Ku Klux Klan, for example, Trump and his cohorts are neither extremists nor fascists.

Trump can be considered an enemy, but there will be no equivalent to Mussolini's "March on Rome", no 1938 Kristallnacht, no invasion of Ethiopia. There will be no war, no press censorship, no concentration camps. The U.S. already has 2.2 million prisoners — that's quite enough.

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What's Spoiling The Kids: The Big Tech v. Bad Parenting Debate

Without an extended family network, modern parents have sought to raise happy kids in a "hostile" world. It's a tall order, when youngsters absorb the fears (and devices) around them like a sponge.

Image of a kid wearing a blue striped sweater, using an ipad.

Children exposed to technology at a very young age are prominent today.

Julián de Zubiría Samper


BOGOTÁ — A 2021 report from the United States (the Youth Risk Behavior Survey) found that 42% of the country's high-school students persistently felt sad and 22% had thought about suicide. In other words, almost half of the country's young people are living in despair and a fifth of them have thought about killing themselves.

Such chilling figures are unprecedented in history. Many have suggested that this might be the result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but sadly, we can see depression has deeper causes, and the pandemic merely illustrated its complexity.

I have written before on possible links between severe depression and the time young people spend on social media. But this is just one aspect of the problem. Today, young people suffer frequent and intense emotional crises, and not just for all the hours spent staring at a screen. Another, possibly more important cause may lie in changes to the family composition and authority patterns at home.

Firstly: Families today have fewer members, who communicate less among themselves.

Young people marry at a later age, have fewer children and many opt for personal projects and pets instead of having children. Families are more diverse and flexible. In many countries, the number of children per woman is close to or less than one (Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong among others).

In Colombia, women have on average 1.9 children, compared to 7.6 in 1970. Worldwide, women aged 15 to 49 years have on average 2.4 children, or half the average figure for 1970. The changes are much more pronounced in cities and among middle and upper-income groups.

Of further concern today is the decline in communication time at home, notably between parents and children. This is difficult to quantify, but reasons may include fewer household members, pervasive use of screens, mothers going to work, microwave ovens that have eliminated family cooking and meals and, thanks to new technologies, an increase in time spent on work, even at home. Our society is addicted to work and devotes little time to minors.

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