eyes on the U.S.

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 â€" 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 â€" 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.

Gen. Franco giving a speech in Eibar in 1949 â€" 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 â€" that's quite enough.

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In Argentina, A Visit To World's Highest Solar Energy Park

With loans and solar panels from China, the massive solar park has been opened a year and is already powering the surrounding areas. Now the Chinese supplier is pushing for an expansion.

960,000 solar panels have been installed at the Cauchari park

Silvia Naishtat

CAUCHARI — Driving across the border with Chile into the northwest Argentine department of Susques, you may spot what looks like a black mass in the distance. Arriving at a 4,000-meter altitude in the municipality of Cauchari, what comes into view instead is an assembly of 960,000 solar panels. It is the world's highest photovoltaic (PV) park, which is also the second biggest solar energy facility in Latin America, after Mexico's Aguascalientes plant.

Spread over 800 hectares in an arid landscape, the Cauchari park has been operating for a year, and has so far turned sunshine into 315 megawatts of electricity, enough to power the local provincial capital of Jujuy through the national grid.

It has also generated some $50 million for the province, which Governor Gerardo Morales has allocated to building 239 schools.

Abundant sunshine, low temperatures

The physicist Martín Albornoz says Cauchari, which means "link to the sun," is exposed to the best solar radiation anywhere. The area has 260 days of sunshine, with no smog and relatively low temperatures, which helps keep the panels in optimal conditions.

Its construction began with a loan of more than $331 million from China's Eximbank, which allowed the purchase of panels made in Shanghai. They arrived in Buenos Aires in 2,500 containers and were later trucked a considerable distance to the site in Cauchari . This was a titanic project that required 1,200 builders and 10-ton cranes, but will save some 780,000 tons of CO2 emissions a year.

It is now run by 60 technicians. Its panels, with a 25-year guarantee, follow the sun's path and are cleaned twice a year. The plant is expected to have a service life of 40 years. Its choice of location was based on power lines traced in the 1990s to export power to Chile, now fed by the park.

Chinese engineers working in an office at the Cauchari park


Chinese want to expand

The plant belongs to the public-sector firm Jemse (Jujuy Energía y Minería), created in 2011 by the province's then governor Eduardo Fellner. Jemse's president, Felipe Albornoz, says that once Chinese credits are repaid in 20 years, Cauchari will earn the province $600 million.

The Argentine Energy ministry must now decide on the park's proposed expansion. The Chinese would pay in $200 million, which will help install 400,000 additional panels and generate enough power for the entire province of Jujuy.

The park's CEO, Guillermo Hoerth, observes that state policies are key to turning Jujuy into a green province. "We must change the production model. The world is rapidly cutting fossil fuel emissions. This is a great opportunity," Hoerth says.

The province's energy chief, Mario Pizarro, says in turn that Susques and three other provincial districts are already self-sufficient with clean energy, and three other districts would soon follow.

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