Fascism Historian: Claiming Donald Trump Is a Fascist Makes Fascism Impossible to Understand

Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Reckless efforts to paint Donald Trump as a fascist “make a proper understanding of both fascism and our current crisis impossible,” says a prominent historian of actual Italian fascism.

“Calling [Trump] a ‘fascist’ distorts the history of the last century,” historian Michael Ledeen writes in Forbes.com.

He states:

If you’re looking for real fascists in the modern world, you’ll do better looking at the jihadis, who believe they have been tricked into previous defeats, unleashed slaughter on those who oppose them, seek to dominate the world, and destroy free societies. Trump is not one of those.

Ledeen’s article is a reaction to the growing number of people who recklessly slap the fascist label on Trump, including Bret Stephens at The Wall Street Journal.

“The efforts of a considerable number of columnists, reporters, and even university professors to make him out to be a second Hitler or Mussolini testifies, I think, to their ignorance about fascism,” states Ledeen, who has spent years in Italy and speaks fluent Italian. He adds:

Italian fascism, which came to power in 1922, was a war ideology. They argued that the country should be governed by the heroes of the First World War. The fascists fought violent socialist bands in the streets of Italy’s major cities (not so much a doctrinal conflict as a reaction to the Socialists’ opposition to the war). The street violence was not a monopoly of either fascists or Socialists, but characterized the whole society. Indeed, it characterized the whole continent. Remember that the Bolsheviks had seized power in Moscow, and were calling for global revolution. The Italian left was inspired by this revolutionary event, and fascism was in part a response to this threat.

Fascism was a revolutionary movement that sought global dominance,” he says. “There is none of this in Trump, who’s anything but a revolutionary, and who does not purport to speak for military virtue, as Mussolini did. Nor does the current moment resemble Italy’s post-war crisis.”

Ledeen also says the U.S. has not been humiliated on the battlefield and has not been cheated in international negotiations, two of the driving forces for the development of fascism in Italy.

The charges of fascism against Trump, he asserts, “is not a productive discussion. It has very little to do with fascism itself.”


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