Over the years, left-wing author Noam Chomsky has been vehemently critical of both Democrats and Republicans, slamming the United States' two major political parties as servants of Wall Street, big business and the 1%. But during an interview with Truthout's C.J. Polychroniou published on June 16, Chomsky's criticism of the GOP went beyond his usual critiques of conservative economic policy. The Philadelphia-born Chomsky, now 92, argued that big chunks of the modern Republican Party have become "proto-fascist."
"The fascist symptoms are there, including extreme racism, violence, worship of the leader — sent by God, according to former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — immersion in a world of 'alternative facts' and a frenzy of irrationality," Chomsky warned. "Also in other ways, such as the extraordinary efforts in Republican-run states to suppress teaching in schools that doesn't conform to their White supremacist doctrines."
The leader Chomsky was referring to was, of course, former President Donald Trump, who is viewed by many on the far right as America's president in exile even though he was decisively rejected in the 2020 presidential election. When Republican presidents were voted out of office in the past — Herbert Hoover in 1931, George H.W. Bush in 1992 — the GOP did not regard them as presidents in exile. But in 2021, many Republicans in Congress are afraid to say one word against Trump or even acknowledge that President Joe Biden won the 2020 election.
Fox News and other right-wing media outlets have become obsessed with critical race theory, which studies the racism of the past and the effect it has on the United States' institutions today. Pro-Trump Republicans view critical race theory studies as an assault on white Americans in general, and Chomsky finds it disturbing that Trumpistas are violently opposed to even acknowledging that the United States has a history of racism.
"Legislation is being enacted to ban instruction in 'critical race theory,' the new demon, replacing communism and Islamic terror as the plague of the modern age," Chomsky explained. "'Critical race theory' is the scare-phrase used for the study of the systematic structural and cultural factors in the hideous 400-year history of slavery and enduring racist repression. Proper indoctrination in schools and universities must ban this heresy. What actually happened for 400 years and is very much alive today must be presented to students as a deviation from the real America, pure and innocent, much as in well-run totalitarian states."
When he was president, Trump even called for "patriotic education" — a phrase that, Trump's critics noted, sounded like it was right out of Mao Tse Tung's Communist China.
Chomsky told Polychroniou that he is "hesitant" to describe the GOP of 2021 as a "party" because "that might suggest that they have some interest in participating honestly in normal parliamentary politics."
"Attitudes among the voting base are truly ominous," the 92-year-old author warned. "Put aside the fact that a large majority of Trump voters believe that the elections were stolen. A majority also believe that 'the traditional American way of life is disappearing so fast that we may have to use force to save it,' and 40% take a stronger stand: 'if elected leaders will not protect America, the people must do it themselves, even if it requires violent actions.' Not surprising, perhaps, when a quarter of Republicans are reported to believe that 'the government, media, and financial worlds in the U.S. are controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who run a global child sex trafficking operation.'"
The conspiracy theory that the U.S. government has been infiltrated by "Satan-worshipping pedophiles" came from the QAnon cult, which far-right pro-Trump Republicans such as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado have supported.
Chomsky, however, draws one distinction between the Trumpified GOP of 2021 and the 1930s fascism of Germany's Adolf Hitler and Italy's Benito Mussolini, a.k.a. Il Duce: the GOP of 2021, for all its faux populism, remains committed to economic "neoliberalism."
Indeed, some fascists of the past, including Spain's Francisco Franco, a.k.a. El Generalissimo, at least believed in having some type of social safety net; Trumpified Republicans don't.
Chomsky told Polychroniou, "The term 'neoliberal proto-fascism' captures well both the features of the current (Republican) Party and the distinction from the fascism of the past. The commitment to the most brutal form of neoliberalism is apparent in the legislative record, crucially the subordination of the Party to private capital, the inverse of classic fascism."