Carl Bernstein: Trump Represents "A New Kind Of American Fascism"


BRIAN STELTER, CNN: Let's get into that in more detail in a little bit. Carl, I want to come to you...You've been talking about Trump for months as a neo-fascist. I want you to tell us why and how you view this current moment.

CARL BERNSTEIN: It is a difficult term, and the word "neo" has a lot to do with it -- meaning a new kind of fascist in our culture, dealing with an authoritarian demagogic point of view. Nativist, racist, anti-immigrant bigotry that he appeals to. I think we need to look to the past --and I'm not talking about Hitlerism and genocide. I'm not drawing a direct paralel to Mussolini.

But it is a kind of American fascism we haven't seen before. This goes beyond George Wallace, who was merely a racist. This goes to authoritarianism and the desire for a strong man who doesn't trust the institutions and democracy and government.

My point is. We now need on cable news to have a debate, a historical debate on what fascism was and is and how Donald Trump fits in the picture. Because it is something very foreign to our political cutlture in terms of the 20th, 21st century. That's going on in print and online but it is not part of our debate on cable. No interviewer as far as I know has asked Donald Trump, what is fascism, Mr. Trump, how are you different from the fascist message?

Fascism's dictionary definiton is:


1. (sometimes initial capital letter) a governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, etc., and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism.

2. (sometimes initial capital letter) the philosophy, principles, or methods of fascism.

3. (initial capital letter) a political movement that employs the principles and methods of fascism, especially the one established by Mussolini in Italy 1922–43.


A form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.

[Robert O. Paxton, "The Anatomy of Fascism," 2004]


Quotes about fascism from

“Every anarchist is a baffled dictator.” ― Benito Mussolini

“Fascism is capitalism plus murder.” ― Upton Sinclair

“If there is ever a fascist takeover in America, it will come not in the form of storm troopers kicking down doors but with lawyers and social workers saying. "I'm from the government and I'm here to help.” ― Jonah Goldberg, Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning

“Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power” ― Benito Mussolini

“The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism -- ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power.... Among us today a concentration of private power without equal in history is growing.” ― Franklin D. Roosevelt

“Fascism is the stage reached after communism has proved an illusion.” ― Friedrich Hayek

“If I had been an Italian I am sure that I should have been whole-heartedly with you from the start to finish in your triumphant struggle against the bestial appetites and passions of Leninism." (Speech in Rome on 20 January, 1927, praising Mussolini)” ― Winston S. Churchill

“When one thinks of all the people who support or have supported Fascism, one stands amazed at their diversity. What a crew! Think of a programme which at any rate for a while could bring Hitler, Petain, Montagu Norman, Pavelitch, William Randolph Hearst, Streicher, Buchman, Ezra Pound, Juan March, Cocteau, Thyssen, Father Coughlin, the Mufti of Jerusalem, Arnold Lunn, Antonescu, Spengler, Beverley Nichols, Lady Houston, and Marinetti all into the same boat! But the clue is really very simple. They are all people with something to lose, or people who long for a hierarchical society and dread the prospect of a world of free and equal human beings. Behind all the ballyhoo that is talked about ‘godless’ Russia and the ‘materialism’ of the working class lies the simple intention of those with money or privileges to cling to them. Ditto, though it contains a partial truth, with all the talk about the worthlessness of social reconstruction not accompanied by a ‘change of heart’. The pious ones, from the Pope to the yogis of California, are great on the’ change of heart’, much more reassuring from their point of view than a change in the economic system.” ― George Orwell, England Your England and Other Essays

“What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or in the holy name of liberty or democracy?” ― Mahatma Gandhi

Show commentsHide Comments

Latest Political Videos

Video Archives