“Have we laid the soil for another Hitler?” Far from a forgettable and ludicrous inquiry, this may be the most pressing question of the modern neoliberal intelligentsia. The self-declared left-wing bourgeoisie believe, and just as likely hope, that they are living in a preternaturally consequential era; alas, if this is so, then there must be an uncommonly threatening villain for them to vanquish. Ours is a time of ressentiment, and we define our virtue not by our own values or accomplishments or strengths, but by the immoralities and failings and weaknesses of our adversaries—adversaries in the social, cultural, and political arenas. Ergo, the most incontestable testament to our greatness would be, not our own fulfilment of the second coming of Christ, but our opposition, however it’s defined, to the second coming of Hitler.
If the neoliberals do not play the part of Christ convincingly enough, then their failure is eclipsed by Trump’s successful mimicry of Hitler—and yet, like most of the political arguments proposed in the last four years, this comparison of Trump and Hitler fails to survive even the most cursory analysis. Trump is reminiscent, not of Hitler the man or politician, but Hitler the bogeyman, Hitler the transcendent urban legend. Everyone recognizes or perceives Hitler’s villainy, but worryingly few people take the time to comprehend his evil, to learn it or understand it; conversely, Trump’s moral failings are not exactly subtle, yet the great majority of American adults misunderstand the substance of his failings. In either instance, intellectual expression is reduced to “Mustached Man Bad” or “Orange Man Bad”, depending on the critic’s needs, interests, and agenda.
The ostensible urgency of the question—“Is Trump the next Hitler?”—is reflected in the failure of refusal of every corporate journalist to ask it. The significance of the question cannot endure in the neoliberal imagination if it is asked, for then its comical irrationality would be exposed. There can be no mistake: Trump shares Hitler’s fetish for ethnic bigotry and extraterritorial military conquest, the former being a pseudointellectual justification for the latter. However, both of these diseased elements and goals are those of the American government in general, promoted and pursued long before Trump took the oath of office. Far from reintroducing an antiquated ideology to American government, Trump has removed the dazzling varnish from the executive chambers and betrayed its prejudicial philosophy.
No journalist who cares about his own employment can ask this question—“Are Trump and Hitler the same?”—to any neoliberal politician, for this would force the neoliberal to acknowledge a most uncomfortable truth: for years, the Democratic Party has practiced and perfected the catastrophic bent that Trump has learned to follow only recently. Asking such a question exposes our collective amnesia of the ugly history of the Democratic Party—which is also the stomach-churning history of the Republican Party—and mortally threatens the cynical fiction of our so-called democracy, as it reveals our duopoly’s fascistic structure. How can the neoliberal castigate Trump when both of these politicians are ideologically indistinct?
Hitler observed the same hypocrisy in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Germany. Writing about the perceptual failings of his contemporaries, he observed: “In a few days a ridiculous episode had become a significant state action, while, conversely, at the same time, vital problems fell a prey to public oblivion, or rather were simply filched from the memory and consciousness of the masses.” Would he have been even slightly surprised by the leftists’ consternation over Trump’s discussion with the Ukrainian government subsequent to their blissful forgetting of the Bush Administration’s crimes against the earth? A bloodthirsty rampage of biblical proportions is colorfully castrated by a telephone call—and while the legality of that call may be in dispute, to elevate its consequences above those of Bush’s warfare is no mere effrontery, but a delusional one, at that.