Fascism, neoliberalism and oligarchy



Opinion Columnist Mohammed Rawwas discusses fascism, neoliberalism and oligarchy in relation to the 2020 election.

MOHAMMED RAWWAS, Opinion Columnist

In 1992, Francis Fukuyama declared “the end of history,” in which the decline of the Soviet Union heralded the end of ideology as such and the triumph of Western capitalism and liberal democracy. (It is important to note that the declaration of the “end of ideology” is, of course, ideology at its purest.) In his 1989 inaugural address, George H. W. Bush declared that “We know how to secure a more just and prosperous life for man on Earth: through free markets, free speech, free elections and the exercise of free will unhampered by the state. For the first time in this century, for the first time in perhaps all history, man does not have to invent a system by which to live. We don’t have to talk late into the night about which form of government is better. We don’t have to wrest justice from the kings. We only have to summon it from within ourselves.” Perhaps signaling towards the fall of the Berlin Wall just two years later in 1991, Bush foretold a future in which one system would dominate for the rest of human existence: liberalist individual rights combined with free markets, which, for him, are simply two different modes of freedom. Capitalism and democracy were inextricably linked and they had demonstrated their success as the predominant structure of governance.

China today problematizes this thesis. The economic miracle in China and the accelerated economic development of the last few decades has certainly been the result of “liberalization” reforms, in which the market was opened up to global markets and capital and increased trade with other countries. However, China demonstrates that the link between “democracy” and capitalism is certainly not as inextricable as ideologues such as Fukuyama and H.W. would have you believe, as China’s government structure is certainly far from any Western bourgeois conception of “democracy.” Yet, the Chinese government is a far more efficient manager of capitalism than any Western “democracy.” And in an ideology and economic system that worships “efficiency,” we may begin to see a trend in this general direction.

Nothing could demonstrate this phenomenon better than the Michael Bloomberg campaign. Suffice to say, Michael Bloomberg is an authoritarian. As mayor of New York City, he presided over a police and surveillance state that pursued a racist stop and frisk policy that terrorized racially minoritized populations in New York City and oversaw surveillance of mosques and Muslim citizens in flagrant violation of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution. As president, Bloomberg would undoubtedly mobilize the police and military to terrorize minoritized populations and silence dissent. As a billionaire who is self-financing his campaign by pumping tens of millions of dollars into buying an election, he also represents oligarchy as he attempts to single-handedly dismantle what little “democracy” we have in the United States. And as a wealthy businessman, he represents the face of capitalism. As a reinvigorated left enters the mainstream in the U.S., liberal authoritarian capitalists such as Bloomberg will do anything in their power in order to ensure that they can maintain a grip on their power and influence in Washington. And if “liberal authoritarian” seems like a self-contradictory term, it is being utilized intentionally to show that this is exactly not the case.

It is clear at this point that the democratic primary is now a race between Bernie Sanders and Bloomberg. After Joe Biden imploded in all three states that have already voted and as Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar imploded just as soon as they reached a state that was demographically representative of the broader country, it is clear that they are no longer viable. Elizabeth Warren performed so poorly as to barely warrant mention. Considering Bloomberg did not compete in early states and the fact that we do not know how his abysmal debate performance will affect his turnout, it remains an open question as to whether his polling in upcoming states can translate into actual votes, or if he will be another paper tiger like Biden who will crumble as soon as a vote actually takes place.

At this point, however, it is clear that the choice between Bloomberg and Donald Trump is a false one; a choice between one authoritarian billionaire oligarch or another. A choice between one serial sexual assaulter or another. A choice between a racist or another. A choice between a Republican or another. Sanders, Bloomberg, Trump. One of these three will be the next president. Or, to put it more accurately, Sanders, Bloomberg/Trump. One of these two will be the next president. The result will determine whether the U.S. is ready to fulfill those Enlightenment ideals of liberty and equality, or whether it will continue its descent into oligarchic authoritarianism.