Paul Jay says a significant section of the population supporting far right “populism” is part of the process of the development of fascism, but the acceptance of gross inequality is also a necessary condition for this process – From a live recording on October 29th, 2018
BEN NORTON: I have another question here. This is from Josh M. And it’s similar to what I was just asking. Josh wrote. How is Israel mediating its right-wing nationalistic ethnocratic political bent with the fact that the Jews massacred in Pittsburgh were apparently progressive? This synagogue was a conservative synagogue. Not, not politically. It was conservative in the Jewish tradition. But many of the members were more liberal, and certainly worked to support refugees and immigrants. So this is a good question Josh asked. How do you mediate Israel’s right-wing nationalistic ethnocratic political bent, how does Israel mediate that, with the fact that these Jewish Americans were liberal?
PAUL JAY: Well, If you listen to some of the quotes coming out of Israel, the far right of Israel, you know, there’s a certain amount of blame for them, for being- these Jews that were killed- for being liberal. That somehow they bring this on themselves. I think that’s a very minority position in Israel. But the hatred of the left in Israel, the hatred of the Israeli left, the hatred of the American left, is very profound. And it’s very convenient to make the left, and especially the left that’s sympathetic with Palestinians, to paint them as an existential threat to Israel.
But if you read papers like Haaretz in Israel, there’s certainly a, there’s at least somebody of opinion in Israel that realizes that it’s the far right that’s the real existential threat to Israel. And the that the chief rabbi of the Orthodox Jews in Israel didn’t even want to call this conservative synagogue in Pittsburgh a synagogue, he wanted to call it a place with profound Jewish color, or some crazy phrase, because the, the Orthodox in Israel don’t want to recognize conservative Jews as being really Jews, that is an example of the fanaticism that in that is that imbues the Israeli state. The political right has made a real unholy alliance with the most fanatical religious sections of the population.
And a lot of this converges on Trump, because Trump’s the vehicle and the U.S. foreign policy is a vehicle for a bunch of forces that may not even like each other, agree with each other, but there’s a convergence of interests. I mean, a serious amount of Trump’s support comes from Christian evangelicals who support Israel. Why do they support Israel? Because- and this certainly does not mean all evangelicals believe this- but they believe that, the prophecy is that the apocalypse will take place when Jews return to Israel. And then there’ll be the rising to heaven. Of course, the Jews ain’t gone. So you know, this weird alliance between the right wing of Israel with Christian evangelicals who believe some day these same Jews and Israel are all going to be, you know, go to hell, or wherever they’re supposed to go when the rising, the apocalypse takes place. It’s a mishegoss, if you want. It’s a whole mixup of various metaphysical, very fascist ideologies.
But underneath it all, underneath it all, there’s a very obvious interest here. You know, who nurtured these evangelicals to become so political? You know, it was the right wing of the American billionaires. You know, who’s the big pusher of Trump and and this alliance with Netanyahu? Well, Sheldon Adelson and Haim Saban, who’s a pro-Democratic Party billionaire. May not push Trump, but certainly pushes Netanyahu and the Israeli alliance. This boils down to- it sounds so complicated, and all these ideological differences, and all this. The real division in the society is between the people and the oligarchs, whether they’re American, or Israeli, or Russian. You know, these billionaire families. That’s the real division with the rest of the people. And of course they want us all to eat each other- you know, eat each other to pieces. Tear each other to pieces, if that’s what it takes to maintain their power.
BEN NORTON: You raise a really important point, and that is the evangelical support base inside the Republican Party. Ironically, Trump, who is one of the least Christian people I can imagine, he really won the election because he had a very significant support from evangelical Americans, from very right-wing Christian fundamentalists. I’m wondering if we could talk about this interesting phenomenon here, where evangelicals in the US have a combination of both anti-Semitism- certainly not all evangelicals. I don’t want to generalize, of course. There are exceptions. But the kind of mainstream right-wing evangelical base has simultaneously both a kind of anti-Semitic view and also a philo-Semitic view. And what’s interesting is if you look at a lot of the rhetoric they’ll say, you know, we talk about Judeo-Christian values. Evangelicals will talk about the importance of building relations between Jews and Christians, especially at the expense of Muslims, to remove Muslims from the Abrahamic tradition.
But also what’s interesting at the same time is that they still harbor these extremely anti-Semitic views. And you can see this with groups like Christians United for Israel, which claims to be the largest pro-Israel organization in the entire world. And it’s led by Pastor John Hagee, who is an evangelical preacher in Texas. He, in fact, is basically a Holocaust revisionist. He said that God sent Hitler to force Jews to immigrate back to Palestine, historic Palestine, the land of Israel. And then there will be, of course, a second coming of Jesus. What many of these evangelicals don’t mention, as you acknowledged, is that this second coming requires an apocalypse in which most Jews are killed, and the Jews who refuse to convert to Christianity are doomed to hell.
So there’s a lot to address here. But over the years, the evangelical base, especially with the rise of the Tea Party movement, have really become a major base of support for Republicans, for Trump and many others. I’m wondering if you could talk about the role of evangelicals in fostering some of his anti-Semitism that we’ve seen become more and more mainstream, and also specifically how the renormalization of anti-Semitism is in many ways related to the rise of Islamophobia. And of course, evangelicals have stoked both.
PAUL JAY: Well, let me go slightly differently, because I think you just made the point. The growth of the, the section of far-right evangelical thinking or movements here, the rise of overtly anti-immigrant, anti-Latino population, it mirrors what’s going on in different parts of the world. In Israel- I was in Israel just a few years ago. I was just astounded at the level of anti-Palestinian racism and the weakness of the Israeli left. You see it in certain countries in Eastern Europe, and Western Europe, for that matter. I mean, in France Marine Le Pen is gaining strength.
We billed this Q&A or discussion about the shootings in Pittsburgh and the rise of fascism in the United States. As I said, the rise of fascism isn’t about some crazy shooters. Fascism is a process of a fascisization of a people. Of a population. Like, look what happened to the German people. You know, probably the majority- we’re certainly told the majority- supported Hitler, came to support Hitler, in the midst of this deep economic crisis in Germany, and the feelings of the national affront to the German dignity by the Versailles treaty after World War I, and so on.
But the point here is that a population starts to get fascisized, and that’s what’s happening in this country. I mean, apparently a majority of white people, white men, voted for Trump. Like, that’s an astounding statistic. Trump- you know, I’m not saying he’s overtly fascist, but he’s, for American politics he’s borderline overtly, you know, close to overtly racist. And you know, he’s maybe not as extreme as the guy that just got elected in Brazil, but not far. To vote for Trump, yes we understand the economic despair, the disillusionment. But still, to reach a conclusion to vote for a Trump, that’s very disturbing, you know, if you want measurement about the where a whole section of the American people are at.
But as disturbing is the whole section of people that voted for the Democratic Party, for corporate Democrats, and can live with the inequality that grew under the Obama administration, under the Clinton administration. This process of the fascisization of the people has two faces, not one. Yes, there’s the Trump face. Yes there’s the more overt right-wing face. But that overt right-wing face doesn’t come to such prominence without the failure. I shouldn’t even say failure, because in some ways the corporate Democrats and Obama succeeded. Their mission, real mission, was- Obama’s mission- was to get the United States out of the crisis of ’07-’08, and do it in a way that defended the global capitalist system, and also did it in a way that made Wall Street even richer, and even more powerful. Failure in a sense of failure of the promise of the Democratic Party to working people.
So these things can’t be separated, the more overt face of of a growing fascism and its, you know, flip side; you know, this kind of liberal view that is so horrified at the fascist face, but somehow thinks that an economic system with such inequality can somehow not have that face. Because the stratum that really controls the corporate Democratic Party is another section of the billionaire class, and they’re doing pretty good.