Brownshirts Rising?
By Philippe Gastonne - September 11, 2015

Donald Trump went from clown to contender in a mere 30 days. He is now polling in at 30% among Republicans, a 12-point spread from Ben Carson who is #2. Trump still loses next to Hillary by 2 points, but her nomination is not secure.

A race of Sanders vs. Trump would be quite the sight, straight out of the 1930s. It's the Reds vs. the Browns all over again. My own sense is that the Browns could win this. Then we have a serious problem. As much as we loathe the establishment, it could be worse.

It's time libertarians get serious about realizing that there exists such a thing as Brown-shirted socialism. It masquerades as patriotism. It seeks national greatness. It celebrates the majority race and dehumanizes the other. It is violently protectionist. On cultural matters, it is anti-leftist ("politically incorrect"). It is unapologetically authoritarian.

Even given all this, we are mostly mystified by it. It doesn't strike us as a coherent ideology. It seems like a string of bad policy ideas (and some not terrible ones too) rather than a real political tradition. This is because we, as libertarians, are well-schooled to fear the socialist left but have little preparation to understand the threat from the other side. –, Sept. 4, 2015

Political mavens tell us polls are mostly meaningless this long before an election. I certainly hope so. As Jeffrey Tucker says in today's excerpt, the current data point to a seriously problematic outcome next November.

Nascent authoritarianism has long simmered just beneath the surface of American culture. We see it in the cloying reverence for anyone wearing a uniform, whether military, police, firefighter or Boy Scout. "Thank you for your service," say the same Baby Boomers who, when they themselves were of draft age, preferred to tune in, turn on and drop out.

We see it also in the blind approval of U.S. military strikes against anyone, anywhere, for any reason. A large segment of the population neither knows nor cares whether the wars launched in their name and with their money will secure anyone's liberty. The mere fact that fellow Americans are killing foreigners with different skin tones is reason enough to cheer.

We also see the authoritarian instinct in the assumption that successful business leaders become so through the "free enterprise system." Like good social Darwinists, people believe that the best ideas always prevail in competition and those who have those ideas deserve their rewards. That much is true – but it misses the fact that our state of regulatory democracy reduces competition and often prevents great ideas from progressing beyond dream stage.

Engaging in these behaviors does not necessarily make one an authoritarian, but it means that on some level he has accepted the premises that lead there. That acceptance can lie dormant for years, even decades, waiting for a catalyst to activate it.

Tucker says that Donald Trump is that catalyst. Intentionally or not, Trump has tapped into a long-hidden sentiment within the electorate. A forgotten tribe now has a chief. Where he will lead it, and whether the tribe will stay loyal, is not yet clear. If Tucker is right, we are on the Road to Serfdom.

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