The presumptive nomination of Donald Trump as the candidate of the Republican Party over the liberal conservatives and the neoconservatives signals the first emergence of the populist radical right since the 1960s. The populist right forcefully claims its slogan "Make America Great Again," generating a mix of chauvinistic Americanism, militarism, and libertarian momentum advocating the end of state intervention in the economy. This longtime minority undercurrent within the GOP aspires to redefine not only the party line, but also the political rules of the republic by delegating the responsibility for power to the private sector and restoring freedom of action to the executive branch over Congress. [1]*

The Hamiltonian nature of their program, claiming the primacy of the executive branch, appeals to observers, insofar as it proposes to resort to any means necessary to restore American supremacy, allegedly lost. The proposals that hark back to the fascism of the 1930s propose in their own way a return to a mythical “Golden Age,” translated as hypernationalism, an ideology similar to that of "America First" from the interwar years, a movement which is symbolically linked to the candidate Trump. [3]

How can we understand the limits of such a phenomenon and evaluate its chance of success? Which lessons are we to take from the failure of traditional Republicans to block this phenomenon on the eve of the general election?

Trump is calling for the reinstatement of America’s grandeur, as Ronald Reagan and his mentor Barry Goldwater did in their unsuccessful 1964 presidential campaign. [4] This period is witnessing the birth of this conservative populism as it brings supporters of free trade against the state into an alliance with the anti-communist nationalists who attacked the welfare society established in Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal (1933-1945).

While McCarthyism heralded the first outbursts of this social fracture, Sen. McCarthy’s political project transmitted, at least in part, the fears of the white middle class, full of prejudiced racists,themselves frightened by the prospect of an African-American tidal wave that in their eyes threatened the social equilibrium, as well as their socioeconomic status in the post-war environment. [5]

This emergent "new right" adopted over the course of the 1960s the ideas that no traditional Republican would dare formulate in public, with calls for repression at home and appeals for the use of tactical nuclear weapons against the communists abroad (in Vietnam and elsewhere). [6] The 1970s saw the progression and institutionalization of this movement by the formation of a network of foundations and think-tanks in the service of a three-pronged program: the support of a strong army; the repudiation of policies of relaxation towards any rapprochement with Chinese and Soviet enemies; and a rejection of multilateral diplomacy, notably the United Nations, as well as negotiations regarding weapons reduction. [7]

This movement maintained a growing hostility toward the "liberal elites" of the establishment, imitating without reproducing the former divisions inherited from the Civil War (1861-1865). Joined and strengthened by the evangelists who comprised the "moral majority" at the end of the 1970s with Jerry Falwell at its head, it flirted with fundamentalism by promising redemption to its followers.

Falwell’s son and the president of Liberty University, Jerry Falwell, Jr., has endorsed Trump, promising that he is a worthy representative of their church. [8] It should be noted that this right should not be confused with the neoconservatives, former liberals converted to conservatism after the war, although they have both long shared the same interpretation of the communist threat as a malicious conspiracy against the United States and its sacrosanct liberty. [9]

The possibility of a gradual institutionalization of this radical right was founded on the creation of many institutions and think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute or the Heritage Foundation, which bring together various streams by funding "educational" programs for executives and academic environments. [10] The U.S. Army, interspersed throughout the states of the "Bible Belt" with its bases and its industries, contributes actively to this movement, shaping its share of supporters. [11] Together, they call to protect the military budget from any disarmament that might damage national security.

The defeat in Vietnam was attributed to liberals and was never accepted beyond the fact that it led to the abandonment of the cult of military technology that was employed in counterrevolutions across developing nations. [12] On the contrary, for this populist undercurrent, control of the political process coordinated by Congress is a guarantee against the repetition of past mistakes. Ronald Reagan (1981-1988) supported by Trump at the time after Richard Nixon (1968-1974), was the candidate of this revival under the slogan "Morning Again in America."

After Reagan announced his desire to have no foreign intervention at the beginning of his first term, several terrorist attacks including one against a U.S. military barrack in Libya in September 1982 facilitated the revision of this position. [13] In March of the following year, Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative and the anti-missile system program resulted in the allocation of $26 billion to the military research sector.

Such a reversal was accompanied by a forced march toward the privatization of the principal sectors of the economy. "What I want to see above all is that this remains a country where someone can always get rich," Reagan said. [14] Reagan thus espoused the principles of his guru Milton Friedman with whom he shared the idea that command of the nation must be returned to a managerial elite. [15]

Trump, not content with recycling these ideas, is supported by one of the masters of this new populist right, Newt Gingrich, himself a Republican candidate in the 2012 primary, and a potential Trump running mate in the 2016 presidential election. As a former speaker of the House of Representatives between 1989 and 1995, he was the architect of the pursuit of these revolutionary ambitions gaining ascendancy over the neoconservatives at the end of the George W. Bush years (2001-2008).

Gingrich wrote a political essay, "To Renew America" (1995), lauded by Rupert Murdoch, the media tycoon connected with the giant News Corp (Fox News), echoing Trump’s slogan "Make America Great Again." Supported at the time by the espionage novelist Tom Clancy, who saw in him an intellectual and a thinker, the senator spoke of his methods, "raise hell and be nasty," adopting a nonconciliatory, confrontational approach like Trump. The time for dialogue is over in his view, and has given way to a time of action and force if necessary in order to make others (i.e., adversaries) get back in line. His former campaign treasurer in 1976 and 1978 has come to distance himself by describing Gingrich as "one of the most dangerous people for the future of this country that you can possibly imagine" and regretting his participation in Gingrich’s election as senator. [16]

As soon as he was in Congress, Gingrich raised the "prophecy of military decline," heavy with future threats. [17] At the end of Reagan's first term, Gingrich specified that the goal of his movement was "to change the structure of the country” from a welfare state to an opportunity society by adopting the modus operandi of a multinational at the level of the state. [18] A "holistic" model aspiring to a "totally conservative" approach. [19]

The senator ended up, however, being the subject of an investigation by Congress in connection with secretive funding of political organizations and television, through GOPAC (a Republican political action committee), which he headed for six years. [20]

Gingrich has continuously called for the Republicans to rally behind Trump on Fox News, with whom he has collaborated as an expert. [21] This has given the billionaire a platform and coverage out of proportion with the other candidates, according to analyses by independent media observers. [22]

For example, you could have heard the exclusive interview of candidate Trump just after the Brussels attacks on March 22, less than a month before the New York primaries on April 19. The tycoon took the opportunity then to reiterate the relevance of his radical proposals calling for a halt to the influx of "terrorist immigrants" (in his words) by the construction of physical barriers and the use of deportations. [23]

In economic terms, the adoption of the "free market" is desirable in Trump and Gingrich’s view as long as it benefits the United States by granting it global leadership. A dedicated market to be "shaped," says Gingrich, to encourage trading partners' favorable "behavior." These are the emphatic points present in Trump's voice when he accuses China of taking jobs from the United States, while Trump fails to analyze the causes of capital accumulation or the effects of deregulation which he himself praises. [24]

Created in 1975 by Sen. Jesse Helms, the National Conservative Political Action Committee, supported by the Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers, has financed negative campaigns against liberal competitors and challenged the efforts of the left and workers' unions. [25] Its director, John T. Dolan, has repeated that it is not sufficient to trust the Republican Party to elect the most conservative candidates, but that they must ensure it themselves. [26]

The setting up a "new contract with America" follows Pat Buchanan's unsuccessful 1992 run for the presidency in a fight against the "weakening of the nation" caused by "liberal destructive forces."[27] Congress was accused by these circles of "fraud" and abuse of American citizens. [28]

Their program covered six objectives: 1) the reduction of the size of government; 2) the lowering of taxes; 3) the promotion of internal and external security; 4) support of the American dream, based on freedom and individual responsibility; 5) the promotion of educational excellence; and finally, 6) the promotion of a free market and free enterprise economy (according to the above conditions). [29]

Often contradictory positions, these caused a major split between support for noninterventionism and the call for powerful armed forces. All of this was borne by populist formulations reminiscent of fascist methods in many respects. [30]

The senior expert on fascism, Robert Paxton, has accurately demonstrated how conspiracy lies at the heart of the representation of one's own world against these currents by excluding the "other," presented as an obstacle to the national project, to be removed if necessary to enable the fulfillment of this exceptional destiny. [31]

The birth of the United States as a nation bears features of this political brutality that are linked to fascism, ranging from the use of genocide against the native "Indians" to violence against the African slaves exploited on cotton plantations. These acts of violence are justified by the proponents of crypto-racist approaches, who never fully disappeared. [32]

Paxton also stressed the counter-revolutionary nature of fascist undercurrents, showing the links between these communities and capital: "Whenever fascists reached power, to be sure, capitalists mostly accommodated them as the best available nonsocialist solution," Paxton said.[33]

The driving force behind why people subscribe to fascism's method of spreading fear is not unknown to us, ever since Fritz Stern analyzed the process of "cultural despair" associated with the rise of Germanism, then Nazism. [34] It is a process for the formation of fascist identity at the heart of the sociopsychological analysis of Eric Fromm, the results of which remain current today. [35]

Indeed, today no less than yesteryear, citizens who feel isolated and vulnerable see an outlet for their fears in the form of a simple solution resolving all their problems. Modern man, Fromm argues, has been subjected to alienation which he seeks to compensate; he "sells himself" and feels that he is a commodity. [36] Such fears are maintained by the media such as Fox News, with its presenters Rush Limbaugh or Bill O'Reilly, who are acquired by the Trump campaign, as well as by some Internet sites such as and Alex Jones, which speculate on a power grab by globalists in the United States and around the world. [37]

The latter has recently called on citizens to arm themselves in the face of imminent disaster, exploiting the pervasive, hollow paranoia in cultural productions and blockbuster movies, supported by the military industrial complex allied with its cause. [38] Since the attacks of 9/11, the last legislative safeguards seem to have vanished one after another. [39] The Department of Homeland Security in collaboration with the FBI has become the military arm entrusted with neutralizing various civil disobedience movements.[40]

The recent upsurge in attacks against black people by police across the United States has brought back specters of the past in a climate of social crisis and in a clean break in order to influence the attitudes of the electorate in the next election. [41]

The philosopher Karl Mannheim provided the key to the contradiction between the democratic process and the concentration of capital in connection with the use of military power. What was valid for Germany a century ago is valid today for the United States with a military budget that has increased tenfold over a half century, reaching $800 billion in 2015-2016. Mannheim explained how the process of functional streamlining has deprived individuals of their autonomy and their liberties for the benefit of a powerful minority. "The concentration of current military capabilities makes it likely that a new kind of tyrant will emerge, from the right as from the left, whose power will rely on a form of military elite corps of technicians specialized in this field," Mannheim said.[42]

Additionally, what Max Scheler at the end of World War II calls the "Stimmungsdemokratie" or "democracy of emotions" allows the public's emotions to be manipulated to better control them. Sheldon S. Wolin calls this development an "inverted totalitarianism" that seeks to bring about the "managerial revolution" by destroying a system that has been deemed ineffective and obsolete in an era of technological revolution that impacts the tools of government and the limits of sovereignties. [43]

Have we underestimated, by lack of vision or imagination, what sorts of republican ideas can be perverted by the concerted actions of a minority defending their particular interests against those of the common good? After the political and military trauma of the Vietnam War (1975), the interlude of the Reagan years (1981-1988) provided the occasion for this populist movement to gain avenues to power. Uniting the industrialists from the South and center of the country who were increasingly associated with the military industries, the populists promised to radically transform the nation according to a corporatist model, borne by the managerial class, the richest 1 percent. [44]

Its members appropriate the "laws of the market" by hijacking its rules and stripping them of their meaning. Intended to ensure the survival of the republic against the various forms of totalitarianism, they have become the gravediggers, taking advantage of the absence of regulation and laissez-faire philosophy to accumulate wealth in order to perpetuate their own bureaucracies, diverting capital away from the heart of the state. The public edifice as fallen, being cracked on all sides, a phenomenon appropriately highlighted by the Panama Papers, without ever revealing the actual extent of the damage.

After claiming his status as a "self-made man," a paragon of American virtues battling against a corrupt Wall Street, Trump hired as his campaign's finance chair Steven Mnuchin, who is the co-chairman of the Hollywood production studio Relativity Media, founder of OneWest Bank, hedge fund manager and partner at Goldman Sachs. [45] Another contradiction to add to the list.

The billionaire's victory could validate George Mason, author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights and delegate to the Federal Convention, who in 1787 wrote, "[t]his government [of the United States] will set out a moderate aristocracy: It is at present impossible to foresee whether it will, in its operation, produce a monarchy, or a corrupt, tyrannical aristocracy; it will most probably vibrate some years between the two, and then terminate in the one or the other."[46]

Trump is not so much the hero of the people as the herald of the 1 percent of the magnates controlling oil, [47] real estate, automotive and mining sectors, not to mention a "new economy" made wealthy in the shadow of military programs during the Reagan years [48].

The right has resolved to overcome all constraints to rectify the disorders for which they blame the “others” at home and abroad: They are liberal left, progressive or trade unionists, Europeans, Russians or Chinese, and they must be collectively hated, those who will yet pay the price of this election and will allow the U.S. to fulfill its dream of greatness, the myth of a nation that is bringing its revolution to an end.

*Editor’s Note: Please follow this link to the original article to access the author’s footnotes (1-48).