Trump, the Freedom Kids and Fascist Aesthetics

It’s been a couple weeks since those cute little Riefenstahl clones put themselves on a stage of a rally for Donald Trump in Florida and gave us the GOP ear-worm of primary season. A lot has happened since then, and none of Trump’s actions really have diverted from his usual script of “Satan’s campaign for class president acted out on the front walkway of a Hobby Lobby.” Point being, you might well have forgotten about the “Freedom Kids” in the past couple weeks, just because Donald Trump is nothing if not consistently devious and brilliantly conniving.

Nonetheless, there is something instructive in the Freedom Kids, something that can shed light on at least one aspect of why Trump is such a phenomenon and maybe help clarify the persistent (and, frankly, annoying) debate about whether The Donald is in fact a true-blue fascist or whether the designation is little more than a (well-deserved) slur. And it's a something that can be illuminated by the always brilliant, always tragic, never sugar-coated Marxist scholar Walter Benjamin. Goes to show, once again, that Benjamin's shadow deserves to loom much larger over modern radical politics than we have perhaps allowed for.

My hope is that the article I had published about Trump and the Freedom Kids at In These Times today can maybe influence this discussion. Briefly: no, he’s not a fascist, but the savviness with which he employs art, aesthetics and fragmented ideas could very well have been pulled from Marinetti’s playbook.

First few paragraphs are below, full article is at ITT.

Donald Trump does not make it easy to refrain calling him a fascist.

To be sure, people have been willing to call him that well before Democratic non-entity Martin O’Malley called him that. Since then, the debate has not so much boiled over as been reduced to a simmer, percolating and waiting for the billionaire-candidate to say or do something that would once again push it back up over the top.

Enter the “Freedom Kids,” three adorable little girls who opened up Trump’s campaign stop in Tampa, Florida. To the tune of the “Over There”—the feel-good hit of trenches and mustard gas—they invited the audience to join them in celebrating as America’s enemies “face the music.” Behold... (Read more)