Jair Bolsonaro. Photo credit: Marcelo Chello / Shutterstock.com

There is nothing like a pandemic to bring out the fascist ideology in countries under far-right rule. In the world’s three largest democracies, national leaders are using the COVID-19 crisis to wage war on immigrants and minorities, while testing the limits of common sense.

NEW YORK/NEW HAVEN — In stark contrast to the effective leadership shown by German chancellor Angela Merkel, South Korean president Moon Jae-in, and Singapore’s autocratic technocracy, the world’s far-right nationalists have met the COVID-19 crisis with something not seen in decades: the fascist politics of disease. And no one typifies this brand of politics better than Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro.

True, a few other world leaders — including Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega and the dictators of BelarusTurkmenistan, and North Korea — still deny that the coronavirus poses any threat. But, among coronavirus deniers, Bolsonaro is in a league of his own.

Among other things, Bolsonaro recently fired Brazil’s minister of health, Luiz Mandetta, merely for advocating mild social-distancing measures. Bolsonaro seems to be emulating his U.S. counterpart, Donald Trump, who recently ousted a senior health official for resisting his efforts to champion an unproven treatment for COVID-19.

Throughout the crisis, Trump has been out of his depth, oscillating incoherently between denial and calls for decisive action, and most recently speculating that the coronavirus could be treated by injecting household disinfectants. And yet he and Bolsonaro channel the same political impulse to place themselves above science and expertise, exalting their own gut instincts and justifying their decisions with faith and myth. Though their “strategies” are superficially distinct, both share a fascist historical background, which centers around the cult of a leader and the myth of national greatness — a greatness that has supposedly been compromised by internationalism and liberalism (which fascists equate with communism).

Around the world, far-right leaders’ responses to the pandemic feature key elements of fascist ideology. After members of Spain’s right-wing nationalist Vox party were infected at their own political rallies, they suggested that their antibodies represented the nation’s fight against a foreign invader. As one Vox leader, Javier Ortega Smith, put it, “my Spanish antibodies fight against the damned Chinese viruses.”

Similarly, Bolsonaro, in his first major speech on COVID-19 (on March 24), claimed that Brazil was not particularly vulnerable to the virus. Unlike feeble Italy, with its “large number of elderly people,” contemporary Brazil, he argued, “has everything, yes, everything to be a great Nation.” Bolsonaro then touted his own “athlete’s history,” thus indulging another standard fascist motif: the leader as the embodiment of the nation’s health and vigor. According to “Bolsonarismo,” Bolsonaro simply is Brazil.

There is good reason why some in the media have dubbed Bolsonaro, elected in late 2018, “the Trump of the tropics.” Bolsonaro’s affinity for Trump has never been clearer than in his reaction to the pandemic. When Trump called in late March to reopen America by Easter, Bolsonaro quickly imitated him.

But, unlike Trump, Bolsonaro actually follows through. While Trump has often hinted at a desire for absolute power, he invariably retreats. By contrast, Bolsonaro joins public protests in support of intervention by Brazil’s military to disband Congress and the courts. He is essentially Trump’s id, acting out what Trump can only fantasize about. And, given that fascism is, at root, a fantasy of total domination by a leader, Bolsonaro has now surpassed his teacher in approaching it.

Moreover, in fascist politics, reality is merely an instrument through which to propagate ideology and assert domination. As Hitler put it in Mein Kampf, “[t]he national State will look upon Science as a means for increasing national pride.”

Beyond Brazil and the United States, one other great democracy — the world’s largest — has come under far-right rule: India. There, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, have used the pandemic to advance an ongoing campaign of demonization directed at India’s Muslim population.

To that end, the Modi government has been publicly attributing the spread of the coronavirus to an annual meeting of the Muslim missionary group Tablighi Jamaat, while ignoring similar meetings held by Hindu groups. It is not surprising, the journalist Rana Ayyub observes, that “the hashtags #CoronaJihad and #BioJihad have inundated Twitter” in recent weeks.

The Modi government’s message is based on a repugnant lie, but it has far-reaching consequences for India’s Muslims. Well before COVID-19 arrived, Muslims were being targeted by a campaign of state discrimination. In addition to an official government effort to strip millions of Muslims of their citizenship, there has been an upsurge in extrajudicial violence against Muslims, including a pogrom that coincided with Trump’s lavish official visit to India earlier this year.

In fascist politics, members of the hated outgroup are almost always depicted as bearers of disease. That is how the Nazis described the Jews, and it is how far-right governments today justify policies targeting immigrants and minorities. In Italy, home to the first fascist regime, Matteo Salvini of the right-wing League party argued in February that “[a]llowing migrants to arrive from Africa, where the presence of the virus has been confirmed, is irresponsible.” At the time, there were already 229 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Italy, and just one in all of Africa.

Not surprisingly, the Trump administration, too, has used the COVID-19 crisis to strengthen its anti-immigrant stance. Going beyond its obsessive attacks on undocumented immigrants, the administration has also now imposed a sweeping moratorium on legal immigration.

Political leaders will always be tempted to blame problems on familiar ideological enemies, because doing so provides narrative coherence. But as Hannah Arendt reminded us, “[t]he chief disability of totalitarian propaganda is that it cannot fulfill this longing of the masses for a completely consistent, comprehensible, and predictable world without seriously conflicting with common sense.”

Now that the US has surpassed 92,000 confirmed (and almost certainly far more total) COVID-19 deaths, reality is asserting itself against propaganda. But, as we know from the history of fascism, there is no guarantee that common sense will prevail.

Federico Finchelstein is a professor of history at The New School for Social Research and Eugene Lang College in New York City. He is the author of From Fascism to Populism in History, Transatlantic Fascism, and The Ideological Origins of the Dirty War

Jason Stanley is the Jacob Urowsky Professor of Philosophy at Yale University and the author of How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them.


This article was first published at Project Syndicate on May 4, 2020.

4 thoughts on “The Fascist Politics of the Pandemic

  1. STOP TALKING ABOUT THE PAWNS & CONCENTRATE ON THE BIGGER PIECES ON THE BOARD!

    THE JEWISH BANKER/BANK WHO FINANCED THE JAPANESE/RUSSIAN WAR, THE BOLSHEVIK REVOLUTION, & BOTH WORLD WARS
    Jacob Schiff proposed that the First World War be the war to end all wars, which became an international mantra after the war. The absolute end of all war heralded the Jewish Messianic Era in which the Jews would be “restored” to Palestine, where they would rule the world from Jerusalem. Jewish bankers deliberately created the First World War in order to artificially fulfill Jewish Messianic prophecy by staging the “Battle of Armageddon”, by creating a World government run by Jews known as “The League of Nations”, by “restoring” the Jews to Palestine, by destroying the Empires and Monarchies, by enslaving the Gentiles with Bolshevism, by placing the wealth of the World in Jewish hands, etc. etc. etc.

    Schiff believed that the First World War fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 2:1-4, which states,

    “1 The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. 2 And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. 3 And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 4 And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”
    *************
    THE JEWISH ZIONIST/BOLSHEVIK MESSIAH:

    “The mashiach [Jewish messiah] will bring about the political and spiritual redemption of the Jewish people by bringing us back to Israel and restoring Jerusalem (Isaiah 11:11-12; Jeremiah 23:8; 30:3; Hosea 3:4-5). He will establish a government in Israel that will be the center of all world government, both for Jews and gentiles (Isaiah 2:2-4; 11:10; 42:1). He will rebuild the Temple and re-establish its worship (Jeremiah 33:18). He will restore the religious court system of Israel and establish Jewish law as the law of the land (Jeremiah 33:15)…The world after the messiah comes is often referred to in Jewish literature as Olam Ha-Ba (oh-LAHM hah-BAH), the World to Come…In the Olam Ha-Ba, the whole world will recognize the Jewish G-d as the only true G-d, and the Jewish religion as the only true religion (Isaiah 2:3; 11:10; Micah 4:2-3; Zechariah 14:9).”

    — From “Mashiach: The Messiah”, Judaism 101 —–

    “The Jewish people as a whole will become its own Messiah. It will attain world dominion by the dissolution of other races, by the abolition of frontiers, the annihilation of monarchy and by the establishment of a world republic in which the Jews will everywhere exercise the privilege of citizenship. In this New World Order the “children of Israel” will furnish all the leaders without encountering opposition. The Governments of the different peoples forming the world republic will fall without difficulty into the hands of the Jews. It will then be possible for the Jewish rulers to abolish private property and everywhere to make use of the resources of the state. Thus will the promise of the Talmud be fulfilled, in which is said that when the Messianic time is come, the Jews will have all the property of the whole world in their hands.”
    –Baruch Levy, Letter to Karl Marx, ‘La Revue de Paris’, p.574, June 1, 1928

    “With the exception of the USSR as a federated Eurasian state, all other continents will become united in a world alliance, at whose disposal will be an international police force. All armies will be abolished, and there will be no more wars. In Jerusalem, the United Nations (a truly United Nations) will build a Shrine of the Prophets to serve the federated union of all continents; this will be the seat of the Supreme Court of Mankind, to settle all controversies among the federated continents, as prophesied by Isaiah.”

    — David Ben-Gurion, first Prime Minister of the Jewish State of Israel.

    Jacob Schiff: The Most Powerful Man in U.S. History

    Jacob Schiff washed up upon America’s shores in 1865, shortly after the Civil War. During the 1700’s, his Schiff ancestors had actually shared a home with the legendary Rothschilds, in Frankfurt’s Jewish quarter.
    Schiff went on to head the firm Kuhn, Loeb & Co. From his base in New York, he was the foremost Jewish leader from 1880 to 1920 in what is now referred to by Jewish-American historians as “The Schiff Era”. He served as the Director of many important corporations, including the National City Bank of New York, Equitable Life Assurance Society, Wells Fargo & Company, and the Union Pacific Railroad. Schiff, who made his fortune from interest bearing loans, was the main player behind the ‘Hebrew Free Loan Society’ in 1892; an organization which issued interest-free loans only to Jews (and is still in operation!)

    Schiff’s descendants exercised some power and influence in their own right, though nothing like the Patriarch did. Schiff’s granddaughter, Dorothy Schiff, was the owner and Publisher of the New York Post for over 40 years. She once claimed to have “had a relationship” with Franklin D Roosevelt.

    Karenna Gore-Schiff, the daughter of former Senator, almost US President, and Global Warming con man Al Gore, is married to Andrew Schiff, the great great grandson of Jacob.

    1- The Rothschild-Schiff home (shared ownership, 1700’s) in Frankfurt Germany. 2- Dorothy Schiff – New York Press Queen 3- Kareena Gore marries into Zionist royalty as proud papa Al cashes-in on the Global Warming scam

    It’s not merely that Schiff wielded enormous power, but rather the fact that his actions, more so than anyone else’s, fundamentally altered the course of American history. Schiff was really the first true Jewish Mega-Mogul of the whole United States (Judah Benjamin had previously run the confederacy). As the first, Schiff, more than anyone who followed him, was able to leverage his power into eternity. That is why the MVZ award must go to him.

    Let us review Jacob Schiff’s impressive scorecard of destruction.

    1897: SCHIFF THE TROJAN HORSE
    Schiff’s most history-altering accomplishment would have to be the role of ‘Trojan Horse’ which he played in the late 1890’s. At a time when Jewish influence in America was relatively minor, and Jewish numbers were yet very small, it was Schiff’s cajoling of the outgoing U.S. President, and former New York Governor, Grover Cleveland (D) that prevented the massive wave of Jewish immigration to America from being shut down.

    The Immigration Bill of 1897 would have required immigrants to pass a literacy test; something that Russian Jews would not have been able to do. After passing both Houses of Congress, Cleveland’s veto, induced by Schiff, saved the day for the incoming Communist and Zionist Jews of Russia.
    Jewish historian Lawrence J Epstein writes:

    “It is staggering to consider the alternative course American Jewish history would have taken had this measure passed.”

    To which, your intrepid historian-author would like to respond, “and it is equally staggering to consider the alternative course AMERICAN history would have taken had the measure passed.”

    Schiff’s role as Trojan Horse, above all other deeds, would be enough, in and of itself, to qualify him for the MVZ Award. But there’s more — a lot more!

    1- Grover Cleveland’s parting gift to Schiff kept the floodgates of Jewish immigration wide open for 20 more years.
    2- New Year’s card depicts wealthy American Jews beckoning European Jews to come on over.

    1905: SCHIFF WEAKENS TSARIST RUSSIA
    Schiff hated Christian Russia with a passion. He worked ceaselessly to overthrow the Romanov Dynasty and replace it with Jewish Reds / Communists. Toward that end, he personally financed, and sold bonds on behalf of, about 50% of the entire Japanese war effort during the Russo-Japanese War. As a result, the war ended with a Japanese victory. Russia’s loss was also facilitated by Schiff’s boy, President (and also a former New York Governor) Teddy Roosevelt, whose negotiating intervention clearly favored Japan over Russia.

    * The left-wing Roosevelt became President after the conservative William McKinley was conveniently assassinated by a Red
    For his role in securing victory for Japan, Schiff was personally awarded a medal, the Order of the Rising Sun, by the foolish Japanese Emperor. We say “foolish” because Schiff’s gang and their Roosevelt henchmen were, at the time, already plotting Japan’s ultimate demise; a process which started with Teddy’s escalating naval moves in the Pacific (Philippines, Midway, Guam, Pearl Harbor), and culminated with Franklin’s war and murderous Atomic bombs of 1945 (actually dropped under Truman 4 months after FDR’s death).

    Schiff’s Jewish agents in Russia skillfully used the humiliating loss of the Russo-Japanese war as an occasion to launch a Communist revolution. The bloody Revolution of 1905 ultimately failed, but the Tsar’s regime was left considerably weakened. Many of the returning Russian POW’s came home brainwashed after Schiff had arranged for Communist propaganda to be given to them while in Japanese captivity. The final Bolshevik overthrow of Russia in 1917 will owe its success, in large part, to the damage done to Russia by the team of Jacob Schiff & Ted the Red Roosevelt on 1905.

    Teddy Roosevelt’s anti-Russian ‘diplomacy’ and Jacob Schiff’s money almost turned Russia into a Communist state in 1905.

    1907 -1914: SCHIFF RUNS THE GALVESTON MOVEMENT
    Not content with flooding the Northeast with future Communists, Progressives, and Zionists from Russia, Jacob Schiff founded and financed the ‘Galveston Movement’ – an effort to settle Russian-Jewish immigrants in the south and west of the United States. Schiff himself described the effort in an article he wrote in 1914. Schiff wrote:

    “The committee placed itself promptly after its organization into communication with the Jewish Territorial Organization, of which Israel Zangwill is the head, and an arrangement was entered into between that organization and the Galveston Committee, under which the former undertook to make propaganda in Russia and Romania for acquainting intending emigrants with the advantages of going into the United States through Galveston (Texas), rather than to and through the overcrowded and congested North Atlantic ports.”

    Instead of confining the arrival of Jews to just the New York, New England, Pennsylvania and New Jersey areas, Schiff’s clever scheme would facilitate the spread of the liberal/progressive plague to even the most conservative parts of the country. He knew exactly what he was doing!

    Playwright and Jewish immigration enthusiast Israel Zangwill (on TIME cover) coined the phrase “Melting Pot’ to describe America. His Broadway play of that same name was attended and praised by Teddy Roosevelt. Zangwill worked on the Galveston Project with Schiff.

    1909 / 1914: SCHIFF & FRIENDS CONTROL THE N.A.A.C.P.
    The NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) is the most well-known Black American organization. What is not widely known is that its founders were ALL Zionist Marxists! Early Jewish co-founders included Julius Rosenwald, Lillian Wald, and Rabbi Emil Hirsch. A black Communist named W.E. Dubois was cleverly put up as the NAACP’s front man.

    In 1914, Jacob Schiff became a Board member of the NAACP. With a giant like Schiff on board, the organization was now ready for the big time. Zionist money and influence has long dominated this “civil rights” organization, which did not elect a non-Jewish President until 1975!
    By design, Schiff’s Jewish-controlled NAACP drew Blacks away from the positive influence of the Black-American conservative patriot Booker T. Washington, a dominant Black political leader who believed in America’s founding principles and sought to build bridges between Whites and Blacks.

    The liberal Democrat NAACP represents the opposite of what the Republican Booker T stood for, which was self-reliance. NAACP is an anti- White Globalist Marxist tool that serves to divide Americans while herding radicalized Black voters (who they do not care about!) into the Leftist political camp. As a result, even today, 90-95% of Blacks blindly vote for Democrat candidates.

    Without Schiff & friends, there would be no Barack Obama

    The openly Communist Black front man delivered the Black masses to his Jewish master.

    1907: SCHIFF & FRIENDS SET STAGE FOR CREATION OF ‘THE FED’
    The New York bankers had artificially inflated the stock market with easy loans. When lending was then tightened, the bubble burst. Stocks crashed 50% and bank runs followed. The Zionist NY Times and the Wall Street bankers used the Panic of 1907 to make a case for establishing a European style Central Bank (as Karl Marx envisioned).

    Several years later, Senator Robert Owen of Oklahoma will accuse the Banksters of conspiracy: “The Panic was brought about by a deliberate conspiracy for the enrichment of those who engineered it.” JP Morgan, John D Rockefeller, Jacob Schiff, and Paul Warburg all declare that the lesson of The Panic is that the US needs a Central Bank.

    Nine months before the planned crisis, Jacob Schiff warned in a speech to the Chamber of Commerce that “unless we have a central bank with control of credit resources, this country is going to undergo the most severe and far reaching money panic in its history”.

    The following year, Schiff’s boy, Teddy Roosevelt appointed a “bipartisan” National Monetary Commission to study the causes of the Panic and make suggestions. The Chairman of the Commission was Senator Nelson Aldrich (whose daughter will one day be the mother of the 5 Rockefeller sons, David, John III, Nelson, Winthrop, & Lawrence)

    Senator Owen was right. The Panic of 1907, so ‘prophetically’ predicted by Schiff just months earlier, was caused by the same gang that later proposed the privately owned Federal Reserve (Central Bank) as a solution.

    1912: SCHIFF TAKES DOWN TAFT / INSTALLS WILSON
    President William H. Taft proved to be a Constitutional Conservative, and not a big government “progressive” like his predecessor Teddy Roosevelt. But what really angered Jacob Schiff most of all was Taft’s refusal, told to Schiff in person, to dampen trade relations with Tsarist Russia. According to Henry Ford’s sources, Schiff and his entourage left the White House saying. “This means war.”

    In order to oust the popular Republican Taft in 1912, Schiff and company recruited Teddy Roosevelt to run for President again, as a third party challenger. This maneuver split the Republican vote in two, allowing Democrat Woodrow Wilson to steal the Presidency. Wilson’s Jewish owned presidency would turn out to be disastrous for America, and the world (The Fed, World War I, Russian Revolution, Jewish foothold in Palestine, Depression of 1919-1920)

    Wilson – Roosevelt -Taft
    Jacob Schiff was the chief engineer behind the three ring circus of 1912; a trick which ushered in the Wilson disaster.

    “Jacob Schiff then came back to New York, (He was at that time head of The American Jewish Committee), and in my father’s home, in the presence of many prominent men, they decided to get rid of President Taft. They also made plans to get rid of the Republican Party and put in their own party and their own President.
    They set up the National Democratic Headquarters at 200 Fifth Avenue and Henry Morgenthau Sr. was made chairman of the Finance Committee. I was made his assistant. I saw everything that went on because I handled all the books. Jacob Schiff and the Jews started looking around for a man to put up as President. They got Woodrow Wilson, a rascal who wasn’t worth the powder to blow him to hell!” – Benjamin Freedman

    1913: SCHIFF’S BROTHER-IN-LAW TAKES CONTROL OF ‘THE FED’
    Paul Warburg is widely considered to be the “Father of the Fed”. As its first New York City Branch Chairman, it was Warburg who ran the new counterfeiting, loan-sharking and market rigging operation, while an Anglo Saxon named Charles Hamlin provided the protective “Christian” cover as its nominal Chairman.

    But in the grand power scheme of things, as powerful as Paul Warburg was, and came to be, Schiff still outranked him, at least in America. Schiff had already been well-established in New York for 37 years before Warburg had even arrived from Germany. Warburg settled in New York in 1902 as a partner in Kuhn, Loeb & Co., where he was junior to Schiff. Schiff was actually the Brother-in-Law to Warburg’s wife, Nina Loeb.

    Recall that it was Schiff who called the Crash of 1907 in advance, as well as providing an idea for “solution” to such problems in the future. So if Paul Warburg is the “Father of the Fed”, then old Jake is the Grandfather.

    Whereas in Schiff and Warburg’s day it was hidden, the Jewish control of the Fed is now out in the open / Chairman Greenspan / Bernanke / Yellen

    1917: RED OCTOBER / THE BOLSHEVIK REVOLUTION
    As was the case during the Russo-Japanese War of 1905, the chaos of World War I enabled the Communists (Bolsheviks) to stage another uprising in 1917. Leading the diabolical efforts was Jacob Schiff’s loyal agent, Leon Trotsky, freshly reestablished in Russia after having hidden in Brooklyn for the past decade. The Tsar had been forced to abdicate earlier that same year. The provisional government would then be overthrown by the Jewish-led Bolsheviks.

    The following year, Schiff’s agents murdered the Tsar and his entire family. The reign of terror that the Soviets then ushered in would plague humanity for decades to come. Scores of millions would be murdered! And it could never have happened without the tireless leadership of Rothschild, Schiff and their Junior partners.

    Soon after the Revolution, Schiff removed Russia (now the Soviet Union) from his “do-not-lend list.

    The Bolshevik hit-men of the Rothschild-Schiff crime gang could never have done something so drastic as slaughtering the entire Royal Romanov family unless the New York-London Jewish ‘higher ups’ had given the approval.

  2. Fascism is to required people to wear face masks against their will, fascism is to restrict movement of people by forcing them to stay at their own homes (what about homeless people?). Fascism is closing business and restricting their working hours. Fascism is prohibiting certain products to be sold labeling then as non essential. Fascism is what all left and right wing politicians are doing, not the virus deniers and anti-vaxers, these are fighting for their own freedom. So that means this article is completely corrupted by stating that leaders who want their population to be free are fascists when it is the other way around, leaders who are introducing restricting policies who are being fascists themselves.

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