President Donald Trump’s fit over China speaks to the rise of neofascism in American politics, at a time when neither Congress nor the courts are showing any interest in rolling back presidential power. Trump’s unique brand of neofascism first emerged in the form of his attempt to crack down on journalistic critics for “treason,” and via the onset of his white ethno-nationalist, which he declared via a “state of emergency” that allowed him to criminalize immigrants in “concentration camp”-style detainment settings, and to confiscate taxpayer funds to build a wall with Mexico that was never authorized by Congress. This nascent fascism is quickly morphing into full-blown fascism, via Trump’s efforts to dictate the rules of investment to U.S. corporations, and in relation to his emerging trade war with China.
In late August, Trump announced he would intensify the trade war against China, with the imposition of an additional 5 percent duty on $250 billion in Chinese goods, reaching a 30 percent tax by October 1st, coupled with a 15 percent tax – over his previous 10 percent planned rate – on another $300 billion of imports, to take effect on September 1st. The major controversy is not Trump’s saber rattling with China, but his attempt to unilaterally require that American corporations no longer do business in China. As Trump announced on Twitter, “Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing our companies HOME and making your products in the USA.” This “order” was political in motivation, in line with Trump’s “America First” agenda, and as reflected in his announcement that “We don’t need China and, frankly, would be far better off without them.”
For those who would defend the neofascist in chief for making merely “tongue and cheek” comments by “ordering” U.S. corporations around, the president was having none of it. He elaborated via Twitter that his mandate to American corporations was permissible under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977, a law the New York Times reports “has been used mainly to target terrorists” and “drug traffickers,” and “originally meant to enable a president to isolate criminal regimes,