Joseph Stiglitz: ‘Trump has fascist tendencies’


Economist Joseph Stiglitz PHOTO/Wikipedia

The Nobel prize-winning economist on the threat from the US president, fairer globalisation – and whether Bernie Sanders would have won

Harry Truman once demanded to be given one-handed economists because he became so frustrated with his advisers meeting every demand for answers with “on the one hand, on the other hand”.

Truman would have liked Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel prize-winning economist who worked for a later Democratic president, Bill Clinton, and who does not mince words when talking about the current incumbent of the White House, Donald Trump.

Stiglitz, in London to publicise his new book, says that for the past six or seven years he has been growing increasingly disturbed by America’s growing inequality and the simmering anger it has caused.

“I began to say ‘if we didn’t fix this problem we are going to have a political problem’ and historically a Trump figure, a fascist kind of figure arises.”

Asked whether he really thinks Trump is a fascist, Stiglitz says: “I certainly think he has those tendencies. He is restrained by our institutions and every day those institutions work we feel relieved. We don’t know what the bounds are and we don’t know how far he would push those bounds.

“A couple of things are most disturbing – the attack on the press and the attack on the foundations of knowledge which goes beyond the press.

“We have never had a president who day after day lies and is unaffected by it. Normally everybody you deal with is tethered by a sense of responsibility and truth, but not him.

“I think the other thing you have seen with some of these fascist leaders is using ‘us versus them’ as a way of dividing society.” Stiglitz says Trump is using racism and misogyny to divide America. “To me it is deeply, deeply disturbing.”

Stiglitz had his differences with Clinton, for whom he worked as chairman of the council of economic advisers, and Barack Obama, criticising both for not doing enough to ensure that the fruits of growth were more evenly shared.

But he sees Trump as not just misguided but positively dangerous – a man who has difficulty telling the truth, whose word is not to be trusted and who might even respond to being thwarted in his plans by pushing the nuclear button.

The Guardian
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