How Fascism Works (Review)

Many voters and political observers have noticed an ever-expanding trend of authoritarianism in the United States and in several other nations. Several of these observers have drawn parallels between the current state of affairs and the rise of fascism and Nazism in the 1930s.

A recent book that succinctly outlines many of these parallels is professor Jason Stanley’s How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them. The apparent purpose of this book is to maintain public alertness about the extremist policies that are increasingly coming to bear on modern democracies.

The author does not overtly declare that the U.S. is in the midst of a fascist regime, but he does see hints of fledgling versions of fascism being nurtured at home and abroad. His writing is a scholarly informed opinion piece worth reading by various opinion holders.

Stanley uses historical examples to describe warning signs and possible meanings behind the numerous hot-button rhetorical schemes that have gained political traction lately. These examples are meant to encourage mindfulness about potential growth into much more dangerous scenarios that put our democratic republic at dire risk.

Each of the book’s ten chapters outlines features of fascistic movements and ideology such as anti-intellectualism, promotion of traditional sexuality, racism, xenophobia, and a mythological past. Stanley shares examples from the American Confederacy, Mussolini’s fascist regime, and of course German Nazism. He lays out how tyrannical politicians play on fears and prejudices of the masses. The tyrants convince their followers that the only way out of the morass is to allow the despot to take control of the nation.

How Fascism Works is not a manifesto or call to action, but it still provides motivation to the reader to be vigilant to the dangers that are no longer dormant in the United States.

The author, Jason Stanley, was born in Syracuse, New York. He earned his Bachelor of Arts at State University of New York at Stony Brook. He is currently the Jacob Urowsky Professor of Philosophy at Yale University. Much of the motivation for his writing of the book can be found in the Epilogue and Acknowledgements sections.

Within the Epilogue Stanley mentions his paternal grandmother Ilse Stanley’s experiences in the Berlin of 1939: “In her book, she recounts the disparity between the extremes she witnessed in the concentration camp and the denials of the seriousness of the situation, its normalization, by the Jewish community of Berlin. She struggled to convince her neighbors of the truth….”

In the acknowledgements portion of the book, the author states: “My mother, Sara Stanley, and father Manfred Stanley, are refugees to the United States, both having lived through the horrors of anti-Semitism in Western and Eastern Europe. My father lived through Kristallnacht, ten days before his sixth birthday. My mother is from Eastern Poland and survived in a Siberian labor camp before being repatriated back to Warsaw in 1945 where she and her parents experienced the brutality of Polish postwar anti-Semitism.”

I think this is an important book that deserves careful reading by people who are concerned about today’s political climate.

{ How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them by Jason Stanley; 240 pages; published September, 2018 by Random House; ISBN 978-0-525-51183-0 }

The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes Jason Stanley. “What may begin as a temporary method to circumvent reasoned discussion and debate for the sake of a prized political goal may very well end up permanently undermining the trust required for its existence.”

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
This entry was posted in Books, Controversy, History, Politics and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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