Sunday, July 10, 2022

How Fascism Works by Jason Stanley

I found this book to be very enlightening, explaining much of what has happened in politics in the last years. Staley had an interest to explore fascist tactics as a means to achieve power. His study resulted in this book, a book he wrote to help people recognize the tactics of fascist politics.

Some of the insights I appreciate include revealing how a mythical past is created. This (mythical) past is presented as pure and now destroyed. Part of this tactic is refusing to identify the dark areas of a nation's past, such as slavery.

There is the use of propaganda. Language of ideals is used to get people behind otherwise objectionable ends. "Publicizing false charges of corruption while engaging in corrupt practices is typical..." (25)

Other tactics include pitting "us" against "them", being anti-intellectual, devaluing education and expertise. Reality is cast in doubt as leaders lie without consequences and conspiracy theories abound. Other tactics include promotion of a hierarchy, promotion of victimhood, claims of law and order while undermining the very same. The traditional patriarchal family is held in high esteem and any deviation from that form causes panic.

Stanley's concern was that fascistic concepts would begin to be thought of as normal. This book was released four years ago and we are seeing that happening, the normalization of what was once unthinkable. This is a book every concerned person would do well to read.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

You can read an excerpt, look at the contents and listen to an audio sample here.

Jason Stanley is the Jacob Urowsky Professor of Philosophy at Yale University. He is the author of five books, including How Propaganda Works, winner of the Prose Award in Philosophy from the Association of American Publishers, and How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them, about which Citizen author Claudia Rankine states: “No single book is as relevant to our present moment.”  Stanley serves on the board of the Prison Policy Initiative and writes frequently about propaganda, free speech, mass incarceration, democracy, and authoritarianism for The New York TimesThe Washington PostBoston ReviewThe Chronicle of Higher Education, and The Guardian. Photo: © Edwin Tse 

Random House, 240 pages.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

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