I’ve known about Fascism for quite some time. Fortunately, Albright answered all the questions for me including her caution about the implications of Fascism for our future.
She described it as a form of authoritarian rule including total control by the leader of a nation, appeal to ultranationalism, and electricity being based in the leader rather than lying with the citizens. She described Mussolini as taking large amounts of money from corporations and banks while feigning concern about the working class. He put on a show for people, dispersed and sold personal products under his name, was a good politician but had very little comprehension of diplomacy, rejected input from his advisors and saw his own judgment as the only correct one. She described Hitler as answering questions with lies intended to reassure people, believing and saying that being a Barbarian was honorable, eliminating civil servants he saw as not true, taking charge of the arts and journalism, using mass media (radio in those days) to catch attention of the masses and making persecution of people who couldn’t defend themselves seem like national self defense.
Albright also discussed the nature and exploits of a variety of other Fascist leaning leaders such as Chavez, Erdogan, Putin, and the Kim dynasty. Last but not least comes Trump who has revealed the majority of the features and antics previously used by Mussolini and Hitler. Trump accepts bullying, autocracy and civil rights violations by autocratic leaders without comment. He seems more comfortable with them than with our traditional allies with whom he tends to pick fights.
Albright sees Fascists and Fascist leaning leaders as invoking”America (or any other country) First” as a way of justifying their inclination to do anything they please. They feel entitled to do what they want for no legitimate reason or simply make one up with no foundation. She sees their unpredictability as a personality trait rather than as a way to accomplish anything productive.
How do they gain power? Fascist leaders appeal emotionally to people who feel disenfranchised from what they feel is owed them or people who feel afraid of the others, often cultural or political groups differing from theirs. Though this fervor is fanned by social media, it existed long before computers and spread through personal appearances and the use of more traditional media.
What can we do? We can learn to ask pointed questions of those who claim to be acting in our best interest. We also have to reconnect with one another, understand each other’s fears and sense of loss as well as starting to work together as individuals and society to address these concerns. After we ask them the right questions, we can elect leaders who will act responsibly.
I strongly recommend this book as a way to understand the actual challenges which face us and to help us learn to listen to each other to find mutually acceptable ways of approaching our struggles.