Review: “How Fascism Works” By Jason Stanley

May 2, 2021

I really appreciate when an author can boil complex ideas down to easily understandable concepts.
“How Fascism Works – The Politics of Us and Them” by Professor Jason Stanley is just such a book.
Stanley, a Yale professor has produced an examination of fascism that is reflected in the current state of American affairs. Fascism didn’t begin with Donald Trump, obviously. We have Mussolini and Hitler as historical examples, but one does not have to look far to find that – perhaps due to economic inequality- fascism is going global. Authoritarian governments are everywhere, and Professor Stanley points out clear examples in current politics and how they stack up to historical examples.

In this simple little volume, Professor Stanley packs a punch. My edition is a hardcover, compact and nearly pocketbook size, running some 200 pages. It’s an easy read, as Stanley introduces various complicated manipulative techniques fascists use to pit a society against itself – with examples ripped from the news headlines of today.

Fascism in America goes far back, perhaps to our genocidal founding. As far as the modern era, the KKK is recognized as the first organized American fascist movement. This theme is carried on through the “America First” policies in the early 1900’s to today’s MAGA nonsense. “Make America Great Again” steers disaffected, formerly privileged, mostly white people back to a mythical past.

Professor Stanley provides us with ten chapters which demonstrate “How Fascism Works”. They are:

1. The Mythic Past
2. Propaganda
3. Anti-intellectual
4. Unreality
5. Hierarchy
6. Victimhood
7. Law and Order
8. Sexual Anxiety
9. Sodom and Gomorrah
10. Arbeit Macht Frei

Perhaps the best way to channel the brilliance of this short book is to refer to a few quotes from various chapters. I have bookmarked, underlined and margin-noted nearly every page, way too much to cover here, but these are some sample quotes:

“The fascist mythic past exists to aid in changing the present”.

“Fascist movements have been “draining swamps” for generations. -.. anticorruption campaigns are frequently at the heart of fascist movements”.

“Making corruption under the guise of anticorruption is a hallmark strategy in fascist propaganda”.

“In fascist ideology, there is only one legitimate viewpoint, that of the dominant nation. Schools introduce students to the dominant culture and it’s mythic past”.

“By giving voice to shocking sentiments that were presumed to be unsuitable for public discourse, Trump was taken to be speaking his mind. This is how, by exhibiting classic demagogic behavior, a politician can come to be seen as the more authentic candidate, even when he is manifestly dishonest”.

Professor Stanley gives us many historical, as well as real-time examples that demonstrate how traditional fascist techniques are in operation today.
You can pretty much open any chapter for the powerful information to reach out and grab you. I don’t know if it’s more of a light bulb going off in our heads, or a brisk wake-up slap.

Either way, Jason Stanley’s “How Fascism Works” will focus our attention on the trademark elements of fascism, truly a global phenomenon, and how we can spot them and debunk them.
It’s a great, informative and understandable read.

-John Titus

Tags: , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

RSS Northwest Research & Covert Book Report

  • Review: Killers Of The Flower Moon
    Soon to be a major motion picture, this story has some real promise. Promise to help solve age-old crimes, promise to resolve inhuman atrocities, promise to help make things right. This is the promise of “Killers Of The Flower Moon – The Osage Murders And The Birth Of The FBI”, by David Grann. Sadly, it […]
  • Review: Pandora’s Gamble, By Alison Young
    Review: Pandora’s Gamble Where do I begin with this startling and disturbing book? First, the author, Alison Young, worked as a reporter for USA Today, the Detroit Free Press, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, and has won numerous awards for her investigative reporting. “Pandora’s Gamble” is subtitled “Lab Leaks, Pandemics, And A World At Risk”. Much […]
  • Review: Floating Stones – Great Pyramid Built With Water Power
    Now here is an interesting find, recommended by a good friend. This book is a very thought-provoking theory of how the Great Pyramid was built. Authors Samuel R. Sampson is an architect, and co-author Michael N. Read is an engineer. Together they have come up with a very plausible scenario on how the largest Egyptian […]
  • Review: “The Dawn Of Everything”
    In my recent study of ancient civilizations, I bought this huge book – “The Dawn Of Everything – A New History Of Humanity”, by David Graeber and David Wengrow. This was a completely different type of read for me; Graeber and Wengrow are anthropologists and archeologists, and write as such. I don’t know a lot […]
  • Review Of Two Books On Neanderthals
    After reading Hancock and Schoch describing the destruction and survival of the human population during the last Ice Age, I wanted to learn more about the development of primitive man. Mind you, Hancock believed the destruction was caused by a comet that broke apart and hit the earth, while Schoch has evidence that the destruction […]