• How Fascism Works

  • The Politics of Us and Them
  • By: Jason Stanley
  • Narrated by: MacLeod Andrews
  • Length: 5 hrs and 44 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (1,269 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

"A vital read for a nation under Trump." (The Guardian)

"No single book is as relevant to the present moment." (Claudia Rankine, author of Citizen)

"One of the defining books of the decade." (Elizabeth Hinton, author of From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime

New York Times Book Review editors' choice

Fascist politics are running rampant in America today - and spreading around the world. A Yale philosopher identifies the 10 pillars of fascist politics, and charts their horrifying rise and deep history.

As the child of refugees of World War II Europe and a renowned philosopher and scholar of propaganda, Jason Stanley has a deep understanding of how democratic societies can be vulnerable to fascism: Nations don’t have to be fascist to suffer from fascist politics. In fact, fascism’s roots have been present in the United States for more than a century.

Alarmed by the pervasive rise of fascist tactics both at home and around the globe, Stanley focuses here on the structures that unite them, laying out and analyzing the ten pillars of fascist politics - the language and beliefs that separate people into an “us” and a “them”. He knits together reflections on history, philosophy, sociology, and critical race theory with stories from contemporary Hungary, Poland, India, Myanmar, and the United States, among other nations. 

He makes clear the immense danger of underestimating the cumulative power of these tactics, which include exploiting a mythic version of a nation’s past; propaganda that twists the language of democratic ideals against themselves; anti-intellectualism directed against universities and experts; law and order politics predicated on the assumption that members of minority groups are criminals; and fierce attacks on labor groups and welfare. These mechanisms all build on one another, creating and reinforcing divisions and shaping a society vulnerable to the appeals of authoritarian leadership.

By uncovering disturbing patterns that are as prevalent today as ever, Stanley reveals that the stuff of politics - charged by rhetoric and myth - can quickly become policy and reality. Only by recognizing fascists politics, he argues, may we resist its most harmful effects and return to democratic ideals.

"With unsettling insight and disturbing clarity, How Fascism Works is an essential guidebook to our current national dilemma of democracy vs. authoritarianism." (William Jelani Cobb, author of The Substance of Hope

©2018 Jason Stanley (P)2018 Random House Audio
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic Reviews

“Jason Stanley reveals how the liberties of the people wither when voters embrace politicians who promote the divisive politics of us versus them while denigrating cooperation, compromise, and respect for others. How Fascism Works builds on philosopher Stanley’s insightful How Propaganda Works to explain in concise and easily understood terms how people get tricked into reversing the expanding rights that made America great.” (David Cay Johnston, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of It’s Even Worse Than You Think and The Making of Donald Trump

“An endless question about history - does it repeat itself? The Allies triumphed over fascism nearly seventy-five years ago. But is it on the rise again? The national populism of Trump and Bannon; Brexit; Orban and the rise of the Hungarian right; the Italian five-star movement; Erdoğan - Jason Stanley has in this extraordinary book tried to answer these questions. For those in denial or in doubt, Stanley’s book provides overwhelming evidence that fascism is alive, well, and on the rise. It’s a clarion call to wake up, pay attention, and do something. No one has any doubt that fascism works; the question remains: How do we stop it? Stanley tells us that fascism is not a plan on how to govern but a plan on how to seize control. This is an important and essential book.” (Errol Morris, filmmaker and author of The Ashtray

“There are moments in which the fate of humanity itself hangs in the balance, and such times always bring with them the resurrection of ugly myths. And yet, as Jason Stanley, one of this nation’s most important philosophers, makes clear, when such myths are deconstructed and their history is laid bare, we remember the extraordinary ties that in fact bind us together. And in the fire of that powerful recollection, modern-day fascism - the current myth-dependent moment of intolerance, xenophobia, and fearmongering in which we find ourselves - can be rendered to ash.” (Heather Ann Thompson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Blood in the Water

What listeners say about How Fascism Works

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A Warning Too Clear to Ignore

Setting aside Dr. Stanley’s far-left-of-me political history and the fact that he studied at MIT in the same department where Noam Chomsky teaches, this short work is a clear, concise, and a relatively non-polemic look at what fascism is and its current rise in the world: Poland, Brazil Norway, North Korea, Italy the US, etc. Many of us who came of age in the shadow WWII long believed that our parents and grandparents had defeated fascism once and for all in the 1940’s. Apparently, we were quite mistaken.
In just ten chapters Dr. Stanley explains how fascism takes hold. We stood in wonder and confusion when we looked at what the fascist did in the twentieth century. We asked how the good people of these countries could have committed these atrocities. He lays out the template used by the fascists to gain and then solidify power: focus on community decline, focus on loss of status – both personal and national, the rise of victimhood culture, relief sought from violent extremist organizations stressing some form of a more pure citizenship, nationalistic militancy, co-opting tradition power structures, creation of emergent scenarios requiring the suspension liberal democratic liberties and constitutional guarantees, and cleansing of scapegoat classes and non-aligned political groups, and of course gas-lighting with continual Big Lie.
The Polish journalist, Anne Applebaum, just published an interesting long-form piece in the October 2018 edition of “The Atlantic” corroborating many of Dr.’s Stanley’s claims concerning the current re-emergence of fascism in Europe. Reading Stanley’s book and Applebaum’s piece should give any lover of liberal democratic liberty pause.

38 people found this helpful

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Trump, Trump, Trump

Trump, trump, trump, trump. The Mythic Past. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump? Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Hitler. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump; Trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Propaganda. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump! Trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump? Trump, trump, trump, trump -- trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Anti-Intelectual. Trump, trump, trump, trump.

Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Viktor Orbán. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Unreality. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump? Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump; Trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Hierarchy. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump! Trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Victimhood. Trump, trump, trump, trump? Trump, trump, trump, trump -- trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Trump, trump, trump, trump.

Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Law and Order. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Vladimir Putin. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump? Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump; Trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Sexual Anxiety. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Sodom and Gommorah. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump! Trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Benito Mussolini. Trump, trump, trump, trump? Trump, trump, trump, trump -- trump. Arbeit Macht Frei. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump.

28 people found this helpful

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A Must Read

The author is the son of immigrants who fled Nazi Germany. He states that he is troubled that fascist politics is on the rise throughout the world again.

The book is well written and researched. Stanley analyzes the many strategies that fascist regimes employ: publicizing the idea of a mythic past, use of propaganda and conspiracy theories, anti-intellectualism, the replacement of reasoned debate with fear and anger, casting doubt on media, denial of equality, white male superiority, culture of victimhood, perpetuation of the Us and Them based on ethnic, religious and racial identities just to list a few the author discusses.
I felt the main message of the book was about his worry of complacency. He states his grandmother’s generation refused to acknowledge the Nazi threat until it was too late. He states that today the “normalization of extreme policies” poses an urgent challenge. Stanley is calling on democracies to resist the insidious encroachment of fascism.

The book is five hours and forty-four minutes. MacLeod Andrews does a good job narrating the book. Andrews is an actor and audiobook narrator. He has won the Audie Award for “Steelheart” and numerous EarPhone Awards.

26 people found this helpful

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Ignore the 1 star reviews

I enjoyed Stanley’s book so much that I was curious about the 1 star reviews. Didn’t see anything critical, just a lot of misunderstanding. “He didn’t even talk about the left wing fascists.” That’s because fascism isn’t a leftist ideology. You mean communism or left-wing authoritarianism? Yea, that’s not the book’s focus. That’s like saying, “That dog show, while it focused on dogs, didn’t show a single cat. 1 star.”

I also saw a whole lot of “He just wants to trash Trump.” Well, not talking about the fascist leader of your country while writing a book on fascism seems an unreasonable demand of the author. I even saw one person state that this book boils down to "Hitler was a vegan, therefore vegans are Nazis." Fine, but Stanley doesn't have a chapter on veganism because Hitler's diet wasn't what made him a fascist--these pillars were.

Finally, some 1 star reviews are obviously by fascists who genuinely wanted to know how to make fascism work...for themselves...and were disappointed.

--AJ

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a must read in today's troubled times

I thought going in that I would already know and agree with much of what this author had to say but he surprised me. I'll leave you to discover the content yourself. What I'll say here is that this book is short, easy, and extremely relevant. you should read it. as simple as that.

14 people found this helpful

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Scary Portrait of the Dangers of the Fascist State

Stanley makes a powerful argument against Fascism and the parallels with Trump’s America. He constructs the character of the Fascist State based on its foundational pillars:

1. Evocation of the Mythical Past
2. Propaganda
3. Anti-Intellectualism
4. Unreality
5. Hierarchy
6. Victimhood
7. Law & Order
8. Sexual Anxiety
9. Cosmopolitan City vs Heartland
10. Hard-Working Chosen Nation vs Parasites

The Fascist State uses Propaganda and Lies to create an unreal World of Us vs Them, of Real Americans (White Hard-Working Heartlanders) vs the Others (Urban Blacks, Rapists, Immigrants, Homosexuals, Feminists, et al) to protect the Poor Victims (Us) from the constant elitist attacks of Them (Globalist Citydwellers) and Make America Great Again.

Sound familiar.

14 people found this helpful

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Pretty much just an elongated attack on Trump

This is political propaganda with some historical truths sprinkled in. The misinformation present here is appalling.

11 people found this helpful

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Critically important

This is a critically important book. The ongoing “Normalization” process is the tool of modern time Fascism.

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Read Understanding Power/Friendly Fascism instead

I don't like Trump obviously, but Trump isn't just a wild card. We the people, have systematically been losing democratic power for a while. Read,

Understanding Power,
Friendly Fascism,
Winners Take All,
The Shock Doctrine

White supremacy has been rising for a while. Read,

Bring the War Home

And liberalism and democracy aren't synonymous. Read,

A Brief History of Neoliberalism

Note, the narrator's performance is good.

10 people found this helpful

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Accessible, penetrating & critically important.

A concise yet penetrating and encompassing exploration of 10 critical dimensions of fascism through history - and how specifically they are on our doorstep (& in our lives) today. This is an extremely well organized, accessible and enlightening book - critical for all Americans. Would that these insights had been available in 1932. We shouldn’t overlook or discount them now.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Mr C Collins
  • 09-07-21

Reviewers who haven't read the book

I don't often write reviews but I felt the need to write one here to let potential buyers know that there are people who left bad reviews clearly without having read/listened to the book.

One says that the book claims only white people can be racist and fascist. In fact, the book does mention fascism in non-white nations, including Turkey and India. This information isn't hidden away, so anyone who had actually listened to/read the book wouldn't make this clearly false claim.

I didn't agree with everything in the book but I see no need to make up lies about it.

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  • Muzak
  • 11-15-20

Thought provoking and frightening

I previously thought of Fascists as goose stepping Nazis or Neo Nazis. With examples from US, India and Myanmar, Jason Stanley builds up a persuasive argument of how Fascism is insidious, global and cross cultural. Hiding in plain sight under innocent sounding and patriotic slogans, it eats away at the fabric of society and poisons democracy. There is much to take away from this eye opening book.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-03-20

The best resource to understand the subject.

I would urge anyone who identify as center-right or moderate to try this book seeing how I was in one of those categories a few years ago. Loved it from start to finish. The book is short , easy to understand and an insightful autopsy of the rotting corpse of fascism that still threatens people under the guise of moderate conservative talking points.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-04-19

Read this to have insight into modern politics

Regardless of your political leanings, this is a must read to appreciate the manners in which Fascism manipulates your perception of history, reality, and the future.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Aram Kradjian
  • 09-12-22

Nothing new - leftist view

While many of the points make sense around fascism and while the author tries to focus on Fascism, it ends up being an anti republican, pro left approach
Could have been a much better and more balanced book…

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  • Phil Mc Mahon
  • 08-30-22

The title is appropriate.

This book achieves what it sets out to do; to explain how fascism works, and it does it well.

The author backs up the arguments with solid, demonstrable historical and contemporary examples, however I think some of the examples referencing Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, in particular require a more holistic understanding of Hungary the the psyche of the Hungarian people. This does not mean those examples are irrelevant or necessarily wrong though. Remember, not many people from outside of Hungary can speak Hungarian and this often contributes to a one dimensional view of Hungary being presented by non-Hungarian authors and journalists.

I thought parts of the last couple of chapters lost their way at times and I couldn’t decide if the text or the narrator was the reason for that. Overall though, it’s very, very good and will definitely open up any reader’s mind to the complexity behind how fascist movements can and do grow in popularity.

As with any subject, it’s also worth reading something with an opposing or alternative view too.

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  • Amy
  • 06-16-22

Amazing

Something that you can't unhear, the insidiousness of the language in media and everywhere. it's so hidden but now that bit more visible, which has to be a win when this stuff can't hide in plain sight. Brilliant work 👍🏻

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  • Artemis
  • 11-01-21

Exceptional, a must read!

This book really is superb. It covers much of the known regimes of fascist politics across the world. I would have liked to have the UK examined, as much of British history, and politics in the recent decade, is littered with elements of fascist politics, perhaps that will be a future book in its own right? this book is a good starting point to move to deeper study of how fascism works.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-22-21

rubbish

very poor. race baiting only. Once again only white people are racist and only white people are facist. comparing Hitler and Trump as no different. is just lazy and factually incorrect on so many levels. according to the author. BLM doesn't mean 'black lives matter' it means ' black lives matter too' . BLMT doesn't have the same ring I guess.

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  • ROSS JENKIN
  • 08-15-19

listened to twice

informative and useful, easy chapters dealing each with separate elements of fascist politics.
using modern and historical examples.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-04-19

A good, basic introduction to fascist politics

A decent general overview, however the author sweeps the 'Coddling of the American Mind' occuring at US universities under the rug, and implies anyone concerned with this problem is engaging in fascist discourse. Read Johnathan Haidt's aforementioned book. He also makes a hilariously bad and disingenuous critique of Steven Pinker's work, which frankly, the author should be ashamed of. For a more serious look at fascism, see Roger Griffin's work, or the recent book by Madeline Albright.

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  • Robert Starreveld
  • 09-06-21

Good book but

Very basic representation of Facism providing examples for the authors arguments however I believe that the author only skims the surface and de-emphasises the role that society has on it's newer generations something that is talked about in "coddling of the American mind" I think the truth starts there and ends towards this book

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-03-21

perfect

loved it. excellent. must read. hugely relevant. well written. intelligent and plain English. thanks heaps

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