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How Fascism Works

The Politics of Us and Them
Narrated by: MacLeod Andrews
Length: 5 hrs and 44 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (185 ratings)
Regular price: $21.00
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Publisher's Summary

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

"By placing Trump in transnational and transhistorical perspective, Stanley sees patterns that others miss.... Twenty months into Trump's presidency, the evidence is mounting that he's right." (The 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 ten 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

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 members say

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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.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Tom
  • Warm Springs, Georgia
  • 10-24-18

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.

6 of 7 people found this review 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.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Darwin8u
  • Mesa, AZ, United States
  • 11-23-18

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.

12 of 21 people found this review helpful

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Listen closely and learn

Very eye opening accounts of tactics and propaganda utilized by the political parties of the United States.

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  • GM
  • 01-02-19

Incisive and Frighteningl

Eye opening work. Trump is following the fascist playbook to a T. A must read.

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  • Lisa B
  • San Francisco
  • 12-26-18

feels like a school lecture

I cant finish. the interview on NPR with author much more exciting. I usually listen in the car but I find myself not listening 5min in everytime. I tried and listened as well as I could half way

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Yes, Fascism can take root here, too.

A frightening, cautionary listen (and read) that every American who dismisses Fascism as a European issue or a second or third world problem should undertake. If we are not vigilant in fighting it, we are complicit in enabling it.

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A must read

An excellent, easy to understand look at facist politics, both historically and in the contemporary world.

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This should be required reading in schools.

Short and to the point. Sheds light on a lot of myths. Would highly recommend to your Fox News devoted uncle.

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  • Neal Romanek
  • 10-18-18

Essential Reading

A thorough description of what the transition taking place all around the world right now. An essential addition to your freedom fighter’s toolkit.