cover image How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them

How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them

Jason Stanley. Random House, $26 (256p) ISBN 978-0-525-51183-0

Stanley (How Propaganda Works), a Yale philosophy professor, delivers an instructive and poignant examination of fascism—a resurgent presence in both developed and developing nations, including the United States—in this cogent and accessibly written book. He cites past and present examples of fascist behavior from politicians—from Hitler, Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels, and Benito Mussolini to Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Vladimir Putin, and Donald Trump—and draws on sociology and critical race theory to identify 10 concepts and tools employed by political leaders to promote a fascist politics that rely on an “us-versus-them” mentality. Liberal democracies, he writes, have seen immigrants, refugees, and city dwellers, among others, treated as “them.” The 10 tactics, which include propaganda, anti-intellectualism, and “victimhood,” will be eerily familiar to observers of today’s political landscape; for example, the Trump administration’s rhetoric surrounding the media is recalled by Stanley’s statement that “Reality itself is cast into doubt.... Fascist politics exchanges reality for the pronouncements of a single individual, or perhaps a political party.” Stanley is an erudite guide, and his convincing analysis of forces at work in present-day politics is accessible to experts and novices alike. Agent: Stephanie Steiker, Regal Hoffman & Assoc. (Sept.)