By Robert Scheer
October 06, 2018 "Information Clearing House" - In a compelling essay for The New York Review of Books this month, Christopher R. Browning, a leading historian of the Holocaust and Nazism, outlines the frightening parallels between the United States and the Weimar Republic. “No matter how and when the Trump presidency ends,” he writes, “the specter of illiberalism will continue to haunt American politics.”
Jason Stanley would agree. A professor of philosophy at Yale University and the author of “How Fascism Works,” he contends that failures of democratic governance have forged a society eerily reminiscent of pre-war Germany—one in which there’s a growing appetite for the kind of ultranationalism espoused by Donald Trump. Indeed, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has openly praised the Immigration Act of 1924, which not only created quotas and bans on certain immigrant communities but served as a model of sorts for Hitler’s “Mein Kampf.”
“The idea in fascism is to destroy economic politics,” Stanley tells Robert Scheer in the latest episode of “Scheer Intelligence.” “The corporatists side with politicians who use fascist tactics because they are trying to divert people’s attention from the real forces that cause the genuine anxiety they feel.”
This anxiety is not exclusively or even primarily economic. As Stanley is careful to point out, people of color have suffered far greater hardship, and yet they are increasingly drawn to progressive populism. Instead, he posits, Trump and his ilk are channeling a noxious strain of patriotism that creates a nostalgia for a past that never existed. “When you see the dominant group made to feel like they’re the victims in the face of all the facts,” Stanley notes, “that’s when you know that fascist politics is taking grip.”
The episode also plumbs the phenomenon of fake news, both how it’s constructed and deployed. Stanley argues that many of our most cherished beliefs are based on mythologies, with the notion that we’re spreading democracy to the rest of the world perhaps the deadliest of all.
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