One of the nice things about being your own boss is that to a great degree you get to set the policies. Another is that you get to make an occasional exception to them. Today is the first exception to my policy on adding books to the Recommended Reading List. What I generally do is post a brief special notice that includes a comment or two about the book just added. Today I am dedicating an entire article to Madeleine Albright’s Fascism: A Warning. That is how huge an impression it made on me and how much I suggest you consider reading it.
Before I get into Secretary Albright’s book I need to give you a little personal background. In about 2011, I had a conversation with a very wise friend, the late Dr. Bill Palich, who likened the masses in the Tea Party movement to the minions that unwittingly enabled the rise of fascism in 1930’s Europe. While unlike their European predecessors the Tea Party movement lacked a visible leader a few deep pocketed interests were bankrolling them in an attempt to personally profit. Under fascism a few families controlled the means of production and made a bundle of money. People like the Koch brothers were trying to duplicate the feat taking advantage of the anger and often racism of the unwitting masses of the Tea Party.
During the 2016 campaign their leader emerged in Donald Trump. Here was an ego without a political platform that was willing to embrace any stance if it got him to his goal of winning the presidency covertly funded by other people’s money. In return for free flights on Air Force One and an opportunity to enrich himself and his family he was willing to appoint his financiers or their surrogates to any and all policy enforcement and implementing positions. If he had to do a few shout outs to racists and neo-Nazi’s in the process that was fine with him.
If you are one of those people who never seems to be able to finish a book, at least start this one. Early in the book Albright chronicles the rise of Mussolini and the (especially rhetorical) parallels to Trump are amazing. While this revelation comes later in the book, I found one Mussolini observation particularly interesting and telling. He observed that in seeking to accumulate power, it is wiser to do so in the manner of one plucking a chicken – feather by feather – so each squeak is heard further apart from every other and the whole process is kept as muted as possible. Does this remind you of divide and conquer, the Broad Street Bullies theory, death by a thousand cuts and/or NIMBY?
Paraphrasing Albright she defines fascism as the willingness to do whatever is necessary – including the use of force and trampling on the rights of others – to achieve victory and command obedience. Can you honestly tell me you are not currently seeing that on our southern border and in our capital? While I, like most, generally associate fascism with the far right Albright illustrates some far left extremists who have employed the same tactics to achieve their objectives.
A quote attributed to Joseph Goebbels was perhaps the most telling and terrifying in the book. He said, “The most effective form of persuasion is when you are not aware of being persuaded.” This is why I am so fond of using the term “minions” to describe the Tea Party faithful who form the core of Trump’s base. The irony is that in the long run they will be among those who suffer the most from Trump’s rule.
Fascism: A Warning is a relatively quick read for a book of non-fiction which will both educate and terrify you. I strongly suggest you read it.
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