Fascism Rearing Its Head

Former United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright claims that characteristics of the fascism of the past are taking on a new life.

Madeleine Albright, secretary of state during President Bill Clinton’s second term, has just published “Fascism: A Warning.” Prominent political analyst Fareed Zakaria interviewed her about this recently on CNN. Regarding the question of why she wrote a book like this right now, his guest detailed numerous warning signs pointing to fascist influences and realities that are highly visible and obviously contrary to the belief that fascism was decisively defeated in World War II.

The book analyzes how and why 20th century fascist systems were created and functioned, and from there it draws pertinent parallels and analogies in order to pinpoint what is happening in the world today. During the interview, Albright summarized the basic, discernible features in various procedures that are evident today, describing five fundamental characteristics that reveal how fascism of the past is taking on new life:

1. The systematic attack on the free press and the general media. The governing regime continually accuses the press of spreading lies and building conspiracies that have no other purpose than harming the state. From this viewpoint, repression of free speech and controlling the media would be legitimate and absolutely necessary measures;

2. Politicians are acting with impunity, as if they are above the law, without accountability or transparency, weakening or simply eliminating institutional countermeasures that could curb absolute power;

3. The use of powerful positions to constantly incite confrontation between sectors of society, artificially exacerbating internal conflicts;

4. Violation of human rights, justifying it as being good for the state;

5. Creation of scapegoats – individuals and/or minorities – that are identified as enemies who must be fought by any means.

Albright argues that these five characteristics can already be identified in the current regimes of several nations. She cited Turkey, Venezuela, Hungary, Poland and the Philippines as current examples of this model, and warned that these same characteristics are beginning to appear in an avalanche of authoritarian quasi-fascists who, although their messages have different nuances, refer to the same principles. When Zakaria asked Albright if Donald Trump was aiming in the same direction, Albright responded that, without a doubt, there are very clear “anti-democratic instincts” observable in his administration.

And in an additional important observation, Albright noted that paradoxically, in almost every case, these models had emerged from the heart of the democracies that had created them. There needs to be a careful examination of the deficiencies in the democratic systems that produce those types of results, in other words, new organizations that, in the end, turn against their own democracy. The former secretary of state recalled a statement by Mussolini, who said that the advance in building fascism could be illustrated by the metaphor of plucking a chicken: “you pluck the chicken one feather at a time and people don’t really notice” until the chicken is completely naked and no one can do anything to reverse the process. Certainly, Albright’s observations must serve as a warning to all of us, because the wave of fascist-tinged influences effectively keeps growing day by day without our being sufficiently on the alert.

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