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Fascism: A Warning

Fascism: A Warning


Fascism: A Warning

ratings:
4.5/5 (166 ratings)
Length:
9 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Apr 10, 2018
ISBN:
9780062802248
Format:
Audiobook

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Editor's Note

Stirring defense of democracy…

Few understand the threat of fascism quite like Madeleine Albright. She offers a stirring defense of democracy and key steps nations must take if they hope to prevent the modern rise of authoritarian regimes.

Description

From one of the most admired international leaders, comes a timely, considered, and personal look at the history and current resurgence of fascism today and the virulent threat it poses to international freedom, prosperity, and peace.

At the end of the 1980s, when the Cold War ended, many, including former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, believed that democracy had triumphed politically once and for all. Yet nearly thirty years later, the direction of history no longer seems certain. A repressive and destructive force has begun to re-emerge on the global stage—sweeping across Europe, parts of Asia, and the United States—that to Albright, looks very much like fascism.

Based on her personal experience growing up in Hungary under Hitler and the Communist regime that followed World War II, as well as knowledge gleaned from her distinguished diplomatic career and insights from colleagues around the globe, Albright paints a clear picture of how fascism flourishes and explains why it is once again taking hold worldwide, identifying the factors contributing to its rise. Most importantly, she makes clear what could happen if we fail to act against rising fascist forces today and in the near future, including the potential for economic catastrophe, a lasting spike in terrorist activity, increased sectarian violence, a rash of large-scale humanitarian emergencies, massive human rights violations, a breakdown in multilateral cooperation, and nearly irreparable self-inflicted damage to America's reputation and capacity to lead.

Albright also offers clear solutions, including adjusting to the ubiquity of social media and the changing nature of the workplace, and understanding ordinary citizens' universal desire for sources of constancy and morality in their lives. She contends that we must stimulate economic growth and narrow the gap between the rich and poor, urban and rural, women and men, and skilled and unskilled; work across borders to respond to transnational challenges; and ultimately recognize that democracy's unique virtue is its ability—through reason and open debate—to find remedies for its own shortcomings.

Publisher:
Released:
Apr 10, 2018
ISBN:
9780062802248
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

EbookSnapshot

About the author

Madeleine Albright served as America’s sixty-fourth secretary of state from 1997 to 2001. Her distinguished career also included positions at the White House, on Capitol Hill, and as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. She was a resident of Washington D.C., and Virginia.


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What people think about Fascism

4.5
166 ratings / 24 Reviews
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  • (4/5)
    Book on CD read by the author From the book jacket: The twentieth century was defined by the clash between democracy and Fascism, a struggle that created uncertainty about the survival of human freedom and left millions of innocent people dead. Given the horrors of that experience, one might expect the world to reject the spiritual successors to Hitler and Mussolini should they arise in our era. Albright draws on her own experiences as a child in war-torn Europe and her career as a diplomat to question that very assumption.My reactions:It’s said that those who refuse to study history are doomed to repeat it. I’ve studied some history, and yet I found much new information in this relatively slim volume.Albright clearly, methodically and logically lays out the foundations to bring understanding of Fascism. She cites numerous examples, using not only right-wing but left-wing and centrist ideologies to illustrate the concepts and realities. The great takeaway for me was the way in which small, incremental changes to policy which are easily tolerated (even when not fully agreed with), add up and result in citizens finding themselves in a society they hardly recognize and with limited ability to return to an earlier model. Albright narrated the audiobook herself. Her diction is clear and she sets a nice pace, giving the listener time to absorb concepts. However, I did sometimes repeat a track to ensure that I had fully understood. I think this book is probably best absorbed in a text format.
  • (5/5)
    A warning of the incremental path to the end of our democracy.
  • (4/5)
    In the context of the current political situation I keep asking myself how could this have happened? I do understand and accept that the political pendulum swings every decade or so, but what is it about the nation's psyche that resulted in the electoral success of a man of such low ethical and moral standards, one who blatantly lies, who is a braggart and a vicious bully and, quite likely, a white collar criminal? Quite clearly there is a such a significant magnitude of disaffection, and anger, among 60+ million voters to look beyond the grotesque character of President Trump. Was his victory the result of a poorly run campaign of his opponent? No, because among all the credible Republican candidates in the primaries, it was Trump who triumphed. Why is it that moderation is now so out of vogue?Albright's highly readable analysis of the rise of authoritarian leaders gives us insights into today's situation. She uses the rise of Fascism, communism, and their right and left variants to explain the conditions that enable this to occur. Authoritarian leaders stoke grievances extant in society and cultures to leverage themselves to power. Perceived threats to economic well-being and cultural norms attract (angry) people to bold, if simplistic solutions, articulated by charismatic leaders. Such overtures involve creating enemies of the people and attacking institutions that once were considered legitimate and cohesive. It is important to understand that authoritarians do not initially rise by imposing their will upon people; their springboard is the disaffection of people. After gaining control they can dismantle institutional checks to achieve greater and greater power. Albright's concise overview of the means by which Mussolini, Hitler and the Bolsheviks rose is relevant to understanding what is happening around the world today in Europe, Russia, Latin American and the US. These leaders rode the waves of popular discontent among the people generated by external and internal factors they perceived as damaging to their lives. Around the world today people are threatened by forces and trends they see as affecting their economic security and cultural norms, e.g. income inequality, globalization, migration, the rise of calls for cultural diversity, secularism or religious extremism. The first tactic of those who would "save" the people is to identify and attack (often through demagoguery) the "culprits" who are responsible for the threats -- capitalists, socialists, the "elites", Muslims, the press, the judiciary, the right, the left, etc.Albright notes that in places where there is not a history of democratic values and democratic institutions the susceptability of countries to the authoritarian "savior" is much greater. This fortunately is not the case in the United States where the strength and independence of various institutional players (and our inherent respect for the rule of law) is such that there are checks on a leader like Trump. She also points out with concern that the administration's disparagement of our traditional allies who share our values on democracy is exactly the wrong approach to take if we hope to preserve and advance the movement toward liberal and democratic governance around the world. Trump's admiration for "strong" leaders in Turkey, Russia, North Korea and the Philippines is sending the wrong message to the world.This is a thought-provoking and worthwhile read. Another insightful analysis of "how did we get here" is Arlie Russell Hochshield's "Strangers in their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the Right".
  • (4/5)
    WHO CARES WHAT GEORGETOWN GRAD STUDENTS THINK?Author Madeleine Albright was the 64th and 1st woman Secretary of State, serving President Bill Clinton’s entire second term. “Fascism – A Warning” (FW) is her 6th book, all written post January 2001. It is 254 pages in length with seventeen chapters. My LibraryThing rating is 3 ½ stars; my Amazon rating is a generous 4 stars. Overall, I am glad I read it, I learned some things, mostly historical, but I wished it had gone further. And the point of view struck me as a bit too academic for my taste – I would have preferred something from a historical and/or political perspective.In the early chapters, it focuses mostly on Mussolini and Hitler; Stalin, Kim, Erdogan and a host of smaller potatoes are also addressed. A meeting in Italy of a few dozen angry citizens soon after WWI is described; they vow to defend their country against all enemies and select as an emblem the fasces, a bundle of elm rods and an ax used in ancient times. Within a couple of years the “fascists” had 2,000 chapters and Mussolini was their leader. I expected to get a detailed description then of what a fascist was and wasn’t but that didn’t come until the last ten pages of the book: “….my conclusion that a Fascist is someone who claims to speak for a whole nation or group, is utterly unconcerned with the rights of others, and is willing to use violence and whatever other means are necessary to achieve the goals…..”. My immediate thoughts though were “ok, but what’s a dictator?, an anarchist?, an authoritarian?, and how do they all differ?” No answer here, so I dived into the web for some help. What I did find in FW though was good examples of typical fascist behaviors.Mussolini (from page 26), for example: “…he knew what the mass of people wanted: a show…To the side a small group of foreign reporters who would be pointed to and mocked.” But the Hitler examples are more familiar, page 26 ff: “…intuitive sense of what delighted audiences…..used simple words and did not hesitate to tell what he later described as ‘colossal untruths’……sought to incite hatred….(gradually the show business aspects expanded)…..he arrived in the nation’s highest office without ever having won a majority vote, yet by constitutional means….felt that his countrymen were looking for a man who spoke to their anger, understood their fears….convinced millions of men and women that he cared for them…he would have sacrificed them all.”While the Italians eventually turned on Mussolini and he died a rather ignominious end facing an impromptu firing squad, Hitler and Stalin survived until the end of WWII and beyond, one a suicide, the other of old age. So how exactly is a fascist to be dealt with? What’s the formula? I didn’t see a clear answer. In the last chapter, the point is made that In November 2016, Obama’s favorability was at its peak yet we elected Trump. It’s not a puzzle to me. I liked Obama and the favorability rating for many is a popularity or likeability measure, but I thought Obama accomplished little beyond the first year financial rescue and the Affordable Care Act. Albright lists other Obama achievements but I doubt that most voters would not acknowledge any “pocket value” for most of them. So in terms an accomplishments, change, working with Congress….not a lot that stirred my fires, nevertheless I voted for Clinton. But after reading FW, I feel Albright really doesn’t get the Base. “Yes, salaries remain too flat, and we have much work ahead to provide jobs for the next generation…..” Whoa, we have a lot of work to do to provide work for THIS generation. There’s a huge segment of the public that has seen no increases, that has fallen behind year after year, whose factory jobs have disappeared from their small town and have no opportunities comparable to what they had, and who have non-transferable skills – and what, we’re going to make computer programmers out of them all? I don’t think so.There is one other matter that I don’t feel was addressed here, and that has been a huge disappointment to me. Albright comments a number of times about how our system of government and our democratic values have been under attack. She mentions think tanks and papers (and the last scene of the first Indiana Jones movie immediately flashed in my tired old brain. Remember the huge warehouse and the squeaky cart carrying the sought after treasure – replace with think tank paper – to its final resting place in aisle 23, level 7, row 4, bin 66?) While there is a very nice quote by Pres Geo W Bush on page 245 about the failure of those charged with preserving and protecting democracy, that is about as far as it went. And that must be a big part of any story dealing with Fascism. Especially in America, where the failure of our leadership to speak out and condemn, the failure of House and Senate leadership, failure of each and every member of Congress, failure of the governors, failure of our Cabinet leaders has been shocking and bitterly disappointing. Finally, I feel the author failed in not taking all of these “leaders” to task for their dereliction of duty.
  • (5/5)
    Mrs. Albright is an authority on fascism for several reasons. She lived through it, and as the head of state and then the US United Nations representative, she learned the detailed relationships and the people of other nations who influenced their governments' leadership style. Her many decades of being immersed in this issue has given her a deep perspective others cannot match.In this book she documents facts and provides names and dates on all she covers. If the reader does not see that, just flip over to the start of the index and the facts are in a section immediately before that index, if not stated directly in the book where the reader might expect it..She begins with her family's experience growing up under the influence f fascism first spread by Italy, then by Germany and then by her own Czechoslovakia. She identifies the traits common to all fascist leaders, from then to the present and traces the uses of those tools in each fascist leader starting with Mussolini, who she claims invented the phrase "drain the swamp".The first 40 or so pages are startling as they show a very cleat similarity to whet we in America are experiencing. In the middle of the book she has a chapter on Trump in which she delves further into those similarities and shows what stage we are in along the way to fascism. She follows that with bringing us up through history to the present, following fascism all the way.The final quarter of the book deals with her view of why we are seeing a return to fascism popularity and what danger it poses to our country and the global economy and quality of life.Pages 245 through 252 are a summary of where we and the world stand today on this issue and the dangers for the future.In the last two pages, she offers us three possible outcomes of the problem we are in. Of those she points out the danger we are already in and her opinion of how long it will take to become a stable democracy again, if we can recover at all, and she shows which of those paths she feels will be our future, and again, how long it will take us to get there.But do not read this book for just that last summary and conclusion part as you will miss the personal descriptions on how fascism spreads and how it affects the people living under it. Those are important.This book is in the category of Silent Spring. It is a wake up call that we as individuals and a nation must act on.
  • (5/5)
    Food for thought. should be required reading for all social study classes.
  • (5/5)
    Intellectually provocative and stunningly historical. The assault on global democracy is very obvious as wave after wave of populist leaders are being rewarded with leadership posts to which their policies, body languages, and dogmas are all reminiscence of the era of Fascism.
  • (5/5)
    Valuable historical accounts written by a participant in the affairs of state. Eye opening
  • (5/5)
    A must read before November 3rd. Please read and encourage others to read before the Presidential Elections. We need a clear understanding what is ay stake
  • (5/5)
    Extraordinarily well written and narrated. Madeline Albright is a National treasure. The book is captivating from the start and brings you along on a powerful journey through the relevant and Historical elements of Fascism. The book is a perfectly timed piece of literature that is a must read for anyone not only concerned with the current state of our Country, but the state of Political and cultural affairs Internationally. It is a great contribution to the betterment of our modern society.??
  • (5/5)
    Her facts and knowledge are like a real time playbook to the current events unfolding now. Spot on, I have referred this book several times!
  • (4/5)
    Albright takes us through the history of anti-democratic political movements in the twentieth century, trying to isolate the things they have in common, and then explores the ways in which those elements can and can't be mapped onto the rhetoric and actions of the current crop of (would-be) authoritarian leaders. Obviously, her main goal is to alert her US readers to the possible danger to democracy posed by Trump's rants against judges, legislators and journalists, but there's also a lot here that can help us understand some of the things going on in Europe and elsewhere. The book is written for readers who are assumed to know nothing about world history outside the US, which is probably a good thing, but makes it a bit frustrating for the rest of us as we go at what often feels like a snail's pace through the familiar stories of how Mussolini, Hitler, Franco et al. came to power. It gets much more interesting as she advances to the late 20th century and to leaders she dealt with face to face in her own long career in international relations, including Milosevic, Putin, Chavez and Kim Jong-Il. But we have to pay attention throughout, because she is picking up a lot of crucial points along the way: how most authoritarian leaders come to power in the first place by constitutional means (but often without majority support); how power is entrenched by "necessary reforms" to constitutions and by control of the media; the "Mussolini-model" where the leader refuses to delegate and increasingly overrates his own competence until everything collapses around him, versus the "Hitler-model" where the leader delegates as much as possible to competing subordinates and distances himself from unpopular decisions ("If the Führer only knew"). Albright — despite the title of this book — is very wary about how she uses words like nationalism, populism and fascism. She maintains that the first two are positive qualities, to be admired in liberal democracies. Politicians who don't have the interests of the nation at heart or who don't seek popular support for what they do are clearly going wrong somewhere. And fascism is a term she only wants to apply to leaders who claim to speak for the people without giving the people the chance to comment or contradict, who disregard the rights of minorities, and who impose their ideas inside and outside their country by violence without democratic or judicial controls. The only current fascist state, by her definition, is North Korea. On the other hand, she sees plenty of other leaders who appear to have some of the characteristics of fascism and give reason to fear that they might go further, especially with the examples of impunity Trump and Putin give them.Obviously the chief interest of the book is that it is written by someone with exceptional practical and theoretical knowledge of how relations between countries work (and personal experience of being a refugee from first Hitler and then Stalin). And a communicator who is very good at making us feel that we can understand very complex questions, even whilst she warns us that the ability to reduce complex questions to simple answers is a strong indicator of anti-democratic rhetoric. Needless to say, there are no simple recipes provided for cooking up democracy at home, other than a warning to stay vigilant.
  • (5/5)
    I appreciated so much of reading this amazing books. Thank you very much for penning such a book.
  • (5/5)
    Wonderful book by Madeline Albright! I am going to listen to it again but this time, I will be using a notepad so that I don’t lose the information included in this book. There is so much more here than what I thought there would be I could not stop listening. The book was full of history lessons that we should know – but we do not! I claim that we are deficient in our knowledge of history generally and, in the case of this book, US history since the Civil War specifically. I was not aware of Albright’s broad knowledge of history that is at once Scholarly AND urgent! She used well-placed personal references and anecdotes sparingly.

    Please read this book.
  • (3/5)
    Interesting study of the characteristics of Fascism and the men (at least for now) who promote it.
  • (5/5)
    A MUST READ, particularly since our president declared himself a nationalist.
  • (1/5)
    It takes one to know one. This book comes straight from the woman who said of the 500,000 Iraqi children starving to death from US sanctions that “the price was worth it” live on 60 Minutes.

  • (5/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    Madeleine Albright was the first woman to be US Secretary of State, under Bill Clinton, appointed in 1997. A native of Czechoslovakia, born in 1937, her family had to flee the country for the UK to escape Hitler. Although they returned to Czechoslovakia after the war, ultimately they emigrated to the US in 1948.

    What Albright didn't know until decades later was that her parents were Jewish converts to Roman Catholicism, making the need to escape even greater than she had known.

    In a career as an academic, politician, and diplomat, she became an expert on troubled and troublesome leaders and regimes around the world. Now, she's written a clear warning about fascism, how it rose in the 20th century, and the new fascist regimes of the 21st century.

    And of course, the dangerous signs in our own country.

    This is not a partisan book. This isn't about Democrat vs. Republican, or liberal vs. conservative. It's about small-d democracy vs. fascism, a virulent nationalism, authoritarianism, an insistence on conformity. Some kinds of dictatorship want to disarm the population to keep them in line. Fascists often count on the eager support of an energized and armed population to suppress opposition. Underlying the whole structure is not an elite's fear of "the people," but an all too popular fear of The Other, when times are uncertain and change has come too quickly for some to absorb.

    Albright is much more knowledgeable, has two decades more life experience, is a better writer, and has given this a lot more thought, leavened with practical experience, than I can. Read what she has to say on this, not what I have to say.

    Highly recommended.

    I bought this audiobook.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (5/5)
    A crash course on the 20th century history. Impressive stories.
  • (5/5)
    At a time when the word "fascist" is blithely applied to political enemies of all ilks, it's useful to have someone as knowledgeable and experienced as Albright clarify what the term actually means. This history, from Mussolini's Italy and Nazi Germany to the many other nations who have struggled with wannabe dictators, is not only succinct and informative but alarming, as it becomes obvious that Trump is following the trail, little by little. That little by little, of course, is how such things happen to otherwise sane countries, and this brief overview (about 250 pages of text) is the perfect answer to those who can't imagine a dictatorship overwhelming our own society. Albright wrote this in 2018 and was, of course, oblivious to some of what Trump was to do, but it all fits in with her premise and makes it even more scary. As one of my doctors said to me last week, we're living in 1930s Germany.
  • (4/5)

    2 people found this helpful

    She does a great job with historical reference. However, she clearly interprets her leaning politically and fails to tie both political parties in the USA to practices of fascism while providing the definition for it. I feel this book would fully beneficial to the purpose of democracy had she done that. But, as it stands, it tears down one side and fails to call out the other, presently and historically.

    2 people found this helpful

  • (5/5)

    2 people found this helpful

    It's not about the right wing as the title might suggest. This book is about emerging disturbances and proliferation of easy-to-believe techniques used to secure majority vote for dictatorship be it socialist or conservative. Along detailed critical review of becoming to powers such leaders as Mussolini, Hitler, Erdogan, Maduro, Orban and Putin, Trump is devoted only a brief passage and Ms. Albright is not tempted here to smear dirt on republicans or Trump in particular. I am sure Trump voters will like this book too for its sober and impartial view on totalitarism.

    2 people found this helpful

  • (5/5)
    She is a genius with life experience!
    And so erudite!! Easy to listen to.
  • (4/5)
    Mrs Albright has a really great voice to listen to; clear and loud. And the book itself is really good to. It's more like a history lesson then an analysis of history, but really good.