Fascism: A Warning Summary & Study Guide

Albright, Madeline
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Fascism: A Warning Summary & Study Guide Description

Fascism: A Warning Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion on Fascism: A Warning by Albright, Madeline.

Book Summary

Nobody is better qualified than Madeleine Albright to warn against the current resurgence of Fascism. Her personal life and her professional careers as US Secretary of State, as a diplomat and scholar prepared her superbly for this task. Paradoxically, that same background may have prevented her from stating the only reasonable conclusion to draw from her book Fascism: Donald Trump is a Fascist and must be stopped from turning the United States into a Fascist country.

Battalions of German Fascist stormtroopers invaded her native Czechoslovakia on March 15, 1939. Her family fled to London where they remained for the duration of the war. After the Fascist defeat, her family returned home. But in 1948, the Communists took control of Czechoslovakia, driving her family into exile in the United States. Decades later she learned that “three of her grandparents and numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins were among the millions of Jews who had died in the ultimate act of Fascism—the Holocaust” (2). For her, the personal is political when it comes to Fascism.

She followed in her father's footsteps and became a university professor specializing in Eastern Europe at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service. She is eminently qualified to write about Fascism as a scholar and university professor. As the former Secretary of State during President Clinton's eight years in office, she has firsthand diplomatic experience dealing with Fascists, such as Slobodan Milošević, President of the former Yugoslavia and Hugo Chávez, President of Venezuela. By analyzing autocratic leaders from Mussolini to the present, Albright lays out a convincing description of what Fascism is and how to recognize a Fascist.

Nevertheless, something prevents her from making her book the clarion call to action that she sets out to achieve in her opening chapter, where she poses a series of questions, culminating in the overarching question: “ ... [W]hy, this far into the twenty-first century, are we once again talking about Fascism?” (4) She answers her question this way: “One reason, frankly, is Donald Trump. If we think of Fascism as a wound from the past that had almost healed, putting Trump in the White House was like ripping off the bandage and picking at the scab” (4-5). Here and especially in the chapter "President of the United States", she focuses on Trump's actions and speeches. However, nowhere in the book does she state outright that Trump, the head of the most powerful country in the world, is a Fascist. Nor does she call the Republican Party to account for their lockstep, obstructionist collaboration with Trump. She leaves the only logical conclusion to the reader.

In a recent New York Times opinion piece (August 27, 2018) titled “Why It Can Happen Here”, Paul Krugman refers to Freedom House's warning that “illiberalism is on the rise across Eastern Europe”; he then points to examples of “Poland and Hungary, both still members of the European Union, in which democracy as we normally understand it is already dead.” Krugman could well have studied Albright's highly informative book; significantly, he takes her argument one step further. He warns that “if Republicans retain control of both houses of Congress in November—we will become another Poland or Hungary faster than you can imagine.” He calls out the Republican Party which he writes “is ready, even eager, to become an American version of Law and Justice [Poland] or Fidesz [Hungary], exploiting its current political power to lock in permanent rule.” Now, he continues, it's clear that the Republican Party will “do whatever it takes to defend Trump and consolidate power ... Party loyalty will prevail over constitutional responsibility.” That is a clarion call.

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