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How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them
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How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  1,963 ratings  ·  346 reviews
NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW EDITORS' CHOICE - Fascist politics are running rampant in America today--and spreading around the world. A Yale philosopher identifies the ten pillars of fascist politics, and charts their horrifying rise and deep history.

As the child of refugees of World War II Europe and a renowned philosopher and scholar of propaganda, Jason Stanley has a deep
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published September 4th 2018 by Random House
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Aug 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Fascism is iniguitous. It creeps into the many weaknesses of democracy until the system is fatally damaged. In How Facism Works, Jason Stanley lists the various ways that facism undermines democracy.
The appeal of facism lies in its radical authoritarian ultranational stance. Immigrants and minorities, in other words those not like the major population, are the first to be blamed for woes facing the nation. Propaganda is ramped up. Sexual proclivity is exposed and demonized. The blame game contin
Oct 04, 2018 rated it liked it
When I finished reading this book, I had to think deep thoughts for awhile before I could attempt a review. While I found the information informative and very interesting, I also was disappointed by the definitive left slant the author took in the presentation of his knowledge. I really wanted to read a unbiased, informational look at the history, effects and basics of fascism. I don't feel that's what this book presents.

Stanley discusses the basic components of fascism and how it gains control.
Sep 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
"Trump, trump, trump, trump, trump."
- Trump, Trump


Trump, trump, trump, trump. The Mythic Past. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump? Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Hitler. Trump, trump, trump, trump. Trump, trump, trump, trum
Feb 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The author is the son of immigrants who fled Nazi Germany. He states that he is troubled that fascist politics is on the rise throughout the world again.

The book is well written and researched. Stanley analyzes the many strategies that fascist regimes employ: publicizing the idea of a mythic past, use of propaganda and conspiracy theories, anti-intellectualism, the replacement of reasoned debate with fear and anger, casting doubt on media, denial of equality, white male superiority, culture of v
Jun 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Outstanding--and chilling--book. Definitely an eye-opener.


In How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them, Jason Stanley explains fascist ideologies, how it spreads, and why democratic societies are vulnerable to it.

I've delayed this review for quite a while, because I didn't know how to go about writing it. I'm still not sure how to go about it, but I'll share some thoughts I had while reading

The book consists of ten chapters: The Mythic Past, Propaganda, Anti-Intellectual, Unreality,
Sharad Pandian
A book commendable in its breadth, but almost entirely lacking in depth.

I. Breadth

Jason Stanley creates a model for identifying "fascist politics", which he thinks of as tactics that rely on "ultranationalism of some variety (ethnic, religious, cultural), with the nation represented in the person of an authoritarian leader who speaks on its behalf" as a "mechanism to achieve power".

He then identifies 10 distinct strategies, each of which gets a chapter dedicated to it:
1. the mythic past
2. propa
Michael Austin
Sep 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2018
How Fascism Works packs a lot into a relatively short space, but it doesn't really explain how fascism works. It does a good job explaining what fascism is, and it contains stark warnings for Americans and people in other nations that are currently sliding into fascism, or, at least, dealing with fascist politicians. His examples are good, but he occasionally overstates the case and defines normal conservative positions (i.e. opposition to affirmative action, same-sex marriage, or an extensive w ...more
May 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jason Stanley’s How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them is essential reading for all eager to understand declining western democracies. In simple and straightforward prose, Stanley unravels and lays bare the components of fascist politics: the creation and use of a mythic past, propaganda, anti-intellectualism, rejection of facts, victimhood, toxic patriarchy and hierarchy, and social anxiety among other themes. It’s a perfect exposition of praxis, with Stanley seamlessly moving back and ...more
Joel Mitchell
Sep 13, 2018 rated it it was ok
This could have been such a helpful, insightful book. The word fascist is hurled at political / ideological opponents so often that it has started to lose its meaning. I hoped that this book would provide a historical perspective on fascism by examining actual fascist governments and drawing some parallels to the more egregious / worrisome trends in US & European politics. The chapter titles in the table of contents were promising:

- The Mythic Past
- Propaganda
- Anti-Intellectual
- Unreality
- Hier
Peter (Pete) Mcloughlin
The Fascist Brand has deservedly got a bad image. So a fascist will probably not use that label in public. However, Fascism is on an uptick and is having a comeback in our times. This book explains how to identify the hallmarks of fascists movements and tactics. What seems to be a fascist movement has sprung up in Turkey, Hungary, Poland, Russia, and (gulp) the US. Fascists use make-believe to sell the public on a fictional past where outgroups were put in their proper place (below), Women submi ...more
Sep 16, 2018 rated it did not like it
Almost 40 years after Gilbert Allardyce called for the concept of fascism to be "de-modeled, de-ideologized, de-mystified, and de-escalated," out comes a book that purports to lay out the tenets of the fascist ideology. Anyone working to establish a definition of fascism, though, would seem to be confronted with a paradox. A definition of fascism that is to be universally applicable must transcend the limits of specific bodies of historical evidence. Yet to claim that fascism existed in France a ...more
Conor Ahern
Dec 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a great, thoroughly digestible primer on how and why fascism takes root.

Read it, pray for the dead, and fight like hell for the living!
How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them by Jason Stanley, is a basic examination of some of the key rhetorical characteristics of fascism. The author examines the concepts of: myth, propaganda, anti-intellectualism, "unreality", hierarchy, victimhood, law and order, sexual anxiety, the corruption of urban influences, and hard work, all of which play into a fascist narrative. These concepts are often used as rhetorical messages to influence and gain support for fascist style movements. The ...more
i have some miscellaneous notes that i may clean up and post later, but this is probably only a useful read if you know next to nothing about fascism—it’s got some very good data, but it’s all so wrapped up in convoluted semi-mccarthyist liberal vagueness that the thought of reading any more of it was just plain exhausting

[eta 9/9/19] the aforementioned notes:

this has a p good overview of the basic tenets of fascism and where it's most prevalent today, as well as its historical roots in america,
Oct 20, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-politics
Even though this is a good book, it is not the book I wanted to read. This is not necessarily the author's fault. He (and his publisher) at no time promised the book I wanted.

The title is “How Fascism Works”, and that's what it is about. The title of the book that I wanted to read would continue “….and What to Do About It”

This book says that the alarming turn of events which is currently going on here in the US fits into the Fascist model. It devotes a chapter to different aspects of this model
May 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
This is an extremely biased book. The author is so bias that he doesn't see how he divides the country into "us" vs "them", the very thing he claims to be fighting. The author has a Manichean world view that is very divisive. Pointing out the fascist rhetoric of Trump and actions by Republicans is pretty sound, but the book fails to criticize the current overreaches and authoritarian tendencies of the left. He could have written chapters about the left and included the same topics: victimhood, s ...more
Sep 07, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Yet another liberal intelligentsia effort to reshape the facts to characterize a large segment of a population of horrid goals -- without bothering to find out ANYTHING about the true nature of that segment of the population. If you are looking for more "evidence" of how evil your neighbors and co-workers are, then dive right in. If, on the other hand, you love your neighbors and your freedom, and you want to keep your blood pressure within the normal range, don't even think about reading or lis ...more
Ryan Bell
Oct 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely essential reading at this moment in time, especially. It’s not the most academic or thorough book about fascism but it’s readable, organized, and well-argues. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Follow this with The Anatomy of Fascism, by Robert Paxton.
Jun 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wondered if a book written by a professor of philosophy at Yale would be dry, but this book was not only interesting, but also accessible to me as a general reader. Jason Stanley has researched this topic extensively, and discusses both historical and current examples of fascism in the world. He identifies 10 pillars on which fascism is based: the mythic past, propaganda, anti-intellectualism, unreality, hierarchy, victimhood, law and order, sexual anxiety, appeals to the heartland, and a dism ...more
Sep 22, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
fascist, n. - someone who won an argument against a liberal.
Apr 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This is a clear, well-written overview of the key elements of fascism that connect current political movements to historical ones. Accessible, well structured, and full of compelling arguments and relevant insights.
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
Despite being a history major, I admittedly was not that educated about fascism. I knew a lot about Nazi Germany but not really anything about fascism outside of that context. Stanley lays out the facts simply and with plenty of detail. You don't need to be a political expert or history major to read How Fascism Works; it's very accessible.

With our current political situation (with the right leaning heavily towards fascist politics), How Fascism Works is a must read and truly eye-opening.
Ryan Boissonneault
Nov 24, 2018 rated it liked it
The key takeaway from How Fascism Works is that fascist politics does not require or necessarily lead to a fascist state. As the Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels once said, “This will always remain one the best jokes of democracy, that it gave its deadly enemies the means by which it was destroyed.”

Plato recognized this tendency over 2,000 years ago; as Jason Stanley wrote, “In book 8 of Plato’s Republic, Socrates argues that people are not naturally led to self-governance but rather se
A philosopher provides an accessible exploration of how contemporary political movements such as the U.S. Trump regime mirror fascist movements of the early and mid-twentieth century. As an audiobook, this was very easy to follow and easily held my interest because of the many scary and shocking examples, which probably rival any horror novel in terms of provoking dread and nausea. Of course, the disadvantage of the audiobook format was that I couldn't see any citations or footnotes, which I nor ...more
Randall Wallace
Dec 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
How self-obsessed and fact-adverse are Trump supporters? “45% of Donald Trump’s supporters feel that whites are the most discriminated against racial group in America. 54% of Trump’s supporters believe that Christians are the most persecuted religious group in America.” Look at the white nationalist websites, they claim racism against whites, but never any against blacks. Nixon told H.R. Haldeman, “You have to face the fact that the whole problem is really the blacks. The key is to devise a syst ...more
Todd Martin
Aug 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: culture-politics
If you want to learn about the specific political strategies employed by fascist regimes, look no further than How Fascism Works by Yale professor of philosophy Jason Stanley. He’s taken the historical lessons from around the globe and condensed them into a short and easily digestible book. Or, for those in the U.S. who don’t care for reading, you could simply pay attention to republican politics … same difference.

Let’s review the signs:

1. Creation of a Mythic Past: Fascists create a mythic his
Nov 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a short but powerful book by a Yale philosopher who has a lot to say about fascism and knows how to make his points effectively. This book brings together fascism as a system of language and myth that organizes society on a conflictual basis of “us” versus “them”. It’s effectiveness as a mythic and linguistic tool depends on the clarity of the story told and how that story bolsters the felt positions of the masses receiving the message. So far, so good. Professor Stanley is outstanding i ...more
When the President of the United States is siding with the Russians, over his own intelligence people, you know the world is getting scarier and scarier. Thus, this highly readable primer about fascism could not have come soon enough. Hopefully, it will be used in high school and college classes, too, since many in the younger generations have not been taught the dangers of fascism and communism. Oh, but wait, it's often those in the older generations who sound like fascists these days. If you a ...more
Ivonne Rovira
Mar 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Ivonne by: NetGalley
Author Jason Stanley does more than simply point out the fascist aspects of the Trump administration, although he does do that. But Stanley points out what turn out to be the necessary steps of creating a fascist nation — whether in Benito Mussolini’s Italy, Adolph Hitler’s Germany, Viktor Orban’s Hungary, Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s Poland, Narendra Modi’s India, Aung San Suu Kyi’s Myanmar, or right here at home. At the center is the corrupting of the media, the mythologizing of the past, the demonizi ...more
Oct 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Thorough yet concise, "How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them" is a must read for anyone following world (and especially US) politics. Stanley lays out the motivations and instrumentation of Fascism throughout history and draws parallels modern trends. If you're tired of people busting out their Hitler comparisons in arguments with nothing to back it up, read this book. As scary as it is prescient.
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Jason Stanley is the Jacob Urowsky Professor of Philosophy at Yale University. He is the author of five books, including How Propaganda Works, winner of the Prose Award in Philosophy from the Association of American Publishers, and How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them, about which Citizens author Claudia Rankine says: “No single book is as relevant to the present moment.” Stanley serves ...more

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“To describe someone as a “criminal” is both to mark that person with a terrifying permanent character trait and simultaneously to place the person outside the circle of “us.” They are criminals. We make mistakes.” 3 likes
“[Nazis] believed that the women’s movement was part of an international Jewish conspiracy to subvert the German family and thus destroy the German race. The movement, it claimed, was encouraging women to assert their economic independence and to neglect their proper task of producing children. It was spreading the feminine doctrines of pacifism, democracy and “materialism.” By encouraging contraception and abortion and so lowering the birth rate, it was attacking the very existence of the German people.” 2 likes
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