Read: September 2023

Inspiration: Familiar with Madeline Albright as first female Secretary of State; recommended by colleagues at work


Written with the help of ChatGPT, below is a brief summary to understand what is covered in the book.

“Fascism: A Warning”, published in 2018 by former Secretary of State and author Madeleine Albright, is a thought-provoking exploration of the historical context and contemporary resurgence of fascist ideologies. Drawing on her extensive diplomatic and political experience, Albright offers a comprehensive analysis of the factors that contribute to the rise of authoritarianism. The book delves into case studies from various countries, examining the warning signs, propaganda tactics, and erosion of democratic institutions associated with fascist movements. Albright draws parallels between historical examples and current political trends, highlighting the importance of recognizing the early indicators of fascist ideologies and taking proactive measures to safeguard democracy. “Fascism: A Warning” serves as both a cautionary tale and a call to action, urging readers to remain vigilant and actively protect democratic values in the face of rising authoritarian threats.

Unedited Notes

Direct from my original book log, below are my unedited notes (abbreviations and misspellings included) to show how I take notes as I read.

Madeline Albright grew up in Prague, Czechoslovakia as ww2 ramp and Hitler invade, forced to flee to the US as a child as relatives killed, “America first” is not new—no serious politician believes in American second but about tactics, increasingly the Fascist label simply used for anyone we find annoying and to relieve ourselves of having to use facts to support, Fascism is not right or left—more about power and required emotional buy in and feelings of being slighted, Fascism consolidates power at the top and citizens serve, claim to speak for whole nation/group and unconcerned by rights of others, will use any means needed, Mussolini born 1883 not poor but not rich enough for priest school—sent to switzerland from italy and a troublemaker, eventually back to italy and early 20s published newspaper with socialist ideals—against elite class, coincide with ww1 failures in italy and economic chaos after, March 1919 Fascists formally establish selves with Muss as leader and grew rapidly as people hated how country was trending, Musso say capitalists exploit, main party in competition was Socialists but Fascists grow faster and forceful, King Victor Emanuel was struggling monarch could not fend off and by Oct Musso become PM in Rome as Victor saw defeat imminent (Musso=il duce), Musso began “drain the swamp” campaign and initially beneficial to people but grow more violent and repressive of opposition, Musso was a showman, intentionally would look disheveled as needed to appeal, by 1926 no opposition and 1930s he was adored, both Mussolini and Hitler received power from predecessor peacefully, Hitler inspired by Mussolini, once both in power Hitler even tried to temper Mussolini conquests/terror at times, even Churchill complimented Hitler early is his rule before turned, 1943 Il Duce’s grip fade as economy struggle and lose in war with alignment with Hitler—King Victor Emmanuel only supported given no choice but now after 2 decades italians tired, 1945 executed by Communist firing squad, 1943 Hitler deteriorate in health as well as Allies and Russia fight back from both sides, killed self 2 days after Mussolini, to Stalin as a communist—being called fascist was biggest insult (opposites), Stalin see fascism as where state is all-embracing and no human or spritual values can exist, communism based on class vs fascism on nationality/race, but Stalin in practice persecute other nationalities, like Nazis Stalin use violence/fear, propaganda essential too, real start of the cold war was May 1947 with the Marshall Plan from US sec of state to loan to european countries damaged by war—Stalin call euro leaders to reject as a US trap to isolate russia and undermine and b/c russia proximity with US guns down—eastern european all decline Marshall Plan, then Stalin dig in with communism across eastern europe and coups spread one by one, ultimately complacency among democratic leaders in eastern europe meet determination of adversaries and lose, McCarthy 1951 was one of primary examples in US of leveraging media and repeating a lie so much people think might be true—amplified by fact preyed on people’s anxieties, during CW—claiming to be anti-communist sufficied (Nixon listed numerous dictatorships as “free world” partners despite their repression), not until Berlin Wall fell did this bare minimum requisite change, democracy requires not just a ballot box vote—winner must understand that even as majority you must respect rights of the minority, democracy looks different in each nation it takes hold but that is essential, Hugo Chavez in Venezuela rise in early 90s as enthusiastic proponent of lower class/laborers, imprisoned and released for failed coup and then take power ’97 not as a self-identified socialist yet, but as many fascists/dictators do—slowly consolidated power step by step under guise of helping, won 56% of the vote when elected so had chance to unify, Erdogan elected 2003 and first 10 years were big success in prosperity—Erdogan not lean into religious tensions that underlie, Erdogan is devout Muslim and as get 5 years in, slowly trickle into the country as build mosques, consolidate power slowly to cement identity, his AKP party touts “holy path” vs atheism of others, began as a unifier then turned on secularism and womens rights, 2013 was first real protest in Turkey vs Erdogan at Taksim Square, July 2016 military faction tried to kill Erdogan but rushed and failed and Erdogan capitalize, was a coup attempt by Fethullah Gulen who was formerly an ally and was not a secularist but turned on Erdogan, Erdogan conduct disproportionate response to consolidate power further, Orban elected 2010 after opposing Socialist party fell out of favor due to gaffes, was on same plane as Lech Welesa in Poland and Vaclav Havel in Czech as freedom advocate, but Orban turn hard nationalism based on blood not border, praise Putin/Erdogan at expense of “illiberal democracies” that tout the the community over individual rights, Orban have shades of Mussolini (ideological chameleon), Fidesz party has changed constitution, funneled money in, villainize Soros, Lech Welesa killed in 2010 plane crash and twin brother Kaczynski not PM but behind the scenes influence—align with Hungary, think Russia took down plane, but rules by fear (has proxies as leaders, traditional politicians but Jaroslav Kaczynski dictates), Lech was more sympathetic to communists/others—Jaroslav is hardline nationalist, European nations have nationalist roots but EU far more efficient than 30 rules/languages/borders etc, big wealth creator, but grievance is EU overreaches into too many domains of daily life across countries so nationalistic pull attracts, immigration influx also making EU appeal distant as see less unity, Milos Zeman leads Czech and calls self Czech Trump, pro-putin and anti-EU, refugees crisis fuels Orban to rally people/build paranoia, in 2000/01–Clinton chose Arafat and Israel peace talks over DPRK visit to discuss missile program and nuclear risk, changed the course of potential DPRK relations (at the time, thought Arafat had real potential) and then Bush lean evermore into Middle East/Saddam over DPRK relations, Trump praises Duterte in Philippines who brags about his killings for laughs, same with El-Sisi in Egypt, lauded Erodgan’s constitution changes, Trump’s condemnation of the press is a gift to dictators abroad as can use same reason to claim lies since US agrees press cannot be trusted, America First Committee founded in 1940 brough together pacifists, nazi sympathizers and isolationists to oppose ww2 involvement, fascism enters in a trickle, German accounts barely noticed rise until accumulates, fascism can be left or right leaning, US susceptible precisely because think we are not, in uncertainty people prefer strong and wrong to right and weak, Hitler attributed his popularity to his ability to make complex problems German could make nothing of seem simple, a fascist is someone who claims to speak for a whole nation/group and has no concern for others while willing to use violence or anything necessary to achieve goal, Kim jong un is a the worlds true fascist but likes of Maduro Erdogan Putin Orban Duterte—all set stage for Trump and doubt in democracy

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