By Robert A. Vella

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – philosopher, essayist, poet, and novelist George Santayana

Human understanding is a difficult thing.  We are saddled with numerous limitations to what we can potentially learn as individuals some of which are culturally-imposed while many are self-imposed.  This is why history is said to repeat, not because it is somehow preordained, but because even the hardest and costliest lessons fade with time.  Ask yourself how many people you know who are cognitively stubborn and dismissive of information which contradicts their personal beliefs.  I’m sure that number is very high.  Now, ask yourself the same question… honestly.

I think you get my point.

Almost exactly 100 years ago, a radical authoritarian ideology swept through war-ravaged Europe.  It offered overly simplistic solutions to complex social problems.  It exploited the deep anxieties and fears of distressed populations.  It utilized disinformation and clever tropes to demonize minority groups and to delegitimize democratic governance based on the rule of law.  And, it always was championed by an apparently strong, charismatic leader who issued grandiose promises without the capacity or even the intent of fulfilling them.

Does that sound familiar?  It should, especially in America today.

Despite the general lack of human understanding, fascism is a distinct and well-defined ideology.  It is totalitarian like other autocratic forms, but it differs substantially from monarchy, theocracy, and the communist examples of China and the former Soviet Union.  The standout feature of fascism is its ethnic and racial animus;  and, that is why atrocities committed by fascist regimes are the most pernicious of all with the Nazi-perpetrated Holocaust being the prime example.  See:

Monday Focus: The Rebirth of Fascism and the Destruction of Democracy

Revisiting the “F” word, and why it is of paramount importance today

Two years ago, renowned world traveler and documentarian Rick Steves retold the history of fascism in a brilliantly informative, yet concise, video aired on PBS.  I’m not just recommending it, I am urging readers to watch this timely piece of professional journalism and to share it with their friends and families.  As the pivotal 2020 election fast approaches in the U.S., the necessity of an informed and engaged electorate couldn’t be more imperative for the future of America… and, for the entire world.

Watch:  Rick Steves’ Europe – The Story of Fascism in Europe

In this one-hour special, Rick Steves travels back a century to learn how fascism rose and then fell in Europe — taking millions of people with it. He traces fascism’s history from its roots in the turbulent aftermath of World War I, when masses of angry people rose up, to the rise of charismatic leaders who manipulated that anger, and the totalitarian societies they built.


Trump Defies Nevada Directive as Thousands Gather for Indoor Rally

Scientists outraged by White House appointees’ meddling with coronavirus information: ‘Outright egregious’

Postal contracts awarded to [Louis] DeJoy-run company were questioned in 2001 USPS audit

‘Beyond negligent’: Census workers describe logistical nightmare as deadline approaches

After a Pandemic Pause, ICE Resumes Deportation Arrests

‘It seems systematic’: Doctors group finds 115 cases of head injuries from crowd control weapons during nationwide protests

Wildfires race across the West: Smoke poses health hazard to millions; unprecedented pollution in Oregon

Washington Post: [Trump administration controlled] NOAA taps climate change skeptic to help lead agency

A Secret Recording Reveals Oil Executives’ Private Views on Climate Change

Impeachment witness Alexander Vindman calls Trump Putin’s ‘useful idiot’

French analysis concludes Navalny was poisoned in attempted assassination: Elysee

Pressure on Moscow mounts as more labs confirm Navalny poisoning

Exclusive: Russian paramedics’ accounts challenge Moscow’s explanation for Navalny’s coma – sources

Belarus’ embattled president [Alexander Lukashenko] meets Russia’s Putin amid ongoing protests

Attacks on journalists during protests increasing: UNESCO

[Boris] Johnson’s Envoy Quits as Tory Bill Revolt Grows: Brexit Update

Japan ruling party elects Yoshihide Suga to succeed Shinzo Abe as prime minister

Terry Branstad, Trump’s Ambassador to China, is Stepping Down

11 thoughts on “Historical Analogue: Why we are reliving the nightmare of 20th century fascism, plus news headlines

  1. Pingback: Historical Analogue: Why we are reliving the nightmare of 20th century fascism, plus news headlines | sdbast

  2. Pingback: Historical Analogue: Why we are reliving the nightmare of 20th century fascism, plus news headlines | The Inglorius Padre Steve's World

  3. I just finished watching Rick Steve’s, Fascism and it is so fascinating and so unbelievable.
    The similarities between Hitler and Mussolini to trump are eerie.
    But I see some differences in the whole scenario too.

    Italy and Germany were both devastated by WWI and currently we don’t have that background. Our economy and employment rates would be good if not for the virus, unlike these countries at this time. Most of our citizens don’t feel deprived or humiliated.

    Both Mussolini and especially Hitler were much better speakers than trump. I’m not sure of the percent in each country before the war got going, of their supporters, where as here now,the most about 40%. I would imagine, they had more.

    But I do see the next step with Hitler, is the beginning of ostracizing of certain people. Then closing down the free press.Then eventually killing them off, as well as academics, defective people, homosexuals and of course, the Jews. We are not there…..yet.

    The setup is is very different now. I mean what would trump do? Invade Canada, Mexico? Would Russia resist him or join him? And China?

    But because it’s different, doesn’t mean it can’t happen again, just in a different way with much different circumstances.

    The one thing that really got me was that some Germans even as defeat was happening to them, they still supported Hitler. That sounds familiar today with many trump supporters continuing to vote against their own interests and those interests of their family and all future generations.

    I hope all your readers watch this. I would highly recommend it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you very much for that well-reasoned analysis, Mary! Yes, the comparisons between 20th century fascism and what’s happening now in the U.S. (and elsewhere, actually) is circumstantially different. Yes, the fanaticism of the Nazis is similar to Trump supporters. And, yes, it can happen again.

      Although the exact circumstances are different now, there are relevant parallels. Remember that the social dynamics which enabled Trump’s rise to power in 2016 began many years earlier. Since neoliberal economic polices started to erode the middle class and cause destabilizing inequalities from the Reagan administration onward, and especially culminating with the 2008 financial crisis and Great Recession, the fulmination of populist angst was assured. The subsequent economic recovery did little to relieve anger over blue-collar job losses particularly in the Rust Belt states (which Trump won in 2016), wage stagnation, and rising wealth disparities. So, even though we didn’t experience an economic depression post-2008 as Italy and Germany did after WWI, the underlying social unrest was similar.

      Actually, the Nazis garnered only 37-38% of the vote in 1932 which gave them a plurality of parliamentary seats but not a majority. So, Trump’s base support of about 40% is larger than Hitler’s was.

      Liked by 2 people

Comments are closed.