Falling for Fascism with Jason Stanley


This season will be further exploring each topic hanging out with experts and enthusiasts of all kinds for more strange stories social commentary and the myths make america ten. I'm your host chelsea leper smith. Today we're talking to jason stanley professor philosophy at yale university and the author of the new york times bestselling book how fascism works patriarchal masculinity sets up men with the expectation that society will allow them the role of soul protectors and providers of their families in times of extreme economic anxiety men already made anxious by perceived loss of status resulting from increasing gender. Equality can easily be thrust into panic by demagoguery directed against minorities here fascist politics intentionally distorts the source of anxiety. A fascist politician has no intention of addressing the root causes of economic hardship fascist. Politics distorts male anxiety heightened by economic anxiety into fear that once family is under existential threat from those reject it structure and traditions. Thank you so much jason for coming on the show. It's truly an honor. Thanks so much chelsea. It's terrific program podcast. You have a vital vital task. You're doing well thank you. I feel the same way about you. So on that note i was as i was reading. How how fascism works. I was really shocked. By how much. Your content aligned with american hysteria. And how all these different themes that. We'd been tying together all these different types of panics against different types of people in different types of situations. I didn't really know that. I was kind of talking about the process of fascism keyword being process right so something that would really help me is if you explained What your definition of fascism is and how it is sort of this process not this destination because we're hearing this word a lot. We're hearing it. It's a very big buzzword right now but you as an expert i'd love to hear you just defined this crazy word. Fascism is a cult of the leader off who promises national restoration in the face of supposed humiliation by immigrants minorities and leftist radicals. The fascist leader pronounces himself as the representation of the nation. And the only solution to bring back the nation in the face of these supposed- humiliations. That's a great very succinct. And how is it so you say. Fascism is not this this destination but rather what do you see as the process of fascism and and what is the end result so we can talk about different things being fascist and people have been minimizing the city by just saying we don't have a fascist regime now so what's to worry about well you know Italy didn't have a fascist regime for several years under one. Mussolini was prime minister Germany didn't have a fascist regime at the beginning So so fascism reiger fascist regimes. Come about when Democratically elected leaders or leaders. Who come in through a democratic process undermine democracy from within by stacking the courts for for example by taking over various parts of the press So so So we can talk about fascism as many things. And i think that when we talk about just as a regime. Were doing ourselves a disservice. Tony morrison in nineteen ninety-five in or howard university. Commencement address racism and fascism says that the united states has always preferred as long preferred fascist solutions to national problems. We now live in a country with the world's highest incarceration rate when historians look back in our country and they think about its status. They'll know that it has incarceration rate that parallels that of the soviet union in the early nineteen fifties. So we have many Marks of a fascist society here even though we do not have a fascist regime We have Vilification of minorities as at the very center of our politics and both political parties And at every election in the united states seems to be about race So this is a fascist occult. We have we have deep. We have Ah kill nick nikiel pal saying an nyu. Br provide of a professor of call talks about native fascist forces and we have deep native fascist forces When i think of fascism i think of it primarily as a kind of culture a kind of political culture and that's why conspiracy theories are so central to it Perhaps it's easiest to begin with. Its opposite a democratic culture Now there are different kinds of anti-democratic cultures. Fascism is just one kind of anti-democratic culture But but it's the kind that faces us in the united states. it's the dante democratic threat that faces us in the united states. So that's why focus it focus on that A a democratic culture is a culture that respects truth Democracy centered around truth because democracy has to values freedom and equality and both freedom and equality require truth Freedom requires truth. Because if you're lied to you're not free. That's what the matrix is about. People in the matrix aren't free. That's why they wanna get out of the matrix. You need truth to be free and you need truth for equality because political equality is speaking truth to power. A democratic society democratic culture is one where a liar is punished. a democratic culture is one more one a politician lies. They lose support. If you wanna destroy democratic culture you attack the truth You represent your opponent as a vicious animate A legitimate political but as say Someone who's hiding paddle file ring And then and then and then truth doesn't matter anymore because who cares. If the person piloting a pedophile ring is telling the truth they're hiding a pedophile ring. And who cares if you're lying. You're defending a little children yet. That's a quite quite a transportation right into the present moment and something that we talked about on our fake news episode. And i mean how could we not talking about a satanic pedophile colts. Pretty much constantly since the nineteen eighty s. But on that note. I wanted to ask you how you think. Conspiracy theories and disinformation You call sort of the pillar of fascist ideology. So i was hoping you talk a little bit more about that whether these conspiracy theories be within america or kind of comparing them Because they seem these themes seemed to repeat so if you want to compare them to other fascist regimes that you've also written and read about so. The very first article. I ever wrote for a newspaper was on birtherism in the new york. Times in twenty eleven ways of silencing. It's why i quit. That's why i moved from sort of purely academic work to writing for the newspapers a decade ago because when birtherism came on the scene i basically said okay. I have to drop everything because as the child of to holocaust survivors. I'm well aware that conspiracy theories mark the beginning of an end to democracy. What conspiracy theories do or certain kinds of conspiracy theory is they they mark out your enemy as a as fundamentally satanic as fundamentally opposed take to all values all virtuous values and civilization itself And i think. I think once you start conspiracy theorizing. You can't help. But ending. Up in with anti semitic conspiracies because i think antisemitism fundamentally is an ideology that law that represents jews as at the center of a conspiracy to take the world over and so ultimately so now this is not to say that jews can't jewish people themselves can't use conspiracy theories they cannon do There are many jewish supporters of far right nationalist movements But it's the say that the structure is an anti-semitic structure so at the very heart of national socialism was the conspiracy theory the protocols of the elders of zion forgery which is supposedly written by jewish people by the elders zion jewish people and his this incoherent thing where wealthy jews were supposedly promoting social justice movements in order to promote minorities Women and minorities to take to do a race war to take over from whites and they genocide white genocide and then the jews could then take over and impose world communism. so that's the protocols of the zion. Why detail but it's very familiar. Henry ford gave out five hundred thousand copies of the protocols of the elders of zion in the united states. so because it's so familiar it's something that You can you know constantly Redo the ku klux klan the basis of the second klein's ideology is the protocols. They said jews are trying to bring around world communism by inciting blocks into a race war against whites and then jews will using unions will take over at impose marxism and communism. This is exactly the basis of today's trump campaign one hundred percent exactly the same. I mean it's it's we're hearing. I mean something that. I read kind of reading ridiculous like alex jones ian type sites. There was the story of. I saw the jewish ball which were then controlling black lives matter that were then controlling the mask mandate because they wanted to hide. Patriot faces from god. You know this sort of like just it. But it can all that sort of what i loved about. Your book is how fascism alters an entire reality it doesn't just It doesn't just give you random conspiracies to you know folded your worldview kind of constructs an alternative reality where you've explained that debate becomes impossible. So can you talk a little bit about this idea that because i love the way you put it because there's that argument like okay. We're on college campuses. We need this healthy debate right. You can't thrive academically or intellectually if you don't have opposing viewpoints coming in but as you point out it's not so much about opposing viewpoints. It's about kind of this. This platform being unavailable for debate. Yes once you so people say oh you've got to have every viewpoint in there but some viewpoints by their nature seal off of you points from rationality. If the viewpoint is black americans are inferior or black people are inferior intellectually and barrier. Then you've represented any black person who tries to argue against that either as intellectually inferior or as self interested in trying to argue against you that that that they can't be rational You know so if you say women are inferior you know than any woman. Arguing against you automatically can't be rational because they're a woman so they have a stake in the matter. And so and and what these ideologies that represent other human beings as less rational by their nature because if they're women if they're block if they're muslim the Or having a secret agenda say and so not being reasonable. Because i have a secret agenda. What that means these very ideologies. Say that you can't have rational debate with them. If the ideology is women can't be rational then. How could you have a rational debate with the woman so and then your not being rational because the very premise of your debate is that women can't engage with you so very central to scientific racism from its various options. Something stephen jay gould brilliantly. Discuss says Is is in the miss measure of man Scientific racists have viewed themselves as more more objective as heroes for free speech and all their terrible errors You know if you want a clear. Example is fredrick. Kaufman's 1896 race traits of the american negro which discussing how fascism works and he declares himself is purely objective and scientific and it's true that he has many many charts and statistics. They're arguing that black. People are physically weaker than white people. Slower than white people can lift less weight than white people. Those are things that we anyone now. They're not part of contemporary racism. That black i'm black. Americans are physically weaker but that was considered objectively established fact. Because what he did is he took a whole bunch of statistics on On black american soldiers and physical training on them and showed that they That white soldiers could lift more weights. And we're faster But what he didn't consider is that black amount of the black soldiers were malnourished He didn't consider their black soldiers got worse treatment. He erased racism from from it. So what this quote unquote objectivity does is. It makes you it masks reality from you. It's interesting that this person would have written about black folks being Weaker when they're also sort of the opposite stories right of whoever is that other of the of the you know rural white population Racial others People who have different gender identities sexualities People who are jewish. Obviously there's this What you said like. There's the panic element especially during sort of like the long term war on drugs black-americans painted as you know monstrous impervious to police bullets. And i think all of that you know because we have this sort of scientific racism and then we have sort of the more overt racism which we still have today. i'd say But i could you kind of talk about these. These panics that are created over these villains that are often considered satanic monstrous or Inhuman in some way and how those themes show up again and again like these particular panics that we've talked about you know like the sexuality of teenagers Protecting children from you know. Stranger pedophile calls Anything from you know the of the alumina to satanic cults that we're seeing again. So can you just sort of talk about how these themes of panic and these themes of fear come back again and again in a fascist ideology so fascism really centers violence. The idea is it's a it's a war it's your leader represents the nation and there are the people who are trying to destroy the nation There there's there's various kinds of opponents and fascism there's the brilliant coup plotters of fascism the d- the element of the leftist radicals as often historically played by. Jews could be played by muslims seat. They played by muslims now in us politics. And then there's the people they're trying to incite you know Black americans in this case and then you also so since it's war you're trying to incite violence against your enemies The minorities the leftist said. Satra you need to create fear and panic. You need to justify violence against th up. You need to justify a brutality against them and so you need to. So it's no surprise that hitler borrowed tropes said argued that we that nazis should borrow tropes from the allied first world war propaganda about the germans. The allied first world war propaganda about the germans represented the germans as monstrous fruits. Raping german women And so So this patriarchal masculinity is central here. Because what you do is you represent the other as a threat to your women is older and children absolutely absolutely. It puts it all together. It's a threat to the patriarchal family structure. So and you say demand. You can't protect your women and children so two of the great conspiracy theories last. Several centuries one is blood libel against jews. The idea that jews are kidnapping christian babies for their for their religious rituals. He using their blood. So you're saying you know you have to violence against the jews because you have to protect your families and then The conspiracy theory behind lynching of black americans which sad black black men were raping a white women These were threats to masculinity at rep. Told man you can't take care of your women and children with you and on have the other mall together. we've got the We've got the blood. Libel is is inside queuing on And all of them appeal. They raise the the fear of loss of masculinity. You can't protect your family. You need a strong leader. Who's not going to be bound by liberal things by by human rights who's going to bash the opponent and save your family either be wells long ago in southern harz identified the structure as centered around patriarchal masculinity She said she said speaking to white women said this represents you as in need of protection by white man. She's like this. This represents you as lacking in agency unable to fall in love with With a black man And you see this all over the world. You see it as i discuss in my book the hindu love jihad. The the idea that muslims in india are are targeting hindu women To marry them and bring them over to islam. So that has motivated enormous anti-muslim violence in india at its again based around patriarchal masculinity so. I think that what is also at the center of this which is a part obviously if not the heart of patriarchal masculinity is the idea of the white genocide. And i think that is like underlying. I think people don't even know they're afraid of it almost like it's this underlying anxiety that exploited. So would you mind talking a little bit about that. And maybe if it does relate to other places because it's not like witnesses the default but it's whatever right the colonizing kind of overclass brilliant absolutely. You're absolutely right you can't you can't disentangle race and gender here. Racism this kind of White supremacy its its ugliest manifestation is the the fear that That non whites will take over and take your women porco. Your women So it's no surprise that in historically at american racism the people that were considered most inferior were not blacks or whites mixed race. People and frederick hoffman. He argues he's scientifically shown mixed race. People are the weakest the most prone to disease the least intelligent the most venal the most criminal And you know so because that's supposed to be the most horrific of all So loss of cult cultural dominance This is the center of fascism center. Fascism is hierarchy the hierarchy of white over black white over non white the hierarchy of man over woman so So white replacement theory that you know it went in charlottesville. When they were chanting. Jews will not replace us. Many people misunderstood that as saying jews will not. Will you know we will not have a society. That's more jewish than non-jewish. No that's not what it was the jews what the jews were supposedly doing replacing white christians by non white christians by non whites not replacing them by jews of so the idea. Is that that white genocide. This was the this was central behind the tree of life. killings two years ago. I october twenty seventh almost exactly two years ago. From the recording of this podcast. The tree of life killer was focused on the hebrew emigrant society which which sort of his emblematic of this idea. That jews are bringing immigrants in to replace the white race Now this gats diskettes to how to think about this internationally with say in where we're not talking about any whites. We're talking about a dialectic between hindus and muslims But you have the same thing. This fear that muslims were replaced hindus. I just also wanted to touch on the fact that this work is really personal for you. And you mentioned that your family had survived the holocaust. But i know there's a little bit more to that story. And i was just interested in that because it will really inform. I think why this work and kind of carry on carrying on this kind of work has been really important for you. So i think principally fear for your point that both my parents are have been the targets of of the kind of conspiracy theorizing and vilification that faces black americans for example in the united states and muslims and mexican immigrants and i was raised with these stories from my family not necessarily of the violence they encountered and both of them did experience terrible violence but of the neither were death camps but my father lived through historic knock was was beaten on the streets of berlin as a child as a five year old But both of them remembered how they were represented as monstrous says viruses as enemies of the nation. My father told me about how when he first learned to read. He realized the horrific things people were saying about about him. and my mother when she was repatriated back to poland at the age of five and she lives in poland until she was eight. There is still anti. And the way in which people talked about jewish people as disease as dirty as as evil as threats as satanic. These ways of talking about them affected their whole lives. And so for me. What we see when we see these discussions of sharia law for instance these conspiracy theories about muslims when we see the way that our our our president and his administration are speaking of immigrants. I know that six seven and eight year old children will be scarred by this talk. Even if we overcome this horror they will be scarred by their talk and they'll pass it on to their children and the way that my parents passed it on to me. Their their children will be able to identify things in the future. As i've been able to identify things but it also brings with it a kind of lifelong trauma that i wish. Frankly we could avoid. I think that. That's i mean it's man i don't know it's a little. I'm a little speechless. Because it's so incredible not to flatter you. But you know even able to to achieve. I think sort of in in the honor of things that have happened in the past and then also a missed what promises to possibly be at least a lot more conflict of some kind going forward As we see these themes these stories these narrative these conspiracy theories really propping up this administration. Um and i guess We'll see what that means going forward So lastly Something we like to ask our guests Is after flattering. You i will humble you Is is there a time that you believed something. That wasn't true whether that be 'cause i don't know if you've gotten to any of the episodes i talk about my past. As a conspiracy theorist in how that really in my father as proper alumina person and how that really affected me. And how i had to pull myself out of that type of thinking and what did it was going a little too deep and finding the anti semitism on earth and saying oh wait what am i doing and so i'm wondering whether there was something in your life. That that that duped ya. Yeah ironically ironically given the segway. I would say it was being misinformed of the history of israel. I thought that that israel had always been occupied by both jewish people and palestinians and palestinians hadn't been driven off their land and and in fact just were murderous towards jewish people and And unfairly wanted to claim the whole land as their own when jews had always lived there and the culture was always jewish. And why. I believe an incredible number of false things about israel and and i was extremely resistant to being told that actually jewish i mean my parents were people who fled europe but that jewish people who flat other countries removed palestinians from their land. And and this was very. I was very resistant to learning this. It seemed to me antisemitism semitism at first and then i realized that actually palestinians are just like me and they've had an experience of horror at the hands of my fellow jewish people and and my resorts resistance. I had to accepting that. Because of course identify with jewish jewish israelis so that to me was a big moment. That happened not so long ago. Maybe twenty years ago. Fifteen years ago twenty years ago when i first realized the history of israel and had i been blanking out that history because it ran against the things that i so much wanted to believe and was raised. Believe believing. it's really hard to wrench yourself out of those things. We talk about on the episode of confirmation bias and also like this belief polarization where basically if you're presented with counter evidence you just even want to double down harder and so i think it's just it's like this wrenching apart because it is. It's your reality that you're wrenching apart and nuts terrifying for people and that's why there is some sympathy empathy in my heart. Because you know it is. It is propaganda that is affecting people who don't otherwise sort of want to seek out nuance Like we're talking about like you want to seek out the nuance of the israeli palestinian conflict. And how complicated that is for you emotionally and it's something we all have to do constantly and it's not easy and it feels bad but if we do you rent yourself out and you look at reality. I then became terrified about the safety of the palestinian people. I'm worried about safety of everybody. In israel both sides because they both vilify each other. I know that there are so many people who are in the position that i was of believing false things of believing that no wrong was ever done to the palestinian people that their claims are entirely groundless and so i know that and that justifies tremendous violence so when we these stories these conspiracy theories. They're there to these falsehoods are there to justify tremendous violence against the others who seek to Really just have equality. Yeah absolutely yeah. That's that's I think that's a really good note for us to end on so I thank you so much. This has been such an interesting conversation. i just again it matches up so much with with the panics that we talk about here in the conspiracy theories so i think that our listeners probably getting a whole lot out of this so thank you again jason. You so much chelsea. Thanks to the work. That you and your podcasts. Do you to as of this recording. In fact as of just a few hours ago joe biden won the twenty twenty election and immediately the alarmist disinformation about voter fraud has exploded starting at the highest levels of government and trickling down. I believe jason's message resonates even more deeply now as we wait to see how this administration behaves in the months. Please go checkout how fascism works. It's vital and next time on the show. We're talking about some of the most caddy queens of fake news. That's right televangelists. This episode was produced by miranda zipper with sound by clear komo studios. please consider becoming a patron. You've got content every month and also come and check out our social media. Thanks as always listening as we move forward together into whatever the future brings ready. I hope to keep working hard. But for now i hope you let yourself have a great week.

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