Madeleine Albright. Fascism: A Warning Chapters 4-8

Notes from discussion –

  • The chapters remind me of the time I lived in Spain under Franco. The king had been expelled and a republic/democracy established.  But the republican factions were too divided to resist the fascists.  Fascism was vivid while I lived there.  I worked at the university and knew many republicans.  They were regularly harassed; whenever Franco visited, all the republicans in the town were rounded up and put in jail.  No meetings of more than five people were allowed, although they were held clandestinely.  The city police regularly beat people over the head.  Franco was the absolute ruler.
  • The book has taught me about the popular front. I had heard of it, but didn’t know what it was or how highly divided it was.  I am amazed at the incompetence of Mussolini; Hitler seems to have been more competent.  Mussolini and Hitler seemed to have been competing with each other.
  • By World War II the popular front was reconstructed and became coordinated and effective; they learned from their experience in Spain. These chapters showed many different fascist groups in many countries, including non-white groups in places like India, where people were anti-British, and there were also Muslim Nazis, who were anti-Jewish.  Fascism and its Indo-European ideology was truly an international movement
  • I have been following Richard Wolf and Christopher Hedges. Wolf says people are starting to talk more about communism and socialism.  The New Deal was established because of the strength of these two ideas and of the unions during the Roosevelt years.  Ever since, there has been an attack first on communism, then socialism, and then the unions.  Albright leaves the impression that communism and fascism are the same thing.
  • She does distinguish communism and fascism but walks a thin line. She argues both can have dictatorships and equates them to totalitarianism.  She is vehement that communism “doesn’t work!” and thus we should move on.
  • She is Czech. None of the eastern European countries like communism, which was imposed as the Russians chased the Nazis back to Germany.  The Soviet Union took over eastern Europe, but not Greece where Churchill and Roosevelt decided to stop them; so Stalin abandoned Greece.
  • I have a serious question about how she avoids discussing the complicity of the U.S. in most of the regimes she winds up criticizing – especially in South and Central America.
  • Superdictators were crushed by the popular front in WWII. The UN was set up as an arbiter to prevent WWIII.  The Cold War started in 1946 when Churchill, recently voted out of power and upset with the Yalta agreements, was invited to Fulton MO by Truman; he gave a speech about an iron curtain having come down over all of eastern Europe and a new tyranny having come upon us.
  • Albright’s discussion neglects the role of the Soviet Union in crushing fascism.
  • How is it that Europeans do not hate the ideas of communism and socialism as US Americans do – they still have strong socialist and communist parties.
  • The Peronistas in Argentina and South Africa represent two forms of totalitarianism after WWII. Nationalism was the basis of post-war fascism from 1945 to 1985.  If fascism comes to the US, it will be revived under the banner of nationalism.
  • US voters have been successfully brainwashed to think of communism as evil. They don’t know what it is; they just know it is bad.  Trump and his supporters currently are successful in condemning movements as “socialist,” “communist,” “leftist.”
  • Even moreso than Joseph McCarthy, J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI were virulently anti-communist and totalitarian
  • Richard Wolf suggests more people are more open to communism and socialism that have been so in the recent past. The opposition to the New Deal began as anti-communism.  The opposition came from the rich who did not wish to spend their money funding it.  Now the ruling class is using the unexpected election of Trump to their advantage.
  • But more people are beginning to see the disparities that exist.
  • The founding myth of “America,” at least for the Europeans, was to come here and get rich. This myth persists and has given US voters a skewed outlook on society – “everybody can be rich!”  Combine this with a lack of class awareness and “rugged individualism” and one begins to see why many in the US are not receptive to communist and socialist ideas.
  • Albright represents the internationalist side of the bourgeoisie. She is part of the democratic international, and her enemy is nationalism.  This internationalism is anti-democratic in its nature and maintains many elements of the old fascism – destroying dissent and using police power to keep themselves in power.  If fascism comes to the US it will be under the guise of “America first” – but controlling international situations as evidenced today in Venezuela.
  • We should find ways to talk with rank-and-file voters in ways that will begin to break down their knee-jerk opposition to the words/ideas of communism and socialism.

 

 

 

Next meeting March 3

Discuss chapters 9-11