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Madeleine Albright’s guide to fascism, past and present


"Dismissive of hyperbole, the former secretary of state is still nervy about Donald Trump."

Why is this important?

"As for Mr Trump, a tribune of the impatient, Mrs Albright’s wariness of hyperbole does not mean that she is sanguine. She calls him America’s first modern “anti-democratic president”. Transplanted to a country with fewer safeguards, he “would audition for dictator, because that is where his instincts lead”. In another era she would have been confident that such impulses would be contained by America’s institutions: “I never thought that, at age 80, I would begin to have doubts.” If that sounds alarmist, it is supposed to. But her strictures are meant as much for diffident voters as for the president. She recalls her father’s anxiety on arriving in post-war America and finding locals so accustomed to liberty—so “very, very free”, he wrote—that they might take democracy for granted. Today she sees urgent work for citizens and responsible politicians, who may be tempted to close their eyes and wait for the worst to pass. She quotes Mussolini’s scornful idea of a crowd’s role: to “submit to being shaped”. Submission is the first step on an avoidable march."


The Economist

Publication Date

April 12, 2018