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Does the “Fascism Debate” Matter for Understanding 2024 American Politics?

U.S. Capitol behind caution tape

Author: Mabel Berezin

By Our Faculty

In 2020, historians and public intellectuals began to ask whether fascism had come to America, with many analysts arguing in the affirmative. I argue here that fascism as a category has an “epistemic plasticity” that attenuates its analytic utility when it is used outside of historical context.

Fascism as an analytic device in the American context, therefore, obscures dangerous tendencies in American politics and culture. Where European political culture is characterized by secular and religious solidarity rooted in national state institutions, American political culture lacks collectivism and solidarity and is susceptible to nativism, a distinctly American impulse that is unmoored from institutional arrangements.

In the 2024 American election cycle, analysts should focus on factors that threaten democratic institutions and strategies that strengthen democracy. Comparisons that apply imperfectly to the American situation will not save democracy.


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Publication Details

Publication Year: 2024

Journal: Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science

Publication Number: 708.1