The key lesson of the 20th century
Seva Gunitsky of U Toronto at Monkey Cage:
"As late as July 1942, a Gallup poll showed that 1 in 6 Americans thought Hitler was “doing the right thing” to the Jews. A 1940 poll found that nearly a fifth of Americans saw Jews as a national “menace” — more than any other group, including Germans. … These voices welcoming fascism were not marginal radicals but mainstream writers, presidents of major associations and editors of popular journals. In his 1934 presidential address, the president of the American Political Science Association ... argued for abolishing a democracy that allowed “the ignorant, the uninformed and the antisocial elements” to vote. If these reforms smacked of fascism, he concluded, then “we have already recognized that there is a large element of fascist doctrine and practice that we must appropriate.” …
The good news is that the three major factors that drove its expansion are absent today. The first was a major economic depression and social dislocation. … The second factor was fear of communism. … The third factor was the rise of Nazi Germany as an economic and military powerhouse. …
The overall U.S. economy has been performing well, but levels of inequality continue to rise. Wide areas of America are increasingly mired in permanent unemployment and a massive drug epidemic. These are the sorts of economic conditions that drove fascist support in the 1930s. … fear of communism has been replaced by fear of globalists and elite technocrats (still often tinged with anti-Semitism) who supposedly seek to undermine and control the lives of ordinary Americans …. The third factor — the appearance of an ideological rival that seemed to outperform America’s corrupt democracy — is today reflected most clearly in fears over the rise of China. …
More than any appeal to freedom, democracy spread because it promised economic prosperity and political stability. But when democracies failed to deliver, as during the Great Depression, the tide of popular and elite opinion shifted just as readily and just as quickly against democratic institutions. The key lesson of the 20th century is that democracy is more fragile than we might like."
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This is my notepad.