From one of the most admired international leaders, comes a timely, considered, and personal look at the history and current resurgence of fascism today and the virulent threat it poses to international freedom, prosperity, and peace.
At the end of the 1980s, when the Cold War ended, many, including former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, believed that democracy had triumphed politically once and for all. Yet nearly thirty years later, the direction of history no longer seems certain. A repressive and destructive force has begun to re-emerge on the global stage—sweeping across Europe, parts of Asia, and the United States—that to Albright, looks very much like fascism.
Based on her personal experience growing up in Hungary under Hitler and the Communist regime that followed World War II, as well as knowledge gleaned from her distinguished diplomatic career and insights from colleagues around the globe, Albright paints a clear picture of how fascism flourishes and explains why it is once again taking hold worldwide, identifying the factors contributing to its rise. Most importantly, she makes clear what could happen if we fail to act against rising fascist forces today and in the near future, including the potential for economic catastrophe, a lasting spike in terrorist activity, increased sectarian violence, a rash of large-scale humanitarian emergencies, massive human rights violations, a breakdown in multilateral cooperation, and nearly irreparable self-inflicted damage to America’s reputation and capacity to lead.
Albright also offers clear solutions, including adjusting to the ubiquity of social media and the changing nature of the workplace, and understanding ordinary citizens’ universal desire for sources of constancy and morality in their lives. She contends that we must stimulate economic growth and narrow the gap between the rich and poor, urban and rural, women and men, and skilled and unskilled; work across borders to respond to transnational challenges; and ultimately recognize that democracy’s unique virtue is its ability—through reason and open debate—to find remedies for its own shortcomings.
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The View From Georgetown
The review by star metric is silly. How could I fault her for writing about her own experiences and perspective in a memoir. Her story to tell y'know.
Her work gives some insight into how centrist circles in DC view world trends. The book could have just as well been called illiberal democracy: A warning, but she's been alive too long and knows where such systems can lead. The elephant in the room is easily guessed at. She doesn't label Donald a fascist, but notes his illiberal sensibility. I don't think the reader needs her tell us what is apparent in that regard. She's right to worry more about the despot despoiling Russia and his neighbors. The chapters that sketch profiles of Viktor Orban's Hungary, North Korea, and Erdogan's Turkey are timely and useful if you're not familiar with their backgrounds.
She does talk about the balance U.S. foreign policy strikes between utility and liberal values and she argues for erroring on the side of values for what it's worth. The cluelessness of failing to see how decades of domestic policy from both parties laid the groundwork for the 2016 upset is salient. She doesn't spend much ink on the utility side of her country's foreign policy.
The take-away is don't take democracy, any democracy, for granted in the 21st century. If mass society no longer believes in their institutions and the economy is sour or immigration/heterogeneity is considered 'too much' by too many then society is vulnerable to ideologies promising the moon and the stars; to be lead by strongman personality cults that will become totalitarian systems.