Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy
26 August 2021

Fascism and the ills of contemporary politics

Jason Stanley is the guest of the tenth episode of our podcast “Democracy in Question?”

In the last episode of the second series of Democracy in Question?, AHCD Director Shalini Randeria meets with Prof. Jason Stanley of Yale University to talk about his two books, “How Propaganda Works” and “How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them”.

Democracy in Question? has covered the alarming rise of right-wing populist leaders, all of whom were elected with large majorities in well-established democracies. However, Prof. Stanley prefers to use the term fascism rather than populism for this new form of rule “to understand the strategies used by many elected authoritarian leaders who govern former democracies today, that toolbox includes conspiracy theories that whip up hatred of minorities and promises of a return to a glorious past to right”.

According to Prof. Stanley, patriarchy is at the very core of fascism, which uses “sexual anxiety and the perceived threat to the masculinity of the majority group to create a demographic panic”. Fascist politics happens when men, as members of the dominant group, are fed conspiracies to believe that there there's an internal agenda to turn boys into girls and to empower women so men will have less power. Therefore, a powerful military violent response is needed because the threat to their manhood and dominance is so existential. For Prof. Stanley, this is the kind of politics that then allows people to smash through rights and to significantly change structures.

Download the podcast's transcript HERE


Jason Stanley is Jacob Urowsky Professor of Philosophy at Yale University.

Shalini Randeria is the Director of the Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy at the Graduate Institute in Geneva, Rector of the Institute of Human Sciences (IWM) in Vienna and Excellence Chair, University of Bremen (Research Group: Soft Authoritarianism).