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A look at corporate authoritarianism that William Shirer called “the best thing I’ve ever seen on how America might go fascist democratically.” In 1980, US capitalist politics wore a “nice-guy mask,” a troubling disguise to cover up a creeping despotism in which the ultra-rich and corporate overseers were merging with a centralized state power in order to manage the populace. This immanent corporate authoritarianism threatened to subvert constitutional democracy. But unlike the violent and sudden usurpations that led to fascism in the days of Hitler, Mussolini, and the Japanese empire builders, this new “smiling” American breed of fascism was gaining ground through gradual and silent infringements on the freedoms of the American people. First published over three decades ago, Friendly Fascism is uncannily predictive of the threats and realities of current political and economic power trends. Author Bertram Gross, a presidential adviser during the New Deal era, traces the history and logic of declining democracy in First World countries and pinpoints capitalist transnational growth and inappropriate responses to global crises as the sources of late twentieth-century despotism in America. Gross issues ever-urgent warnings about what happens when big business and big government become bedfellows—chronic inflation, recurring recession, overt and hidden unemployment, the poisoning of the environment—and simultaneously proffers a practical shift of perspective that could help US citizens build a truer democracy. He imagines an America in which heroes are no longer needed and the leadership is a group of non-elitists who “recognize the ignorance of the wise as well as the wisdom of the ignorant.”
In the opinion of some historians the era of fascism ended with the deaths of Mussolini and Hitler. Yet the debate about its nature as a historical phenomenon and its value as a term of historical analysis continues to rage with ever greater intensity, each major attempt to resolve it producing different patterns of support, dissent, and even hostility, from academic colleagues. Nevertheless, a number of developments since 1945 not only complicate the methodological and definitional issues even further, but make it ever more desirable that politicians, journalists, lawyers, and the general public can turn to "experts" for a heuristically useful and broadly consensual definition of the term. These developments include: the emergence of a highly prolific European New Right, the rise of radical right populist parties, the flourishing of ultra-nationalist movements in the former Soviet empire, the radicalization of some currents of Islam and Hinduism into potent political forces, and the upsurge of religious terrorism. Most monographs and articles attempting to establish what is meant by fascism are written from a unilateral authoritative perspective, and the intense academic controversy the term provokes has to be gleaned from reviews and conference discussions. The uniqueness of this book is that it provides exceptional insights into the cut-and-thrust of the controversy as it unfolds on numerous fronts simultaneously, clarifying salient points of difference and moving towards some degree of consensus. Twenty-nine established academics were invited to engage with an article by Roger Griffin, one of the most influential theorists in the study of generic fascism in the Anglophone world. The resulting debate progressed through two 'rounds' of critique and reply, forming a fascinating patchwork of consensus and sometimes heated disagreement. In a spin-off from the original discussion of Griffin's concept of fascism, a second exchange documented here focuses on the issue of fascist ideology in contemporary Russia. This collection is essential reading for all those who realize the need to provide the term 'fascism' with theoretical rigor, analytical precision, and empirical content despite the complex issues it raises, and for any specialist who wants to participate in fascist studies within an international forum of expertise. The book will change the way in which historians and political scientists think about fascism, and make the debate about the threat it poses to infant democracies like Russia more incisive not just for academics, but for politicians, journalists, and the wider public.
From creeping capitalism to abortion to government corruption, these three books shed light on controversial topics that are too often left in the dark. Curated by NYU professor Mark Crispin Miller, the Forbidden Bookshelf series resurrects books from America’s repressed history. All touching on bold and debated topics, these three books are more relevant today than ever. Friendly Fascism: Bertram Gross, a presidential adviser in the New Deal era, explores the insidious way that capitalist politics could subvert America’s constitutional democracy. First published over three decades ago, this book predicted the threats and realities that occur when big business and big government become bedfellows, while demonstrating how US citizens can build a truer democracy. The Search for an Abortionist: Nancy Howell Lee’s eye-opening account reveals the dangerous and illegal options for women seeking an abortion before Roe v. Wade. Based on interviews with 114 women, this groundbreaking work takes an intimate look at the abortion process. Dallas ’63: Peter Dale Scott exposes the deep state, an intricate network within the American government, linking Wall Street influence, corrupt bureaucracy, and the military-industrial complex. Since World War II, its power has grown unchecked, and nowhere has it been more apparent than at Dealey Plaza on November 22, 1963. Scott details the CIA and FBI’s involvement in the JFK assassination, and shows how events like Watergate, the Iran–Contra affair, and 9/11 are all connected to this behind-the-scenes web of corruption.

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