Scholars of Authoritarianism on the Trump Administration: A Collection of Recent Opinion Pieces and Interviews

During the seemingly endless months leading up to 2016’s presidential election in the United States, a number of historians of twentieth century authoritarianism — scholars of Fascism and Nazism, in particular — began frantically publishing op-eds and giving interviews at various media outlets around the country, and world, regarding the uncanny parallels between their areas of scholarly expertise and the policies, rhetoric, and charisma of one particular American presidential candidate: Donald J. Trump.

Since his inauguration in January 2017, President Trump has only inflamed suspicions that he and his entourage of advisers — including, but not limited to, Steven Bannon, a White Nationalist and an unapologetic admirer of interwar Italian Fascist intellectuals — are engaging in what many have characterized as a “soft coup” against the United States and its constitutional, ‘democratic’ system of governance. As the following op-eds, interviews, and lectures make abundantly clear, if the history of Europe’s tumultuous twentieth century is, indeed, beginning to repeat itself on American shores, it would be wise for Americans to remain vigilant. And informed.

 

Ruth Ben-Ghiat

Ruth Ben-Ghiat is Professor of History and Italian Studies at New York University. Her books include: Fascist Modernities: Italy, 1922-1945 (2001), Fascism’s Empire Cinema (2015), and Strongmen: From Mussolini to Trump (forthcoming). Recently, Ben-Ghiat began writing opinion columns for CNN and Huffington Post, some of which have focused on the similarities between Mussolini’s and Trump’s personalty cults.

Opinion Pieces:
— “Trump at His Most Dangerous,” CNN (May 1, 2017)
— “Trump’s Congratulatory Call to Erdogan is Revealing,” CNN (April 18, 2017)
— “Is there a Trump & Bannon Coup in the Making?,” CNN (February 1, 2017)
— “Donald Trump’s Authoritarian Politics of Memory,” The Atlantic (January 22, 2017)
— “Trump is Following the Authoritarian Playbook,” CNN (January 17, 2017)
— “An American Authoritarian,” The Atlantic (August 10, 2016)
— “Trump’s Strongman Speech,” CNN (July 22, 2016)
— “Why Steve Bannon’s white nationalism should scare America,” CNN (November 15, 2016)
— “Donald Trump’s Cult of Personality,” Huffington Post (January 16, 2016)

Interviews: 
— “Ruth Ben-Ghiat Analyzes Authoritarianism and Donald Trump’s Predatory Masculinity,” The Chauncey DeVega Show, Episode 139 (June 2, 2017)
— “Is He a Fascist? The Mistake People Make Regarding Trump’s Middle-of-the-Night Tweets,” Haaretz (April 2, 2017)
— “The Rise of Populism: Should We Be Worried?,” Al Jazeera English (February 17, 2017)
— “Experts in Authoritarianism Are Very Concerned about Trump’s First Few Days as President,” Think Progress (January 24, 2017)
— “Italy: Fascism’s Violent Birth,” Slate History of Fascism Podcast (January 20, 2017)
— “A Scholar of Fascism Sees A Lot That’s Familiar with Trump,” The New Yorker (November 4, 2016)

 

Robert Paxton

Robert Paxton is Professor Emeritus of History at Columbia University. His books include: Vichy France: Old Guard and New Order, 1940-1944 (1972), Vichy France and the Jews (1981), and The Anatomy of Fascism (2004). Beginning in early 2016, Paxton began weighing in on a variety of media outlets regarding Trump and Fascism.

Opinion Pieces:
— “American Duce: Is Donald Trump a Fascist or a Plutocrat?,” Harper’s Magazine (May 2017)

Interviews:
— “Robert O. Paxton on The Anatomy of Fascism and Trump,” The Torch with Paul DeRienzo (March 3, 2017)
— “Experts in Authoritarianism Are Very Concerned about Trump’s First Few Days as President,” Think Progress (January 24, 2017)
— “Does Donald Trump Believe in Anything but Himself?,” Slate (October 24, 2016)
— “Is Donald Trump a Fascist?,” New Republic (September 30, 2016)
— “Father of Fascism Studies: Donald Trump Shows Alarming Willingness to Use Fascist Terms & Styles,” Democracy Now! (March 15, 2016)
— “Patt Morrison Asks: Robert O. Paxton Talks Fascism and Donald Trump,” Los Angeles Times (March 9, 2016)
— “Is Donald Trump a Fascist?,” Slate (February 10, 2016)

 

Timothy Snyder

Timothy Snyder is Professor of History at Yale University. His books include: Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin (2010), Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning (2015), and On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century (2017). Immediately following Trump’s election, Snyder began composing what quickly became On Tyranny, as well as writing numerous op-eds, giving interviews, and delivering lectures on Trump, Putin, authoritarianism, Fascism, and the politics of history and memory in the post-Cold War global order to audiences on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

Opinion Pieces:
— “The Reichstag Warning,” The New York Review of Books (February 26, 2017)
— “Donald Trump Acts Like He Wants Regime Change – In the United States,” The Guardian (February 6, 2017)

Interviews: 
— “Timothy Snyder On Tyranny,” Real Time with Bill Maher (March 27, 2017)
— “Step Away from the Internet, and Other Ways to Fight Tyranny: A Conversation with Timothy Snyder and Rick Perlstein,” TED Talks (February 23, 2017)
— “Time is Running Out on American Democracy, Historian Says,” Salon (February 14, 2017)
— “The History of Fascism and Its Relevance to U.S. Politics Today,” The Diane Rehm Show (December 13, 2016)

Lectures:
— “Timothy Snyder, ‘On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons From The 20th Century’,” Politics and Prose (March 14, 2017)
— “Timothy Snyder – “What Can European History Teach Us About Trump’s America?,” Yale University (December 6, 2016)

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