The Wannabe Fascists: A Guide to Understanding the Greatest Threat to Democracy

Regular price $ 24.95

by Federico Finchelstein

University of California Press

5/14/2024, hardcover

SKU: 9780520392496


Meet today's almost fascists and learn the warning signs to intercept them on the road from populism to dictatorship.

With The Wannabe Fascists, historian Federico Finchelstein offers a precise explanation of why Trumpism and similar movements across the world belong to a new political breed, the last outcome of the combined histories of fascism and populism: the wannabe fascists. This new type of populist politician is typically a legally elected leader who, unlike previous populists who were eager to distance themselves from fascism, turns to totalitarian lies, racism, and illegal means to destroy democracy from within.

Drawing on almost three decades of research on the histories of fascism and populism around the world, this book lays out in clear language what the author calls the "four pillars of fascism"--xenophobia, propaganda, political violence, and ultimately dictatorship. Finchelstein carefully explains how and why wannabe fascists like Trump, Bolsonaro, and Modi embrace the first three pillars but don't quite succeed in dictatorship and total suppression of the popular vote. The Wannabe Fascists stresses the importance of preventing despots from reaching this tipping point and offers a clear warning for what's at stake.


"Federico Finchelstein's timely and carefully argued book unpacks the differences between fascism and populism and argues that many populists in the US, Europe, and Latin America are increasingly using violence, propaganda, xenophobia, and styles of self-presentation in ways that recall historic fascism and classic dictatorship." -- Ruth Ben-Ghiat, author of Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present

"Finchelstein is a leading figure in right-wing studies and offers us a new concept that is clever and very relevant in our contemporary political context." -- Mabel Berezin, author of Making the Fascist Self and Distinguished Professor of Arts and Sciences in Sociology, Director of the Institute for European Studies, Cornell University

About the Author:

Federico Finchelstein is a world-renowned expert on fascism, populism, and dictatorship and is Professor of History at the New School for Social Research and Eugene Lang College in New York City. His previous books include From Fascism to Populism in History and A Brief History of Fascist Lies.