How To Tell The Difference Between Populism And Fascism

Trump isn’t Hitler. Obama (probably) isn’t Chamberlain. But Piers Brendon’s book, ‘The Dark Valley,’ has valuable lessons about the rise of fascism in the 1930s that are useful today.

Picture this. Several nations, long slumbering, are stirring to take their place as global powers and assert their will over their would-be spheres of influence. Meanwhile, an economic crisis has led major powers to be more concerned with problems at home than with dangers abroad. Because of these uncertainties, many countries have turned toward populist leaders who embrace nationalism as a balm for the ailments of the people.

This could just as easily be a description of of today as it is the 1930s. A wave of nationalism is sweeping Europe and the U.S., the international order is in disarray, and a growing number of countries are rejecting economic globalism and embracing protectionism. That’s why Piers Brendon’s book, The Dark Valley: A Panorama of the 1930s, chronicling the lead-up the second world war, should be required reading. Although published nearly 17 years ago, it serves both as a reminder of our past and a warning for our future.