Interrogating the Present

Scholars and other experts on historical fascism, populism and right-wing authoritarianism are increasingly commenting on contemporary political developments in essays and opinion pieces. This section collects writings of this genre. It is organized thematically, with (at present) a heavy focus on the US American political scene. As of this writing, it includes mainly writings through 2016. We are working to bring it up to date and will continue to update it frequently, and we also will expand our coverage of other regions of the world.

The syllabus includes materials that should be useful for discussion, debate, and critique. Inclusion of an item does not indicate NFS’s endorsement of the author’s analysis or opinion.


2020 General Election and Capitol Insurrection

Evans, Richard J. “Why Trump Isn’t a Fascist.” New Statesman. January 13, 2021.

Katz, Jonathan M. “It Happened Here.” Foreign Policy. January 9, 2021.

O. Paxton, Robert. “I’ve Hesitated to Call Donald Trump a Fascist. Until Now | Opinion.” Newsweek. January 11, 2021.

Pineda, Dorany. “‘The Turner Diaries’ Didn’t Just Inspire the Capitol Attack. It Warns Us What Might Be Next.” Los Angeles Times. January 8, 2021.

Shendruk, Amanda, and Anne Quito. “Decoding the Flags and Banners Seen at the Capitol Hill Insurrection.” Quartz. January 9, 2021.

Simon, Mallory, and Sara Sidner. “Decoding the Extremist Symbols and Groups at the Capitol Hill Insurrection.” CNN. January 9, 2021.


Applebaum, Anne. “A Warning From Europe: The Worst Is Yet to Come.” The Atlantic. October 2018.

—————. “History Will Judge the Complicit.” The Atlantic. August 2020.

Bebout, Lee. “Trump Tapped into White Victimhood – Leaving Fertile Ground for White Supremacists.” The Conversation. January 6, 2021.

Bell, David A. “Donald Trump Is Making the Great Man Theory of History Great Again.” Foreign Policy. January 12, 2017.

Ben-Ghiat, Ruth. “Trump Is Following the Authoritarian Handbook. CNN. January 17, 2017.

—————. “‘Send Her Back’ and the Advancement of Trump’s Authoritarian Playbook.” GQ. July 19, 2019.

Brackney, Kathryn, and Terence Renaud. “What Hannah Arendt Would Do About Trump’s Former Bureaucrats.” Foreign Policy. December 23, 2020.

Che, Chang. “The Nazi Inspiring China’s Communists.The Atlantic. December 1, 2020.

Churchwell, Sarah. “Can American Democracy Survive Donald Trump?The Guardian. November 21, 2020.

De Bruin, Erica. “No, Trump Is Not Attempting a ‘Coup.’ Here’s Why the Distinction Matters.The Washington Post. November 11, 2020.

Dikötter, Frank. “How Do Dictators Seize Power? The Malevolent Careers of Eight 20th-Century Leaders Explained. Interview by Elinor Evans.HistoryExtra. March 5, 2020.

Drezner, Daniel. “It’s Not a Coup. It’s Not Even a Bad Coup.The Washington Post. December 7, 2020.

Goldberg, Michelle. “Opinion | Just How Dangerous Was Donald Trump?The New York Times. December 15, 2020.

Gopnik, Adam. “What We Get Wrong About America’s Crisis of Democracy.” The New Yorker. December 27, 2020.

Horley, Tim, Anne Meng, and Mila Versteeg. “The World Is Experiencing a New Form of Autocracy.” The Atlantic. March 1, 2020.

Hurst, Alexander. “Escape From the Trump Cult.The New Republic. December 14, 2018.

Jacobs, Ben. “Experts Fear Trump’s Failed Coup Is a ‘Dress Rehearsal.’Intelligencer. December 27, 2020.

Kallis, Aristotle. “Destroying Parliaments Leads to War – Just Look at History.” The Conversation. September 6, 2019.

Kessler, Martin, and Meghna Chakrabarti. “What The ‘Strongmen’ Of History Reveal About Modern Politics.” On Point. WBUR. November 12, 2020.

MacWilliams, Matthew. “That One Weird Trait that Predicts Whether You’re a Trump Supporter. Politico Magazine. January 17, 2016.

Macwilliams, Matthew. “Who Decides When the Party Doesn’t? Authoritarian Voters and the Rise of Donald Trump.” Political Science and Politics 49:4 (October 2016): 716-721.

Narea, Nicole. “3 Scholars Say Trump Isn’t Staging a Coup — but He Still Poses a Threat to Democracy.Vox. November 14, 2020.

Pareene, Alex. “A Coup Is a Coup.The New Republic. November 13, 2020.

Robinson, Nick. “Authoritarian Democracy: A Playbook.Dissent Magazine. November 14, 2016.

Rosenberg, Paul. “The Moral Foundations of Fascism: Warring Psychological Theories Struggle to Make Sense of Hitler, Mussolini and You-Know-Who.Salon. December 4, 2016.

Ross, Alex. “The Frankfurt School Knew Trump Was Coming. The New Yorker. December 5, 2016.

Shaw, Tamsin. “William Barr: The Carl Schmitt of Our Time.The New York Review of Books. January 15, 2020.

Smith, Amy Erica. “Anti-Democratic 💩 Happens. Is It a Coup? *.Mischiefs of Faction. November 20, 2020.

Taub, Amanda. “The Rise of American Authoritarianism.” Vox. March 1, 2016.

Tufekci, Zeynep. “America’s Next Authoritarian Will Be Much More Competent.The Atlantic. November 6, 2020.

—————. “‘This Must Be Your First.’The Atlantic. December 7, 2020.

Civil Society: Coordination and Resistance

Bateman, Jessica. “‘Their Ideas Had No Place Here’: How Crete Kicked Out Golden Dawn.The Guardian. December 3, 2018.

Dahlum, Sirianne, Carl Henrik Knutsen, and Tore Wig. “We Checked 100 Years of Protests in 150 Countries. Here’s What We Learned about the Working Class and Democracy.The Washington Post. October 24, 2019.

Grossberg, Lawrence. “There Are No Guarantees in History: A Cultural Studies Perspective on the Current Crisis.Truth-Out. January 1, 2017.

Hemon, Aleksandar. “Fascism Is Not an Idea to Be Debated, It’s a Set of Actions to Fight.Literary Hub. November 1, 2018.

Komska, Yuliya. “In Search of an Anti-Fascist Language.Boston Review. May 16, 2019.

Lakey, George. “How to Fight Fascism from a Position of Strength.OpenDemocracy. March 6, 2019.

Moyd, Michelle and Yuliya Komska. “Trump's Redundant, 'Post-Literate' Way of Speaking is Changing Our Language.Business Insider. January 17, 2017.

Owen, Tess. “How Teachers Are Fighting the White Nationalists Brainwashing Their Students.VICE. September 13, 2019.

Prieto, Ana. “Carlo Ginzburg and the Trials of Microhistory.Verso Books Blog. December 15, 2016.

Teitelbaum, Benjamin. “Labeling Right in the Age of Trump.Oxford University Press Blog. January 13, 2017.

Townsend, Mark. “How ‘Race Whisperer’ Seized Control of a US Neo-Nazi Group.The Observer. March 2, 2019.

Tremlett, Giles. “The Contested Legacy of the Anti-Fascist International Brigades.The Guardian. October 22, 2020.

Contemporary Far Right

A Year Inside a Growing American Terrorist Movement.Intelligencer. December 19, 2019.

Apperly, Eliza. “Why Europe’s Far Right Is Targeting Gender Studies.The Atlantic. June 15, 2019.

Baboulias, Yiannis. “The Balkans Are the World Capital of Islamophobia.Foreign Policy. April 1, 2019.

Becker, Jo. “The Global Machine Behind the Rise of Far-Right Nationalism.The New York Times. August 10, 2019.

Beuth, Patrick, Marie Groß, Roman Höfner, Max Hoppenstedt, Judith Horchert, Katrin Kuntz, Alexandra Rojkov, Alexander Sarovic, Christoph Scheuermann, and Daniel C. Schmidt. “The Most Dangerous Cult of Our Times: QAnon’s Inexorable Spread Beyond the U.S.Der Spiegel. September 24, 2020.

Bures, Eliah. “Germany’s New Politics of Cultural Despair.Foreign Policy. October 23, 2018.

Cai, Weiyi, and Simone Landon. “Attacks by White Extremists Are Growing. So Are Their Connections.The New York Times. April 3, 2019.

Evans, Jennifer. “Folk Devils and Fear: QAnon Feeds into a Culture of Moral Panic.The Conversation. October 25, 2020.

Gibson, Caitlin. “‘Do You Have White Teenage Sons? Listen up.’ How White Supremacists Are Recruiting Boys Online.The Washington Post. September 17, 2019.

Hayden, Michael Edison. “Stephen Miller’s Affinity for White Nationalism Revealed in Leaked Emails.Southern Poverty Law Center. November 12, 2019.

Heinze, Robert. “Colonial Revisionism; German Edition.Africa Is a Country. January 22, 2020.

Holmes, Jack. “An Expert on Right-Wing Extremist Groups Warns ‘The Threat Is Escalating.’Esquire. October 19, 2020.

Huyssen, Andreas. “Breitbart, Bannon, Trump, and the Frankfurt School: A Strange Meeting of Minds.” Public Seminar. September 28, 2017.

Ismay, John. “Rhodesia’s Dead — but White Supremacists Have Given It New Life Online.The New York Times Magazine. April 10, 2018.

LaFrance, Adrienne. “The Prophecies of Q.The Atlantic. June 2020.

Motadel, David. “The Far Right Says There’s Nothing Dirtier Than Internationalism — But They Depend on It.The New York Times. July 3, 2019.

Nilsson, Mikael. “Exposing Jordan Peterson’s Barrage of Revisionist Falsehoods About Hitler, the Holocaust and Nazism.Haaretz. July 3, 2020.

Osorio, Cynthia Miller-Idriss | Muhammad Darwish, Max Fraser, Anita Gill, Ed Kiernan, Alex Sears, Ignacio. “Selling Extremism: Nationalist Streetwear and the Rise of the Far Right.CNN. October 20, 2020.

Owen, Tess. “How a Small Budapest Publishing House Is Quietly Fueling Far-Right Extremism.VICE. May 30, 2019.

Beaman, Jean, and Jennifer Fredette. “Race and Racism in Europe: The Urgency of Now.Europe Now. December 8, 2020.

Rogers, Katie, and Jason DeParle. “The White Nationalist Websites Cited by Stephen Miller.The New York Times. November 18, 2019.

Rosenfeld, Gavriel D. “Digital Anti-Semitism: From Irony to Ideology.Jewish Review of Books. December 20, 2018.

Saini, Angela. “The Internet Is a Cesspool of Racist Pseudoscience.Scientific American Blog Network. July 29, 2019.

Stieber, Chelsea. “Camp of the Saints.Africa Is a Country. March 17, 2019.

Walker, Shaun. “How a Slovakian Neo-Nazi Got Elected.The Guardian. February 14, 2019.

Weitzmann, Marc. “The Global Language of Hatred Is French.Foreign Affairs. April 1, 2019.

Yablon, Alex. “America Is About to Enter Its Years of Lead.Foreign Policy. September 30, 2020.

Zhou, Teven. “Canada Among Very Worst White Supremacist Countries: Report.VICE. June 19, 2020.

Crisis of Neo-Liberalism / Liberal Democracy

Derber, Charles. “Facing Down Trump's Demagoguery: Lessons from Weimar Germany.” Truth-Out. July 22, 2016.

Evans, Richard. “Age of Anger by Pankaj Mishra Review – Globalization is Rebounding on Us.” The Guardian. January 25, 2017.

Isaac, Jeffrey C. “How Hannah Arendt’s Classic Work on Totalitarianism Illuminates Today’s America.” The Washington Post. December 17, 2016.

Levitsky, Steven and Daniel Ziblatt. “Is Donald Trump a Threat to Democracy?” The New York Times. December 16, 2016.

Mazower, Mark. “Ideas that Fed the Beast of Fascism Flourish Today.” Financial Times. November 6, 2016.

Mbembe, Achille. “The Age of Humanism is Ending.” Mail & Guardian. December 22, 2016.

Meyerson, Harold. “Bernie, Hillary, and the Ghost of Ernst Thalmann.” The American Prospect. July 13, 2016.

Runciman, David. “Is This How Democracy Ends?” London Review of Books 38:23 (December 1, 2016): 5-6.

Snyder, Timothy. “Him.” Slate. November 18, 2016.

Weitz, Eric D. “Weimar Germany and Donald Trump.” Tablet. July 18, 2016.

Cultural Studies Frameworks

Grossberg, Lawrence. “There Are No Guarantees in History: A Cultural Studies Perspective on the Current Crisis.” Truth-Out. January 1, 2017.

Huyssen, Andreas. “Breitbart, Bannon, Trump, and the Frankfurt School. A Strange Meeting of Minds.” Public Seminar. September 28, 2017.

Huyssen, Andreas. “Behemoth Rises Again. Not an Analogy!” n+1 magazine July 29, 2019.

Moyd, Michelle and Yuliya Komska. “Trump's Redundant, 'Post-Literate' Way of Speaking Is Changing Our Language.” Business Insider. January 17, 2017.

Prieto, Ana. “Carlo Ginzburg and the Trials of Microhistory.” Verso Books Blog. December 15, 2016.

Schuster-Craig, Johanna and Johannes von Moltke. “Like: Memetic Analogies in Social Media.” Geschichte der Gegenwart. September 9, 2020.

Teitelbaum, Benjamin. “Labeling Right in the Age of Trump.” Oxford University Press Blog. January 13, 2017.


"Short Takes by UCLA Historians: Are we in a Fascist Age?" UCLA Luskin Center for History and Policy. January 20, 2021.

“Trump Comparison with Hitler” -- An interview with Neil Gregor. Dan Snow’s History Hit Podcast. May 17, 2017.

Amanpour. “Ken Burns: Trump is Using Nazi Playbook.” CNN.

Augstein, Jakob. “Trump beim Namen nennen.” Der Spiegel. November 17, 2016.

Berman, Sheri. “Donald Trump Isn’t a Fascist.” Vox. January 3, 2017.

Byrnes, Mark. “Trump Isn’t a Fascist. He Has Fascist Instincts.” History News Network. May 24, 2016.

De Grazia, Victoria. “Many Call Trump a Fascist. 100 days in, Is He Just a Republican?” The Guardian. April 30, 2017.

Eley, Geoff. “Is Trump a Fascist?” The New Fascism Syllabus. November 21, 2016.

Fogu, Claudio. "The Two Faces of Fascism." "ZapLab" on Zapruder World: An International Journal for the History of Social Conflict (ISSN: 2385-1171). September 5, 2017.

Herf, Jeffrey. “Is Donald Trump a Fascist?” The American Interest. March 7, 2017.

Humphreys, Justin. “Fascism in America?” Public Seminar. January 17, 2017.

Huyssen, Andreas. “Behemoth Rises Again: Not an Analogy!” N+1. July 29, 2019.

Kinsley, Michael. “Donald Trump Is Actually a Fascist.” The Washington Post. December 9, 2016.

Merica, Dan, and Elizabeth Landers. “Spicer Apologizes for Hitler Comparison.” CNN. April 12, 2017.

McDougall, James. “No, This Isn’t the 1930s - but Yes, This is Fascism.” The Conversation. November 16, 2016.

Mintzker, Yair. “Donald Trump’s Ancient Régime.” Project Syndicate. June 1, 2017.

Nagorski, Andrew. "Nazi Violence through American Eyes." The Atlantic. March 13, 2013.

Pearl, Mike. “We Asked a Fascism Expert If Donald Trump Is a Fascist.” Vice. December 5, 2016.

Salmon, Christian. “Trump, Fascism, and the Construction of ‘the People’: An Interview with Judith Butler.” Verso Books Blog. December 29, 2016.

Schauer, Jeff. “Trump’s Fascism Poses Existential Threat.” California Mwananchi. November 26, 2016.

Steigmann-Gall, Richard. “One Expert Says Yes, Donald Trump Is a Fascist. And It’s Not Just Trump.” The Huffington Post. July 18, 2016.

—————. “If Trump Really Is a Fascist, What Would a Trump Presidency Look Like?” The Huffington Post. July 25, 2016.

—————. “What the American Left Doesn’t Understand about Fascism.” The Huffington Post. October 7, 2016.

Tucker, Jeffrey. “Waking Up to the Reality of Fascism.” Foundation for Economic Education. December 9, 2016.


“The New Nationalism.” The Economist. November 17, 2016.

Ash, Timothy Garton. “Populists are out to divide use. They must be stopped.” The Guardian. November 11,  2016.

Baker, Peter C. “‘We the People’: The Battle to Define Populism.The Guardian. January 10, 2019.

Balibar, Etienne. “Populism and Counter-Populism in the Atlantic Mirror.” openDemocracy: Free Thinking for the World. January 2, 2017.

Beauchamp, Zack. “An Expert on the European Far Right explains the growing influence of anti- immigrant politics.” Vox. May 31, 2016.

Chotiner, Isaac. “Michael Lind on Populism, Racism, and Restoring Democracy.The New Yorker. February 6, 2020.

Chrisafis, Angelique, Kate Connolly, and Angela Giuffrida. “The New Populism: How the Far-Right Appeals to Women Voters.The Guardian. January 29, 2019.

D’Eramo, Marco. “Populism and the New Oligarchy.” Translated by Gregory Elliott. The New Left Review 82 (2013).

Filkins, Dexter. “Blood and Soil in Narendra Modi’s India.The New Yorker. December 9, 2019.

Finchelstein, Federico and Pablo Piccato. “Trump’s Macho populism.” openDemocracy: Free Thinking for the World. October 3, 2016.

Habermas, Jurgen. “For a Democratic Polarisation: How to Pull the Ground from under Right-Wing Populists.” Social Europe. November 17, 2016.

Huyssen, Andreas. “Breitbart, Bannon, Trump, and the Frankfurt School: A Strange Meeting of Minds.” Public Seminar. September 28, 2017.

Leidig, Eviane. “The Far-Right Is Going Global.Foreign Policy. January 21, 2020.

Lewis, Paul, Caelainn Barr, Seán Clarke, Antonio Voce, Cath Levett, Pablo Gutiérrez, Paul Lewis, et al. “Revealed: The Rise and Rise of Populist Rhetoric.The Guardian. March 6, 2019.

Lewsen, Simon. “Populism Isn’t Always Xenophobic. Just Ask Ontario’s Premier.Foreign Policy. July 14, 2020.

Miller, James. “Could Populism Actually Be Good for Democracy?The Guardian. October 11, 2018.

Mouffe, Chantal. “The Populist Moment.” democraciaAbierta (la seccion latina de openDemocracy). November 21, 2016.

Mudde, Cas, “The Trump Phenomenon and the European Populist Right.” The Washington Post. August 26, 2015.

Mujanović, Jasmin. “The Predictable Terror of Trump’s Rise and Fall.The Conversationalist. January 8, 2021.

Müller, Jan-Werner. “Capitalism in One Family.” London Review of Books 38:21 (December 2016): 10-14.

—————. “Trump, Erdoǧan, Farage: The Attractions of Populism for Politicians, the Dangers for Democracy.” The Guardian. September 2, 2016.

Rice-Oxley, Mark, and Ammar Kalia. “How to Spot a Populist.The Guardian. December 3, 2018.

Sierakowski, Sławomir. “The Five Lessons of Populist Rule.” Project Syndicate. January 2, 2017.

Stanley, Jason. “For Trump and Modi, Ethnic Purity Is the Purpose of Power.The Guardian. February 24, 2020.

Tamás, G. M. "The Mystery of Populism is Finally Unveilled." openDemocracy: Free Thinking for the World. February 24, 2017.

Williams, Rowan. “A Nervous Breakdown in the Body Politic.” New Statesman. May 1, 2016.

Related Movements Outside the United States


Bucer, Maria. “Remembering Romanian Fascism; Worrying About America. Losing Our Moral Compass Between Past and Future.” Public Seminar. September 3, 2017.

Faiola, Anthony and Stephanie Kirchner. “In Germany, the language of Nazism is no longer buried in the past.” The Washington Post. December 9, 2016.

Nowak, Marysia and Becky Branford. “France Elections: What makes Marine le Pen far right?” BBC News. January 12, 2017.


Buric, Fedja. “Niceness is the Face of Evil.” USA Today. April 17, 2017.

Buric, Fedja. “Trump's Not Hitler, He's Mussolini. How GOP Anti-Intellectualism Created a Modern Fascist Movement in America.Salon. March 3, 2016.

Bakoc, Jovo. Right Wing Nationalism in Serbia. Berlin: Friederich Ebert Stiftung, 2011.

Listhaug, Ola; Sabrina P. Ramet, Dragana Dulić, eds. Civic and Uncivic Values: Serbia in the Post-Milošević Era. Budapest; New York: Central European University Press, 2011.

Aljko, Ivana. “When Fascist Right-wingers Take Over the Arts: Croatia as a Cautionary Tale.” Haaretz. September 10, 2017.

Hedges, Chris. “Fascists Reborn as Croatia's Founding Fathers.” The New York Times. April 12, 1997.

International Crisis Group. “Bosnia’s Dangerous Tango: Islam and Nationalism.” Europe Briefing 70 (February 26, 2013).


Gambetti, Zeynep. “Ankara’s War on Peace.” openDemocracy. October 17, 2016.

Tugal, Cihan. “Turkey Coup Aftermath: Between Neo-Fascism and Bonapartism.” openDemocracy. July 18, 2016.


Die Welt Des Islams 52:3-4 (2012). A special issue on "Islamofascism" (in English).

Eskow, Richard (RJ). “Hitchens’ Weak Defense of ‘Islamo-Fascism.’” Huffington Post. October 23, 2007.

Hitchens, Christopher. “Defending Islamofascism.” Slate. October 22, 2007.

Laqueur, Walter. “The Origins of Fascism: Islamic Fascism, Islamophobia, Antisemitism.” OUPblog. October 25, 2006.

Safire, William. “Islamofascism.” The New York Times. October 1, 2006.

Tuğal, Cihan. The Fall of the Turkish Model: How the Arab Uprisings Brought Down Islamic Liberalism. London: Verso, 2016. 

What Is Islamofascism? NPR. August 31, 2006.

Wien, Peter. “Nationalism, Communism, and Fascism in the Modern Middle East.” Ottoman History Podcast.  December 3, 2016.


Olmert, Ehud. “Ehud Olmert to 'Post': Israel Is Becoming a Fascist Country.The Jerusalem Post. July 2, 2020.

Ophir, Adi. From Occupy to the Occupation: Indeterminate Temporariness. Tikkun 31:4 (2016): 30-33.

Rinon, Yoav. Neither Israel's Nor Germany's Slide into Fascism Was Accidental. Haaretz. June 6, 2019.

Segev, Tom. Netanyahu's Fairytale about Hitler and the Mufti is the Last Thing We Need. The Guardian. October 21, 2015.


Menon, Dilip M. “The Emperor's New Khadi: Understanding Narendra Modi's Monarchical Frame of History.” January 17, 2017.

Additional Resources

“Trump 101.” Chronicle of Higher Education. June 19, 2016.

Connolly, N.D.B. and Keisha N. Blain. “Trump Syllabus 2.0.” Public Books. June 8, 2016.

Crawford, Nyron and Matt Wray. “Trump Syllabus 3.0.” Public Books. January 24, 2017.

Blum-Ross. “Ethnographic Approaches to Understanding Trump/Brexit/New Rise of Conservatism.”

Gust, Onni. “The Brexit Syllabus: British History for Brexiters.” History Workshop. September 5, 2016.