By Sean Illing Updated Dec 15, 2018, 11:06am EST
“Fascism” is a word that gets tossed around pretty loosely these days, usually as an epithet to discredit someone else’s politics.
One consequence is that no one really knows what the term means anymore. Liberals see fascism as the culmination of conservative thinking: an authoritarian, nationalist, and racist system of government organized around corporate power. For conservatives, fascism is totalitarianism masquerading as the nanny state.
A new book by Yale philosopher Jason Stanley is the latest attempt to clarify what fascism is and how it functions in the modern world. Stanley focuses on propaganda and rhetoric, so his book is largely about the tropes and narratives that drive fascist politics.
I spoke with him recently about what fascism looks like today, why the destruction of truth is so essential to fascist movements, and whether he thinks it’s accurate to call President Donald Trump a fascist, as some have.
A lightly edited transcript of their conversation is available on the VOX Website.