Is there some sort of fascist-killing machine?
November 10, 2016 9:13 AM   Subscribe

Are there good examples from history of fascists or proto-fascists being granted power, and then subsequently being repudiated or de-fanged before becoming completely entrenched and without significant bloodshed? I'm looking both for strategies to consider and reassurances that it might be possible.
posted by contraption to Law & Government (8 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
i'm sorry - i seem to post "chile" to a pile of questions here - but the return to democracy here was surprisingly peaceful. yes, there was armed resistance, but the huge majority of deaths occurred much earlier in the dictatorship. for full details read heraldo muñoz's excellet book (in english) - the dictator's shadow. muñoz is a moderate politician (currently foreign minister) and the book describes in detail the compromises (largely coordinated by muñoz himself) necessary for the transition of power.

one particularly interesting aspect was the way that the vote for democracy was "sold" to the public - a campaign directed by a yound advertising executive who faced down (completely understandable) demands for ads that features the regime's brutality and instead painted the transition as a safe, happy, positive process for all. the story is told in the film no.

in short, and at the risk of editorializing, compromise was critical (one reason that the politics threads here worry me so much). on the other hand, there are deep wounds in chilean society that last to this day.

also, i should add, trump doesn't really match up in comparison to pinochet. some of the questions here are a little ridiculous.
posted by andrewcooke at 9:44 AM on November 10, 2016 [14 favorites]

Response by poster: Just going to add a little additional clarification before butting out: I realize Trump is no Pinochet and am not trying to equate the current of affairs with established dictatorships. I do think the current state of American democracy looks disturbingly vulnerable to fascist takeover, and am looking for examples of places that have gone to that brink and successfully stepped back before anti-democratic forces could seize control.
posted by contraption at 10:12 AM on November 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

How literal are you being about fascism? I mean, the Red Scare and McCarthyism was pretty dark, but it passed without any real bloodshed. But of course, McCarthy wasn't a fascist per se.
posted by kevinbelt at 11:02 AM on November 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The overthrow of Slobadan Milosevic was relatively peaceful and bloodless, especially compared to how bloody his regime itself was. If you're curious about the how, I'd suggest reading up more on Otpor!, the organization that was largely responsible for the protests which led to his overthrow. Srdja Popovic's Blueprint for Revolution is a great book by one of the founders of the movement on the lessons they learned about nonviolent revolution and how they can be applied in other situations.
posted by Itaxpica at 11:31 AM on November 10, 2016 [3 favorites]

Best answer: For the United States, the only realistic strategy is to wait four years and vote for someone else. (Except maybe impeachment, but that doesn't really change the "regime".) Any other form of "repudiation" or "defanging" means the end of the democratic process in America as we know it.

Other democracies have been through this. Berlusconi in Italy severely tested democratic the democratic process (he said Mussolini wasn't that bad) and moved into worrisome directions. Eventually he resigned and was replaced under a constitutional process. In the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos was voted out of the office he severely abused. That's how democracies move back from the brink. Not through bloodshed, significant or insignificant, but at the ballot box or through other legitimate constitutional processes.
posted by beagle at 11:52 AM on November 10, 2016 [8 favorites]

Uruguay had a dictatorship from 1973 to 1985, which ended through negotiation. A former guerrilla and prisoner during the dictatorship, José Mujica, was later elected President and served from 2010 to 2015.
posted by expialidocious at 11:57 AM on November 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

I believe this is what you want:
...[the book is originally] a pamphlet ... based on [forty years' experience and study of] methods of demonstration. Now in its fourth edition, it was originally handed out by the Albert Einstein Institution, and although never actively promoted, to date it has been translated into thirty-one languages. This astonishing book travelled as a photocopied pamphlet [around various hot spots you'll recognize]. Surreptitiously handed out amongst youth uprisings the world over - how the 'how-to' guide came about and its role ... is an extraordinary tale. Once read you'll find yourself urging others to read it and indeed want to gift it.
posted by amtho at 1:52 PM on November 10, 2016 [4 favorites]

In the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos was voted out of the office he severely abused.

Yeah, it didn't go quite that smoothly. Whether the events count as "significant" bloodshed is a matter of definition, I guess. In any case, that's after 20 years of Marcos rule, so I think we are really looking for examples that clipped it a little shorter than that.
posted by jimw at 8:56 PM on November 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

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