What is the real story behind events on Capitol Hill on January 6, 2021? What is Donald Trump’s legacy? What lessons were learned by his most extreme supporters after the president of the United States refused to acknowledge losing the election to Joe Biden? Is fascism coming? What exactly would an American fascism look like?
It’s all a mystery. Or at least some answers to these questions can be found in one, the fourth mystery in the FAKE NEWS series.
American Fascism attempts to answer important questions in an easy to read, exciting, fast-paced, thrilling story that is also an intellectual history of the 21st century American extreme right, says author Gary Engler.
But it wasn’t until well into writing the latest book that he realized exactly what he was doing. At the beginning of the process his central focus was on creating a compelling story.
“While one goal of the series right from the start was to shine a light on the activities and especially the ideas of the extreme right, it wasn’t until I had completed a first draft of American Fascism, within a hundred days after the riot in Washington, that the notion this was a sort of popular intellectual history landed in my consciousness.” says Engler. “Of course, many authors experience a revelation after they’ve written something. A story often takes on a life of its own and you just follow where it leads while you’re supposedly creating it.”
It shouldn’t have been a surprise because Engler loved studying intellectual history in university and has always been interested in understanding what people think and why they think it.
“I do believe ideas are powerful and often shape history,” he says. “At the same time, it’s important to understand that ideas almost always come from general or specific self-interest.”
This means that to truly understand an idea one must look for the self-interest behind it, Engler says.
For example, “to battle fascism we must understand fascists, not just what they do, but also what they think, the appeal their ideas have to certain people and ask ourselves whose self-interest these ideas promote.”
Asking this question leads one to the historical conclusion that the self-interest behind fascism has always been those who benefit the most from a status quo threatened by change, democracy and socialism. If some elements of the rich and powerful come to believe their self-interest is threatened by democracy, that the people will choose socialism over capitalism, they will turn against democracy and attempt to use fascism to maintain their power.
“What I’ve tried to do is take my main character, Waylon Choy, and have him confront violent extremists, not just in the narrative, but also ideologically. The reader, through the thoughts and actions of Choy, also confronts the far right.”