Democracy Now! Fascism Scholars Ruth Ben-Ghiat, Walden Bello, and Timothy Snyder discuss Trump, the Capitol assault, and fascist authoritarianism

Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a New York University historian whose work focuses on fascism, authoritarian leaders and propaganda, says the storming of the Capitol was “a logical result” of Trump’s legitimization and encouragement of right-wing extremism since 2016.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is threatening to begin new impeachment hearings against President Trump if Vice President Mike Pence doesn’t invoke the 25th Amendment of the Constitution to remove Trump from office for inciting his supporters to storm the Capitol. Calls are also growing for Republican Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley to be expelled or to resign for supporting Trump’s effort to overturn the election and fanning the flames ahead of last week’s insurrection, and authorities are warning about more right-wing violence ahead of Inauguration Day on January 20.

Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a New York University historian whose work focuses on fascism, authoritarian leaders and propaganda, says the storming of the Capitol was “a logical result” of Trump’s legitimization and encouragement of right-wing extremism since 2016. “The threat to democracy is not outside our institutions only. It’s coming from inside,” Ben-Ghiat says.

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Walden Bello, is an acclaimed sociologist, academic, environmentalist and activist, whose latest column argues the United States has entered a “Weimar Era,” in which democratic elections are increasingly delegitimized as street violence becomes the norm.

We speak with Walden Bello, an acclaimed sociologist, academic, environmentalist and activist, whose latest column argues the United States has entered a “Weimar Era,” in which democratic elections are increasingly delegitimized as street violence becomes the norm. “This is not something that’s unusual that has happened in the Capitol. Right-wing groups, when they begin to lose electorally, … they resort to the streets and to violence in order to stop that process,” says Bello

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“The American republic is hanging by a thread because the president of the United States has sought to use violence to stay in power and essentially to overthrow our constitutional system,” says Snyder.

As the House votes to impeach President Trump, the FBI warns there could be a repeat of the violent insurrection he encouraged on January 6, with Trump loyalists planning to hold armed protests nationwide ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration. We speak with Timothy Snyder, a historian of fascism, who says the riot at the U.S. Capitol was “completely and utterly predictable” given President Trump’s record of stoking extremism and undermining democratic institutions. “The American republic is hanging by a thread because the president of the United States has sought to use violence to stay in power and essentially to overthrow our constitutional system,” says Snyder.


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