Ruth Ben-Ghiat Strongmen - Mussolini to the Present

Author: Ben-Ghiat, Ruth
Title: Strongmen - Mussolini to the Present
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Year: 2020

Page 21: (excerpts that reflect 2022 sentiment in the USA)

The cults that rose up around Mussolini and Hitler in the early 1920s answered anxieties about the decline of male status, the waning of traditional religious authority, and the loss of moral clarity. ... Out of the crucible of these years came the cults of victimhood that turned emotions like resentment and humiliation into positive elements of party platforms.

Pages 103-104:

Like all strongmen, Hitler had worked hard on his charisma. ... Through body and verbal language, Hitler expressed Germans' pain at humiliation, fear of plague-carrying Jews, and desperate hope for a better future. Former NSDAP (National Socialist German Workers' Party) luminary Otto Strasser warned from exile: "Hitler responds to the vibrations of the human heart with the sensitivity of a seismograph ... proclaiming the most secret desires, the least admissible instincts ... His words go like an arrow to their target, he touches every private wound in the raw, liberates the mass unconscious ... telling it what it most wants to hear."

Pages 205-206:

Culture also became a vehicle of protest. In 1979, the Art Action Collective (CADA) staged interventions that mixed resistance traditions dating to the Italian Fascist era with postwar performance art. ... "We are artists but every man who works toward expansion of the spaces of his life, even just in how he thinks, is an artist" ... reminding Chileans of the power of human agency. CADAs "NO+" slogan (for No mas/ no more) had a huge influence. ... NO+ became a visual symbol of protest for the duration of the dictatorship. CADA member Fernando Balcells later characterized the action as encouraging =="a radical opening to emotions, to memory, to pain, and the uncontrollable risk of the new,"== all of which countered the numbness and oblivion caused by years of authoritarian rule.

Page 259:

The ceaseless lying and corruption and the cynical disregard for human life that marks strongman rule can lead to despair. This makes it all the more important to know the history of resistance to repressive governance. Time and again people have shown great resolve and courage and risked their lives to keep alive the hope that a different society can be created. This process may start with the rejection of the emotional training every leader invests in to encourage cruelty and discourage solidarity among his people. "Keep your heart a desert," said Mussolini to a journalist who asked him the secret of his success, noting that friendships get in the way of the exercise of power. That sentiment summed up all that was wrong with Fascism for the young filmmaker Alberto Lattuada, who grew up under the dictatorship. In 1941, he delivered a devastating diagnosis: "The absence of love brought many tragedies that might have been averted. Instead of the golden rain of love, a black a cloak of indifference fell upon the people. And thus people have lost the eyes of love and can no longer see clearly. ... Here are the origins of the disintegration of all values and the destruction and sterilization of conscience."

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