Scholars Warn of Collapse of DemocracyHistorians in the News
tags: fascism, authoritarianism, 2020 Election
Dozens of historians of fascism and authoritarianism have signed a letter warning that democracy “is either withering or in full-scale collapse globally”, and urging ordinary people to take action.
“Democracy is extremely fragile and potentially temporary, requiring vigilance and protection,” the scholars wrote in the letter released on Sunday. “It is not too late to turn the tide.”
More than 80 signatories, including professors and other scholars at universities in the US, Canada, and Europe, do not agree on whether to label Donald Trump a “fascist”. The fragility of democracy worldwide, they write, will continue to be an issue “irrespective of who wins the American presidency”.
“Whether Donald J Trump is a fascist, a post-fascist populist, an autocrat or just a bumbling opportunist, the danger to democracy did not arrive with his presidency and goes well beyond 3 November 2020,” the scholars write, referring to election day on Tuesday, when Trump will face Joe Biden at the polls.
However, the historians warn, particularly in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, “the temptation to take refuge in a figure of arrogant strength is now greater than ever”. They suggest citizens must be ready not only to defend democracy at the ballot box, but “if necessary, also through non-violent protests in the streets”.
“That’s the lesson, to not be complacent in moments like this,” said Jennifer Evans, a professor of German history at Carleton University in Canada and one of the lead organizers of the open letter. “This is a very dangerous time, and we all have a responsibility to prop up democracy.”
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