The Rhetoric of Fascism
296 pages, 6 x 9
Release Date:16 Aug 2022

The Rhetoric of Fascism

Edited by Nathan Crick
University of Alabama Press
Highlights the persuasive devices most common to fascist appeals
Fascism has resurfaced as one of the most pressing problems of our time. The rise of extremist parties and candidates in Europe, the United States, and around the globe has led even mainstream political commentators to begin using the term “fascism” to describe dangerous movements that have revived and repackaged many of the strategies long thought to have been relegated to the margins of political rhetoric. No longer just confined to the state regimes of the past, fascism thrives today as a globally self-augmenting, self-propagating rhetorical phenomenon with a variety of faces and expressions.

The Rhetoric of Fascism defines and interprets the common persuasive devices that characterize fascist discourse to understand the nature of its enduring appeal. By approaching fascism from a rhetorical perspective, this volume complements established political and sociological understandings of fascism as a movement or regime. A rhetorical approach studies fascism less as a party one joins than as a set of persuasive strategies one adopts. Fascism spreads precisely because it is not a coherent entity. Instead, it exists as a loosely bound and often contradictory collection of persuasive trajectories that have attained enough coherence to mobilize and channel the passions of a self-constituted mass of individuals.

Introductory chapters focus on general theories of fascism drawn from twentieth-century history and theory. Contributors investigate specific historical figures and their relationship to contemporary rhetorics, focusing on a specific rhetorical device that is characteristic of fascist rhetoric. A common thread throughout every chapter is that fascist devices are appealing because they speak to us in the familiar language of our culture. As we are seduced by one device at a time, we soon find ourselves part of a movement, a group, or a campaign that makes us act in ways we might never have imagined. This volume reveals that fascism may be closer to home than we think.

Patrick D. Anderson / Rya Butterfield / Nathan Crick / Elizabeth R. Earle / Zac Gershberg / Stephen J. Hartnett / Marie-Odile N. Hobeika / Sean Illing / Jacob A. Miller / Fernando Ismael Quiñones Valdivia / Patricia Roberts-Miller / Raquel M. Robvais / Bradley A. Serber / Ryan Skinnell
By focusing on the rhetorical practices of fascism, the authors in this volume are able to reconcile different understandings and theories of what fascism is and how it works. Authors treat fascism as a rhetorical tradition, as a political practice, and as a method of action. They analyze its antecedents as well as its consequences, its historical and its contemporary manifestations, and its recurrence in regimes across the globe. In doing so, the volume marks fascism as a set of phenomena that are international, rather than merely Western; as human, rather than monstrous; and as mundane, rather than exceptional. This is a must-read for rhetoricians, historians, political scientists, and citizens hoping to understand fascism.’
—Mary E. Stuckey, author of Political Vocabularies: FDR, the Clergy Letters, and the Elements of Political Argument
Nathan Crick is professor of communication at Texas A&M University. He is author of Democracy and Rhetoric: John Dewey on the Arts of Becoming, Rhetoric and Power: The Drama of Classical Greece, The Keys of Power: The Rhetoric and Politics of Transcendentalism, and Dewey for a New Age of Fascism: Teaching Democratic Habits.
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