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Fascism then and now? Or why history matters 

By Jennifer Evans      

The parallels between then and now are unmistakable. Yet there are important differences between how past populist-leaning governments on the left as well as the right have sought out the support of the people. Historians of Europe and Germany have been swift to take up the pen and lend our expertise to nuance the current debate. The New Fascism Syllabus curates the best of these articles from practitioners at the height of the craft and brings them to a wider public.

Protesters, pictured last week in Ottawa outside the U.S. Embassy. History tells us that an active, engaged citizenry is also a vigilant one. Perhaps this is the most important lesson of all. The Hill Times photograph by Sam Garcia

OTTAWA—Everywhere we turn, people are talking about history. And not just any historical event. Our eyes are trained on the rise of fascism in the 1930s and whether we are living through a similar historical moment today. There can be no doubt about a sea change in how the United States is being governed in the short weeks since the inauguration of President Donald Trump. But can this be likened to Germany in 1933 and to the crisis in liberal democracy that ultimately brought Adolf Hitler to power? This question lies at the heart of the New Fascism Syllabus Project I have created together with Lisa Heineman, professor and chair of the history department at the University of Iowa. This crowd-sourced compendium of news articles will serve as the basis of a course I’m designing at Carleton University next winter on populism as a global phenomenon. It asks students to consider how we might use the tools of history to think through the challenges of today? Is fascism the best term for the job?

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