Former Secretary of State Madelaine Albright has first-hand experience with fascism. She was born in 1937 in Prague, Czechoslovakia. Her diplomatic father supported the country’s democratic leaders. After the signing of the Munich Agreement in September 1938, the disintegration of Czechoslovakia at the hands of Adolf Hitler forced the family into exile. Albright spent the war years in Britain, while her father worked for the Czechoslovak government-in-exile.
Albright and her family moved back to Prague after the end of World War II. But the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia took over the government in 1948, with support from the Soviet Union, and as an opponent of communism, her father was forced to resign from his position. The family emigrated to the United States in 1948, applying for political asylum.
This is a woman who knows of which she speaks from life experience. Over the weekend she wrote in an op-ed in the New York Times, Will We Stop Trump
Before It’s Too Late?
To guard against a recurrence [of fascism], the survivors of the war and the Holocaust joined forces to create the United Nations, forge global financial institutions and — through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights — strengthen the rule of law. In 1989, the Berlin Wall came down and the honor roll of elected governments swelled not only in Central Europe, but also Latin America, Africa and Asia. Almost everywhere, it seemed, dictators were out and democrats were in. Freedom was ascendant.
Today, we are in a new era, testing whether the democratic banner can remain aloft amid terrorism, sectarian conflicts, vulnerable borders, rogue social media and the cynical schemes of ambitious men. The answer is not self-evident. We may be encouraged that most people in most countries still want to live freely and in peace, but there is no ignoring the storm clouds that have gathered. In fact, fascism — and the tendencies that lead toward fascism — pose a more serious threat now than at any time since the end of World War II.
Warning signs include the relentless grab for more authority by governing parties in Hungary, the Philippines, Poland and Turkey — all United States allies. The raw anger that feeds fascism is evident across the Atlantic in the growth of nativist movements opposed to the idea of a united Europe, including in Germany, where the right-wing Alternative für Deutschland has emerged as the principal opposition party. The danger of despotism is on display in the Russia of Vladimir Putin — invader of Ukraine, meddler in foreign democracies, accused political assassin, brazen liar and proud son of the K.G.B. Putin has just been re-elected to a new six-year term, while in Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, a ruthless ideologue, is poised to triumph in sham balloting next month. In China, Xi Jinping has persuaded a docile National People’s Congress to lift the constitutional limit on his tenure in power.
UPDATE: On Sunday, Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary, who has set about transforming this former Soviet bloc member from a vibrant democracy into a semi-autocratic state under one political party’s control, won a sweeping victory in national elections on Sunday by securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament. He now has the power to change the Constitution and further bend the nation to his will. Hungary Election Gives Orban Big Majority, and Control of Constitution.