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How democracies die by Steven Levitsky

How democracies die (2018)

by Steven Levitsky, Daniel Ziblatt, Daniel Ziblatt

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
I would have to agree with "Schatzi" here. Still, a very well-written and interesting book on a vital topic. ( )
  comsat38 | Mar 25, 2019 |
Although I definitely learned some things from the book, I left feeling vaguely disappointed.

I think the four "warning signs" that the authors mentioned are very good places to start, but I was rather baffled by the authors praising the "backdoor deals" of the political parties in the past as helping democracy. So making things more democratic...leads to less democracy? I understand the point about parties functioning as a way to keep demagogues out of the electoral process, but still.

I also found it rather surprising that the authors kept holding up Central and South American coups and dictatorships as examples while not addressing foreign influence in those coups and dictatorships but once or twice (and in a lukewarm way). Instead, America is held up as a paragon of democracy in this book, and the authors conveniently portray the dictatorships in C/S America as being driven solely by internal factors. Let's all ignore the (at times covert, at times very OVERT) American influence in these dictatorships' creation, shall we? ( )
  schatzi | Feb 9, 2019 |
Over the past 2 years we have watched politicians do and say things unprecedented in the U.S., but which have been recognized as precursors to democratic crises in other places. We usually think democracies die by military coup, but they may also die at the hands of our elected leaders. Using examples from history, and focusing on events in the US from the 1980's through today, the authors demonstrate that, yes indeed, we are in danger of losing our democracy. Although the authors are well-regarded historians, they write in easy to understand language with vivid details. This is one of the most important and chilling of the many books I have read on this topic since the 2016 election. I am not hopeful ( )
  arubabookwoman | Jan 1, 2019 |
Political Science wags a finger.
Levitsky and Ziblatt believe that democracy is a matter of elite competition managed through political parties and informal norms of mutual tolerance and forbearance, and that Trump is breaking American democracy by flouting convention. They spend many pages making preposterous comparisons between the U.S. and places like Venezuela, Peru, Turkey and Russia, when the only valid comparisons are with the polities of western Europe, Canada, et. al.—countries with similar levels of economic development, robust civil societies and experience with stable, constitutional government. Of course, none of those countries elected as their leader a narcissistic buffoon with no political experience.

Wicked Weed Lunatic Blonde
Singlecut Heavy Boots of Lead Imperial Stout
  MusicalGlass | Nov 17, 2018 |
The authors really jump head first into their subject, causing a splash so big, the reader may immediately think the actual title is "Trumpism 101". They promptly lay out four key signs of an authoritarian government, and, without any help from the authors, it is easy to think of statements or actions America's current president has done that meet those criteria. Has the legitimacy of the most recent presidential election ever been questioned? Ever heard the phrase "Lock her up!" at one of his rallies? How about his encouragement of his supporters to physically assault his non-supporters? Is the phrase "Fake news" familiar to you? What's your best guess on what he thinks of Putin? However, the book quickly gets away from Trump and cites many examples of well known authoritarian governments in recent decades in other parts of the world, to give perspective to what may or may not be happening in America. The book then points to two essential "guardrails" to democracy, those dimensions of government beyond representative government, balance of power, and other well known foundations of America's republic. It is this discussion that is often overlooked and is much more of a factor in making or breaking the better known pillars. Eventually, the authors narrate the "unraveling" of America to where it is in 2019. Many readers may be surprised the authors lay significant initial blame on a former key government official, rather than the current President, for why we are where we are. Finally, the book tries to guide the analysis to what, if anything could and should be done about the current state of affairs. I'll let other readers come to their own conclusions on how successful the authors are in doing that. Personally, I think it lacks a recognition of some essential dynamics at play, which surprises me somewhat, given how much depth they give to the subject up to that point. All in all, this is a concise review of democracy for not only the Bernie Sanders or even Jeff Flakes of the world, and you don't even have to read The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich to appreciate what the book has to say. It is about what every American should know before giving a political candidate their support, regardless of the details of their lives. ( )
  larryerick | Oct 18, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
Is there any democracy that you would have ranked as highly as you ranked the United States as a democracy in 2016, whatever ranking that is, that’s fallen victim to authoritarianism in your case studies?

Levitsky: No, there are actually very, very few established democracies, democracies that have been fully democratic and that have been around for, say, 20 or more years, very few of them in the history of the world have collapsed. Uruguay is one, Chile is another, Venezuela is a third, maybe Hungary depending on how you interpret it these days. But none have been as stable or as democratic as the United States.
added by elenchus | editslate.com, Isaac Chotiner (Jan 16, 2018)

» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Steven Levitskyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Ziblatt, Danielmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Ziblatt, Danielmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Brand, ChristopherCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sanders, FredNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To our families:

Liz Mineo and Alejandra Mineo Levitsky

& Soriya, Lilah, and Talia Ziblatt
First words
Is our democracy in danger?
On October 30, 1922, Benito Mussolini arrived in Rome at at 10:55 am in an overnight sleeping car from Milan.
But two norms stand out as fundamental to a functioning democracy: mutual toleration and institutional forbearance. (Chapter 5)
Αυτό το δυσοίωνο σενάριο είναι μια ακόμα -έμμεση, έστω- επιβεβαίωση της βασικής θέσης αυτού του βιβλίου, ότι η ομαλή λειτουργία της δημοκρατίας στη χώρα μας εξαρτάται από δυο προϋποθέσεις τις οποίες συχνά τείνουμε να θεωρούμε δεδομένες: την αμοιβαία ανοχή και τη θεσμική αυτοσυγκράτηση. Το αντιμετωπίζεις τους πολιτικούς αντιπάλους σου ως νόμιμους διεκδικητές της εξουσίας και όχι ως εχθρούς, όπως και να μην κάνεις κατάχρηση των θεσμικών προνομίων σου, δεν είναι γραμμένο στο σύνταγμα των Ηνωμένων Πολιτειών. Ωστόσο, αν αυτές οι δυο αρχές δεν τηρούνται, τα θεσμικά αντίβαρα και οι ισορροπίες του πολιτικού μας συστήματος ανατρέπονται.
Mutual toleration refers to the idea that as long as our rivals play by constitutional rules, we accept that they have an equal right to exist, compete for power and govern. We may disagree with, and even strongly dislike, our rivals, but we nevertheless accept them as legitimate. [...] Put another way, mutual toleration is politicians' collective willingness to agree to disagree. (Chapter 5, elisions added)
Με λίγα λόγια, το συμπέρασμα είναι πως η αντιπολίτευση πρέπει πάντα να εξαντλεί τις δυνατότητες που υπάρχουν ώστε να ανακοπεί με θεσμικά μέσα η πορεία μιας χώρας προς τον αυταρχισμό.
A second norm critical to democracy's survival is what we call institutional forbearance. Forbearance means "patient self-control; restraint and tolerance," or "the action of restraining from exercising a legal right." For our purposes, institutional forbearance can be thought of as refraining from actions that, while respecting the letter of the law, violate its spirit. Where norms of forbearance are strong, politicians do not use their institutional prerogatives to the hilt, for such action could imperil the existing system. (Chapter 5)
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Fateful alliances -- Gatekeeping in America -- The great Republican abdication -- Subverting democracy -- The guardrails of democracy -- The unwritten rules of American politics -- The unraveling -- Trump against the guardrails -- Saving democracy.
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"Donald Trump's presidency has raised a question that many of us never thought we'd be asking: Is our democracy in danger? Harvard professors Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt have spent more than twenty years studying the breakdown of democracies in Europe and Latin America, and they believe the answer is yes. Democracy no longer ends with a bang--in a revolution or military coup--but with a whimper: the slow, steady weakening of critical institutions, such as the judiciary and the press, and the gradual erosion of long-standing political norms. The good news is that there are several exit ramps on the road to authoritarianism. The bad news is that, by electing Trump, we have already passed the first one. Drawing on decades of research and a wide range of historical and global examples, from 1930s Europe to contemporary Hungary, Turkey, and Venezuela, to the American South during Jim Crow, Levitsky and Ziblatt show how democracies die--and how ours can be saved."--Dust jacket.… (more)

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