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Demagogue: The Fight to Save Democracy from Its Worst Enemies
A demagogue is a tyrant who owes his initial rise to the democratic support of the masses. Huey Long, Hugo Chavez, and Moqtada al-Sadr are all clear examples of this dangerous byproduct of democracy. Demagogue takes a long view of the fight to defend democracy from within, from the brutal general Cleon in ancient Athens, the demagogues who plagued the bloody French Revolut ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published February 3rd 2009 by St. Martin's Press
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Originally published several years ago, this book takes on a new urgency in the light of USanian elections this year. A fascinating study of the ways democracy undermines itself and of the history of demagoguery in the classical and USAnian contexts. My only quibble is the author's tendency to occasionally wax a bit utopian (this is limited to the introductory and concluding parts of the text); he does an admirable job, overall, of staying in the realistic camp but it seems that on occasion his ...more
In the age of Donald Trump's run for the White House, this is an important book. While Trump isn't the subject, he might as well be (and the author has been interviewed several times saying that Trump fits the definition of demagogue to a T). But we do meet several of history's demagogues as well as some of the most important thinkers on the subject of democratic constitutionalism, which is seen as the antidote to demagoguery.
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“The demagogue does not manipulate the people; instead, the “ruler who behaves like a subject”57 slavishly follows the will of the people and fails to chart a course for the city beyond the narrows of popularity and passion. The demagogue runs democracy into the ground. But”
“Faith is harder to shake than knowledge, love succumbs less to change than respect, hate is more enduring than aversion,” Hitler wrote, “and the impetus to the mightiest upheavals on this earth has at all times consisted less in a scientific knowledge dominating the masses than in a fanaticism which inspired them and sometimes in a hysteria which drove them forward.”84”More quotes…