Joséphine (Word Revel)'s Reviews > How Democracies Die

How Democracies Die by Steven Levitsky
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Actual rating: 4.5 stars

Initial thoughts: I remember my 9th grade history teacher telling us that we take democracy for granted. It assumes that the majority is right, which isn't always true. In other words, he taught us that democracy is the tyranny of the majority.

In many regards, democracy does ensure that a nation flourishes. However, when those in political power disregard that laws and mores, that's when the ways are paved towards authoritarianism. How Democracies Die is a cautionary book about the future of the US, if the US doesn't learn from the histories of countries around the world where democracies died, as well as of countries where the checks and balances ensured that autocrats did not manage to establish themselves.

As a non-American, I found How Democracies Die quite enlightening because I never quite understood the American political system. Yes, I knew that the dominant political parties are the Republicans and Democrats. I learnt about the Cold War and the US-Soviet relations, the Vietnam War and also briefly about the American occupation of the Philippines after the US won the war against Spain in 1898. These, however, all pertained to American international relations. As for internal politics, I've always read the news with bemusement.

Thanks to this book, I've come to better understand the deep political divisions that's driven by identity politics as well. For instance, it didn't occur to me to unfriend anyone on Facebook just because they held different political views to mine. Yet, I kept reading about Americans doing this over the past few years. I still think it's myopic but I can also better empathise how taking politics so personally would affect relationships.

And while gerrymandering isn't uncommon in East and Southeast diviAsia, I was surprised to learn how such practices were used for racist gains in the US before, to ensure that black men wouldn't be able to vote at all, even though slavery had ended. It's sad and maddening, but also makes me glad for the progress that's been made since then. I sincerely hope that this progress will not be undone in the country touted as the Free World.
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Reading Progress

February, 2019 – Started Reading
February, 2019 – Finished Reading
February 9, 2019 – Shelved
February 9, 2019 – Shelved as: 4-stars-and-half
February 9, 2019 – Shelved as: text-non-fiction
February 9, 2019 – Shelved as: politics
February 9, 2019 – Shelved as: political-science
February 9, 2019 – Shelved as: history
February 9, 2019 – Shelved as: writers-american
February 9, 2019 – Shelved as: academic
February 9, 2019 – Shelved as: format-audiobooks
February 9, 2019 – Shelved as: target-adult
February 21, 2019 – Shelved as: zzz-read-2019-02
February 21, 2019 – Shelved as: read-2019

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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message 1: by Sahitya (new)

Sahitya Great review...!!! I actually abandoned this book halfway through because it made me anxious..

Joséphine (Word Revel) Sahitya wrote: "Great review...!!! I actually abandoned this book halfway through because it made me anxious.."

Oh no! Why is that?

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