Populism / Transit

The Reichstag Warning

The Reichstag fire shows how quickly a modern republic can be transformed into an authoritarian regime. There is nothing new, to be sure, in the politics of exception. The American Founding Fathers knew that the democracy they were creating was vulnerable to an aspiring tyrant who might seize upon some dramatic event as grounds for the suspension of our rights. As James Madison nicely put it, tyranny arises “on some favorable emergency.” What changed with the Reichstag fire was the use of terrorism as a catalyst for regime change. To this day, we do not know who set the Reichstag fire: the lone anarchist executed by the Nazis or, as new scholarship by Benjamin Hett suggests, the Nazis themselves. What we do know is that it created the occasion for a leader to eliminate all opposition.
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Countering Fake News… with Fake Expertise?

The Czech state has set out to fight for the truth and against disinformation using untrustworthy representatives, inspired by a controversial think tank that employs problematic methods. To oppose a disinformation campaign by Russia based on spreading fake news, we have the fake expertise of a think tank that exerts influence on the state administration. Under such circumstances it is not surprising that a center that was meant to confront Russian propaganda has thus far managed only to defend its own existence.
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20 Lessons from the 20th Century

Americans are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism, or communism. Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience. Now is a good time to do so.
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Donald Trump and the Bieber Doctrine

Following the initial shock of Donald J. Trump’s victory, both friends and foes will downgrade the significance of what has transpired. The same people who portrayed a Trump victory as apocalyptic will come to see it as business as usual. The risk is that, this time, we’re not returning to business as usual.
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Trump, Contemporary Fascisms and the Acquiescence of the Left

To whatever extent we may be tempted to call the current threat fascism, it must be acknowledged that we no longer live in the world of 1930s Europe. This, instead, would be a fascism born of a bourgeois fantasy of enduring domination, given shape, for example, as the American dream – white, Christian, heteronormative, masculine.
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Austria: The Lesson of the Far Right

The presidential election situation that arose in Austria in May and will be repeated in October—a run-off between the Greens and the far right—has never occurred in Europe before. But it starkly reveals a fundamental political conflict that can be found in many Western democracies today. This conflict is not meaningfully described as one of “ordinary people versus the establishment.” In Austria, both the Freedom Party and the Green Party have been “established” since the mid-1980s; in Britain, Boris Johnson, one of the main faces of the Brexit campaign, is about as establishment as one can get in the UK; and Donald Trump is hardly the authentic representative of Main Street. Rather, on one side of the new conflict are those who advocate more openness: toward minorities at home and toward engagement with the world on the outside.
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Behind the New German Right

Throughout its postwar history, Germany somehow managed to resist the temptations of right-wing populism. Not any longer. It is now possible to be an outspoken nationalist without being associated with—or, for that matter, without having to say anything about—the Nazi past.
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Parsing Populism: Who Is and Who Is Not a Populist These Days

Donald Trump is but Bernie Sanders isn’t; Syriza is, sometimes. Contemporary populism is not just anti-elitist, but also necessarily anti-pluralist, and in this exclusive claim to representation lies its profoundly undemocratic character.
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Frivolous cohabitation.
Preparing the soil for a Jobbik takeover?

János Mátyás Kovács, a Hungarian economist, talks to Karolina Wigura about deep sources of Jobbik’s popularity and longue durée consequences of Victor Orban’s legal carpet bombing.
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The Hungarian Shock: Transition from Democracy?

With all of its problems, Hungary after 1989 has been a success story, but now the success is challenged in ways that are very much unexpected.  From the happy story of the transition from dictatorship to democracy, there is a looming potential tragedy, a transition from democracy.  In the second part of 2010, we Hungarians …
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