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Egypt’s path from autocracy to revolution—and back again - Brothers, generals and suckers
Today’s American administration does not even wish it were different. To them, Mr Sisi has said all the right things. He wants to moderate Islam and reform the economy. He calls Mr Trump “a unique personality that is capable of doing the impossible”. Mr Trump, in turn, celebrates Mr Sisi’s tough leadership and calls him “a fantastic guy”. Like so many others, the American president seems unconcerned that autocracy is again breeding misery and extremism in Egypt.
authoritarianism  world 
2 days ago by corrales
Polarization in Poland: A Warning From Europe - The Atlantic
This is not 1937. Nevertheless, a parallel transformation is taking place in my own time, in the Europe that I inhabit and in Poland, a country whose citizenship I have acquired. And it is taking place without the excuse of an economic crisis of the kind Europe suffered in the 1930s. Poland’s economy has been the most consistently successful in Europe over the past quarter century. Even after the global financial collapse in 2008, the country saw no recession. What’s more, the refugee wave that has hit other European countries has not been felt here at all. There are no migrant camps, and there is no Islamist terrorism, or terrorism of any kind.

More important, though the people I am writing about here, the nativist ideologues, are perhaps not all as successful as they would like to be (about which more in a minute), they are not poor and rural, they are not in any sense victims of the political transition, and they are not an impoverished underclass. On the contrary, they are educated, they speak foreign languages, and they travel abroad—just like Sebastian’s friends in the 1930s.

What has caused this transformation? Were some of our friends always closet authoritarians? Or have the people with whom we clinked glasses in the first minutes of the new millennium somehow changed over the subsequent two decades? My answer is a complicated one, because I think the explanation is universal. Given the right conditions, any society can turn against democracy. Indeed, if history is anything to go by, all societies eventually will.

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Polarization is normal. Skepticism about liberal democracy is normal. And the appeal of authoritarianism is eternal.

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Americans, with our powerful founding story, our unusual reverence for our Constitution, our relative geographic isolation, and our two centuries of economic success, have long been convinced that liberal democracy, once achieved, cannot be altered. American history is told as a tale of progress, always forward and upward, with the Civil War as a kind of blip in the middle, an obstacle that was overcome. In Greece, history feels not linear but circular. There is liberal democracy and then there is oligarchy. Then there is liberal democracy again. Then there is foreign subversion, then there is an attempted Communist coup, then there is civil war, and then there is dictatorship. And so on, since the time of the Athenian republic.

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Democracy and free markets can produce unsatisfying outcomes, after all, especially when badly regulated, or when nobody trusts the regulators, or when people are entering the contest from very different starting points. Sooner or later, the losers of the competition were always going to challenge the value of the competition itself.

More to the point, the principles of competition, even when they encourage talent and create upward mobility, don’t necessarily answer deeper questions about national identity, or satisfy the human desire to belong to a moral community. The authoritarian state, or even the semi-authoritarian state—the one-party state, the illiberal state—offers that promise: that the nation will be ruled by the best people, the deserving people, the members of the party, the believers in the Medium-Size Lie. It may be that democracy has to be bent or business corrupted or court systems wrecked in order to achieve that state. But if you believe that you are one of those deserving people, you will do it.
authoritarianism  europe  politics  america  history 
3 days ago by corrales
The Institutional Turn in Comparative Authoritarianism | British Journal of Political Science | Cambridge Core
The institutional turn in comparative authoritarianism has generated wide interest. This article reviews three prominent books on authoritarian institutions and their central theoretical propositions about the origins, functions and effects of dominant party institutions on authoritarian rule. Two critical perspectives on political institutions, one based on rationalist theories of institutional design and the other based on a social conflict theory of political economy, suggest that authoritarian institutions are epiphenomenal on more fundamental political, social and/or economic relations. Such approaches have been largely ignored in this recent literature, but each calls into question the theoretical and empirical claims that form the basis of institutionalist approaches to authoritarian rule. A central implication of this article is that authoritarian institutions cannot be studied separately from the concrete problems of redistribution and policy making that motivate regime behavior.
comparative  political_science  authoritarianism  institutions  review  via:henryfarrell 
5 days ago by rvenkat
Young Activists Go Missing in China, Raising Fears of Crackdown - The New York Times
“What kind of privilege do they have to completely disregard the law and civil rights?” Mr. Yu wrote. “How dare they unscrupulously and arrogantly beat up students and kidnap one at Peking University.”

The disappearance of the activists is the latest flash point in a long-running battle between activists and the authorities.
china  authoritarianism 
6 days ago by corrales
After Democracy: What's Next When Freedom Erodes?
Illiberal democracy and electoral authoritarianism can both be seen in practice around the world today. And both of these undemocratic types threaten to take hold if democracy erodes, backslides, or even dies in the United States. Although the specter of illiberal democracy is imminent but could soon evaporate, the United States’ vulnerability to electoral authoritarianism is both long-standing and likely to persist, regardless of what transpires in the midterm elections and in elections to come.
democracy  authoritarianism 
7 days ago by altoii
Events canceled, editor expelled: Hong Kong's losing freedom
The cancellation of literary and artistic events and the refusal to allow a Financial Times editor to enter Hong Kong have reignited concern about freedom of expression in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory. A last-minute decision Friday to reinstate the literary event illustrates the...
authoritarianism 
7 days ago by joeybaker
Half of white women continue to vote Republican. What's wrong with them? | Moira Donegan | Opinion | The Guardian
But there is something else at play, something more complicated, in white women’s relationship to white patriarchy. White women’s identity places them in a curious position at the intersection of two vectors of privilege and oppression: they are granted structural power by their race, but excluded from it by their sex. In a political system where racism and sexism are both so deeply ingrained, white women must choose to be loyal to either the more powerful aspect of their identity, their race, or to the less powerful, their sex. Some Republican white women might lean into racism not only for racism’s sake, but also as a means of avoiding or denying the realities of how sexist oppression makes them vulnerable.

In her book Right Wing Women, the feminist Andrea Dworkin wrote that conservative women often conform to the dominant ideologies of the men around them as part of a subconscious survival strategy, hoping that their conservatism will spare them from male hatred and violence.
racism  feminism  politics  us  authoritarianism 
8 days ago by juliusbeezer
Foes of Russia Say Child Pornography Is Planted to Ruin Them - The New York Times
A K.G.B. dirty trick known as “kompromat,” the fabrication of compromising or illegal material, may have returned in a particularly noxious form.
authoritarianism  russia  history 
9 days ago by corrales

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