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HOW DEMOCRACIES DIE – Steven Levitsky & Daniel Ziblatt

HOW DEMOCRACIES DIE - Steven Levitsky & Daniel Ziblatt

 

HOW DEMOCRACIES DIE – STEVEN LEVITSKY & DANIEL ZIBLATT

IN THE HISTORY OF RECENT DECADES, THERE HAVE BEEN SEVERAL MOMENTS IN WHICH NOVELISTS, POLITICAL SCIENTISTS OR PROFESSORS OF CONSTITUTIONAL LAW, TO NAME BUT A FEW OF THOSE INTERESTED IN THE SUBJECT, HAVE FELT THE CIVIC OBLIGATION TO WARN OF THE DANGERS FACING DEMOCRACY.

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How Democracies Die
721 Reviews
How Democracies Die
  • NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER “A brilliant book, wise and nuanced.” —Nicholas Kristof, New York Times “Comprehensive, enlightening, and terrifyingly timely.” —New York Times Book Review “Cool and persuasive... How Democracies Die comes at exactly the right moment.” —The Washington Post
  • Hardcover Book
  • Levitsky, Steven (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 320 Pages - 01/16/2018 (Publication Date) - Crown (Publisher)

“No other major presidential candidate, not even Nixon, has publicly demonstrated such a flimsy commitment to constitutional rights and democratic norms”.STEVEN LEVITSKY & DANIEL ZIBLATT

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How Democracies Die
Hardcover Book; Levitsky, Steven (Author); English (Publication Language); 320 Pages - 01/16/2018 (Publication Date) - Crown (Publisher)
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✍ REVIEW & OPINIONS Steven Levitsky & Daniel Ziblatt’s book How democracies Die

REVIEW & OPINIONS Steven Levitsky & Daniel Ziblatt's book How democracies Die

 

The upheavals and tragedies caused by totalitarianism in the 1920s and 1930s, for example, are at the origin of two notable American novels.

One, due to the pen of the 1930 Nobel Prize for Literature, Sinclair Lewis, bears the transparent title That Can’t Happen Here (1935).

Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, authors of How Democracies Die, do not mention the former, but they do mention the latter, putting their plot (the possibility that Charles Lindbergh, the famous American aviator of German origin and pro-Hitlerian sympathies, would reach the presidency of the United States) in the terrain of contemporary speculation, fed, as is evident, by two competing factors.

On the one hand, as can be guessed, by the presence of Donald Trump in the White House.

On the other hand, the simultaneous proliferation of populist formulas in other parts of the world, from Putin’s Russia, Erdogan’s Turkey or Orban’s Hungary, to the cases of Correa in Ecuador, Ortega in Nicaragua, Morales in Bolivia and Maduro in Venezuela, examples of a broad anti-democratic drift where it seemed that freedom (always in the memory of Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History) had generated permanent roots.

All this, naturally, without leaving aside the totalitarian persistence in post-castrism Cuba, in communist China or in the atomic-dictatorial aberration of North Korea.

These same concerns – which, of course, are widely echoed in the abundant anti-Trump literature of a more or less scandalous nature that has been proliferating in recent months – are also found in two recent texts by Timothy Snyder.

On Tyrany (2017), a brief pamphlet in the manner of the old political pamphlets, is, without using the name, a bitter reproach to the current American president, and The Road to Unfreedom (2018) is a worried journey along the road that, as the title itself suggests, is taking us away from freedom.

The fundamental thesis of this recent warning about democracies and their deterioration lies in an observation:

It is not in these times that violent coups d’état put an end to constitutional institutions, but rather to their slow, sometimes imperceptible, but no less forceful, degradation.

The end, as you can well imagine, is the same. The death of democracy.

In the well-prepared and researched text, written fluently, though not always well translated, Levitsky and Ziblatt run incidentally through a broad spectrum of cases and things, ranging from the causes of the Spanish Civil War to the implementation of the Chaves/Maduro autocracy in Venezuela, recalling elsewhere the cases of Fujimori in Peru, Erdogan in Turkey, Orban in Hungary and Perón in Argentina.

But the analysis focuses on democracy in the United States and the damage that Donald Trump’s presidency can do to it.

From a carefully crafted perspective, which avoids angry denunciations or catastrophic scenarios, even recognizing that the problems that “democracy in the United States” is going through, if only to cite Tocqueville obliquely, have not begun with Trump and that they have an earlier appearance date, the authors proceed to a delicate and necessary task:

To identify the elements whose survival is indispensable for the continuation of the system and the ways and means in which they are being violated.

To do this, they also use a convenient reminder, all the more important because the text of the American Constitution is so brief.

And this is because in a democracy not everything is literally provided for in the law, but rather the presumption of the existence of a series of unwritten norms and behaviors that are equivalent to the demand for an elementary dignity in the behaviors of public agents, without which the system ceases to be intelligible and viable. And that they should be translated into two universal rules:

“Mutual tolerance and institutional containment”.STEVEN LEVITSKY & DANIEL ZIBLATT

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✍ SUMMARY & SYNOPSIS of Steven Levitsky & Daniel Ziblatt’s book How democracies Die

SUMMARY & SYNOPSIS of Steven Levitsky & Daniel Ziblatt's book How democracies Die

 

In this work of radioscopic identification of the essential elements of democracy, Levitsky and Ziblatt have based themselves on La quiebra de las democracias, a book published in 1978 by the famous Spanish sociologist Juan Linz, whose inspiration they acknowledge gratefully and explicitly, and summarize in four sections those that the Spanish pointed out as reasons for concern in the case of being evident in the conduct of some politician who:

  1. Rejects, either by word or action, the democratic rules of the game.
  2. Denies the legitimacy of his opponents.
  3. Tolerates or encourages violence.
  4. Indicates his willingness to restrict the civil liberties of his opponents, including the media

Levitsky and Ziblatt expand and detail the possible components of each of the four possible violations to compose a detailed mosaic for comparative reflection.

Analyzing his deeds and sayings since he occupied the White House, they apply the detailed judgment to Donald Trump, and the verdict couldn’t be more forceful:

“No other major presidential candidate, not even Nixon, has publicly demonstrated such a flimsy commitment to constitutional rights and democratic norms”.STEVEN LEVITSKY & DANIEL ZIBLATT

Trump was precisely the kind of figure that Hamilton and other founders feared so much when they conceived the presidency of the United States.

And, by way of recapitulation, they conclude:

“Writing this book has reminded us that American democracy is not as exceptional as we sometimes believe.

There is nothing in our Constitution or in our culture that immunizes us against democratic bankruptcy”.STEVEN LEVITSKY & DANIEL ZIBLATT

This affirmation could well be applied without restrictions or restrictions to all the democracies that in the world are.

And, naturally, even taking into account the differences in constitutional systems, the Spanish way.

Indeed, it would be tempting to apply the Linz/Levitsky/Ziblatt methodology to investigate whether the Spanish democratic moment, certainly not without problems and questions, can prove the qualities of which many presume and others subject to drastic doubt.

In the irremediable absence of the former master of Spanish sociology, and with the modest pretension of advancing slight impressions, those that allow a recension, two affirmations come to the memory and to the pen.

At a corrected and increased stage:

If the text is read carefully and the circumstances are properly compared, it will be well understood that the Catalan separatists have taken the unreasonableness of their claims to extremes in which, without exaggeration, a totalitarian reality is outlined in its various aspects of political, social and racial exclusion, beyond even its obvious constitutional and legal violations.

Timothy Snyder’s short booklet contains paragraphs that, evoking the theatricality of Hitler’s Nazi manifestations, can be taken as literal descriptions of those currently organized by Catalan separatists.

It would not be excessive today to affirm that democracy is dying in Catalonia.

In this, as in so many other things, some will see the glass half full and another half empty.

The punishments will dictate that neither so much nor so bald. The equidistant will denounce the exaggerations of one and the other.

But, as Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt indicate at the beginning of their book, the death of democracy is not a sudden or violent event, but the result of a patient and at times invisible task of dismantling institutions, values, rights and convictions. And the lesson the text conveys, despite its obvious American origin for Americans, is universal, here and now.

Either the citizen resists and fights for her freedoms, or the future belongs to those who have no other element of reference than the permanent usufruct of power.

Call yourselves Trump, Putin, Erdoğan or Orbán. And here you can add the Spanish names, which naturally include the Catalans you want.

That’s all there is to it.

We now come to a summary and synopsis of the latest book by Steven Levitsky & Daniel Ziblatt, HOW DEMOCRACIES DIE.


✍ QUOTES from the book Steven Levitsky & Daniel Ziblatt’s How democracies Die

These are the best quotes or phrases from the book How democracies Die de Steven Levitsky & Daniel Ziblatt:

“To save our democracy, Americans need to restore the basic norms that once protected it. But we must do more than that.

We must extend those norms through the whole of a diverse society. We must make them truly inclusive.

America’s democratic norms, at their core, have always been sound. But for much of our history, they were accompanied – indeed, sustained – by racial exclusion.

çNow those norms must be made to work in an age of racial equality and unprecedented ethnic diversity.

Few societies in history have managed to be both multiracial and genuinely democratic.

That is our challenge. It is also our opportunity.

If we meet it, America will truly be exceptional.”STEVEN LEVITSKY & DANIEL ZIBLATT - HOW DEMOCRACIES DIE

“Two basic norms have preserved America’s checks and balances in ways we have come to take for granted: mutual toleration, or the understanding that competing parties accept one another as legitimate rivals, and forbearance, or the idea that politicians should exercise restraint in deploying their institutional prerogatives.”STEVEN LEVITSKY & DANIEL ZIBLATT - HOW DEMOCRACIES DIE

“The fundamental problem facing American democracy remains extreme partisan division—one fueled not just by policy differences but by deeper sources of resentment, including racial and religious differences. America’s great polarization preceded the Trump presidency, and it is very likely to endure beyond it.”STEVEN LEVITSKY & DANIEL ZIBLATT - HOW DEMOCRACIES DIE

“Democracies may die at the hands not of generals but of elected leaders—presidents or prime ministers who subvert the very process that brought them to power.

Some of these leaders dismantle democracy quickly, as Hitler did in the wake of the 1933 Reichstag fire in Germany.

More often, though, democracies erode slowly, in barely visible steps.”STEVEN LEVITSKY & DANIEL ZIBLATT - HOW DEMOCRACIES DIE

“Opposition to the Trump administration’s authoritarian behavior should be muscular, but it should seek to preserve, rather than violate, democratic rules and norms.

Where possible, opposition should center on Congress, the courts, and, of course, elections.

If Trump is defeated via democratic institutions, it will strengthen those institutions.”STEVEN LEVITSKY & DANIEL ZIBLATT - HOW DEMOCRACIES DIE

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How Democracies Die: What History Reveals About Our Future
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How Democracies Die: What History Reveals About Our Future
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Steven Levitsky (Author) - Fred Sanders (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 01/25/2018 (Publication Date) - Penguin Books Ltd (Publisher)

Precio del libro HOW DEMOCRACIES DIE

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