August 24, 2020

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In the United States as well as around the globe, democratic institutions have begun to deteriorate, while authoritarian movements continue to gain traction. Anne Applebaum, journalist and Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, argues that this trend should come as no surprise given the “seductive lure of authoritarianism.” In her new book, Twilight of Democracy, Applebaum focuses on the surrogates who enable autocracy. 

What role do writers, academics, journalists, and other members of the cultural elite play in the ascent of nationalist rule? To what extent are these figures propelled by ideology versus their own financial or political gain? And what patterns emerge when we observe weakening democracies across the world from the U.S. to Poland? This conversation was moderated by Washington Post columnist and military historian Max Boot.

This event was produced in partnership with the Brennan Center for Justice, New York University’s John Brademas Center, and NYU Votes. Registration was required to receive the event login link.

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Anne Applebaum

Anne Applebaum

Anne Applebaum is a staff writer for The Atlantic and a Pulitzer-prize winning historian. She is also a Senior Fellow of International Affairs and Agora Fellow in Residence at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, where she co-directs LSE Arena, a program on disinformation and 21st century propaganda.

Washington Post columnist for fifteen years and a former member of the editorial board, she has also worked as the Foreign and Deputy Editor of the Spectator magazine in London, as the Political Editor of the Evening Standard, and as a columnist at Slate and at several British newspapers, including the Daily and Sunday Telegraphs. From 1988-1991 she covered the collapse of communism as the Warsaw correspondent of the Economist magazine and the Independent newspaper.

Max Boot

Max Boot

Max Boot is a historian, best selling author and foreign policy analyst who has been called one of the “world’s leading authorities on armed conflict” by the International Institute for Strategic Studies. He is the Jeane J. Kirkpatrick senior fellow for national security studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, a columnist for The Washington Post and a global affairs analyst for CNN. Max Boot’s latest work of history, "The Road Not Taken: Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam" (Norton/Liveright, 2018), was a New York Times bestseller and a finalist for the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in biography. It was praised as an “epic and elegant biography” (Wall Street Journal), “judicious and absorbing” (New York Times) and “a superb scholarly achievement” (Foreign Policy). Max Boot was the author of another book released by Norton/Liveright in 2018 — "The Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I Left the Right" — which was described as a “devastating dissection of conservatism’s degeneracy in America” by Andrew Sullivan in New York Magazine and as “soul-searching” and “refreshing” by the New York Times

Twilight of Democracy Book Cover

Anne's newest book Twilight of Democracy explains, with electrifying clarity, why some of her contemporaries have abandoned liberal democratic ideals in favor of strongman cults, nationalist movements, or one-party states.

Across the world today, from the U.S. to Europe and beyond, liberal democracy is under siege while different forms of authoritarianism are on the rise. In Twilight of Democracy, prize-winning historian Anne Applebaum argues that we should not be surprised by this change: There is an inherent appeal to political systems with radically simple beliefs, especially when they benefit the loyal to the exclusion of everyone else.

Purchase Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism online on Bookshop.

NYU Votes

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NYU Votes was launched in 2018 with the goal of giving every single eligible NYU student the opportunity to cast their ballot. We provide resources, instruction, and lots of outreach to keep our student voting community informed of the deadlines and processes for both registering and voting. Please visit nyu/edu/nyu-votes or email for more information.