S1E1: A Trumpian Blip or a Fun­da­men­tal Flaw in Amer­i­can Democracy?

This series comes at a time when the lib­er­al demo­c­ra­t­ic order estab­lished after the Sec­ond World War is under unprece­dent­ed strain. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, there was a view that author­i­tar­i­an rule was con­fined to the dust­bin of his­to­ry and West­ern-style lib­er­al democ­ra­cy would reign supreme the world over. But today, even in the cra­dle of mod­ern democ­ra­cies, in the U.S. and in Europe, that assump­tion looks flim­sy. The ascen­dan­cy of Don­ald Trump to the pres­i­den­cy has shak­en the fun­da­men­tals of Jef­fer­son­ian democ­ra­cy and raised seri­ous con­cerns about its sur­vival. Does Trump rep­re­sent a blip in America’s long expe­ri­ence of rep­re­sen­ta­tive gov­ern­ment? Or does the cur­rent cri­sis of democ­ra­cy in Amer­i­ca high­light an under­ly­ing malaise?

In this episode, Shali­ni Ran­de­ria explores in a con­ver­sa­tion with Tim­o­thy Sny­der the rea­sons behind Trump’s access to pow­er, the propen­si­ties that Trumpian pol­i­tics shares with fas­cism, the unad­dressed orig­i­nal sins of Amer­i­can democ­ra­cy, as well as the future predica­ments for democ­ra­cy open­ing up in the wake of Trump.

Prof. Ran­de­ria is Direc­tor of the Albert Hirschman Cen­tre on Democ­ra­cy at the Grad­u­ate Insti­tute in Gene­va, Rec­tor of the Insti­tute of Human Sci­ences (IWM) in Vien­na and Excel­lence Chair, Uni­ver­si­ty of Bre­men (Research Group: Soft Author­i­tar­i­an­ism). Tim­o­thy Sny­der is Richard C. Levin pro­fes­sor of his­to­ry at Yale Uni­ver­si­ty and author of The Road to Unfree­dom (Tim Dug­gan Books, 2018), where the intrigu­ing term of ‘sadopop­ulism’ is developed. 


Shalini Randeria

Shalini Randeria is Rector and President of the Central European University (Vienna/Budapest). Before, she was Professor of Social Anthropology and Sociology at the Graduate Institute Geneva, and Rector of the Institute of Human Sciences (IWM) in Vienna from 2014 to 2021. She has published widely on the anthropology of globalisation, law, the state and social movements. Her empirical research on India also addresses issues of post-coloniality and multiple modernities.