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.