tv After Words Ruth Ben- Ghiat Strongmen CSPAN December 27, 2020 12:00pm-1:01pm EST
germans can say i did not know what was going on in the camps, these are happening in the streets, on the news and happen again and again, and again, so the choice to not know is really a deliberate act of forgetting or active lack of engagement, refusal to understand that they voted in the mechanisms not allow these things to happen. >> some authors have appeared on book tv jenny combined their programs in their entirety at booktv.org type the author's name at the top of the page. >> now on book tv "after words" historian ruth examines how authoritarian leaders rule, she is interviewed by columbia university professor and author sherry berman.
"after words" is a weekly interview program with relevant guest host interviewing top nonfiction authors about their latest work. all "after words" programs are available as podcasts. >> hi ruth, it is so nice to be here to discuss your interesting and timely new book. strongmen, i thought i would start having read some your previous work on italian fascism, italian culture, italian colonialism, immigration, immigration and other aspects of italian political history, what prompted you to write a book that maybe starts with mussolini but adds a subtitle goes all the way up to the present day. >> a few things, first i thought it was a good time to look back of years of authoritarianism and not only because we have such a
flock in power now and especially i think a lot of people who work on this are trying to classify and figure out whether it's a nature of the liberal role today, that was one reason i wanted to flip through this history and the history of the evolution in the authoritarian role, the other reasons that were living in a time of revisionism, of the past regime including to remove the violence. we have put in who erect statutes to stalin but sends historians and others that comment into bureau, lease and we have amazon that sells t-shirts that say they did nothing wrong the french
dictator in chile and many other examples. in the final reason i wrote as an american watching trump come onto the scene and start holding rallies and royalty oath and institutionalized lying and i wanted to document and figure out where this experience fits in history the first book trump's presidency from a context of 100 years of the authoritarian rule. >> that is great there is so much we can dig into, before getting into the specifics of the book you discussed how strongly they come to power, how they ruled and how potentially they can be gotten rid of. let me ask you first to step back and talk about the title a little bit because you said one of the reasons to write the book was to think about contemporary
strongmen or authoritarianism in historical context. strongmen represent a particular category, there's lots of authoritarian regimes that don't fall under the rubric of your book and you don't feel the chinese communist party for instance. tell me a little bit or tell us about why strongmen as opposed to authoritarianism or dictatorships and what distinguishes them before we get into the mechanics of how they rule and come to power and all the other important stuff. >> i see strongmen as a subset of authoritarian and when i talk about -- which we can get in later to liberty and hyper masculinity is one of them these are rulers that not only do the things that also authoritarians
do in in the 21st century it does not mean they always destroy democracy but they always damage it, they also use their male masculinity, there's an kind of masculinity as a tool as a component of their foreign relation and their relation with others and also a way they present themselves to their people, also in political science you talk about personal list rule and even if they're in a collective military option, dictatorship in latin america they have a very one-man comes to a government that focuses around the needs and the desire and the power of one man so governance is very personalized foreign-policy that can become very personalized so this is part of the alpha male strongmen
profile. >> the second part or the second word in your one-word titles in your compound word title men, that is important for you, it is not strong rulers, it is not personalistic rulers it is strongmen, this is a subset not only in your mind of authoritarianism o or the miners that woody differentiated them like say from personalistic women, dictators who are women who would have rolled or might ruled in the future. >> yes, i could've included people in error gandhi and they didn't record democracy. but i wanted to isolate this kind of tool of rule which i rank alongside propaganda and
corruption and violence in the national greatness, i wanted to take it seriously because i felt that it wasn't done in a lot of the historical and political science, literature and i use extensively including in your own book. it's interesting to talk because you're very historically minded and i used a lot of science and this in the book, i wanted to isolate this fact of hyper masculinity which is used in tandem with other tools, example corruption becomes a man that gets away with things that ordinary men cannot get away with so interlocks and it seems to me worthy of marking upon the provenance of the house and the profiles of many of the people past and present. >> let's get back to some of the
differences perhaps between how political scientist and historians look at this phenomenon but i would like to first get in to the analysis of the book so the folks that are listening can understand what you're trying to get. let's start with the first part of the strongman rule to say how they come to power, tell us something about what distinguishes the way in which strongmen leaders come to power, how does their rise differ from the rise of other types of authoritarian regime, what are the patterns that we can look for so we know perhaps what's on the horizon so we don't have to wait until -- you can give us perhaps something that we should look for so we know what is coming down the pipe. >> they often sign an appeal and not all come from the outside
political system, many are very skilled was self representation as a journalist in the things i'm going to talk about our valid however, way they get to power, what is the condition that we see over and over again that they appeal to people as the alpha male rule breaker, at times when there has been progress and there is gender emancipation, workers rights have bettered, racial equity and some people in anger is a makes people anxious another people. we then come up as a check list although they also promised to throw everything up for grabs and they promised to approach policy in any way, that is part of it, one of the things that became clear to me is these tactics that they use, the lying
and the violence they use them on the way up, they test out the tools of rule as her trying to get into office and as we keep the two any first century rulers that have to get through election, one of the red flags when they start talking about violence and they behave in different ways and ordinary political candidates, and the philippines started saying we don't want to vote for me because it will be bloodied if i win, they said we will have the biggest cleansing we have ever seen to brazilians and knowing full well it was a dictatorship or trump who said something inconceivable in the history of political candidates practically says i could shoot somebody in fifth avenue and i wouldn't lose any followers. these are testing the system to see what is going to allow, that is one example but there are many. >> you think as with hitler's
famous mind to use the most extreme example that we should take much more seriously than we perhaps do the other instance of people who initially seem to be outside of the norm who are pushing the boundaries of the political section and we should not think of them perhaps nearly as the jokers or reality tv stars that they seem to be today but they are doing this very purposely to test and see what the reaction is of people so they can postpone their strategies to better be able to offer political power. >> that is very well put, it is not even though they do the same things over and over, there is no manual something like trump is not following a written manual, he doesn't even read he just uses tv. also have a real sense of opportunist in their amoral so
they will be whatever the culture needs them to be at that moment and this is a very important point, they are shape shifters and they will ally with anyone in this is an interesting fact of a hundred years of authoritarian role you get an improbable alliance, then mussolini started without, atheist anticlerical, nobody was worked into clerical than he was and he's the one that ended up in l.a. quite early with the church in the 20s and the one who saw the church separation issue and created that as independent state and all the people to be embraced with devout christians and orthodox jews it would not be trump perhaps, not of highest individual but a profane individual but because they will be whatever they need to be to get the support from elites and
grassroots and they're very good and they scour the landscape and whatever the market will take, whatever the market requires they can do that. >> one thing you do stress and other analyst stress as well, i thought we might talk about because also has those historical and contemporary residents, is that so many of the strongmen that come to power or at least implicit acceptance of conservative and even though in many ways they are not we see strongmen correctly not just a form of dictator and also generally and not inclusively being on the right, yet they're not often traditional conservatives although they do often implement some
conservative policies but starting with mussolini obviously up there hitler, one could arguably make the case for the united states today they have not been able to come to power on their own but they have to as you point out build these kinds of alliance they have to bring more people under their stellar umbrella in particular important often times the willingness of conservative to support them, i wondered if you could talk about some of the historical cases of that and you mentioned muzzling you with the church but obviously there is a bigger story there and how again the historical cases might inform and interpret these alliances today and see warning signs should we face a similar threat going forward and given how things turn out is very sad, the story, time and again,
conservatives are financially businesslike, elites and they bring in the extremist because most of these people have a criminal record or some past of extremism into the system, we mainstreamed them thinking we can use them and i have quotes that are similar over hundred years thinking if we give him power and normalize him then the system he will calm down. so i call that the pivot illusion, that is the word that was used a lot with trump or he will pivot and become normal and of course that never happens, what is so interesting this not only happens in positions historically with mussolini and hitler were brought in by elites that were well known cases but the reason is the coup, he
needed him to do this work over the elites to govern in a certain way, the christian democrat believed many of them, this goes back to your other question of not taken seriously, they misread him and thought he would restore order after the coop because they had gotten rid of the socialist president and then he would restore democracy, there was a form of christian democrat who actually said after the crew that in six months billy check is going to restore democracy and this of course tragically was not true and so when he started speaking out later he had him poison that's a very interesting power it's in
regards of how they come to power. we had trump is a candidate, i cannot believe my ears. he had just said the sam thing t shooting people in the end of generally 2016, then jeff sessions who rewarded by the early act of the attorney general brought him into the system by hosting him at a rally and they moved the establishment figures, trump actually said i cannot believe it on becoming mainstream, these other processes that we occur over 100 years and often is the first hour enablers and there's plenty of them in my book, look what happened the sessions we eventually put a limit to rule breaking and stood up for rule of law and then he was turned on and lost the senate seat.
>> there is many people that pointed out in the american context the original members of the republican establishment who are willing to accept trump after his victory in many of them over the course of four years obviously got pushed aside they were not other strongmen regimes but they got pushed aside in the end of the four years of the republican party was much more trump party than the republican party of previous nominees. even if it's a watered-down list violent version the same kind of thing happens which is these figures, they will take advantage of the court or at least implicit backing of the more traditional conservatives and then they end up pushing them aside when they're done with them. >> that is a dynamic in their basic philosophy is use and discard, the moment you cross them because loyalty is everything to them or they cannot find use for you anymore they discard you and here's
where the outcome is different, they renamed the congo he would be put in prison were killed and you have to flee into exile. one of the things that has been interesting is the gop has behave the same way even though the stakes are less than they used to be in dictatorships, what is going to happen to them i guess what happens to jeff sessions, they lose their senate seat but they have not had the spying to speak out and now are in a position where the liberal leaders were aired one called biden to congratulate him but most of the gop is sticking with trump and they have explosively acknowledged that he lost. we have to take trump seriously, it's very tempting now he hasn't been that bad until somebody
worth can come in i would caution against jeff sessions, psychologically it is normal and that's what often happens and we want to forget and move on with coming to terms with the great effective elites, we will be able to protect democracy in our future. before we move on the tools of role, i want to ask you one of the testy political science questions, if we are still on this initial topic of how strongmen come to power, yearbook stresses and i think the title is indicative because the focus is on strongmen and a lot of the personal characteristic of these folks you obviously just talked a lot about that the particular decisions that they made, the things that they do and so one
and they have a warped version of charisma, some of them had abiding force and you talk about their personalities sometimes in ways that we talk about their anger management issue to show that there is a certain type of person who ends up in a strong category so political science we don't talk a lot about individuals with a context is what really matters and it's a context within particular individuals find themselves that determine whether or not they can succeed in what regime and that kind of thing, obviously to be simplistic, you're not going to get a hitler in the united states against trump, you're going to get a hitler that can succeed in the 1930s, but he fails in the 1920s because obviously the situation in germany is different than it is
in the 1920s when he traced his beer hole punch, you can get muzzling in the 1920s and you can get in the late 20th century, they are not the same, let me ask you your book focuses a lot on the personal characteristics but there also in the book a sense of the contextual factors like cultural backlash and things like that but the ability to use their special talents and manipulative strategies to come to power so maybe before we move on if you want to say more words on what kind of context you might want to be cautious about the context that enable strongmen to use their power to begin to undermine or overthrow democra democracy.
>> part of the reason i organized the book around the tools of role in each one goes over 100 years is exactly to show as people when they're coming up in the early chapters, is not biographical and although the personal characteristics are very present my focus is on the cultures of propaganda and corruption, one example is this they create a certain kind of governing structure and jennifer another people call them interesting to him, this is use assistance of late and political science. they create these flatterers and fans and family members who i have a paragraph about law were complicit with them and he will treat them with love, it allows the personal idiosyncrasy and things that are very
counterproductive to run unchecked and it leads to bad decision-making which we will get to later. in all of them end up doing the certain things like dividing role where they keep loyalty and not expertise, professionalism is the most important characteristic to serve an authoritarian. you get this dynamic that don't produce good governance, they produce chaotic and efficient governance. this reflects their personality and the nature of this elite enabling that happens and happens around the world that happens over and over again. >> that's a great segue to talk about another really interesting part of your book, these regimes are distinguished in a variety
of ways, one is how they come to tower, the second the tools were the mechanisms to maintain themselves in power from your dimension some of them you can talk of to the listeners. you mentioned something pretty distinctive to this book and reflective to the title being strongmen rather than dictators or some more gentle neutral term and you have interesting discussions of things like propaganda, you mentioned violence and also this idea of national greatness, and again, for american readers or listeners and hopefully readers will be something maybe can go through the distinctive tools and how they work their magic to keep these guys in power.
>> the keys of their all interrelated the national greatness is interesting because it interacts with the personality with the idea that the leader is pure and he's going to drain the swamp which is a term that muzzling he initiated not trump. >> he did drain trump. >> he created a very modern camp and it became an approach to describe fascism cleansing of corruption and cleansing of porsche walk and eventually of cosmopolitans sworn influence and so on. but the national greatness is interesting, on the one thing you have utopia and they all hold out for the presence in the future will be better if we can
only have the national purification projects which can be in a sense of fascism in racial persecution and anticolonial wars hitting rid of foreign influence of foreigners who were kicked out and everybody has their own. it's also nostalgia for a mythic better past and is not just making the nation great it's making the nation great again. trump's slogan gave the american version and is something that they all do, muzzling me talked about being super modern and he also built highways and stadiums and everything very modern but he also went back to the roman empire, up to air the one any belt airports and talking about the ottoman empire. so they let people dream about a lost grandeur that only they the leader knows how to capture for their people, that is very
convincing and appealing to many people especially who feel that politics is passed or dissatisfied in the maleness of this guy that was the title that have this guide that are the only people who can see the future and the other part of this is a divine of addiction and almost all of them have said to be put in office by god and again, they alone because what sets to the nation in trump's that i am your voice. that's where trump is anointed by angelical's as a person who can save america and the savior complex is a large part of that particular tool. >> does this say something about the interaction between what the
strongmen do in a larger context, do we tend to see these folks coming at a time when there is a sense of national crisis, italy after the first world war, germany obviously in the great depression, the sense that tillie was going to fall to this horrible communist wave in the united states facing not just declining power internationally but the demographic shifts that perhaps made some white citizens feel like the country is changing in ways that were leaving them behind. does this again see off -- we should look for these rulers in these kinds of situations and countries that are facing real problems that exist establishments figures and establishment parties are not
addressing directly or successfully? >> yes in the sense that politics is broken and they will fix it and what i'm about to say gets into the propaganda tool, the sense that the media, they have to be the victim and another thing to watch for is a politician on the one hand poses as very aggressive. . . . they entered the scene and may tell the truth that the establishment, media and politics don't want you to know, so i have a poster-- i could not believe what i found it put out by the nazi party the 1920s of hitler because
democrats were preventing him, the truth teller from getting the message out and saying how he would save germany and this was big with the far right populist today that you know the mainstream media-- every country has its own name and only they are in touch with the nation, so a far right politician from italy said when they attack me it's like attacking the whole nation, so that's another thing and it goes together with propaganda because they have an alternate truth, fiction or could they kind of pedal this alternate reality and they have to do this early on because as trump started to by demonizing the press because when they get into office it's important
people already think the press is bias so if any secrets get out there and they are all corrupt. if any wrongdoing comes out, people will believe them, they will only believe the leader, so this victimhood is one of the first things they traffic in and also one of the last things and trump is kind of using this fall speed right now and he will take his victim-- victimhood with him. it's part of the personality? host: this also gets to this sort of connection between the leader and the people he's offensively representing; right? which one way is to create the deep connection that has a survived inefficiencies that can survive lying, that can survive even policies that are sort of counterproductive or counter to the interest of the supporters in
that that they see this deep connection with him. he's not just their champion, but embodies many of their frustrations and resentment and he gets to a point that you have in the section on soda propaganda. you talk about poor instance rallies and how indicated rallies are of the type of you know the type of connection or the type of propaganda or the type of political activities that strong men engage in and that's because obviously they need this direct connection with the population anyway you might not find in other types of authoritarian regime, but you also have a great picture that i had never seen even though i studied the inter- workings of hitler practicing for one of his rallies i believe in front of a mirror which is kind of not a picture someone
normally sees. he's more like an actor practicing for a role in a movies and we know trumps rallies were not just significant part of the campaign, but by many accounts actually extremely effective in mobilizing his supporters in ways that democrats simply didn't understand and do so i wonder again if you may have some before we run out of time about again this sort of how important this personal connection is both in the tool of rule and explaining why people develop such strong attachments to rulers that for people outside of their sort of fear of influence can seem bizarre and puzzling. >> yeah, and that's a good way to put it because they thrive on inclusion in creating a community of inclusion and just trump with the familiar example, so the red hat and not back up
slogan and so i have a lot about the-- [inaudible] and how important rituals are to community and the media ties them, but the other thing is that all successful strong men have known how to create a direct communication channel with the people and that is true of his rallies and they know how to perform. they know how to mirror back what they think the crowd it needs them to be a night keep saying that because it's important, up to vote in instagram who uses instagram in a very effective way, but what is interesting is the mechanisms haven't really changed. you have to have a personal direct unmediated connection with people. you may use twitter today or instagram versus hitler had the radio and this isn't actually in the book, but i talk a lot about
hitler's voice and the effect of his voice, but there is a research now that just came out since i published a book about the type of microphones hitler was using because it was very state of the art. you with that american advertising, anything state of the art to help the performance of hitler he would do in this is in the book where he realized early on that hitler couldn't speak in the studio. he was boring. when he talked in the studio-- he needed the crowd. he set off the energy of the crowd, but what is coming out is the type of marker found he hitler to use were much better in terms of amplifying sound, so hitler also hurt his own voice as amplified and so-- these people feed off the energy of the crowd appeared they need
the crowd more than the crowd needs them has a very: they know how effective it is to replenish the bond because personality cult to me is like plants, you have to water them and you water them with energy and the crowd. this is why trump says these ridiculous things where when he came out of the hospital he did the drive-by which endangered the secret service people because he had covid, but he still needed to drive through a drive by and see the cheering crowd and he was a randomly blasted for that, but the people in their marketing needs are such they realize that they vanish from the scene and they are not in contact with people, it can with her. >> actually this brings up another tool that you stress in the book that you mentioned in passing which is this idea of a reality, he also have the book a number of very evocative of pictures and we are all
these days familiar with pictures of vladimir putin on bareback with horse showing off his tax and those kind of things and you have a great picture of mussolini, shirtless and you know the thing with trump is part of what you are talking about was the desire to i'm not affected by this disease. i don't wear a mask because it's unmanly, but it's not just personal things. it's part of again, the tools of rule as you say, the ways in which they are sort of the cementing their connection and since i think that is probably something i know political scientists don't think about, you may want to talk a bit to give recipe more sort of examples so we can understand how we-- how it can work as a tool of rule or has worked as a
tool of rule historically. guest: some of the fear you are talking about where they use their body very carefully as a form of display. not all of them are taking their shirts off, but all of them know what the nation needs them to be, so some this kind of theatrical strongman like qaddafi with his clothes and he often were close with pictures of other men he was honoring and the longer he stayed in power which was like 42 years-- imagine 42 years of the more theatrical he could-- became. others are more statuesque like military decal-- leaders or think of stalin. he had a gravitas, theatrical, but they all know they become these anchors for the population and that's also why when they leave they have the sense that you don't get rid of them easily and also they stay within the
culture, so the reality is that, but it's also very connected to corruption because they become the man who gets away with what other men are too weak to get away with. they often have supernatural qualities, they are divinely ordained, connected to what we talked about before with national greatness and when dynamic is they are seen as pure and everyone else is seen as corrupt around them so they are good at having a culture where they stand above everyone else ended and of course in terms of violence they become the models are the instigator. they are the manly man who knows how to kill or no space on to take what you want. trumps thing when he talked about when you are star they let you do
it any don't even have to ask. he said in 25 and eight came back to haunt him in 2016. a lot of people were mystified why he got elected even after that came out because-- [inaudible] when you are star you don't have to ask so they managed to channel aspirations of men and women and this is where this kind of glamour-- the glamour of lawlessness comes in and all of this is tied to the virility. i felt that was what was missing in a lot of the camps of authoritarianism. host: is this some way been a sort of personal version of the national greatness driving you mentioned earlier which is to say like again he the strongman embodies the kind of push back against weakness, against decline and decay and in his own self that he is claiming to his
supporters that he is trying to sort of recruit for his people or his nation more generally so there's a kind of connection there. is that what you sort of found? >> yes, they embody the nation that way and so trump battle with covid the whole way the covid was mismanaged. this was after the book was published, but how he can defeat illnesses that lesser men can't. when he came out of the hospital, and he did this political theater where he went up the stairs, which was hard for him because he just cannot of the hospital and then to sit there not saying anything surrounded by flags with the balcony and everyone made the comparison to mussolini. what i was struck with was that he knew his followers needed to see him as their rock.
so, he just stood there and let himself be looked at and the cameras flashed and he didn't say anything and then he went inside and then released a video. knowing his supported needed to see was okay is part of this psychological commune that these leaders have and of course it translates into political theater, but then again sometimes it's not taken seriously enough for staging of the politics, the theater of a politics. host: that resonates with some of your earlier work on culture which perhaps a lot of folks who are sort of see themselves as rational and enlightened dolefully recognize the importance of emotion in politics of the irrational of the theater aspects of it and so we laugh at these things and we
don't understand their attractiveness in power, but in fact for many people and it's not a question of intelligence or lack thereof, it's a question of different styles. we don't see that imports or the power of these things and tell it's a sort of too late. guest: that's a good way to put it. people often say well, dammit-- democratic politicians also have cultic personality, look at jfk etc., but what i'm interested in is this a dangerous melding of what we described, the alpha male, the mailman who knows how to communicate to his glamour with lawlessness and how lawlessness is part of their charm, so in the book and this gets into also corruption and violence chapter, rule breaking, which from the very start they come up as a rule breakers. they are going to up and traditional politics. they communicate in new ways. they rejigger
everything. they are like volcanoes that erect and when they leave the political landscape isn't quite the same and even in our country, which is unusual with these two massive parties, other countries have more parties, look what has happened to the gop where you have been never trump are who exited and they don't leave things the same as when they came in. host: so before we get to that, let's talk about so to speak the third part of your analysis, which is how strong demand-- men and. you mentioned something also get a lot of other analysts noted. you say they never leave a voluntarily and strongman will do anything to stay in office even starting wars or deepening involvement and conflicts and again that is something that the folks of my political
science colleagues like to analyze things and also found it hard to get authoritarian populist strongman i guess more specifically to leave office. if we have a moment, you might discuss trump in this regard because obviously it's unusual for them to even be defeated in elections much less leave, but i wonder if you could tell us a bit then based on your historical analysis some of the ways of resistance to strongman rule any mention both resistance on a private level, with the germans sometimes refer to as internal exile and also you mentioned some very interesting resistance movements and the types of resistance that has been successful over time, so maybe you can tell us again a little bit about how strong men rule and for those who are interested in learning lessons from a book, what kinds of resistance are most efficacious in bringing
these kinds of-- taking these leaders out of power, rebuilding regimes you know after they had been trampled by these types of dictators. guest: the most manifest and obvious ways mass nonviolent protests, which is-- they are really good studies on that and the point of that is threefold. number one, it sends the message to the ruler and it can be effective if there is the-- regime is already tottering, but it sends a message to the elite, that enabler that it's time to think about the phenomena in that has been interesting to watch now and like how you have defected, which is pretty incredible. it also sends a message
to other people who have been afraid to come out and protest. here i am basing on classic dictatorship, not-- or even in vladimir putin russia. the number is still up momentum and more and more people feel emboldened when they see many people in the street and it's harder for the forces of order, law-enforcement to prevail when it becomes truly-- [inaudible] there are times when you can do that when dictatorships are at their peak so i talk about other forms of resistance that have recurred from reclaiming the public sphere because authoritarians colonize a public sphere they send people are marching, they have rallies, public spaces full of their portraits like qaddafi and mussolini, but doing graffiti or leaving
leaflets like the white rose by colleges students did in germany or using the body to speak back to the ruler colonization of the body and in vladimir putin's russia there's interesting resistance involving people intervening on their bodies like selling their mouth shut in protest in a penal colony or a history of self-mutilation and that's what started arab spring, also. also, not doing things and so some resistance is very private, but when you have a dictator it's very moving to keep hidden a photograph of someone you know was murdered by the dictatorship. i think one thing i found especially touching was how certain techniques have recurred such as human chain.
when communism was falling there was this baltic way there was human chains holding hands across borders and then i found that again in the resistance who was really be no threatening democracy by personalizing the law etc. they would hold hands and circle endangered buildings and this was cited by hong kong protesters in 2019. just as this occurs among leaders where they strip their shirts off and talk about throwing people out of helicopters, so does resistance to them so there was the history when it to include and honor. host: one of you are sort of positive lessons is that folks engage in resistance have to recognize while their long-term goal is obviously getting rid of strongman or dictators more
generally, what they are engaged in in the short term is a signaling exercise, signaling to your fellow citizens you are not alone, that you know, we have solidarity and that we can you know, act together despite the suppression to express, you know, our desire for freedom, desire for democracy so as a resistance actor you need to focus not just on the long-term, but all the sort of short-term step-by-step goals required you know to eventually you know perhaps hopefully reach your comment you know the common goal or the desire and point of getting rid of this dictatorship guest: yeah, because just as these things build the slowly and except in this case of a coup and when people say to me especially by 2017, 18, when you talk about trump being
authoritarian. it's not like vladimir putin's russia. we wouldn't be able to speak etc., but vladimir putin started somewhere they all started somewhere by the same token resistance has to start somewhere and build momentum so conditions are ripe for it to become perhaps have a different meaning. but, without the signals that affirm the kind of horizontal bond of society which is the thing a tour-- authoritarians utmost fear and also showed that not all is conforming and i interviewed people who wear in libya and they say it's important not everyone is conforming and i was inspired by someone i knew who wasn't conforming, so this kind of horizontal communication that might not be seen by many people, but it's a moral example as well as a practical example. it's very important,
even if the end result isn't yet in sight. host: i know unfortunately we are nearing the end of our conversation, so i thought what would be helpful for listeners and hopefully again readers is for you to use the last two minutes to talk about, you know, as you already mentioned to some lessons. of the point of doing a whole historical analysis is to learn from, you know, what's happened in the past what works, what happened-- what hasn't, pay attention to what things we don't fully appreciate but with the benefit of hindsight maybe we can soak maybe you can tell us if there is a take away from this book for folks interested in protecting democracy from this type of ruble whether the parting words that you may give. guest: one is you know, when we tend to be optimists and not to
want to recognize what's in front of us. a lot of these things can be avoided if it's not let into the system in the first place and people recognize them for what they are. take people for what they are the other is to time after time and culture after culture sort of cherished myths. it can't happen here because we have democracy and recognizing authoritarian threats during these things away and taking a very hard look at what in your culture has allowed this to happen after the fact. of the other thing is that democracy is an honor system to some extent and we are dealing with people who break the system. they are not men of honor and it's important you have in their wake a
very vigorous response to correcting all the loopholes and weaknesses in institutions they exposed. he was a voted out after five years of governance and credible correction changing the laws to suit his judicial problems started on 2006 with expectation to address and pass laws to increase accountability and anticorruption, but they felt relieved and they didn't to that so there was rising popular anger and he came back in in 2011 and he was more corrupt than ever and kind of scooped up everything he was doing because he could, so we right now in america need to really have a hard look at all of the things that allowed
trump to do it he did and reconsider and that may be hard because half the country meaning the political leadership is still anchored to trump, but that does not mean we shouldn't try. host: so learning the lessons of history is really the key lesson so to speak of your book? guest: yeah, because there are these patterns-- this is the key, because things occurring different circumstances and each ruler has an ability to do damage in his own way, sewed trump's and sister-- hitler, we are having another holocaust, but trump has done immeasurable damage that i have not even begun to assess, so history and looking at these patterns of history is a lesson to want to avoid in the future and also knowing what to look for. there are warning signs.
historically minded work , but i think also looking at other forms that abuse of power can take including the attachment to an old model of nail-- male forcefulness and power has also gotten us into trouble and i think it's time for something new. host: before i thank you for this great conversation, when two and with something you say doors into the book. you say, in fact, strong men do not vanish with their exit from power, but remain traces within the body of their people , the muscle memory to salute and sing the song can be hard to shake, so once we had a strongman or a brush with authoritarian is a, it's imperative for us to learn and
those lessons and to correct those injuries or weaknesses so that we don't perhaps fall prey and easily in the future -- just because donald trump as the 2020 election doesn't mean the kind of threat he represents can adjust the-- you know will just disappear when joe biden takes the oath of office in january. guest: yeah, nick and many people learned not only in the states that we can't take democracy for granite. we cannot take our lives for granted and we can't just assume someone will do the right saying. this is kind of a human capacity where we assume the person will do the right thing in time and that isn't the case. host: well, thank you very much roof again for the opportunity to talk to about this book in this super important and timely topic and hopefully lots of
people will buy it, read it and learn from it. guest: thank you. >> this program is available as a podcast. all at "after words" programs can be viewed on our website and book tv.org. ♪ >> you are watching the tv on c-span2. every week and with the latest nonfiction books and authors. book tv on c-span2 credit by america's cable-television country -- companies. ♪ >> during a virtual event hosted by the commonwealth of san francisco susan eisenhower discusses the life and leadership of her grandfather, dwight eisenhower. >> eisenhower was very conscious of what it would be to be a diminished president. we have to remember the
president wilson was really almost a scandal that people in the country didn't know how ill that president one so he was determined not to find himself in that situation for the good of the country and after he had three illnesses during his presidency and after each one of them he would give himself an arch with test like around the world trip or a trip to europe requiring lots of meetings and stress and he always tells advisors , if i don't perform as top-level, you have to tell me because i will then resign. in any case, that never happened to. he became actually, rather good at managing his time, managing the stress and it generally you know positioning himself to get through his second term.