The Autocrat's Playbook

How does a democracy die? In stops and starts – says our guest this week – and usually, from within. Steve Levitsky is a professor of politics at Harvard and the co-author of the recent bestseller How Democracies Die. Drawing from history and present day (think: Venezuela), Levitsky makes a compelling case for precisely how an autocrat could bring down the pillars of democracy. And Ian presses him on perhaps the most worrying implication of all: is the United States next?


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"Many forms of government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time." So said Winston Churchill in November 1947, a time when Soviet Communism was beginning to offer the world a new alternative.

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My high school history teacher Dr. Cohen once told me, as we shuffled through the school cafeteria, that computers would one day make socialism viable. Given that the Soviet collapse had already happened, and that Super Nintendo still seemed vastly more magical than anything you could put on your desk, this seemed far-fetched.

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WHAT WE'RE WATCHING

Syria ISIS attack A suicide bombing in Syria claimed by ISIS killed 14 people including four Americans this week. Two questions we'll be watching: Will this attack impact the pace of President Trump's ordered withdrawal of US troops from Syria, and is the bombing part of a broader ISIS strategy to launch a wave of new attacks as US troops depart?

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