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What The 'Strongmen' Of History Reveal About Modern Politics

Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini (1883 - 1945) giving a speech.   (Fox Photos/Getty Images)
Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini (1883 - 1945) giving a speech. (Fox Photos/Getty Images)

Historian Ruth Ben-Ghiat studies authoritarian regimes, like Italy under Mussolini. Can a democracy pry itself out of a strongman’s grip?


Ruth Ben-Ghiat, professor of history and Italian studies at New York University. Author of “Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present.” (@ruthbenghiat)

Brendan Nyhan, political science professor at Dartmouth College. (@BrendanNyhan)

From The Reading List

Washington Post: “Strongman leaders take defeat poorly — just like Trump” — “‘If I lose to him, I don’t know what I’m going to do. I will never speak to you again,’ President Trump told attendees of a September rally in North Carolina, voicing his dread at the prospect of being defeated by Democrat Joe Biden in the election.”

The New Republic: “It’s Already Happening Here” — “Fascism is the outcome of a collective incapacity to think. This is how, in 1939, Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges explained the success of Adolf Hitler.”

WBUR: “How The Pandemic May Be Making Political Bubbles Worse” — “Like a lot of us, Dustin Voss isn’t getting out much these days.”

Washington Post: “No, Trump is not attempting a ‘coup.’ Here’s why the distinction matters.” — “President Trump refuses to accept the results of last week’s election, in which he lost to the Democratic challenger Joe Biden, and prominent Republican officials in Congress and across the nation are backing him.”

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

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