Book Talk: How Democracies Die

Date: 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018, 4:15pm to 5:30pm

Location: 

Starr Auditorium, Belfer Building, Floor 2.5, Harvard Kennedy School

Join the Ash Center and Center for Public Leadership for a discussion with Harvard professors Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, authors of How Democracies Die. HKS Academic Dean Archon Fung, Winthrop Laflin McCormack Professor of Citizenship and Self-Government, will moderate. Scott Mainwaring, Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor for Brazil Studies, will provide an introduction.

This discussion is part of the Ash Center's Democracy in Hard Places Initiative, a program co-directed by Scott Mainwaring, Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor of Brazil Studies, and Tarek Masoud, Professor of Public Policy and Sultan of Oman Professor of International Relations. Democracy in Hard Places aims to foster social science research on democratic experiments—both successful and failed—throughout the developing world to learn how democracy can be built and maintained in a variety of terrains. The initiative's seminar series brings to campus distinguished scholars and practitioners to analyze the conditions, institutions, and behaviors that enable democracy to survey in hard places. 

How Democracies Die

How Democracies DieDonald Trump’s presidency has raised a question that many of us never thought we’d be asking: Is our democracy in danger? Harvard professors Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt have spent more than twenty years studying the breakdown of democracies in Europe and Latin America, and they believe the answer is yes. Democracy no longer ends with a bang—in a revolution or military coup—but with a whimper: the slow, steady weakening of critical institutions, such as the judiciary and the press, and the gradual erosion of long-standing political norms. The good news is that there are several exit ramps on the road to authoritarianism. The bad news is that, by electing Trump, we have already passed the first one. 

Drawing on decades of research and a wide range of historical and global examples, from 1930s Europe to contemporary Hungary, Turkey, and Venezuela, to the American South during Jim Crow, Levitsky and Ziblatt show how democracies die—and how ours can be saved.