The Fight to Save Democracy from Its Worst Enemies
This book considers demagogues, or tyrants who owe their initial rise to democratic support, from the brutal Cleon in ancient Athens to George W. Bush's naIve democratic experiment in Iraq and beyond, weaving stories about some of history's most fascinating figures, including Hitler, Chavez and McCarthy.
A demagogue is a tyrant who owes his initial rise to the democratic support of the masses. Huey Long, Hugo Chavez, and Moqtada al-Sadr are all clear examples of this dangerous byproduct of democracy. Demagogue takes a long view of the fight to defend democracy from within, from the brutal general Cleon in ancient Athens, the demagogues who plagued the bloody French Revolution, George W. Bush's naIve democratic experiment in Iraq, and beyond. This compelling narrative weaves stories about some of history's most fascinating figures, including Adolf Hitler, Senator Joe McCarthy, and General Douglas Macarthur, and explains how humanity's urge for liberty can give rise to dark forces that threaten that very freedom. To find the solution to democracy's demagogue problem, the book delves into the stories of four great thinkers who all personally struggled with democracy - Plato, Alexis de Tocqueville, Leo Strauss, and Hannah Arendt.
Acknowledgements Introduction: Freedom at the Brink PART I: THE CYCLE OF REGIMES The Founding Fathers' Nightmare Defining the Demagogue Democracy's Own Worst Enemy Cleon of Athens An Enemy of the People The Student Rebels A City Learns PART II: DEMAGOGUERY IN AMERICA George W. Bush: Demagogue? Watering the Tree of Liberty A Peculiar Institution 'King Mob' The Reign of Terror The Demagogue and the Devil America's Achilles Heel Americans Fight Back A Red-Baiter and an American Caesar PART III: THE MODERN STRUGGLE Ignoring Iraqis The Cycle Begins Again A Philosopher-King? The Neoconservative Pere et Fils Democratic Dominion The End of Complicity Seduction and Resolution PART IV: DEFYING THE DEMAGOGUE Constitutionalism The Errors of the Past Moving Forward Theory and Practice From Hubris to Strength CONCLUSION: AMERICA THE EXCEPTIONAL Notes Index