Alternatives to Democracy in Twentieth-Century Europe

Sabrina Ramet

Alternatives to Democracy in Twentieth-Century Europe: Collectivist Visions of Modernity, examines the historical examples of Soviet Communism, Italian Fascism, German Nazism, and Spanish Anarchism, suggesting that, in spite of their differences, they had some key features in common, in particular their shared hostility to individualism, representative government, laissez faire capitalism, and the decadence they associated with modern culture. But rather than seeking to return to earlier ways of working these movements and regimes sought to design a new future – an alternative future – that would restore the nation to spiritual and political health. The Fascists, for their part, specifically promoted palingenesis, which is to say the spiritual rebirth of the nation.

The book closes with a long epilogue, in which I defend liberal democracy, highlighting its strengths and advantages. In this chapter, the author identifies five key choke points, which would-be authoritarians typically seek to control, subvert, or instrumentalize: electoral rules, the judiciary, the media, hate speech, and surveillance, and look at the cases of Viktor Orbán’s Hungary, Jarosław Kaczyński’s Poland, and Donald Trump’s United States.

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