OVERRIDE

Demagogue

The Fight to Save Democracy from Its Worst Enemies

Michael Signer

Palgrave Macmillan Trade

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 naïve 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.

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Praise for Demagogue

"Demagogue is a simply extraordinary book. A fascinating work of political theory, an eloquent response to the Bush administration's disastrous efforts at promoting democracy, a roadmap for progressives seeking to chart a new foreign policy direction and an intellectual lifeline for anyone who believes America should be on freedom's side, and knows, in their heart, that there must be a better way."--Peter Beinart, author of The Good Fight: Why Liberals--and Only Liberals--Can Win the War on Terror and Make America Great Again and Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations

“The demagogue is the only enemy of democracy who pretends to be its friend.  Michael Signer’s erudite and eloquent defense of constitutional democracy against its demagogic counterfeit should be required reading for the citizens of established and emerging democracies alike.” --Michael Lind, author of The American Way of Strategy:  U.S. Foreign Policy and the American Way of Life

"Since our founding, Americans have seen our country's mission as bringing democracy to people around the world.  The past few years have seen a lot of debate about how to spread democracy, but almost none about how to keep it alive in places where it is under attack.  With a grounding in history and philosophy, Michael Signer offers an original foreign policy vision for the 21st century that puts democracy protection alongside democracy promotion.  This is vital reading for anyone who cares about one of the great international challenges of the years ahead."-- Andrei Cherny, Co-Editor Democracy: A Journal of Ideas, author The Next Deal and The Candy Bombers

"Michael Signer has written a strikingly original book. Demagogue tells the story of democracy by analyzing its antithesis – the often frighteningly charismatic leader who draws his strength from his purported connection to the demos itself. Amid the myriad studies of democracy and waves of democratization, of rising incomes, civil society, institutions and elections, Signer brings the human element back into the equation. The demagogue, he argues, is an eternal element in democracy's rise and fall, one that we ignore today, from Venezuela to Russia, at our peril."--Anne-Marie Slaughter, Dean, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University and author of The Idea That Is America

"With American democracy facing so many challenges at home and abroad, Demagogue could not have come at a more important moment.  Michael Signer has given us a deeply thoughtful book, shedding new light on one of the most important ideas in American foreign policy and drawing vivid portraits of some of history’s most troubling and pivotal figures.  Written with refreshing clarity and flair, this is a book to enjoy – and not soon forget." --Derek Chollet, senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security and coauthor of America Between the Wars

 

 

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Michael Signer

  • Michael Signer is Senior Policy Advisor at the Center for American Progress and Senior National Security Policy Fellow at the think tank Third Way. He was Senator John Edwards' foreign policy advisor on his presidential campaign. His articles have appeared in The Washington Post, USA Today, and Democracy: A Journal of Ideas and he has been interviewed by The Washington Post, NPR, and MSNBC, among others. He lives in Arlington, Virginia.
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Demagogue

The Fight to Save Democracy from Its Worst Enemies

Michael Signer

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