Inviting the Tigers to Tea: Demagogues in America


Manage episode 282692310 series 2685513
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Winston Churchill once said that ‘Dictators ride to and fro upon tigers from which they dare not dismount. And the tigers are getting hungry.’ In the wake of what happened in Washington last week, I think this metaphor illustrates something deeper about the relationship between demagogues and their followers. Who are the tigers and why are they hungry? Riots - the voice of the unheard - clearly signify some issues within a society that if not resolved inevitably lead to the baring of teeth. Tigers only emerge from tears in the social fabric. The more the economic, social, or cultural chasm rips open, the more untamed emotions spill out of the void, and the more likely it becomes that a demagogue can saddle-up and offer a solution. Steve Bannon said that ‘we got elected on Drain the Swamp, Lock Her Up, Build a Wall….This was pure anger. Anger and fear is what gets people to the polls.” Many ancient philosophers were skeptical of democracy because it was vulnerable to the threat of demagogues. Plato argued in the Republic that because democracy must allow freedom of speech it was defenseless against strongmen who could make to the demos based on their fears and emotions. Joseph Goebbels said that ‘This will always remain one of the best jokes of democracy, that it gave its deadly enemies the means by which it was destroyed.’ So why is it that democracy is vulnerable to demagogues? What do demagogues offer and how might we protect against it? Then & Now is FAN-FUNDED! Support me on Patreon and pledge as little as $1 per video:

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