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How Democracies Die by Daniel Ziblatt and Steven Levitsky

How Democracies Die by Daniel Ziblatt and Steven Levitsky
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The book is exactly what it sounds like. As the authors suggest, democracies can die in two popular ways. First, military coup. That is a more sudden, violent way of capturing a democracy. Second, discrediting the fundamentals of democracies. That is a slow and swift process. There is mostly no coming back from the second way. And, the book talks, in length, about the second way taking US politics, and the rise of Donald Trump as a backdrop.

“The democracies lose their democractic credentials slowly, in the most constitutional way, in front everyone’s eyes. “

The authors say, the democracies lose their democractic credentials slowly, in the most constitutional way, in front everyone’s eyes. The book breaks the fundamentals of a democracies, and attempts to recognize patterns in how the world’s major democracies have failed. Not from outside, but from inside. The book might become slightly overbearing if you aren’t aware of the USA’s election system, and history. But, if you have seen House of Cards–a netflix original series–, then you’d enjoy the book a lot. You’ll understand a lot of nuances of an alternate democractic system. Published in 2018, the book captures the rise of Donald Trump, and how his presence in the White House could mean a threat of the world’s oldest democracy.

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Talking about the writing style, it is marvelous. The writing is pacy, and full of examples. The examples made things easier to understand. Since, the ideas are abstract but when explained and elaborated through examples they start to make a lot of sense. Like, this sentence makes no sense, but when you read the book you might understand what I mean. Particularly, a chapter dedicated to explain the rise of Donald Trump in the US primaries made me understand the context better.

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The book suggests that it requires people in the system to uphold the democratic values. Treat opposition as opposition, not enemies. Let the democractic institutions do their democractic jobs. It will not take an Einstein to figure the similarities in what the authors are saying, and what is happening in India. You can easily juxtapose contemporary Indian politics, with the dismantling of the country’s democratic credentials.

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Also, FYI. ‘Russian President Vladimir Putin makes a new law that allows him to be President for another 15 years till 2036’, and that’s how democracies die.

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