By Michael Signer
A demagogue is a tyrant who owes his preliminary upward push to the democratic aid of the hundreds. Huey lengthy, Hugo Chavez, and Moqtada al-Sadr are all transparent examples of this risky byproduct of democracy. Demagogue takes a protracted view of the struggle to guard democracy from inside, from the brutal normal Cleon in old Athens, the demagogues who plagued the bloody French Revolution, George W. Bush's na?ve democratic test in Iraq, and past. This compelling narrative weaves tales approximately a few of history's such a lot attention-grabbing figures, together with Adolf Hitler, Senator Joe McCarthy, and normal Douglas Macarthur, and explains how humanity's urge for liberty can provide upward thrust to darkish forces that threaten that very freedom. To uncover the answer to democracy's demagogue challenge, the ebook delves into the tales of 4 nice thinkers who all for my part struggled with democracy--Plato, Alexis de Tocqueville, Leo Strauss, and Hannah Arendt.
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Additional info for Demagogue: The Fight to Save Democracy from Its Worst Enemies
Plato even gave a positive dimension to the democrat, who embodies diversity and pluralism: “[H]e’s a complex man, full of all sorts of characters, fine and multicolored, just like the democratic city,” he wrote. ”54 But this happy bumbler could quickly become a menace. ”56 Here the demagogue makes his entrance, filling the vacuum with discipline. Importantly, even here, Plato placed blame squarely on the people for their demise. The demagogue does not manipulate the people; instead, the “ruler who behaves like a subject”57 slavishly follows the will of the people and fails to chart a course for the city beyond the narrows of popularity and passion.
35 Pericles was attempting to recall Athenians to their own democratic values—to the underlying beliefs that made them both free and strong. Despite the obvious power of such words and ideals, Pericles’ elite status had a perverse consequence: it created a natural opening for political opponents to fashion themselves as mirrors for the masses. Over time, his elevated standing became not a means to draw the people to him, but a wedge for others to drive them away. Three years before Cleon’s brutal prosecution of the case against the Mytileneans, he engineered Pericles’ collapse.
But the elite playwright failed in his political objective. Despite Aristophanes, Cleon continued, unscathed, to attack his opponents, to hand out money to the demos with abandon, and to provoke military expeditions. He was even re-elected general by the people. In the end, the demagogue ultimately fell prey not to the people or his political enemies but, fittingly, to his own hubris. On a typically brash mission, Cleon was killed while attempting to recover the city of Amphipolis. His downfall came at the hands of Brasidas, a general of Cleon’s hated Spartans.
Demagogue: The Fight to Save Democracy from Its Worst Enemies by Michael Signer