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The Allure of Authoritarianism

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Democracy may not be in great shape, but why would anyone prefer to be governed by an authoritarian?

In George Orwell’s 1984, the party’s “final, most essential command” was “to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears.” Authoritarian regimes call on us to accept as fact whatever they tell us; or worse, as Hannah Arendt says, they get us to a point where we no longer know—or care about—the difference between fiction and reality. So why are so many so willing to reject the evidence of their senses and deny basic, confirmable truths? Is there something about human psychology that makes us susceptible to totalitarian propaganda? And as the appeal of authoritarian leaders grows around the world, how do we guard against such radical thought manipulation? Josh and Ken lure Michael Lynch from the University of Connecticut, author of Know-It-All Society: Truth and Arrogance in Political Culture. Sunday, May 22 at 11 am.

Devon Strolovitch studied medieval Judeo-Portuguese manuscripts and earned a PhD in Linguistics from Cornell University before coming to KALW. He is the Senior Producer of Philosophy Talk, and since 2007 has hosted Fog City Blues, the weekly digest of Blues in the Bay Area and beyond.