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October 13
5:30 pm - 6:45 pm


A Zoom event under Chatham House rule
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Non-Fiction Book Group: Twilight of Democracy

A Melbourne Forum Interest Group

Hosted by:
Peter Lamell
Dianne Jacobs

October 13 @ 5:30 pm - 6:45 pm


Are we repeating 1930s authoritarianism?

‘Given the right conditions, any society can turn against democracy. Indeed, if history is anything to go by, all of our societies eventually will’ is the bleak prognosis for liberal democracy in this book which blends deeply-felt memoir with cool political analysis about how liberal democracy is under siege, while authoritarianism is on the rise.

Twilight of Democracy – The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Anne Applebaum is our third Non-Fiction Book Group discussion.

Anne Applebaum’s personal approach carries weight because she’s witnessed the rise and fall of democratic sentiment first hand in her adopted Poland. A staff writer for the Atlantic, she is also deeply connected to the US and British political scenes.

From the recently-converted Post-Communist states in Eastern Europe to those bastions of western liberal democracy, Britain and the USA, she analyses the rise of a nativist, authoritarian leadership style.

Considered and original interpretation of the questions for democratic decline are presented: Why did the wave of enthusiasm for liberal democracy, shared across the political spectrum in the 1980s and 90s, come to an end? How did we come to be so divided? Why did everyone get so angry?

She also charts the rise of autocratic and paranoid governments. She contends that political systems with radically simple beliefs are inherently appealing and describes how despotic leaders rely on political allies, bureaucrats, and media figures. These new advocates of illiberalism use conspiracy theory, political polarisation, social media, and even nostalgia to change their societies.

Twilight of Democracy – The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism (Penguin Random House, July 2020) is bound to generate a stimulating group discussion.

Click on the Ex Libris image below to access member-only content about the book subscribe to the posts and to watch a video by the author as she discusses the fractured present and a tenuous future of liberal democracy.

This Melbourne Forum interest group gives us an opportunity to view contemporary themes through the lens of the non-fiction written word. Come with an open mind, hear differing perspectives and uncover what your fellow readers think.

In November we will be discussing ‘See What You Made Me Do. Power, Control and Domestic Abuse’ by Jess Hill.