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Vail Symposium presents Pulitzer Prize-winning author to discuss lure of authoritarianism

Free virtual program is Thursday night

Anne Applebaum is a staff writer for The Atlantic and a Pulitzer Prize winning historian. In her recent book she explains the lure of nationalism and autocracy. (Special to the Daily)

From the United States and Britain to continental Europe and beyond, liberal democracy is under siege, while authoritarianism is on the rise. On Thursday at 6 p.m. Vail Symposium will facilitate a discussion between author Anne Applebaum and Larry Diamond to delve into the lure of authoritarianism.

“Anne Applebaum and Larry Diamond have devoted their lives to the study of opposite ends of the political spectrum,” said director of programming Claire Noble. “During the 1990s, the expansion of democracy around the world was real and cause for hope. However, the backlash was swift and powerful. Populist politicians and authoritarian regimes are taking root throughout the world. These are two formidable experts on the subject can make sense of why this is happening and where it might lead.”

In her recent book, “The Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism,” Applebaum — an award-winning historian of Soviet atrocities who was one of the first American journalists to raise an alarm about anti-democratic trends in the West — explains the lure of nationalism and autocracy.



In this program, Applebaum will discuss the inherent appeal to political systems with radically simple beliefs, especially when they benefit the loyal to the exclusion of everyone else. The authoritarian and nationalist parties that have arisen within modern democracies offer new paths to wealth or power for their adherents. Applebaum will address the patterns that link the new advocates of illiberalism and chart how they use conspiracy theory, political polarization, social media and nostalgia to change their societies.

Register for this Vail Symposium program at http://www.vailsymposium.org or visit for more information.



About the speakers

Applebaum is a staff writer for The Atlantic and a Pulitzer Prize winning historian. She is also a senior fellow at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and the Agora Institute, where she co-directs Arena, a program on disinformation and 21st-century propaganda.

A Washington Post columnist for 15 years and a former member of the editorial board, she has also worked as the foreign and deputy editor of the Spectator magazine in London, as the political editor of the Evening Standard, and as a columnist at Slate as well as the Daily and Sunday Telegraphs. From 1988-1991 she covered the collapse of communism as the Warsaw correspondent of the Economist magazine and the Independent newspaper.

Her latest book, “Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism” explains, with clarity, why some of her contemporaries have abandoned liberal democratic ideals in favor of strongman cults, nationalist movements or one-party states.

Diamond is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University. He also chairs the Hoover Institution Project on Taiwan in the Indo-Pacific Region and is the principal investigator of the Global Digital Policy Incubator, part of Stanford’s Cyber Policy Center. For more than six years, he directed FSI’s Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law, where he now leads its Program on Arab Reform and Democracy. During 2017-18, he co-chaired, with Orville Schell, a working group formed of researchers from Hoover and from the Asia Society Center on US-China Relations, culminating in the report “China’s Influence and American Interests: Promoting Constructing Vigilance” (published by the Hoover Institution Press in 2019). He is the founding co-editor of the Journal of Democracy and also serves as senior consultant at the International Forum for Democratic Studies of the National Endowment for Democracy.

If you go …

What: “The Twilight of Democracy: Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism.

When: Thursday, 6-7 p.m.

Where: Zoom webinar.

More information: This program is free. Register at http://www.vailsymposium.org or visit for more information.


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