Why do some people find authoritarian leaders so appealing? Why do they sometimes secure vast numbers of votes in democratic elections? Are humans naturally drawn to tyrants? These are some of the questions we’re asking in this week’s show.
What is it
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.