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Why is authoritarianism surging worldwide?

Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen at the Bocharov Ruchei state residence after a meeting with his Turkish counterpart in Sochi.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen at the Bocharov Ruchei state residence after a meeting with his Turkish counterpart in Sochi.

As Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine rages on, authoritarianism is surging.

A new report from the pro-democracy nonprofit Freedom House found that global democracy has declined for the 16th year in a row.

So why is authoritarianism on the rise? And what do we really mean when we say “authoritarianism?”

Anne Applebaum writes in The Atlantic:

Nowadays, autocracies are run not by one bad guy, but by sophisticated networks composed of kleptocratic financial structures, security services (military, police, paramilitary groups, surveillance), and professional propagandists. The members of these networks are connected not only within a given country, but among many countries. The corrupt, state-controlled companies in one dictatorship do business with corrupt, state-controlled companies in another. The police in one country can arm, equip, and train the police in another. The propagandists share resources—the troll farms that promote one dictator’s propaganda can also be used to promote the propaganda of another—and themes, pounding home the same messages about the weakness of democracy and the evil of America.

We talk with historians and analysts about Putin and beyond.

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