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Tom Nichols on democracy's worst enemy

45 minutes

Over the past 30 years, citizens of democracies who claim to value freedom, tolerance, and the rule of law have increasingly embraced illiberal politicians and platforms on both the right and the left. Democracy is in trouble, but who is really to blame?

In Our Own Worst Enemy, Tom Nichols challenges the current depictions of the rise of illiberal and anti-democratic movements in the United States and elsewhere as the result of the deprivations of globalization or the malign decisions of elites. Rather, he places the blame for the rise of illiberalism on the people themselves. Ordinary citizens, laden with grievances, have joined forces with political entrepreneurs who thrive on the creation of rage rather than on the encouragement of civic virtue and democratic cooperation. While it will be difficult, Nichols argues that we need to defend democracy by resurrecting the virtues of altruism, compromise, stoicism, and cooperation — and by recognizing how good we've actually had it in the modern world.

Nichols is Professor of National Security Affairs, at the US Naval War College, a columnist for USA Today, and a contributing writer at The Atlantic. He is the author of The Death of Expertise, No Use: Nuclear Weapons and US National Security (2013), and Eve of Destruction: The Coming Age of Preventive War.

Additional Information

Our Own Worst Enemy: The Assault from Within on Modern Democracy 

Tom Nichols on Twitter

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