Ruth Ben-Ghiat joined me recently for a conversation on this week's episode of "The Chauncey DeVega Show." Ben-Ghiat is a historian at New York University who specializes in authoritarianism, aesthetics, cultural politics and Italian history. She is the author of several books including an upcoming project on authoritarianism and political strongmen. Ben-Ghiat is also a regular contributor to CNN, The Atlantic and The Huffington Post.
In our conversation, Dr. Ben-Ghiat shared her worries about authoritarianism and Donald Trump's rise to power, his predatory masculinity and how violence is a central component of Trump's appeal for his voters. On this point, Ben-Ghiat explained to me how, "Trump is always trying to best the other man. To do this he engages in a type of ritual humiliation of all men who want to be around him. This is a kind of bullying that I call the 'culture of threat.'"
Dr. Ben-Ghiat also shared a warning about Trump's threat to democracy: "However, today you do not need to have a dictatorship or a one-party state in order to accomplish your goals. You can take a democracy and change it through expansions of executive power and other repressions until you have the same effect on the subject population and a quasi-rubber-stamp parliament, without declaring a dictatorship. . . . Now with Trump, he uses fascist tactics. One of them is the testing of the population, the media and the elites at the beginning."
You’ll also hear my thoughts on the recent white supremacist murders in Portland as well as Trump's withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement. During this episode, I also respond to some questions from listeners about white privilege and white supremacy.