Revolution of One: What is the relationship between democracy and authoritarianism?

By Tyler Stovall The Nation

What is the relationship between democracy and authoritarianism?

On January 6, 2021, hundreds of demonstrators invaded the US Capitol in an attempt to overthrow the election of Joseph Biden as president of the United States and install the man they regarded as the legitimate victor and leader of America, Donald Trump. Initiating an insurrection that stunned the nation and the world, the demonstrators drew their inspiration directly from Trump: Many had attended a rally in Washington earlier that day where he called for resistance, proclaiming, “If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.” Yet when the actual invasion of the Capitol took place, Trump was nowhere to be seen. He remained in the White House, initially seeming to approve of the attack and only publicly condemning it the next day. The Capitol invasion represented a striking action on behalf of a charismatic leader, but one not led by that leader himself. It raised the question (one freighted in this case with all sorts of legal implications, including issues of treason): Was that charismatic leadership a creation of the leader himself, or of those who followed and drew inspiration from him? Did the leader bring about the movement, or vice versa?


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