OLLI Sonoma State

Bill Garrett, PhD 



The Authoritarian Allure: Politics in the 21st Century


 “History doesn’t repeat itself but it often rhymes”

Misattributed to Mark Twain


"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves that we are underlings."

Julius Caesar I.ii.140-1


It is said that in the 21st century, too many get their understanding of the world exclusively from cable-TV and the Internet― media that are notoriously light on fact-checking. The concern is that the liberal democracy envisioned by the Founders is now challenged by Authoritarianism, a model of politics in which the spirit of inquiry and consensus gives way to angry certainties.


Reasoned disputation over claims that could be verified or falsified gave way to a discourse of invective.  Is this a genuine threat to the traditional American political order? Or just more media hype?







#1: Bullshit and Other Entertainments

#2: Andersen: How the US Lost Its Mind

#3: Group Portrait of Deep Red America

#4: The End of Work



Supplementary Readings

Harry Frankfurt: "On Bullshit" (2005)

Bob Altemeyer: The Authoritarians

Trump, Brexit, and the Rise of Populism: Economic Have-Nots and Cultural Backlash ―  Inglehart & Norris


Supplementary Videos

The Atomic Cafe