FPA Live with Professor Ruth Ben-Ghiat: Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present
- Thursday, February 25, 2021
5:30 PM - 6:30 PM
- Event type
- Lecture / Panel
Please join the Foreign Policy Association in welcoming Ruth Ben-Ghiat, Professor of Italian and History at New York University, to talk about her new book, Strongmen: From Mussolini to the Present.
If you would like to submit a question, please send your question(s) to [email protected].
Strongmen: From Mussolini to the Present:
Ruth Ben-Ghiat is the expert on the "strongman" playbook employed by authoritarian demagogues from Mussolini to Putin—enabling her to predict with uncanny accuracy the recent experience in America. In Strongmen, she lays bare the blueprint these leaders have followed over the past 100 years, and empowers us to recognize, resist, and prevent their disastrous rule in the future.
For ours is the age of authoritarian rulers: self-proclaimed saviors of the nation who evade accountability while robbing their people of truth, treasure, and the protections of democracy. They promise law and order, then legitimize lawbreaking by financial, sexual, and other predators.
They use masculinity as a symbol of strength and a political weapon. Taking what you want, and getting away with it, becomes proof of male authority. They use propaganda, corruption, and violence to stay in power.
Vladimir Putin and Mobutu Sese Seko’s kleptocracies, Augusto Pinochet’s torture sites, Benito Mussolini and Muammar Gaddafi’s systems of sexual exploitation, and Silvio Berlusconi and Donald Trump’s relentless misinformation: all show how authoritarian rule, far from ensuring stability, is marked by destructive chaos.
No other type of leader is so transparent about prioritizing self-interest over the public good. As one country after another has discovered, the strongman is at his worst when true guidance is most needed by his country.
Recounting the acts of solidarity and dignity that have undone strongmen over the past 100 years, Ben-Ghiat makes vividly clear that only by seeing the strongman for what he is—and by valuing one another as he is unable to do—can we stop him, now and in the future.
Ruth Ben-Ghiat - Speaker
Professor of Italian and History, New York University
Ruth Ben-Ghiat is a historian and commentator on fascism, authoritarian leaders, and propaganda — and the threats these present to democracies. As author or editor of seven books with over 100 op-eds and essays in media outlets including CNN, The New Yorker, and The Washington Post, she brings historical perspective to her analyses of current events. Her insight into the authoritarian playbook has made her an expert source for television, radio, podcasts, and online events around the globe.
Ben-Ghiat is Professor of History and Italian Studies at New York University and an Advisor to Protect Democracy. Ben-Ghiat’s work has been supported by Fulbright, Guggenheim, and other fellowships. Her books Fascist Modernities and Italian Facism's Empire Cinema detail what happens to societies when authoritarian governments take hold, and explore the appeal of strongmen to collaborators and followers. With Strongmen: From Mussolini to the Present (Norton, 2020), she offers a blueprint for understanding and resisting authoritarianism.