The writer who warned against rising authoritarianism — and his advice on resisting it
by Charles Edel, CNNNovember 2018
“The authoritarian will in general select those who obey, who believe, who respond to his influence. But in doing so, he is bound to select mediocrities. For he excludes those who revolt, who doubt, who dare to resist his influence.” These words appeared in “The Open Society and Its Enemies,” Karl Popper’s 1945 attack on authoritarianism and defense of liberal democracy, one of the most influential works of the 20th century. Reading the book today is a vital reminder of how proponents of free and open societies can arm themselves, intellectually and spiritually, for the battle against repressive states seeking to strengthen authoritarianism and weaken democracy.
Popper began his book at a time when democratic leaders failed to stand up to rising authoritarian states. An Austrian philosopher who fled the Nazis for New Zealand, Popper decided to write the book in March 1938, on the day he “received news of the invasion of Austria” — the absorption of Austria by Hitler’s Germany. Concerned by the rise of both fascism and communism, Popper argued that history was a long-term battle between proponents of open dynamic societies and authoritarians who benefited from closed societies. He warned that the enemies of open societies were powerful and numerous, and cautioned that liberal democracies were rare, fragile and required extreme vigilance to maintain.Around the world, strongmen have staged a comeback. Hungary, Turkey and Venezuela continue their slide into authoritarian rule. Democratic norms have eroded in the Philippines and Poland. Myanmar has now executed an ethnic cleansing and… Click To Tweet
His message is once again relevant.
Read the full story via The Washington Post