14 April 2022, The Tablet

None of us is safe


None of us is safe

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, left, with Russian President Vladimir Putin
Photo: Alamy/reuters, Alexander Zemlianichenko

 

The Age of the Strongman: How the Cult of the Leader Threatens Democracy Around the World
GIDEON RACHMAN
(BODLEY HEAD, 288 PP, £20)
Tablet bookshop price £18 • tel 020 7799 4064

Gideon Rachman is one of the few foreign correspondents who looks for the fundamental trends that lie behind the daily news cycle. A while ago, when most of his fellow commentators were fixated by Islamism and the Middle East, he produced a groundbreaking book on Easternisation, pointing out that the real story was the emergence of Asia as the dominant force in the global economy.

Now he has written another trend-spotter. This time, it’s not about the countries that are getting into the lead, but about the kind of leaders countries are getting.

Rachman’s first thesis is that nationalist strongmen have recently been taking over – not just in authoritarian societies like Russia, China and Saudi Arabia, nor only in relatively shaky democracies like Turkey, Poland, Hungary, the Philippines and Brazil, but also in what we used to think of as core, stable, liberal democracies like the US, India and the UK.

 

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