Join us for this installment of our popular Chat & Chowder series, featuring Steven Levitsky, Director of the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University, and Daniel Ziblatt, Director of the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies at Harvard University, to discuss his their book, Tyranny of the Minority: Why American Democracy Reached the Breaking Point.
Chat & Chowder programs are an excellent opportunity to engage with expert speakers and to network with other globally-oriented participants in an informal environment. Each event features a presentation, audience Q&A, dedicated time for networking, and (of course!) a selection of chowders and beverages.
Thanks to the generous support of The Lowell Institute, Chat & Chowder is now free of charge for all participants (Zoom live-streams remain free as well). We sincerely appreciate The Lowell Institute’s commitment to our mission, as well as the support of our venue, Foley & Lardner LLP. Please consider helping sustain this work by making a contribution here.
This program will be streamed to Zoom from 6:15 to 7:15. To attend virtually, please register for the live-stream here.
Advance registration is required. We cannot accommodate walk-ins for the in-person program.
Steven Levitsky is David Rockefeller Professor of Latin American Studies and Professor of Government. He is also Director of Harvard’s David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard. His research focuses on democratization and authoritarianism, political parties, and weak and informal institutions, with a focus on Latin America. He is co-author (with Daniel Ziblatt) of How Democracies Die, which was a New York Times Best-Seller and was published in 25 languages. He has written or edited 12 other books, including Transforming Labor-Based Parties in Latin America: Argentine Peronism in Comparative Perspective (Cambridge University Press 2003), Competitive Authoritarianism: Hybrid Regimes after the Cold War (with Lucan Way) (Cambridge University Press, 2010), Revolution and Dictatorship: The Violent Origins of Durable Authoritarianism (with Lucan Way) (Princeton University Press, 2022), and Tyranny of the Minority: Why American Democracy Reached the Breaking Point (with Daniel Ziblatt) (Crown Publishers, 2023). He and Lucan Way are currently working on a book on democratic resilience across the world.
Daniel Ziblatt is Eaton Professor of Government at Harvard University where he is also the director of Harvard’s Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies. He also leads a research group based in Germany at the WZB Berlin Social Science Center. His research focuses on European politics and the comparative study of democracy. He is the author of four books, including How Democracies Die (2018), co-authored with Steven Levitsky, a New York Times best-seller and described by The Economist magazine as “the most important book of the Trump era.” The book has been translated into thirty languages. In 2023, he published Tyranny of the Minority (w/ Steve Levitsky), also a New York Times bestseller, that analyzes American democracy in comparative perspective. Prior to this, he authored Conservative Parties and the Birth of Democracy (Cambridge University Press, 2017), an account of the historical rise of democracy in Europe as well as a book on European state-building entitled Structuring the State (Princeton University Press, 2006/2008), In 2023, Ziblatt was elected member of the American Academy for Arts and Sciences.
America is undergoing a massive experiment: It is moving, in fits and starts, toward a multiracial democracy, something few societies have ever done. But the prospect of change has sparked an authoritarian backlash that threatens the very foundations of our political system. Why is democracy under assault here, and not in other wealthy, diversifying nations? And what can we do to save it?
With the clarity and brilliance, Harvard professors Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt offer a coherent framework for understanding these volatile times. They draw on a wealth of examples—from 1930s France to present-day Thailand—to explain why and how political parties turn against democracy. They then show how our Constitution makes us uniquely vulnerable to attacks from within: It is a pernicious enabler of minority rule, allowing partisan minorities to consistently thwart and even rule over popular majorities. Most modern democracies—from Germany and Sweden to Argentina and New Zealand—have eliminated outdated institutions like elite upper chambers, indirect elections, and lifetime tenure for judges. The United States lags dangerously behind.
In this revelatory book, Levitsky and Ziblatt issue an urgent call to reform our politics. It’s a daunting task, but we have remade our country before—most notably, after the Civil War and during the Progressive Era. And now we are at a crossroads: America will either become a multiracial democracy or cease to be a democracy at all.
WorldBoston’s Chat & Chowder series features key authors on international affairs in an engaging setting. In addition to discussion of a featured book (usually sold at a significant discount), the program offers the opportunity for discussion among members and guests – and of course a selection of chowders and beverages. This Chat & Chowder will be hosted in-person (from 6:00 to 7:30PM ET) and live-streamed to Zoom (from 6:15 to 7:15 PM ET only).