Episode 86: Protecting Liberal Democracy & Living Virtuously With Theo Horesh

protecting liberal democracy

Protecting liberal democracy from fascism isn’t just important to the world, however imperfect, that we take for granted. It’s also a path to the virtuous life.

I’ve had this intuition for some time. But sometimes it helps to have another person with clear thinking to shape that intuition into a framework for making sense of the world. That’s why I reached out to Theo Horesh, this week’s guest on the podcast.

A seasoned entrepreneur, writer and author, Theo bring lucidity to any conversation he is in. Whether the topic is personal growth, spirituality, politics, or the state of the world, Theo is a fountain of wisdom and moral clarity.

As I discussed in last week’s episode, this podcast is entering brave new waters. Nearly every podcast about organizational leadership and personal development avoids politics like the plague. That’s certainly their prerogative. I’m making a different choice for two reasons.

First, I know how many of you are, like me, struggling to make sense of our political life and the world in which we live. The perspectives and stories we explore will light a candle where now there is darkness.

Second, I think that the life we take for granted in the developed West is up for grabs. The health of your company or college or not-for-profit depends on a form of government known as liberal democracy. It depends on protecting liberal democracy. The freedoms you and I have to make life choices, pick jobs and careers, choose partners, and speak freely in public exist because we live in liberal democracies.

Protecting liberal democracy is important because they are relatively new and uncommon. They didn’t exist in the Garden of Eden, hunter-and-gather societies, agriculture-based civilizations, or even most of the early industrialized world. They are a new invention. We take them for granted, but they are precious, and they can go away.

Theo Horesh has thought deeply about this. How is liberal democracy different from fascism, dictatorship and autocracy? How is it that the most classic and deadly example of a fascist government took root in what was then the world’s most advanced society, 1930’s Germany? What signs do we see of something similar happening today in the United States and parts of Europe? Why do so many of us still have our heads in the sand while, at the same time, so many others believe we’re already practically fascist, so what’s the point anyhow? Why does choosing the virtuous life—one that inevitably must involve politics—make sense no matter what happens in the future? How can we protect liberal democracy?

In this conversation, I invite Theo to help me wrestle with these questions and many more.

As I said, we’re breaking new ground into edgier topics. I this hope feels to you like we are breaking bread together. The most troubling and perplexing political questions can coexist with rigorous and respectful conversation. Indeed, why would we want it any other way?

As always, when you share with friends, we all win.

Highlights

  • 9:30 What is fascism?
  • 20:30 Germany before Nazi rule was the most advanced society in the world
  • 26:30 Fascism is not at all conservative
  • 35:30 We have a fascist President and movement but not a fascist government
  • 53:30 The benefits of living a virtuous life
  • 58:30 Why many on the Left felt glee about Trump’s election
  • 63:30 The importance of conserving democratic institutions
  • 1:08:30 The extraordinary freedoms we take for granted

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