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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Episode 85: Alive In The Life We’ve Been Given—My Journey And Yours

How do you know when you are alive in the life you are given, the one you were born to live?

This week, I don’t answer that question for you. In fact, I never will.

Instead, please join me in exploring a question that fascinates and haunts me: is my life work solely about leadership development—or is there something larger arising? Now that I’ve pulled back from social media, where can I fully express my passions and ideas about politics, public life, and culture?

This podcast, perhaps?

If so, at what cost?

Or is there any cost at all?

In exploring these questions, I invite you to continue a conversation within yourself: what helps you feel alive? What’s getting in the way? What are skillful means you can use for these obstacles?

This is both a retrospective on the podcast so far and a preview of episodes to come.

Highlights

  • The aliveness I hope for you
  • Aliveness for me: intelligent, respectful, sober and lighthearted conversations
  • Two fears that have constrained me
  • Exciting new horizons for this podcast

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Episode 84: Kavanaugh/Ford From Seven Angles [The Amiel Show]

This week I look at the Kavanaugh/Ford hearings and the conversations about it from seven different perspectives. You will quickly discover how deeply immersed (OK, obsessed) I’ve been the past couple of weeks, how closely I’ve followed both the minute facts and the larger political and cultural story, and, at times, how emotionally involved I’ve become. Here, we fly the Amiel Show airplane up to 30,000 feet and observe—sometimes calmly and sometimes with great passion—the events of the past two weeks, what they mean, and how we can grow ourselves through this complex and challenging experience.

Highlights

  1. Should the Senate confirm Kavanaugh or not?
  2. What actually happened? Why do lies about blacking out matter? (23:00)
  3. Women’s voices and how men discredit then (34:30)
  4. Framing the political debate—right wing narratives, the straw man argument, and intentional polarization into tribes (53:00)
  5. Flake’s fuzzy request for an FBI investigation—there was no promise (1:17:00)
  6. Bro Codes—old and new (1:28:00)
  7. Parenting boys and girls in this era toward healthy development (1:49:00)

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Episode 80: White Nationalism And Male Identity with Elizabeth Debold [The Amiel Show]

A year ago Sunday, white nationalists marched on Charlottesville, Virginia carrying torches and chanting “blood and soil” and “Jews will not replace us.” It was not a pretty sight. Most people I know found it abhorrent. The author Ta-Nehisi Coates did, too, but he wasn’t surprised. In an earlier episode Diane Woods explained why.

The media, for the most part, has highlighted the ethnocentric dimensions of this tale: racial grievance, hatred, and the specious theories underlying them.

Yet an important element has remained beneath the surface: gender. White nationalism is also a story of a certain group of men coming to terms with a world they find unfamiliar and threatening, one where women have economic power, men have lost their traditional identities, and the worlds of work, dating, and marriage have turned upside down. Many of us would call these advances of modernity and postmodernity. White nationalists see them as epic disasters.

This week, Elizabeth Debold, a developmental psychologist and gender futurist, explains why.

It’s a story of some human minds growing into greater degrees of complexity and others’ growth halting at age 12. It’s a story of wage labor, two-income households, and the demands of being a “super mom” and, increasingly, a “super dad.” It’s also a story of men confused about what is expected of them and frustrated that society often criticizes them for doing their “jobs” of working long hours and bringing home the bacon.

Debold also reframes the debate about so-called “social justice warriors” on college campuses. Everyone from Fox News to white nationalists to Jordan Peterson cite this group as the epitome of postmodern excess. Debold says: not so fast. The ideas may be postmodern, but the minds unpacking them are operating from a much earlier stage of development.

We live in a complex age, and it takes wisdom and a multi perspectival approach to even begin to understand it. Debold brings both and more.

In some ways, this interview represents a bridge in this podcast. As my interest turns toward global challenges and the health of our politics, Debold helps connect these concerns with my longstanding series on women in leadership, the newly launched series on the American experience of race, and the ever-present influence of constructivist developmental theory.

Highlights

  • 5:00 White nationalists, incels, and the loss of traditional male identity
  • 12:00 Richard Spencer is developmentally a teenager
  • 25:00 The flaw in pluralists’ views of white nationalists
  • 31:30 The wild card: when goodness appears
  • 48:00 The modern convention of dividing work and home life
  • 59:00 Teaching sophisticated postmodern ideas to 19-year-olds with less complex minds
  • 1:10:00 Step on my head, and I’ll step on yours back!

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Next Tuesday we’ll stomp the blues

Allow me to entice you.

Next Tuesday at 10am PST, the second to last day of Black History Month, check your email inbox.

I’ll give you an interview about the most important American writer on culture you’ve probably never heard of.

Unless your name is Henry Louis Gates, Jr. of Harvard, who called this writer “The King of Cats.”

Or Toni Morrison, who said, “Murray’s perceptions are firmly based in the blues idiom, and it is black music no less than literary criticism and historical analysis that gives his work its authenticity, its emotional vigor, and its tenacious hold on the intellect.”

  • Name: Albert Murray
  • Focus: Hero’s journey, stomping the blues, critiquing “ghettologists,” appreciating that black culture is central to American culture
  • Quote: “The blues idiom is an attitude of affirmation in the face of difficulty, of improvisation in the face of challenge. It means that you acknowledge life is a low down dirty shame yet confront that fact with perseverance, with humor, and above all, with elegance.”
  • Our guide: Greg Thomas, former jazz columnist for the New York Daily News

Tuesday at 10am. It will lift you up.

Episode 74: Whites’ Self-Interest In Opposing Racism With Diane Woods [The Amiel Show]

You support Black Lives Matter and oppose racial discrimination because you want to help black people. If you have light skin, you can’t get much more noble than that, right?

Not quite. According to this week’s guest, leadership coach and retired executive Diane Woods, the idea that white people need to be altruistic toward blacks is itself a racist idea.

Huh?

Yes, you read that correctly.

In fact, as Diane explains, white folks have an intelligent self-interest in opposing racist ideas and embracing all of us as equally capable and worthy human beings.

I’ve known Diane for almost two decades. She hosted a book club I joined. Back then, I saw her as a fountain of wisdom and curiosity, and over time, those qualities have only grown.

Please join me in this second episode in my new series on the American experience with race. If you enjoyed my conversation last week with Greg Thomas—or, heck, even if you haven’t yet—you’ll want to tune into this one.

Please share with friends and colleagues so we can carry Diane’s voice far into the conversation around race and culture.

Highlights

  • 5:00 Why Ta-Nehisi Coates and Diane weren’t surprised by white supremacists marching
  • 9:00 Diane’s spiritual teacher’s blind spot around race
  • 15:00 Evolution of race work over 50 years
  • 20:00 Crafting herself to look good for white corporate America
  • 31:00 Despite injustice, my inner life is mine and I will defend it
  • 35:00 “They just don’t want us here”
  • 41:00 “I may say racist things but I’m pure on the inside”
  • 49:00 Racism is corrosive for white people
  • 1:02:00 Whites freeing themselves from the burden of racism
  • 1:05:00 Countering racism is in whites’ intelligent self-interest

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New to Podcasts?

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Subscribe to the Show on iTunes (It’s Easy!)

  1. Sign into iTunes using your ID and password
  2. Search the iTunes store for “Amiel Show”
  3. If you get a screen without a Subscribe button (a screen that looks like this), click on the show logo in the lower left corner
  4. Click on the Subscribe button. It’s in the upper left corner of the screen.

Give Me a Rating or Review on iTunes (It’s Also Easy!)

  1. Sign into iTunes using your ID and password
  2. Search the iTunes store for “Amiel Show”
  3. If you get a screen without “Ratings and Reviews” (a screen that looks like this), click on the show logo in the lower left corner
  4. Click on “Ratings and Reviews”
  5. Give it a rating. Bonus for a review