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Assault on Democracy


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Table of Contents

1. Introduction; 2. Theory: the double deterrent effect and the bounds of rationality; 3. The soviet precedent and the wave of isomorphic emulation efforts; 4. The suppression of isomorphic emulation efforts and its limited regime effects; 5. Persistence of the communist threat and rising appeal of fascism; 6. The German exception: emulating full-scale fascism; 7. The spread of fascist movements - yet of authoritarian regimes; 8. Conservative-fascist relations and the autocratic reverse wave; 9. The edges of the autocratic wave: battered democracy and populist authoritarianism; 10. Conclusion; Bibliography.

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Why did democratization suffer reversal during the interwar years, while fascism and authoritarianism spread across many European countries?

About the Author

Kurt Weyland is Mike Hogg Professor in Liberal Arts in the Department of Government, University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of five other books and approximately 50 journal articles and book chapters. His book, Making Waves (Cambridge University Press, 2014) won Best Book Award for APSA's Comparative Democratization section.


'With this landmark volume, Kurt Weyland advances a new interpretation of the 'authoritarian wave' of the 1920s and 1930s that places front and center national political elites and their response to the dramatic international events of the time. By combining theories in behavioral psychology with an impressive breadth of historical knowledge, Assault on Democracy challenges established views on these pivotal decades for the history of democracy. Weyland's agenda-setting study will influence scholarly debates on democratization and political development for many years to come.' Giovanni Capoccia, University of Oxford
'This is a provocative new contribution to an old debate: the breakdown of democracies in Europe in the interwar years. Acknowledging the multiple problem loads these democracies faced, Weyland relies on cognitive mechanisms to explain the fierce backlash both against the specter of Communist revolution and against Fascist countermobilization on the part of authoritarian elites. An insightful and stimulating contribution.' Evelyne Huber, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
'A massive wave of autocracy spread across the world a century ago, culminating in the destruction of World War II. What caused this illiberal cascade, and what does it tell us about modern challenges to democracy? In this brilliant and timely work, Kurt Weyland shows how an intense fear of radical politics drove the spread of interwar dictators. The anxieties produced by threats of both leftwing and rightwing radicalism, while often irrational and self-serving, became a powerful force for justifying autocratic rule. Combining an elegant theoretical framework with careful historical detail, this book is essential reading for anyone interested in the long-term evolution of democracy.' Seva Gunitsky, University of Toronto

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