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Abstract

While research has demonstrated the effectiveness of deliberative practices applied to mini-publics, the extent to which these smaller, specialized communities of deliberation can be scaled-up or reflect national level practices of governance is in doubt. This gap in research is critical in today’s age with the rise of global authoritarian politics coming at the hand of populist national parties. In this essay, we call on deliberative democracy scholars to examine the larger societal forces inhibiting deliberative practices by focusing on the changes in society which lead to the adoption and success of authoritarian policies and messaging strategies globally. In doing so, we take a macro view to explain how and why authoritarian practices are spreading transnationally by first, briefly explaining the differences between authoritarian and deliberative practices before developing a model of authoritarian communication technique based on Ellul’s (1973) work on propaganda. We then apply this model to three case studies showing the modern evolution and spread of authoritarianism from nations such as China and Russia and the subsequent adoption of these techniques within the US. Finally, we suggest interventions designed to stem the tide of global authoritarianism.

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