How do democracies die? Not at the hands of generals, but of elected leaders – presidents or prime ministers who subvert the very process that brought them to power. That is the unsettling conclusion of Harvard professor Daniel Ziblatt’s highly praised book How Democracies Die.
Ziblatt and his co-author Steven Levitsky have analyzed the collapse of various democracies in recent history, and compare them to the state of the US government today. Is our democracy in danger? Yes, says Ziblatt. He warns us against politicians who reject the democratic rules of the game; who deny the legitimacy of opponents; who tolerate or encourage violence; and who indicate a willingness to curtail the civil liberties of opponents, including the media.Support the show
In 2009, one of the most important American writers of her generation took the John Adams Institute stage for the first time. Toni Morrison—as renowned for her magical realism as for her portrayal of the African American struggle—is that rare writer who is acclaimed by critics and adored by the reading public. In her novel, A Mercy, a mother gives away her daughter as she struggles for a better life, and the reader unravels the meaning behind seemingly cruel acts. Join us for an evening with this distinguished writer of whom the Nobel Prize committee wrote: “…in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, she gives life to an essential aspect of American reality.Support the show
The John Adams Institute, in co-operation with Prometheus Publishing House, proudly presented an evening with Jonathan Franzen, winner of the National Book Award 2001. Franzen discussed his novel The Corrections, which has been translated into Dutch under the title De Correcties. Michaël Zeeman, renowned literary critic for the Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant, introduced Franzen and moderated questions from the audience.
The Corrections is a novel about the American Family. You could interpret it as a family soap opera of sorts, but Franzen has much more to say, giving a view on modern western society that is both humorous and poignant. The Lambert family takes you to everyday America and brings you into the world of ‘consumerism, pharmacology, biotechnology, the ‘optimistic egalitarianism’ of the American Middle West, the superstitious magic of the stock exchange, and the unbearable lightness of virtual being on the home pages of the Infobahn, not to mention asparagus steamers, refrigerator magnets, a vacuum pump to keep leftover wine from oxidizing, cell phones, and class hatred’ (New York Review of Books). It creates the illusion of giving a complete account of a world, and while we’re under its enchantment it temporarily eclipses whatever else we may have read’ (The New York Times).Support the show
The great American author and investigative journalist, Patrick Radden Keefe, knows irony when he hears it. Such as when the patriarch of what would become an infamous family, imparted these words to his sons: “I leave you my good name”.
And that name is...Sackler: frequent visitors to some of the world’s great museums and educational institutions know that name.
The Sackler family name adorns the walls of Harvard, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Oxford, the Louvre. The Sacklers are one of the richest families in the world, and they donate lavishly to the arts and sciences.
Just where all that money came from was vague, until it emerged that the Sacklers were the owners of Purdue Pharma, responsible for making and aggressively marketing OxyContin, a blockbuster painkiller that was the catalyst for today’s opioid crisis. Opioids were responsible for the overdose deaths of nearly 500,000 Americans over the past two decades.Support the show
Forbes magazine called Christiane Amanpour of the “100 Most Powerful Women.” On January 25th 2019, CNN’s chief international anchor and host of ‘Amanpour’, joined the Dutch journalist Eelco Bosch van Rosenthal, for what turned out to be a witty, revealing and slightly flirty conversation.
Amanpour’s career began in 1990 as a correspondent for CNN, where she reported on international crises in Iraq, Afghanistan, North Korea, Palestinian territories, Iran and many more countries. She has interviewed many world leaders and has received every major broadcast award. In 2014, she was inducted into the Cable Hall of Fame. Amanpour is also an active human rights campaigner has interviewed educational rights activist Malala Yousafzai for CNN on several occasions and brought attention to the plight of the 200 Nigerian schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram.Support the show (https://www.john-adams.nl/donate/)
From Amsterdam...this is the John Adams Podcast, a treasure trove of the best and the brightest of American thinking.Support the show (https://www.john-adams.nl/donate/)
This week’s guest is indeed one of the brightest: Francis Fukuyama, the writer, thinker and teacher. You may remember him from his book: "The End of History", where he proclaimed the triumph of liberal democracy as something of a societal finish line.
Well, he does NOT think that anymore. What changed his mind? The election of Donald Trump, among others.
This week’s guest is Megan Twohey, whose book about Harvey Weinstein’s sexual abuse of women in Hollywood was also, as she put it, “an X-ray into the abuse of power”. The #metoo movement really got going after New York Times journalists Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor published their investigative articles about Harvey Weinstein.Support the show (https://www.john-adams.nl/donate/)
They followed with their book, “She Said”, which dives deep, not just into Harvey Weinstein’s decades long alleged sexual predation, but also the failures of the system that let it happen. Some have called “She Said” the feminist “All the President’s Men”.
Back in 2019, Megan Twohey gave the John Adams an interview that was almost like a crime procedural. She detailed how you piece together an investigation into someone powerful who was determined to undermine you every step of the way.
It’s a tale of harassment, spies, failures of the legal system and, ultimately, the triumphant power of the truth to actually make change. The Dutch journalist Joyce Roodnat interviewed Megan Twohey in front of a packed audience at the University of Amsterdam.
Seven years ago, Garry Kasparov came to Amsterdam and predicted the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He also described Vladimir Putin’s psychology and motivations in a way that you hear in every current affairs program nowadays.
Back in 2015, Obama was president, Russia was actively bombing targets in Syria, Syrian refugees were literally washing up on the shores of the Mediterannean and Garry Kasparov, living in exile in New York, was touring his book: ‘Winter Is Coming: Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must Be Stopped’.
And the predictions came with Cassandra-like precision. He saw Putin ruthlessly cowing all domestic opposition and the coming of a resurgent Russian nationalism that would spread beyond its borders.
After the Maidan Revolution and the overthrow of Putin crony Viktor Yanukovych in 2014, Kasparov knew Putin simply could not allow a free and democratic Ukraine, moving ever closer to Europe, to exist. After all, a successful Ukraine could give Russians... ideas.
Mr. Kasparov’s talk was moderated by the Dutch journalist and Slavic world specialist, Michel Krielaars.Support the show (https://www.john-adams.nl/donate/)
Every week we point out that we get the likes of Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz to grace an Amsterdam stage and impart his wisdom to our audiences. Well, it’s time. In this episode, Joseph Stiglitz came to the DeLaMar Theater in the Dutch capital in November of 2019, to talk about his book, People, Power, and Profits.
In People, Power, and Profits, Stiglitz states that the U.S. got three things wrong in the past several decades: economics (too much faith in markets), politics (influence of money) and values (forgetting that government is here to serve all its citizens). He explains that the U.S. is in need of some serious reform and that government and democracy must be freed from the grasp of wealthy corporate forces in finance and other sectors.Support the show (https://www.john-adams.nl/donate/)
Stiglitz doesn’t just criticize – he also comes with solutions. He shows how a decent middle-class life can once again be attainable for all by making sure that markets work for people and not the other way around. And he also talks about the rise of something called Progessive Capitalism.
After an initial lecture, Mr. Stiglitz is joined by Dutch journalist, Sheila Sitalsing, and Alexander Rinnooy Kan, Professor of Economics and Business at the University of Amsterdam. The evening was presented in collaboration with Athenaeum Uitgeverij.
Russell Shorto is an American historian, journalist and author. In 2004, he published The Island at the Center of the World: the Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony that Shaped America, for which he spent many hours in the New Netherland archives. It's an eye-opening book, and a marvelous historical retelling of the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam before it became New York.Support the show (https://www.john-adams.nl/donate/)
Between 2008 and 2013, he lived in Amsterdam, where he was the director of the John Adams Institute.
As John Adams was one of the great men of his era, we thought our next episode should be with one of the great people of our time: Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Brooklyn born and raised, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the chief medical advisor to President Biden. This was an online interview conducted by Damiaan Denys, himself a Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Amsterdam. You heard him earlier on the podcast interviewing Michael Pollan.
This was a wide ranging conversation, including topics like, “Will we wear masks even after the pandemic ends? Why air travel made the covid pandemic so much worse. The upside of the pandemic. And why, in the end, telling the truth is always worth it!Support the show (https://www.john-adams.nl/donate/)
Democracy and the rule of law in Western societies are under threat, according to Timothy Snyder, professor of history at Yale University, due to Vladimir Putin’s efforts to destabilize neighboring governments and to stir up dissent in countries from France to the United States.Support the show (https://www.john-adams.nl/donate/)
The John Adams, in a collaboration with De Balie, brought Professor Timothy Snyder to Amsterdam in 2018 to discuss his new book The Road to Unfreedom. Snyder examines how Western societies left themselves open to anti-democratic forces after the Cold War, and how Russia fell into Putinism, and the rise of Donald Trump, which has become a major threat to democracy around the globe. Even though Donald Trump is gone now, the forces that got him into the oval office are still at work. Which is why Timothy Snyder’s impassioned plea for the triumph of the truth is more relevant than ever. Because, to paraphrase him a bit, without the truth in the present, you can’t start to imagine the future.
Michael Pollan’s book, How To Change Your Mind, has moved on from his research on food to delve into the world of psychedelics and their medical use. In the past decade, there has been renewed interest in psychedelic research as a form of psychiatric therapy, and to Pollan’s mind this renaissance is long overdue.
In this episode, Pollan makes a strong case for researching these drugs further and discusses it with professor and head of the psychiatry department at the Amsterdam Medical Center, Damiaan Denys. Denys is specialized in anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders and the applicability of deep brain stimulation in healing these patients.Support the show
Click here for video of Michael Pollan’s talk at the Adams Institute in 2018: https://www.john-adams.nl/michael-pollan-3/
Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright talks with former Dutch foreign minister and Vice President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, about how the current state of world leadership inspired her most recent book, the ominously titled: Fascism: a Warning. This was recorded in front of an audience in 2018 at the Muziekgebouw aan het IJ in cooperation with the European Commission.
The evening was moderated by Juurd Eijsvoogel of the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad.
“Fascism: a Warning” is published by HarperCollins in the United States and by De Arbeiderspers in the Netherlands.
Previous Interviews with Madeleine Albright at the John Adams:
https://www.john-adams.nl/madeleine-albright/Support the show (https://www.john-adams.nl/donate/)
Support the show (https://www.john-adams.nl/donate/)