Strongman Propaganda and Personality Cults from Mussolini to the Present
Ruth Ben-Ghiat – New York University
This talk examines the “authoritarian playbook” strongman rulers used to get to office and stay there: corruption, propaganda, violence, and the myth of national greatness. The talk will focus on how propaganda and personality cults tie everything together – and how to push back against authoritarian disinformation.
This program is sponsored by the Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues and cosponsored by the department of Italian & Italian studies and history.
Ruth Ben-Ghiat is a historian, educator, and commentator on fascism, authoritarian leaders, and propaganda — and the threats these present to democracies around the world. Professor of history and Italian studies at New York University, she is author or editor of seven books and many essays and op-eds in media outlets including CNN, The New Yorker, and The Washington Post. Her newest book is Strongmen: From Mussolini to the Present (Norton,2020), which examines the authoritarian playbook (corruption, violence, propaganda, and virility) that such leaders have used for a century.