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Wisdom of Crowds

Sep 26, 2022

The Crowd is flying solo (duo?) again for this week's episode, focusing on recent developments in the war in Ukraine, Iranian protests, and Europe's under-the-radar political upheavals. The Russian government recently declared a "partial mobilization" to aid in the war effort, and Vladimir Putin threatened to defend Russia's gains with nuclear weapons. How much affect will mobilization have on the course of the war? What kind of precedent does it set to seize territory, then defend those gains with nuclear threats?

Then, we turned to the recent protests shaking Iran—and a larger discussion of how authoritarian regimes hold onto power. Have governments become better at crushing dissent in recent years? And why do dictators seem to love running a dictatorship–an often unpleasant job–so much?

In Part 2 (available here for subscribers), we talked about the recent success of far right parties in Europe. The Sweden Democrats, a party with roots in neo-fascism, have become the second biggest political party in Sweden's parliament. If Sweden is as tolerant as many Americans would like it to be, what explains their rise? The country's recent rise in Muslim immigration, as well as crime, might point to an answer, although we disagree on the "solutions." Can a crackdown on crime forestall a far-right backlash? Is Muslim integration helped or harmed by such methods? And why do hobbits come into it?

Required Reading:

  • “'Nothing Has Really Changed': In Moscow, the Fighting is Worlds Away,” by Valerie Hopkins (The New York Times).
  • “Hobbits and the Hard Right: How Fantasy Inspires Italy’s Potential New Leader,” by Jason Horowitz (The New York Times).
  • “How Italy is facing a crucial election,” Gideon Rachman’s interview with Nathalie Tocci (The Financial Times).
  • “Will Jean Monnet’s Vision for Europe Win Out?” Damir’s interview with Nathalie Tocci for the Atlantic Council.
  • The Happiness Lab’s episode on Denmark.
  • “Europe’s Growing Muslim Population,” a report from the Pew Research Center.
  • “Lead: America’s Real Criminal Element,” Kevin Drum (Mother Jones).