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Why the Bad Guys—in China, Russia, Iran, and the U.S.—Are Having a Terrible Winter

A year ago, the rise of authoritarianism across the world was ascendant. But at this very moment, the opposite narrative seems like it might just be the most important story in the world.

APEC Leaders Meeting Takes Place In Bangkok Photo by Louise Delmotte/Getty Images


One year ago, we had Anne Applebaum on the podcast to talk about her essay, “The Bad Guys Are Winning.” And I think you could have made an argument that this was the most important story in geopolitics. Across the world, the rise of authoritarianism—in Russia, China, Turkey, Venezuela, India, and even right here in the U.S.—was ascendant. Illiberalism was rising. Anti-democratic forces were assembling.

But at this very moment, the opposite narrative seems like it might just be the most important story in the world. The fall of the authoritarians. Look at China, where the ruler Xi Jinping’s “zero-COVID” policy is sparking a wave of protests. Look at Russia, which is losing its war against Ukraine. Look at Iran, which is rife with protests for women’s rights.

Today’s guest is Francis Fukuyama, the author of the very famous (and very misunderstood) book, The End of History and the Last Man. In this episode we take a first-class tour of what’s happening in China, Russia, Iran, and the U.S., ending with some thoughts on the future of liberalism in America.

If you have questions, observations, or ideas for future episodes, email us at PlainEnglish@Spotify.com. You can find us on TikTok at www.tiktok.com/@plainenglish_

Host: Derek Thompson
Guest: Francis Fukuyama
Producer: Devon Manze

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