’This is essential’ Margaret Atwood on Twitter
’The single best book that I have read about the populist, authoritarian trend that is remaking our world’ Benjamin Rhodes, author of The World As It Is
’Vibrates with outrage’ The Times
‘It couldn’t happen here’
Ece Temelkuran heard reasonable people in America say it the night Trump’s election was soundtracked by chants of ‘Build that wall.’
She heard reasonable people in Britain say it the night of the Brexit vote.
She heard reasonable people in Turkey say it as Erdoğan rigged elections, rebuilt the economy around cronyism, and labelled his opposition as terrorists.
How to Lose a Country is an impassioned plea, a warning to the world that populism and nationalism don’t march fully-formed into government; they creep. Award winning author and journalist Ece Temelkuran, identifies the early-warning signs of this phenomenon, sprouting up across the world from Eastern Europe to South America, in order to define a global pattern, and arm the reader with the tools to root it out.
Proposing alternative, global answers to the pressing – and too often paralysing – poltical questions of our time, Temelkuran explores the insidious idea of ‘real people’, the infantilisation of language and debate, the way laughter can prove a false friend, and the dangers of underestimating one’s opponent. She weaves memoir, history and clear-sighted argument into an urgent and eloquent defence of democracy.
No longer can the reasonable comfort themselves with ‘it couldn’t happen here.’ It is happening. And soon it may be too late.
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About the Author
Ece Temelkuran is an award-winning Turkish novelist and political commentator, whose journalism has appeared in the Guardian, New York Times, New Statesman, Frankfurter Allgemeine and Der Spiegel. She won the Edinburgh International Book Festival First Book award for her novel Women Who Blow on Knots, and the Ambassador of New Europe Award. She has been twice recognised as Turkey’s most-read political columnist, and twice rated as one of the ten most influential people in social media (with three million twitter followers).
Table of Contents
Introduction: What Can I Do for You? 1
1 Create a Movement 15
2 Disrupt Rationale/Terrorise Language 49
3 Remove the Shame: Immorality is 'Hot' in the Post-Truth World 86
4 Dismantle Judicial and Political Mechanisms 122
5 Design Your Own Citizen 169
6 Let Them Laugh at the Horror 213
7 Build Your Own Country 252
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Do not say that you were not warned! As Ece Temelkuran writes in the closing paragraph, this book is her answer to a question she asked in London in 2016 which was "what can I do for you". What she has done in a remarkably readable book devoid of impenetrable political jargon is to give the warning signs that show whether you are on the road to losing your country and what are the implications to the individual if you do. Temulkuran rather exasperatingly mentions that one of the most common questions asked by the audiences at the meetings, conferences and book signings where she speaks is the question of whether there is any hope, I must admit that after reading this book I actually think there is but it will take a determined effort to confront and defeat the increasingly intolerant and authoritarian threat that populism poises to the still democratically functioning democracies. Ece Temelkuran tells of her bitter and painful experiences derived from her native Turkey where she was fired from the Turkish daily newspaper Habertürk after writing articles critical of the government. Now living in exile she recounts the early days of the The Justice and Development Party and following its ascension to power the sustained attacks that have taken place on the checks and balances that are there to defend a free society against the power of an unrestricted state. As the book shows this is particularly evident with regard to the judiciary and the free press. Of course the word populism denotes many variants and each country has its own specifics but generally today the most successful populists tend to be politically on the radical right with a doctrine combining nativism, attacking the so called liberal establishment and a nostalgia for a supposedly bygone golden past. Added to this toxic mixture is the required authoritarianism that is needed to achieve their objectives. There are many interesting observations made by Temelkuran including it is a waste of time trying to debate and change the mind of the avowed populist supporter but rather this energy should be directed in creating dialogue and co-operation of those opposed to them and also never underestimate the populist and their cause. If you are looking for an impassioned polemical book of the age that is written with clarity and personally derived insight then this should certainly be something to consider.