Upcoming Event

Zack Beauchamp at Harvard Book Store


The Reactionary Spirit:
How America's Most Insidious
Political Tradition Swept the World 

in conversation with DANIEL W. DREZNER


July 16, 2024
7:00 PM ET


Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138


This event is free; no tickets are required.

Harvard Book Store welcomes ZACK BEAUCHAMP—senior correspondent at Vox and former host of Vox's Worldly podcastfor a discussion of his new book The Reactionary Spirit: How America's Most Insidious Political Tradition Swept the World. He will be joined in conversation by DANIEL W. DREZNER—distinguished professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

About The Reactionary Spirit

There is a fundamental contradiction at the heart of American politics that has endured since our nation’s birth. The defining ideals of democracy and liberty for everyone have always existed uneasily alongside realities of slavery, widespread disenfranchisement, and other grave impediments to true democracy. How has this paradox survived for so long in the face of America’s foundational claim of liberty and justice for all?

In The Reactionary Spirit, Zack Beauchamp explains that this tension is in fact an example of a phenomenon intrinsic to the project of democracy, what he calls the reactionary spirit: as strides towards true democracy are made, there is always a faction that reacts by seeking to undermine them and thereby resist change. The adoption of democratic rhetoric cleverly belies authoritarian ends—a development that is increasingly prevalent today, both at home and abroad.

Brilliantly combining political history and reportage, Beauchamp reveals how the United States was the birthplace of this strange and harrowing authoritarian style, and why we’re now seeing its evolution in diverse nations including Hungary, Israel, and India. These countries in turn provide blueprints for the reactionary spirit domestically, as with Florida governor Ron DeSantis taking pages from Hungarian president Viktor Orbán’s anti-LGBT legislative playbook.

The Reactionary Spirit paints a vivid, alarming picture that illuminates not only what’s happening to democracy globally, but also what we must do to protect it—while we still can.

Masking Policy

Masks are encouraged but not required for this event.

Daniel W. Drezner
Daniel W. Drezner

Daniel W. Drezner

Daniel W. Drezner is distinguished professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, a nonresident senior fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, and an academic partner at State Street Associates.  He is the co-director of Fletcher’s Russia and Eurasia program.  Prior to Fletcher, he taught at the University of Chicago and the University of Colorado at Boulder.  He has previously held positions with Civic Education Project, the RAND Corporation and the U.S. Department of the Treasury, and received fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation, German Marshall Fund of the United States, Council on Foreign Relations, and Harvard University.  Drezner has written seven books, including The Ideas Industry and All Politics is Global, and edited three others, including The Uses and Abuses of Weaponized Interdependence.   He has published articles in numerous scholarly journals as well as in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Foreign Affairs, and has been a regular columnist for Foreign Policy and the Washington Post.  He received his B.A. in political economy from Williams College and an M.A. in economics and Ph.D. in political science from Stanford University.  He co-hosts the Space the Nation podcast and publishes the newsletter Drezner’s World

Zack Beauchamp
Zack Beauchamp

Zack Beauchamp

Zack Beauchamp is a senior correspondent at Vox, where he covers challenges to democracy in the United States and abroad, right-wing populism, and the world of ideas. He has received funding awards from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting to report on democratic decline in Israel and Hungary in the field, and was the longtime host of Worldly, Vox’s weekly podcast on foreign policy and international affairs. He has appeared on a wide range of television and radio networks, including MSNBC, CNN, Fox News, BBC, CBC, ABC (Australia), and Al Jazeera.

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1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

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