The Ezra Klein Show

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Each Tuesday and Friday, Ezra Klein invites you into a conversation on something that matters. How do we address climate change if the political system fails to act? Has the logic of markets infiltrated too many aspects of our lives? What is the future of the Republican Party? What do psychedelics teach us about consciousness? What does sci-fi understand about our present that we miss? Can our food system be just to humans and animals alike?

01:02:59

The Ezra Klein Show Anne Applebaum on What Liberals Misunderstand About Authoritarianism Anne Applebaum on What Liberals Misunder...
The experience of reading Hannah Arendt’s 1951 classic “The Origins of Totalitarianism” in the year 2022 is a disorienting one. Although Arendt is writing primarily about Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia, her descriptions often capture aspects of our present moment more clearly than those of us living through it can ever hope to. Arendt writes of entire populations who “had reached the point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and that nothing was true.” She describes “the masses’ escape from reality” as “a verdict against the world in which they are forced to live and in which they cannot exist.” She points out that in societies riddled with elite hypocrisy, “it seemed revolutionary to admit cruelty, disregard of human values, and general amorality, because this at least destroyed the duplicity upon which the existing society seemed to rest.” It’s hard to read statements like these without immediately conjuring up images of Vladimir Putin’s Russia or Donald Trump’s presidency or the QAnon faithful. But that’s exactly the point: The reason Arendt is so relevant today is that her diagnosis doesn’t apply just to the Nazi or Soviet regimes she was writing about. It is more fundamentally about the characteristics of liberal societies that make them vulnerable to distinctly illiberal and authoritarian forces — weaknesses that, in many ways, have only become more pronounced in the 70 years since “The Origins of Totalitarianism” was first released. Anne Applebaum is a staff writer for The Atlantic and a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian. Her writing — including her most recent book, “Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism” — is focused on the resurgence of autocratic movements and governments around the world, and why members of Western societies have abandoned liberal democratic ideals in favor of strongman leaders, conspiratorial movements and authoritarian regimes. And in the introduction she wrote to a new edition of “The Origins of Totalitarianism,” Applebaum argues that Arendt’s insights are more relevant now than ever. So this is a conversation that uses Arendt’s analysis as a window into our present. Applebaum and I discuss how “radical loneliness” lays the groundwork for authoritarianism, what Putin and Trump understand about human nature that most liberals miss, the seductive allure of groups like QAnon, the way that modern propaganda feeds off a combination of gullibility and cynicism, whether liberalism’s own logic is making societies vulnerable to totalitarian impulses, why efforts by populist politicians to upend conventional morality have held such appeal in Western liberal democracies, how the ideology of “economism” blinds Western liberals to their own societies’ deepest vulnerabilities, what liberals need to do differently to counteract the rise of global autocracy and more. Mentioned: “Review of Adolph Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’” by George Orwell Book Recommendations: Cuba by Ada Ferrer The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com. You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of “The Ezra Klein Show” at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein. Book recommendations from all our guests are listed at https://www.nytimes.com/article/ezra-klein-show-book-recs. “The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris, Rollin Hu, Mary Marge Locker and Kate Sinclair; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld; audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi. Special thanks to Kristin Lin and Kristina Samulewski.

01:37:25

The Ezra Klein Show What Does the ‘Post-Liberal Right’ Actually Want? What Does the ‘Post-Liberal Right’ Actua...
“It begun to dawn on many conservatives that in spite of apparent electoral victories that have occurred regularly since the Reagan years, they have consistently lost, and lost overwhelmingly to progressive forces,” Patrick Deneen writes in a recent essay titled “Abandoning Defensive Crouch Conservatism.” He goes on to argue that conservatives need to reject liberal values like free speech, religious liberty and pluralism, abandon their defensive posturing and use the power of the state to actively fight back against what he calls “liberal totalitarianism.” To progressive ears, these kinds of statements can be baffling; after all, Republicans currently control a majority of state legislatures, governorships and the Supreme Court, and they are poised to make gains in the midterm elections this fall. But even so, there’s a pervasive feeling among conservatives that progressives are using their unprecedented institutional power — in universities, in Hollywood, in the mainstream media, in the C-suites of tech companies — to wage war on traditional ways of life. And many of them have come to believe that the only viable response is to fight back against these advances at all costs. It’s impossible to understand the policies, leaders, rhetoric and tactics of the populist right without first trying to inhabit this worldview. That is why, for this second conversation in our series “The Rising Right,” I wanted to speak with Deneen. He is a professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame, and his 2018 book, “Why Liberalism Failed,” has become a touchstone within the conservative intelligentsia and was even fairly well received by liberals. But since then, Deneen’s writing has come to express something closer to total political war. And with three other professors, he recently started a Substack newsletter, “The Postliberal Order,” to build the kind of intellectual and political project needed to fight that war. This is a conversation about what Deneen’s “postliberal” political project looks like — and the tensions and contradictions it reveals about the modern populist right. We discuss (and debate) Deneen’s view that conservatives keep losing, why he believes the left is hostile to the family, whether America needs stricter divorce laws, what the post-liberal right would actually do with power, the virtues and vices of policy analysis, whether post-liberals have built their core arguments around an invented straw man liberalism, Joe Biden’s agenda for families and much more. Mentioned: “A Good That Is Common” by Patrick Deneen “Replace the Elite” by Patrick Deneen “Abandoning Defensive Crouch Conservatism” by Patrick Deneen Book recommendations: The New Class War by Michael Lind Dominion by Tom Holland The Art of Loading Brush by Wendell Berry Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com. You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of “The Ezra Klein Show” at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein. Book recommendations from all our guests are listed at https://www.nytimes.com/article/ezra-klein-show-book-recs. “The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris and Rollin Hu; original music by Isaac Jones and Jeff Geld; mixing by Jeff Geld; audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi. Special thanks to Kristin Lin and Kristina Samulewski.

00:42:51

The Ezra Klein Show Sway: 'Fear and Panic Are Bedfellows' in Ukraine Sway: 'Fear and Panic Are Bedfellows' in...
Today we're bringing you an episode from our friends at Sway about the war in Ukraine and the challenges of conflict-zone reporting. Clarissa Ward has had, as she puts it, a “long and very complicated relationship” with Russia. The chief international correspondent for CNN, she has had stints in Moscow since the beginning of her career, and has struggled to get a Russian visa since she investigated the 2020 poisoning of the Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny. But that hasn’t stopped her from reporting on the region, and in particular on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Yet after months of war, it can be an uphill battle to keep the viewers’ attention on the front line. “Our job is to keep finding ways to make sure that we don’t become numb and desensitized to the horrors of war, because that is exactly how wars continue and grind on,” Ward says. In this conversation, taped last week, Kara talks to Ward about her time reporting in Ukraine, what it’s like to “let fear sit in the passenger seat” when reporting from the front and how the hangover of war can leave correspondents detached from the “bourgeois and banal” normalcy of home. You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more information for all episodes at nytimes.com/sway, and you can find Kara on Twitter @karaswisher. “The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld; audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi. Special thanks to Kristin Lin and Kristina Samulewski.

01:22:39

The Ezra Klein Show Donald Trump Didn’t Hijack the G.O.P. He Understood It. Donald Trump Didn’t Hijack the G.O.P. He...
Right now, Republicans of all stripes — Ron DeSantis, J.D. Vance, Mike Pence, Glenn Youngkin — are trying to figure out how to channel the populist energies of Donald Trump into a winning political message. The struggle to achieve such a synthesis is the defining project on the American right today. Its outcome will determine the future of the Republican Party — and American politics. To understand what the post-Trump future of the G.O.P. will look like, it helps to have a clearer understanding of the party’s past — particularly the chapters that many conservatives prefer to forget. Traditional histories of American conservatism view Donald Trump’s election as an aberration in the lineage of the American right — an unprecedented populist rejection of the conservatism of Ronald Reagan and William F. Buckley Jr. But Matthew Continetti’s new book “The Right: The Hundred-Year War for American Conservatism” flips that conventional history on its head. In Continetti’s view, the “populist” energies that Trump harnessed in 2016 aren’t anything new for the American right — they have always been central to it. The American right has always been defined by a back-and-forth struggle — and at times a synthesis — between its populist grass roots and its elites. I wanted to bring Continetti on the show because this history is crucial to understanding where the Republican Party could go next. And also because this is the first episode in a new series we are producing called “The Rising Right.” Over the next few weeks, “The Ezra Klein Show” will feature conversations with conservative writers, scholars and thinkers who are trying to harness the forces that Trump unleashed and build a superstructure of ideas, institutions and policy around them. But to see where that movement is going, you have to take seriously where it came from. Mentioned:“Can Reaganism Rise Again?” by Ross Douthat Book Recommendations:Let Us Talk of Many Things by William F. Buckley Jr.Making It by Norman PodhoretzThe Prince of Darkness by Robert D. Novak Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com. You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of “The Ezra Klein Show” at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein. Book recommendations from all our guests are listed at https://www.nytimes.com/article/ezra-klein-show-book-recs. “The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris, Mary Marge Locker and Jenny Casas; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld; audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi. Special thanks to Kristin Lin and Kristina Samulewski.

00:39:04

The Ezra Klein Show The Argument: Why the G.O.P. Can't Stop Saying 'Gay' The Argument: Why the G.O.P. Can't Stop...
Today we're bringing you an episode from our friends at The Argument about Florida's “Don't Say Gay” bill and the broader wave of anti-L.G.B.T.Q. legislation, spurred by the political right, that is spreading across the country. According to the Human Rights Campaign, this year alone, more than 300 anti-L.G.B.T.Q. bills have been introduced in state legislatures. Why has this issue become a major focus of the Republican Party? And how is the way society treats individuals who identify as L.G.B.T.Q. changing? Jane Coaston speaks to her Times Opinion colleagues Ross Douthat and Michelle Goldberg about these questions and brings a deeply personal perspective to the table. Mentioned: “How to Make Sense of the New L.G.B.T.Q. Culture War” by Ross Douthat in The New York Times “Gender Unicorn” from Trans Student Educational Resources Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com. You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of “The Ezra Klein Show” at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein. Book recommendations from all our guests are listed at https://www.nytimes.com/article/ezra-klein-show-book-recs. “The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld; audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi. Special thanks to Kristin Lin and Kristina Samulewski.

01:05:27

The Ezra Klein Show Elon Musk Might Break Twitter. Maybe That's a Good Thing. Elon Musk Might Break Twitter. Maybe Tha...
If Elon Musk’s bid to purchase Twitter comes to fruition, the world’s richest person will own one of its most important communications platforms. Twitter might have a smaller user base than Facebook, Instagram and even Snapchat, but it shapes the dominant narratives in key industries like politics, media, finance and technology more than any other platform. Attention — particularly that of elite leaders in these industries — is a valuable resource, one that Twitter manages and trades in. Musk understands Twitter’s attention economy better than anyone. On numerous occasions, his tweets have sent a company’s stock or a cryptocurrency’s value skyrocketing (or plummeting). So what would it mean for Musk to own Twitter? How would that change the platform? How might he use Twitter to change, well, everything else? Felix Salmon is the chief economics correspondent at Axios, a co-host of the Slate Money podcast and someone who has spent a lot of time thinking about the economics of attention, the way modern financial markets work and how money impacts the technologies we use. We discuss Musk’s possible motivations for owning Twitter, how Musk’s distinct brand of tweeting has reaped financial windfalls, what Musk understands about finance and attention that many others don’t, why Twitter is so powerful as a storytelling machine, why journalists are turning away from it, what a decentralized Twitter might look like, how Web3 resembles the 1960s “back to the land” movement, how Musk could break Twitter — but why that might end up saving Twitter — and more. Mentioned: “Elon Musk Got Twitter Because He Gets Twitter” by Ezra Klein "A Crypto Optimist Meets a Crypto Skeptic” on The Ezra Klein Show “A Viral Case Against Crypto, Explored” on The Ezra Klein Show “The Way the Senate Melted Down Over Crypto Is Very Revealing” by Ezra Klein Book Recommendations: The Bond King by Mary Childs Typeset in the Future by Dave Addey The Surprise of Cremona by Edith Templeton Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com. You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of “The Ezra Klein Show” at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein. Book recommendations from all our guests are listed at https://www.nytimes.com/article/ezra-klein-show-book-recs. “The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Jenny Casas, Michelle Harris, Rollin Hu and Kate Sinclair; original music by Isaac Jones and Carole Sabouraud; mixing by Jeff Geld; audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi. Special thanks to Kristin Lin and Kristina Samulewski.