Frykt og avsky i demokratiet

Eirik Høyer Leivestad
Frykt og avsky i demokratiet
Vagant, 2020
ISBN 978-82-93856-00-9

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Frykt og avsky i demokratiet (‘Fear and loathing in democracy’) investigates the crisis of democracy and the notions of crowds and masses in western thought from the early nineteenth century to the present. Revolving around the tension between elites and masses, and discussing a vast range of thinkers who have given vent to this tension, the book proposes an alternative history of modern political thought. While critically engaging with various expressions of elitism, fear, and contempt for the masses, Frykt og avsky i demokratiet also draws upon concepts, ideas, and insights from the same tradition, to shed light on current debates about populism, right-wing extremism, social media, and recalcitrant ‘conspiracy theory’ movements.

An intellectual essay written for a general readership, the book has been described as witty, succinct, creative, and daring. It received excellent reviews in mainstream newspapers, magazines, and journals in Norway, Denmark, and Sweden.

Read the introductory chapter in English translation.

“Welcome to the future.”
–Frank Rossavik, Aftenposten (Norway)

“The book came out shortly before what we might call the storming of the modern Bastille, the US Congress, on January 6th. [It] serves as a manual to understand the forces at play.”
–Andrew Kroglund, Agenda Magasin (Norway)

“An erudite tour de force on the fear of the masses that has haunted western elites for the past 200 years.”
–Mikkel Thorup, Dagbladet Information (Denmark) 

“In impressively deft, elegant and accessible prose, Leivestad engages with difficult questions, challenging authors and complex ideas. As an essay in intellectual history, the work is of high international stature, at the level of Pankaj Mishra or Jan-Werner Müller.”
–Hjalmar Falk, Ord & Bild (Sweden)

Fear and Loathing in Democracy is an inspiring and thoughtful contribution to the democratic self-reflection we’ve been engaging in with an urgent sense of peril over the past few years. Leivestad [provides] conceptual and intellectual resources to aid our understanding, whether we’re grappling with Nazism, Trumpism, Facebook or Twitter.”
–Jonas Bals, Klassekampen (Norway)

“With striking clarity, Leivestad demonstrates how the sense of a latent or manifest crisis is as ancient as democracy itself, and how the tensions between elites and masses have shaped western thought for more than 200 years.”
–Asker Hedegaard Boye, Weekendavisen (Denmark)

“[Fear and Loathing in Democracy] outlines the challenges facing democracy in impressive fashion.”
–Karsten Aase-Nilsen, Vårt Land (Norway)

“Leivestad [writes] with ironic flair and stylistic elegance.”
–Gro Jørstad Nilsen, Prosa (Norway)

“Such notions as populism and the masses may be vague, but there’s nothing vague about Leivestad’s account. Fear and Loathing in Democracy is not only written with crystal clarity, it is also highly convincing in both focus and scope. The author condenses succinctly and with great authority; quotes are carefully chosen and precise. In less than 200 pages you’re carried through 200 years of political thought, but at no point does this feel superficial or simplistic.”
–Adam Paulsen, Atlas Magasin (Denmark)