Strongmen and the Assault on Democracy and Truth: Is It Time to Use the F-Word?

Event description

  • Academic events
  • Arts and entertainment
  • Diversity and inclusion
  • Free
  • Open to the public

The global rise of authoritarianism and anti-democratic efforts in the United States have prompted many to use the f-word — “fascism” — to characterize our current moment. In what ways does the political ideology of fascism capture or misrepresent what’s happening in political life today? In particular, how do strongmen and authoritarian movements rely upon lies, violence and a false construction of reality to further their goals? Join us for this moderated conversation with Ruth Ben-Ghiat, historian, commentator and author.

The Recovering Truth: Religion, Journalism and Democracy in a Post-Truth Era project is supported by a generous grant from the Henry Luce Foundation’s Program in Theology.

About the speaker

Ruth Ben-Ghiat, Professor of History and Italian Studies, New York University

Ruth Ben-Ghiat is Professor of History and Italian Studies at New York University. She writes about fascism, authoritarianism, propaganda and democracy protection. She is the recipient of Guggenheim and other fellowships, an advisor to Protect Democracy and an MSNBC opinion columnist. She appears frequently on MSNBC and other networks. She publishes Lucid, a Substack newsletter on threats to democracy in the U.S. and abroad. Her latest book, “Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present,” examines how illiberal leaders use corruption, violence, propaganda and machismo to stay in power and how resistance to them has unfolded over a century. She is a consultant for television and film productions, including Guillermo del Toro’s Academy Award-winning 2022 movie “Pinocchio,” which is set in Fascist Italy. She also advises civil society organizations that pursue democracy protection, and businesses and organizations that face challenges from autocratic interference around the world.


John Carlson
Associate Professor of Religious Studies

Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict

Tracy Fessenden
Professor of Religious Studies
Director of Strategic Initiatives

Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict


This event is hosted by the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict and will take place on the ASU Tempe campus in the Pima Auditorium (Room 230) of the Memorial Union, and will be livestreamed through the Center's YouTube channel and on ASU Live. Whether you plan to participate via live stream or in-person, we appreciate you taking a moment to register. Your confirmation email will provide detailed directions to the venue, including parking information and key live-stream details. The lecture will consist of a moderated discussion with Center professors, followed by audience Q&A and a reception offering light refreshments.

Registration details:

  • Free and open to all.
  • Register to guarantee your seat.
  • Classes and groups are welcomed to attend! Please contact us directly with your request.

Additional information

Event contact

Alex Brooks

Thursday, May 2, 2024


3:00 pm4:15 pm (MST)


Pima Auditorium (Memorial Union, Room 230)