Authoritarianism: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

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LastWeekTonight

John Oliver discusses the growing number of authoritarian leaders around the world, their common characteristics, and whether or not one of them is currently our president. Connect with Last Week Tonight online... Subscribe to the Last Week Tonight YouTube channel for more almost news as it almost happens: www.youtube.com/user/LastWeekTonight Find Last Week Tonight on Facebook like your mom would: http://Facebook.com/LastWeekTonight Follow us on Twitter for news about jokes and jokes about news: http://Twitter.com/LastWeekTonight Visit our official site for all that other stuff at once: http://www.hbo.com/lastweektonight

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Video Transcript:

This is actually our last show of the season for our main story we thought we'd pull back a little bit and look at one of the biggest questions that has defined this year how good was a star is born star was born over the weekend a great movie and it was amazing it was amazing it's still on my heart Bradley Cooper had ahold of my soul there for a little while it's uh it it is beyond great maybe it's time let the Old ways Bradley Cooper oh my gosh go see the movie go see it yeah that guy loves him and he's distinctive for the Dallas Cowboys no one doesn't like a star is born it's the one movie that even Neil deGrasse Tyson can't ruin John I had a small issue with the film see if you want to know how a star is actually born you start with a gas cloud shut up shut up you shut up Neil deGrasse Tyson let this Be the one thing about Stassi don't ruined unfortunately we're not talking about a star is born tonight in fact we're going to talk about the exact opposite of that movie the troubling rise of authoritarian leaders around the world a lot of them there are the ones that you instinctively think about like your bladder Mir Putin and Xi Jingping who've been steadily consolidating their power there's the re-election of strong men Like Hungary's Viktor Orban and turkeys worship Diwan and then there's what happened just last month in the world's fifth largest country Brazil has a new president becoming a latest nation to elect a far-right leader extreme right populist bolson era has exalted the country's military dictatorship advocated torture and threatened to destroy jail or drive his political opponents into exile is calling for unity oh that's nice he's calling for Unity is he yet the problem is he expressed an affection for torture and dictatorship before that and political platforms are a bit like tinder profiles once you advocate torture it doesn't really matter what else you say it's all the people are gonna remember and for good reason and not what what well no to authoritarian leaders are the same the global trend toward them is alarming especially because in many cases people are actively choosing them a report Recently concluded that one-third of the world's population lives in a backsliding democracy and that is why there's a pretty good chance that you may have been watching the news at some point this year and found yourself saying what the is happening to the world and why so tonight let's look at three common traits that authoritarian leaders tend to have to try and figure out what can make them so appealing to people and to what extent this country Is in danger of heading in the same direction and the first trait is projecting strength authoritarians tend to love grand displays of force like the military parades featuring weaponry that you've seen places like China North Korea Venezuela and Russia where they'll even sometimes throw in a surprise musical number [Music] yeah what a warning there Russia that's what musicals are like when you Don't allow gay people tell you that spectacles like those serve a purpose as many authoritarians project strength out of a real concern that they may be seen as illegitimate in kind of the same way that a man who is insecure about his penis buys a motorcycle or takes up bodybuilding or invents the Tesla how how weird is your penis even how weird is it but projecting military strength often isn't enough men you authoritarians tend to conflate their Country's national identity with their personal identity so they individually need to appear strong to that most obvious example of this is Vladimir Putin who's taken so many glamor shots there are calendars of him that the latest ones feature him cuddling leopards taking a shirtless ice bath and sunbathing which cool but but but he's not alone there's also Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov's ridiculous workout videos which I frankly cannot Recommend highly enough it's like watching a Keebler Elf get ripped although my favorite example of this is also actually the saddest just watch as the authoritarian president of Turkmenistan forces his cabinet to watch him take a gold bar and do whatever this is Wow when you go to work tomorrow and you're forced to laugh at your supervisors dumb jokes just spare a thought for the people who had to give a Standing ovation to their boss for lifting a golden curtain right so so authoritarians are obsessed with projecting strength and I often tell their citizens that that strength is necessary to protect them from what well that actually brings us to their second major trait a tendency to demonize enemies authoritarians often go out of their way to identify and sometimes manufacture a group of evildoers from whom they and they alone can save the Country in the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte rose to power by claiming he was the antidote to drug crime since 2016 Human Rights Watch estimates that his drug war has killed more than 12,000 people many of them extrajudicially and that shouldn't really be entirely surprising given that this was an actual message that his campaign issued at Christmas alone in your acquittal lemon verbena buddy Cooper in Merry Christmas crema de Rugy star Bogdanov oh crap Criminal at the UNEP a pair of so pilipino Hawaiian young metal at pitoni para el corazon eaten a hole in you Merry Christmas oh boy that is a hard turn in a Christmas message although it actually does remind me with Thanksgiving coming up this week you know I just like to take a moment to wish a Happy Thanksgiving to everyone watching this tonight especially if you're a turkey because we're going to slit your throat stuck your dumb bird Corpse with Brad's chopped vegetables garlic and rosemary and then bake you in an oven for four hours it's what you deserve this will be your final Happy Thanksgiving sorry where was I oh that's right authoritarian Sneed enemies because one of their greatest appeals is making a complicated world simple if you're under attack or you've been made to feel that way it is nice to have a charismatic individual say the rules the System I've got this that's an impulse that we're all vulnerable to take me I believe in the separation of powers and the rule of law but if America were to descend into a Civil War and someone said hey what if we just let Tom Hanks figure it out a not insignificant part of me would go yeah that seems nice in fact all praise Daddy Hanks long live the Gump of death to his enemies when people are frightened they can be more susceptible To authoritarians that is why if a real threat doesn't present itself strong men will sometimes make one up often targeting a group that's persecuted to begin with like immigrants or minorities Viktor orbán's right would turn in hungary has been accompanied by stoking fear of Muslims and refugees and when Putin was facing a dip in popularity a few years ago he went after gay people suggesting that homosexuality was a weapon of the EU to weaken Russia which Yes sounds ridiculous but judging by this man the message may have gone across Russia is not Europe we have our own conservative traditional values at the moment in Europe these boundaries are being crossed because they're legalizing pedophilia they're legalizing zoophilia they have zoo brothels wait are you sure about that he's I'm pretty confident that there is no such thing as a zoo brothel a zoo brothel is if anything just a regular Zoo where you can split the zookeeper 20 bucks to leave you alone in the penguin area and you would hope don't think about that if you don't like it just don't absorb it just don't absorb the idea in your mind and you would hope that an independent press or an opposition party might push back on that sort of which actually brings us to our final key trait which is dismantling institutions because as they gain power or ferret Aryans will try to Weaken any check on them journalists in authoritarian regimes are frequently threatened in and killed or in putin's russia have tragic accidents that hopefully others may learn from an authoritarian will also attack even more foundational checks and balances like courts and legislatures in recent years the structures of government in Turkey China Hungary and Venezuela have all been modified to consolidate power under Their leaders and as Poland becomes increasingly authoritarian their de facto leader no longer has to worry about the country's highest judge or indeed many other judges because he his party cleverly managed to force them out simply by lowering their retirement age and when some judges showed up to work anyway in protest a government official had this patronizing response they can enter the building they can be their vacant they can be there as guests but They cannot work as judges because they are retired I really don't blame those judges for being furious about that because as we all now know there are only two ways to really piss off a judge one force them into retirement or to ask how many brews they'd usually pound when working out with Vijay and squeeze they don't like that at all so so look projecting strange demonizing enemies and dismantling institutions are very broadly some key things that Authoritarians do and if you're wondering who would ever want a leader who does that the answer is lots of people many people support Tudor Tate not despite his authoritarian tendencies but because of them the way Filipinos have become too disorderly and comfortable I think we need a president that can implement measures and discipline us it's so obvious that the media is biased because they only show the killings why don't They show the other stuff he's doing like all the infrastructure he's building wait what anything credible to hear someone click brushing off killings and complaining that more attention to be paid to infrastructure she must be the only person in the world who could hear a story about a government death squad throwing someone off a bridge you say wait tell me more about that bridge sturdy enough for a whole squad you say Very impressive as we've gone through each of these traits you may have found yourself thinking uh-oh some of these are ringing a bell so unfortunately we do now have to bring the story back around to this guy our current president because he definitely exhibits many of the things that you've seen so far tonight he loves appearing strong he actually wanted a military parade and when it comes to demonizing enemies He's gleefully gone after immigrants and other marginalized groups as well as picking aggressively optional battles with Canada the NFL Mark Cuban the FBI Robert DeNiro the 2017 Emmy Awards Puerto Rico the postal service an upscale farm-to-table restaurant in Lexington Virginia the NSA levar ball the city of Chicago the Mayor of London the CEO of Merck Nordstrom and Chrissy Teigen and that is only counting the Twitter feuds and Trump has Openly expressed admiration for many of the authoritarians you've seen including specifically praising Tudor tea for the unbelievable job he was doing cleaning up crime in the Philippines Trump even once retweeted a parody account that is attributed to him the quote it is better to live one day as a lion than a hundred years as a sheep which isn't actually something that Trump said it's a slogan Mussolini used that's right it was synonymous with pasture Hitler and and When that was pointed out to Trump this was his response did you know it was Rosellini it's okay to know it's Bruce Elaine yeah look Mussolini was Mussolini it's okay it's a very good quote it's a very interesting quote and I know it I saw it I saw what I know who said it but what difference does it make whether it's Mussolini is somebody else and so certainly a very interesting quote you want to be associated with a fascist no I want to be associated with interesting quotes okay okay so first let's agree there's roughly 50% chance that Donald Trump thinks that Mussolini is just an Italian moose it's a coin flip and second if being associated with interesting quotes is the goal there are better ones many of them attributing to people who have committed far fewer war crimes how about this one another thing I like to do is give my vagina a little vitamin D Trump didn't say that shailene Woodley did but it's a very interesting quote and what I think we should associate Trump with and it's worth noting that was from before he was elected president his entire tone on the campaign trail was of an unapologetic strong man I'm gonna bomb the out of them I don't care like to punch him in the face I'll tell you Gitmo we're keeping that open now we're gonna load it up with bad dudes we're gonna load it up with a lot of bad dudes what your Works okay folks don't you know I have these guys torture doesn't work believe me it works okay Wow so bomb punch imprison torture we just need to see Trump lift a gold bar and do a topless calendar shoot and we basically got authoritarian bingo right there and the thing is people liked that in fact it may be the thing about Trump they liked the most watch how his supporters responded when he described how Putin deals with Journalists and then they said you know he's killed reporters and I don't like that I'm totally against that I by the way I hate some of these people but I'd never kill him I hate him no I think no these people honestly I'll be honest I'll be honest I would never kill them I would never do that ah that's safe no I wouldn't I would never kill him but I do hate him and I some of them are such lying disgusting people it's true now that is legitimately scary because I Know that Trump is kidding there but I'm not sure that everyone in that audience is and they are flirting with something very dangerous because Trump will do anything if it gets a big enough cheer the difference between joking about something and actually doing it is only about 30 decibels on the applause-o-meter so so the real worry here isn't just that Trump sounds like an authoritarian it's that many people in this country like the way that sounds We need somebody's tough Trump just shows toughness and I love that it's finally got some busting balls I'm gonna feel safer in our country with him as a president let me tell you if Jesus Christ gets down off the cross and told me Trump is with Russia I will tell him hold on a second I need a check with the president if it's true I honestly don't know what's more depressing there the thought of that man believe in it Trump over Jesus all the thought of Jesus Coming back as someone who won't shut up about Trump and Russia Jesus we get it yet we all agree with you but you know we get it no no I didn't see Maddow Jesus was she on fire so it's pretty clear by this point the Trump shares many characteristics with authoritarian leaders and yet we're not currently an authoritarian state so why is that well thankfully while Trump has done terrible things as president our institutions generally speaking so far Have been just strong enough to hold up against his most authoritarian instincts he's not managed to shut down the Muller investigation yet he apparently wants to end birthright citizenship but that's not something a president can do and just this week his efforts to ban a CNN reporter from the White House were halted by a judge that he himself had appointed and that's good but there's no doubt Trump is testing the system appointing this well-dressed fire Hydrant as his acting Attorney General is a worrying sign as are his repeated attempts to delegitimize elections by declaring results that he doesn't like fraudulence so people do need to remain vigilant and that is the key thing here because while we may talk about institutions being strong what that actually means is that people are working very hard to protect them and to use them to contain this president's worst impulses he's lost in court Because people have sued him he's kept the Russian investigation going because his advisors know there would be a public outcry if he stopped it and to the extent that Congress is able to check him going forward it's because people turned up at the midterms to keep doing those things because the world is dabbling with something very dangerous right now and America needs to be careful and look I know democracy can be often by design Frustrating checks and balances can be irritating and slow and might not deliver the outcome that you wanted but removing them opens the door to something much worse and that is true whether you live in Russia Turkey Hungary the Philippines Brazil or yes the United States and I know that America is a different country with a different history and thankfully more resilient institutions but that is no cause for complacency because the truth Is the honest answer to could authoritarianism happen here is and possibly always will be no I think no [Music] probably know you

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