The New Authoritarians

Rulers like Vladimir Putin persuade the ruled to live in a make-believe world.

Putin has made politics a spectacle.

Photographer: Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images

Since the end of the Cold War, rising gross domestic product and regular elections have come to mark progress in large parts of the world. Such apparent resemblances to Western-style capitalism and democracy still enthuse many commentators. But do they actually conceal the deteriorating political and moral health of emerging economies until it's too late?

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