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Department of Economics

Annual Research Night: Special Guest Anne Applebaum

Pulitzer Prize Winner Anne Applebaum was warmly welcomed at the Annual Research Night 2023 and impressed with her lecture «Autocracy Inc.: How the World’s Authoritarians Work Together».

Special Guest Anne Applebaum

Anne Applebaum is convinced that we are in a new era of autocracies, characterized by the way their leaders cooperate. Today, she explains, autocracies are run by sophisticated networks whose members operate like an agglomeration of companies, a sort of  'Autocracy Inc.'

In order to protect liberal democracy, it will be crucial to understand how these networks operate and how they undermine democratic institutions, she points out. We need to be aware of the fact that conventional methods of keeping autocrats in check no longer work: "Too often sanctions are allowed to deteriorate over time, and just as often, autocracies help one another to get around them. And to be honest: we simply haven’t got the tools yet to respond to their new tactics."

According to Applebaum, we need to ensure that the rules the regimes are supposed to follow also apply to us. Corruption, for example, is not only a foreign policy issue: "If we take it seriously in the democratic world, then we have to adapt our own laws so that Kazakhs or Venezuelans can’t purchase property anonymously in London or Zurich or hide money in South Dakota. This means that we need to shut down tax havens and enforce money laundering laws, stop selling security and surveillance technology to autocracies, and maybe think about divesting from the most vicious regimes altogether."