At hinge in history, democracies need renewal to survive


21st Forum 2000 Conference

Every generation is tempted to think that its challenges are unique. History teaches otherwise.  Democracies can die — of that there should be no doubt. But they can also be modernized and restored to good working order, though never to permanent, perfect health, argues FT analyst Tony Barber.

“Much depends on the diagnosis and proposed remedies,” he contends. “In today’s conditions, although the two sets of problems overlap, it helps to distinguish between the need to improve democratic representation on the one hand, and the need to advance social cohesion and prosperity on the other.”

French president Emmanuel Macron’s proposed “European agency for the protection of democracies,” his “Great Debate” effort to reinvigorate democracy, and the EU’s promotion of participatory democracy – the European Citizens’ Initiative – have had mixed results, Barber observes.

Any attempt at reviving democracy must include a sustained effort to protect living standards and improve economic opportunities for citizens pushed to the margins — all the more necessary in the age of artificial intelligence, adds Barber. Cleaning up politics and broadening democratic participation are important, but no less so is reform of the western capitalist model itself. RTWT

We are at a hinge in history, between a new era of tyranny and a new age of democratic renewal, Stanford University’s Larry Diamond argues in his new book, Ill Winds: Saving Democracy from Russian Rage, Chinese Ambition, and American Complacency. Free governments can defend their values; free citizens can exercise their rights. We can make the internet safe for liberal democracy, exploit the soft, kleptocratic underbelly of dictatorships, and revive America’s degraded democracy (HT: Democratic Decay and Renewal).

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