Democracies vs Sharp Power: From awareness-raising to concerted action


Globalization has deepened integration between democracies and autocracies, tethering them to one another in complicated ways that have exposed democracies’ vulnerabilities that authoritarian powers are exploiting, the International Forum for Democratic Studies observes.

The compromising effects of sharp power—which impairs free expression, neutralizes independent institutions, and distorts the political environment—have grown apparent across crucial sectors of open societies, including the media and information space, the knowledge sector, norms and standards surrounding emerging technologies, and commerce. A response from the full spectrum of institutions within open societies is essential, and civil society—broadly understood—in this regard is a crucial part of democracies’ competitive advantage over authoritarian states.

Democracies must shift from an awareness-raising phase to more concerted action, the forum adds.  See the above discussion launching its final report, A Full-Spectrum Response to Sharp Power: The Vulnerabilities and Strengths of Open Societies, and reflecting on lessons learned from its series examining Sharp Power and Democratic Resilience. Speakers: Nadège Rolland, Senior Fellow, National Bureau of Asian Research; Edward Lucas, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Center for European Policy Analysis; Nicholas D. Wright, Neuroscientist and Technology Researcher, Intelligent Biology; Marc F. Plattner, founding editor, Journal of Democracy.

MODERATED BY Jessica Ludwig, Senior Program Officer, International Forum for Democratic Studies.

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