Democracy Embattled: Towards ‘competitive decadence’?


America used to try to design the world, Russia used to try to sabotage those plans. Now things almost look the other way around, analyst  Asli Aydintasbas observes.

The decline of U.S. hegemony has been long discussed — the late Harvard professor Samuel Huntington documented five waves of post-World War II American “declinism” back in 1988. His view was that the constant fear of American decline was what led to America’s impressive capacity for constant renewal. But …., he writes for The Washington Post:

Sure, Russia seems to be punching above its weight in terms of economic and diplomatic capacity, but it is shaping events nonetheless. …Russia will continue pushing for a world order in which the strong rule the weak and take their territory if they object. It will be an unhappy and unstable world where critics and dissidents are discredited and persecuted. An order in which authoritarianism proudly asserts its legitimacy over democracy.

Today almost all those who care about the future of democracy realize that it is facing a serious threat and that they will need to mount a strong defense, both domestically and internationally, outgoing co-editor Marc Plattner writes for The Journal of Democracy:

[E]ven if the democracies fail to fully recover their former élan, it is uncertain whether this would lead to an easy ascendancy for repressive authoritarian regimes. The current contest between democracy and its rivals might turn out to resemble that of the last two decades of the Cold War, which the late Pierre Hassner characterized by the phrase “competitive decadence”—that is, a race in which each side’s chief concern is to outlast the other by more adeptly managing its own internal tensions and weaknesses.

On the other hand, what National Endowment for Democracy President Carl Gershman refers to as “the instinct for freedom” remains strong, Plattner (far left) adds., Even if attachment to democracy may be softening among young people who have always enjoyed its blessings, the desire for liberty and self-government is as powerful as ever among those who suffer under repressive governments.

Democracy is under assault, but democrats around the world now have a much clearer understanding of the need to do battle on its behalf, he asserts. RTWT

The George W. Bush Institute recently released a report, Choose Freedom, calling on a wide range of Americans — from businesses executives to members of Congress to local and civic leaders to the President of the United States — to redouble efforts to support the growth and strengthening of democracies around the world, notes Nicole Bibbins Sedaca, the chair for the Global Politics and Security Concentration at Georgetown University. This pragmatic report outlines the case for free societies and embraces several balanced truths that are not always discussed in tandem, she writes for CNN:

  • First, expanding freedom provides the best environment for humans to flourish. Over time, political leaders from both parties and American citizens across the country have seen this as central to our calling and interests. History has shown that stable democracies best guarantee political stability, open markets and protection of human rights.
  • Second, the fact that democratic values have helped reverse our own imperfections makes the strongest case for fundamentals such as free speech, freedom of religion and an independent judiciary.
  • Lastly, the United States is uniquely positioned as an imperfect but experienced leader on democracy to speak both humbly and confidently about the importance of this form of government to deal with the world’s current challenges

Join JOD on January 23 for a special event celebrating the release of the 30th anniversary issue on the theme “Democracy Embattled.” Panels will feature founding coeditors Marc F. Plattner & @LarryDiamond, new coedito@WilliamJDobson, Sheri Berman, Thomas Carothers, Steven Levitsky, @Yascha_Mounk, @LadiKhanom, @MicheleDDunne, Minxin Pei, Lucan Way, @Walker_CT and @ShanthiKalathil

Did you know that over four billion people live in some form of #democracy? International IDEA asks. Learn more about the #stateofdemocracy in your region from @Int_IDEA’s #GSoD2019 Report and find out what can you do to #ReviveDemocracy.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email