Killing democracy softly


Global democracy declined for the 12th consecutive year in 2017. According to a new report from Freedom House, twice as many countries registered reversals in political rights and civil liberties as scored improvements, notes Arch Puddington, Distinguished Scholar for Democracy Studies at Freedom House, the author of Breaking Down Democracy: The Goals, Strategies, and Methods of Modern Authoritarians.

Today’s authoritarians are less prone to violence and overt repression than their totalitarian predecessors—but that only makes the threat they pose all the more insidious, he writes for The American Interest:

Modern autocrats are smarter and more diligent than their predecessors—the Pinochets, Chernenkos, and Honeckers. Their preference is for nonviolent coercion. If threatened, however, they will roll out the secret police, the hired mobs, and the military. As a kind of failed state, Venezuela may stand as an outlier among today’s autocracies. But presented with the prospect of losing power, President Maduro has summoned forth the specters of South American military juntas past. Can anyone doubt that other autocrats would behave similarly if confronted with a loss of power and possible prosecution for crimes against the people?


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