The 21st Century has witnessed a growing decline of democracy and rise of authoritarianism around the globe. Democratic institutions and the rule of law are being systemically subverted. Electoral processes themselves are increasingly being used to diminish respect for the rule of law and to advance autocratic rule. A politics of fear has given rise to polarisation, discrimination, marginalisation and xenophobia. Institutional fragility and declining confidence in social conventions, checks and balances have become widespread. The concept of truth itself is under attack.
The Toda Peace Institute’s programme on Global Challenges to Democracy therefore:
connects with leading thinkers from around the world who are deeply engaged in researching and writing about this phenomenon.
examines the ways in which major existential challenges, such as climate change and pandemics, are contributing to a growing sense of anxiety and political paralysis.
contributes to the reactivation of civil society actors who are active, engaged, and committed to the rule of law, democratic accountability and advancing the dignity of all persons.
The early stages of this project have seen conversations with international scholars recorded and uploaded to Toda Peace Institute’s YouTube channel and the publication of a range of Policy Briefs. A global study group will be formed to take this work forward in 2022-2023.
Links to Public Conversations:
Stephan Haggard (UC San Diego) and Robert R. Kaufman (Rutgers) introduce their book Backsliding: Democratic Regress in the Modern World, explain the concept of backsliding in relation to democratic government, and the way that they selected the 16 cases studies covered in the book. In conversation with Kevin Clements and Paula Green. The conversation is in five parts.
Timothy Snyder (Yale University) and Nora Krug (Parsons School of Design) explain the inspiration behind the illustrated edition of On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century. They discuss factors that contribute to the rise of tyranny: a widely felt sense of approaching doom largely caused by climate change, the stupefying inequality of wealth, and social media’s appeal to our lowest instincts. In conversation with Kevin Clements and Paula Green. The conversation is in four parts.
Lydia Khalil (Lowy Institute), author of Rise of the Extreme Right: The New Global Extremism and the Threat to Democracy, explains the term right-wing extremism and its salient features. She discusses the structural factors which have led to a huge increase in right-wing extremism since 2016.
Gina Gustavsson (Uppsala University and Nuffield College), author of Liberal Nationalism and Its Critics: Normative and Empirical Questions, discusses the recent electoral success of the Sweden Democratic Party, and what this means for Swedish social democracy and its welfare state.
Debasish Roy Chowdhury and John Keane, authors of To Kill a Democracy: India’s Passage to Despotism discuss their views of India under Prime Minister Modi, and the prospects for Indian democracy. Download the transcript here.
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