The state and practice of democracy in 2018
In 1992, Francis Fukuyama published The End of History? He argued that with the end of the Cold War and the break-up of the Soviet empire, liberal democracy had triumphed once and for all. It would become entrenched as the preferred system of government around the world.
Twenty-five years later, Fukuyama was fearful about the future of liberal democracy.
He had seen Donald Trump, the Brexit vote, and the rise of xenophobic populist parties across Western Europe. Burgeoning democracies in Poland and Hungary had made stunning U-turns and elected demagogic governments that rolled back democratic freedoms.
Democratically elected leaders in Turkey, Russia, Venezuela and Zimbabwe were devolving into autocrats and subverting the democratic process.
And many, sometimes a majority, of the voters seem perfectly content, even eager, to return anti-democratic governments to office.
Democracy is also under assault by cyber attacks from foreign countries, most notoriously Russia. Social media is used to spread misinformation and to inflame the polarization that has poisoned political discourse. And reams of microdata gleaned from social media and other Internet sources are used to manipulate voters.
The future of liberal democracy hasn't looked so uncertain since the darkest days of the Second World War.
On this month's edition of The Enright Files, just two months from a pivotal American election, we look at the state of democracy and democratic politics in the Western world.
Guests in this episode:
- Yascha Mounk is the author of The People Vs. Democracy: Why Our Freedom is in Danger and How to Save It.
- Christopher Cochrane is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto.
- Laura Stephenson is chair of the undergraduate program in Political Science at Western University in London, Ontario.
- Kristen Ghodsee is a Professor of Russian and East European Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.
- Jennifer Robson is Associate Professor of Political Management at Carleton University.
**The Enright Files is produced by Chris Wodskou.