Remember the post from last summer when we highlighted Timothy Snyder’s book On Tyranny? He has begun a YouTube series called “Timothy Snyder Speaks”. Take a look at episode 7, in which Professor Snyder talks about “The Evil of ‘America First’”.
Prof. Snyder describes the series as informal talks that fall between “the 90 seconds” afforded during a TV interview and a 45 minute class lecture. Each is a five to fifteen minute treat of a learned person concerned about the current political climate in America. Agree or disagree, his gentle, almost offhanded style should allow you the opportunity to debate with yourself in an open, civilized manner. While your there, check out other episodes in the series.
Here we are. Now what? After an expectedly tumultuous 2017, when various civil liberties and protections have been spirited away, stolen in the night, brazenly ripped from our freedom clutching fingers, who are we and where do we go from here? This post simultaneously represents the end of the “Death of Democracy” series and the turn from explicit descriptions of socio-political situations toward explorations of intra-personal, psycho-social elements that form our experience of EveryDayLife. (more…)
Death of Democracy
Part IV: What is Democracy
What is this thing we call “democracy”. Just as once there was some general consensus about the nature of truth—facts in the public sphere—we once believed we shared a relatively common meaning of the word “democracy”. One of the reasons we (both in the U.S. and internationally) do not agree on how our governments should operate is that while we might call our form of government “democratic”, that is, reflecting the basic principles of democracy, we do not necessarily agree on the set of principles that constitute such an idea. When we use the phrase “death of democracy”, we might not be talking about the demise of actual “democracy” at all. In fact, we might be talking about something considerably more pervasive, profound and, if lost, catastrophic for American society.
“I’m on the FCC. Please stop us from killing net neutrality.” This is the title of a Los Angeles Times article written by Ms. Jessica Rosenworcel, one of the five members of the Federal Communication Commission (FCC).
Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images
“Western liberal democracy might prove to be not
the final destination on the democratic road, but just one of the many possible exits.”
Twenty years ago, in an article entitled “The Rise of Illiberal Democracy” (published in the Nov./Dec. 1997 issue of Foreign Affairs journal), Fareed Zakaria presented a somewhat controversial term he called “illiberalism”. The original article (the PDF of which is referenced here) was originally intended as Exhibit A in a much broader post for this week. However, on further consideration, its length and profundity warrant a front and center prominence the original post design did not afford.
Additionally, take a read through Zakaria’s December 2016 follow-up to the original article as well as both an analysis of and a counter to his proposals.
Next week we will reference these articles in a broader context which considers the possibility that while democracy could be on the demise worldwide, the American use of the phrase “death of democracy” could refer to the wane of something considerably more profound than we imagine.
Part 3: Morality That Divides Us
“I loathe nationalism. It is a form of tribalism–the idolatry of the century”
When many of us hear the word “morals”, we often withdraw, flinch, find someone else to talk to or another place to be. In fact, morals, in the simplest terms, only refers to what we consider “good” (or “bad”). All of us hold them (moral positions, that is). We might not talk about them much (in a metacognitive, that is, self-conscious manner) but we express them constantly.
“Democracy has dominated as a globally promoted and accepted form or governance not because it is perfect or because it, without fail, elects the best leaders or even very good leaders all of the time but because it is supposed to be self-correcting and potentially self-enforcing.” ~Susan Hyde
For some time now, citizens of the United States have increasingly begun to question just how “self-correcting” or “self-enforcing” American democracy might be. Some of our most prominent thinkers have begun to ask poignant questions about the state of democracy, both in American and throughout the world. (more…)