Democracy in Question?

Democracy in Question?

Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy
How does austerity politics weaken democracy?
Jan 14, 2021 25 min

How does austerity politics weaken democracy?

Since the introduction of neoliberal policies under Thatcher and Reagan many countries worldwide have implemented austerity politics that dismantled social security programs by cutting public funding. Our guest today, the renowned British economist, Lord Skidelsky has argued that liberal democracy rests on a welfare state, so that austerity politics and the rise of populism in the West are interlinked. So this time we ask: can liberal democracy co-exist with a politics austerity? Democracy in Question? is brought to you by: • The Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna: IWM • The Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy in Geneva: AHCD • The Excellence Chair and Soft Authoritarianism Research Group in Bremen: WOC • The Podcast Company Earshot Strategies Follow us on social media! • Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna: @IWM_Vienna • Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy in Geneva: @AHDCentre Subscribe to the show. If you enjoyed what you listened to, you can support us by leaving a review and sharing our podcast in your networks! BIBLIOGRAPHY • Money and Government: A challenge to mainstream economics. (2018). • Austerity vs Stimulus: The Political Future of Economic Recovery. (2017). • How Much is Enough? Money and the Good Life. (2012). Co-authored with Edward Skidelsky • Click here to find more of Robert Skidelsky’s books and publications. GLOSSARY What is austerity politics? (00:01:00 or p. 1 in the transcript) Austerity describes a set of economic policies, usually consisting of tax increases, spending cuts, or a combination of the two, used by governments to reduce budget deficits. The use of austerity measures during times of economic hardship has caused much controversy about their purpose and usefulness. Learn more. What is neoliberalism? (00:03:30 or p. 3 in the transcript) The term neoliberalism describes an ideology and policy model that emphasizes the value of free market competition. Although there is considerable debate as to the defining features of neoliberal thought and practice, it is most commonly associated with laissez-faire economics. In particular, neoliberalism is often characterized in terms of its belief in sustained economic growth as the means to achieve human progress, its emphasis on minimal state intervention in economic and social affairs, and its commitment to the freedom of trade and capital. Source. What is Thatcherism? (00:03:30 or p. 3 in the transcript) The term refers to Great Britain’s former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's policies during the 1980s. Thatcherism represents a belief in free markets and a small state, and includes the idea that industries and services should be owned by private companies, not by the state. Learn more. What is hyperglobalization? (00:03:30 or p. 3 in the transcript) The term hyperglobalization refers to the drastic increase in globalization since the 1990s. What are Keynesian economics? (00:08:30 or p. 6 in the transcript) Keynesianism refers to the economic theories and programs ascribed to John M. Keynes and his followers, especially the advocacy of monetary and fiscal programs by government to increase employment and spending. Source. What happened in the US in the 1930s? (00:21:30 or p. 13 in the transcript) Between 1933 and 1939 (so, after the Great Depression which was a major economic crisis in 1929) then U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt enacted the New Deal, a set of programs, reforms, and regulations with the aim of bringing immediate economic relief. Opposed to the traditional American political philosophy of laissez-faire, the New Deal generally embraced the concept of a government-regulated economy aimed at achieving a balance between conflicting economic interests. Source. What happened under Deng Xiaoping? (00:21:30 or p. 13 in the transcript) Deng Xiaoping was a Chinese communist leader who was the most powerful figure in the People’s Republic of China from the late 1970s until his death in 1997. He abandoned many communist doctrines and attempted to incorporate elements of the free-enterprise system into the Chinese economy.Under his leadership, China acquired a rapidly growing economy, rising standards of living, considerably expanded personal and cultural freedoms, and growing ties to the world economy. Deng also left in place a mildly authoritarian government that remained committed to the one-party rule even while it relied on free-market mechanisms to transform China economically. Source. Learn more.
What will remain of Trumpism going forward?
Dec 18, 2020 29 min

What will remain of Trumpism going forward?

Joe Biden was declared the next president of the United States over a month ago now, but Donald Trump has not yet conceded his defeat. Claiming voter fraud, he has launched legal battles to try to undo the results of the election, to no avail. What mechanisms, institutions and narratives has he used? And to what long term effects? In this episode, we’re joined by Professor Timothy Snyder (Yale University) and Ivan Krastev (Centre for Liberal Strategies and IWM) to understand what will remain of Trumpism going forward and how it will impact democratic legitimacy in America. Democracy in Question? is brought to you by: • The Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna: IWM • The Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy in Geneva: AHCD • The Excellence Chair and Soft Authoritarianism Research Group in Bremen: WOC • The Podcast Production Company Earshot Strategies Follow us on social media! • Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna: @IWM_Vienna • Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy in Geneva: @AHDCentre Subscribe to the show. If you enjoyed what you listened to, you can support us by leaving a review and sharing our podcast in your networks! BIBLIOGRAPHY • Ivan Krastev & Stephen Holmes. (2019). The Light that Failed: A Reckoning, London: Penguin. • Ivan Krastev. (2017). After Europe, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017. • Ivan Krastev. (2014). Democracy Disrupted: The Politics of Global Protest, Philadelphia: University of Pensylvania Press, 2014. • Timothy Snyder. (2018). The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America, New York: Tim Duggan Books. • Timothy Snyder. (2017). On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century, New York: Tim Duggan Books. • Timothy Snyder. (2015). Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning, New York: Tim Duggan Books. GLOSSARY What is gerrymandering? Gerrymandering is a way that governing parties try to cement themselves in power by tilting the political map steeply in their favor. The goal is to draw boundaries of legislative districts so that as many seats as possible are likely to be won by the party’s candidates. Learn more.
‘Soft authoritarianism’, a new face of electoral democracy?
Dec 03, 2020 25 min

‘Soft authoritarianism’, a new face of electoral democracy?

A new kind of elected leader has emerged across the globe: one who rules with a large parliamentary majority and with a claim to democratic legitimacy, but who uses power to hollow out democracy from the inside. So is such ‘soft authoritarianism’ a new face of electoral democracy? Professor John Keane (University of Sydney) helps us dissect this pervasive pattern of new despotisms and their strategies of rule. Democracy in Question? is brought to you by: • The Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna: IWM • The Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy in Geneva: AHCD • The Excellence Chair and Soft Authoritarianism Research Group in Bremen: WOC • The Podcast Production Company Earshot Strategies Follow us on social media! Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna: @IWM_Vienna Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy in Geneva: @AHDCentre Subscribe to the show. If you enjoyed what you listened to, you can support us by leaving a review and sharing our podcast in your networks! BIBLIOGRAPHY • The New Despotism. (2020). • Power and Humility: The Future of Monitory Democracy. (2018). • When Trees Fall, Monkeys Scatter: Rethinking Democracy in China. (2017). • Click here to find more of John Keane’s books. GLOSSARY What is the new despotism? (00:01:00 or p. 1 in the transcript) With this term John Keane describes governments across the globe that have mastered a combination of political tools threatening the established ideals and practices of power-sharing democracy. Casting doubt on terms like dictatorship, autocracy, fascism, and authoritarianism, Keane makes a case for retrieving the old term “despotism” to make sense of how these regimes function and endure. They mobilize the rhetoric of democracy and win public support for workable forms of government based on patronage, dark money, steady economic growth, sophisticated media controls, strangled judiciaries, dragnet surveillance, and selective violence against their opponents. They cooperate regionally and globally and draw strength from each other’s resources while breeding global anxieties and threatening the values and institutions of democracy. Source. What is soft authoritarianism? (00:01:00 or p. 2 in the transcript) The term soft authoritarianism is used to describe countries which have multiple parties and elections, but where the regime keeps the media and influential institutions on a short leash, exercising its power behind the ostensive freedom of choice. Source. What is an autocracy? (00:02:30 or p. 3 in the transcript) Autocracy is a system of government in which supreme political power to direct all the activities of the state is concentrated in the hands of one person, the autocrat, whose decisions are subject to neither external legal restraints nor regularized mechanisms of popular control. Who are Alexei Navalny and Jamal Khashoggi? (00:06:00 or p. 4 in the transcript) Alexei Navalny is a Russian opposition politician and critic of Vladimir Putin who suddenly fell ill in August 2020 during a flight in Russia. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said Navalny was exposed to the Novichok nerve agent. Western security agencies believe the Kremlin intended to kill Navalny; meanwhile the Kremlin is denying all accusations and accusing Germany of a “mass disinformation campaign”. Click here and here to learn more. Jamal Khashoggi was a US-based journalist and critic of Saudi Arabia's government, who in 2018 was murdered in the country’s consulate in Istanbul by agents of the Saudi government. Learn more. Which incident regarding the Iranian elections 2009 is John Keane referring to? (00:08:30 or p. 6 in the transcript) In 2009 John Keane, Jürgen Habermas and Richard Rorty were accused by Iranian officials to be acting as CIA and MI-6 agents who were planning to overturn the present regime by means of a ‘velvet counter-revolution’. The accusations happened just a few days after the Iranian elections, which were believed by many to have been rigged and therefore caused huge protests across the country. Click here to learn more on John Keane’s blog. What is a plutocracy? (00:16:00 or p. 10 in the transcript) A plutocracy is a country which is ruled by its wealthiest people, or a class of wealthy people who rule a country. Source. What is crony capitalism? (00:16:00 or p. 10 in the transcript) An economic system in which family members and friends of government officials and business leaders are given unfair advantages in the form of jobs, loans, etc. Source. What is a poligarch? (00:16:30 or p. 10 in the transcript) The Hungarian sociologist Bálint Magyar has a name for it: a mafia state. By Magyar’s definition, the mafia state is run by a clan—a political family—that consists of poligarchs, oligarchs, and stooges. The word “poligarch” combines “political” and “oligarchy”; the poligarchs are first endowed with political power, which they use to procure material wealth. Source. What is a speculative bubble? (00:16:30 or p. 10 in the transcript) A speculative bubble is a spike in asset values that is fueled by speculation as opposed to fundamentals of that asset class. Such a bubble is usually caused by exaggerated expectations of future growth. This speculation drive trading volumes higher, and as more investors rally around the heightened expectation, buyers outnumber sellers, pushing prices beyond what an objective analysis of intrinsic value would suggest. Eventually prices fall back down to normalized levels when the bubble pops: a period of steep decline in prices, during which most investors panic and sell out of their investments. Source.
Can liberal democracy right the wrongs of racial and gender injustices?
Nov 19, 2020 23 min

Can liberal democracy right the wrongs of racial and gender injustices?

We have recently seen millions of people taking to the streets to protest social, political and environmental injustices. Even a global pandemic couldn’t stop protesters across the world from showing their support to the Black Lives Matter movement. In this episode, we’re joined by Professor Nancy Fraser(The New School) and ask: can liberal democracy provide the distributive justice citizens seem to crave? Democracy in Question? is brought to you by: • The Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna: IWM • The Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy in Geneva: AHCD • The Excellence Chair and Soft Authoritarianism Research Group in Bremen: WOC • The Podcast Production Company Earshot Strategies Follow us on social media! Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna: @IWM_Vienna Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy in Geneva: @AHDCentre Subscribe to the show. If you enjoyed what you listened to, you can support us by leaving a review and sharing our podcast in your networks! BIBLIOGRAPHY • Nancy Fraser is currently writing a book on cannibal capitalism, which she and Shalini Randeria are starting to refer to at minute 17:30. Final book title and publication date have not been announced yet. • Feminism for the 99%: A Manifesto. (2019). Co-authored with Cinzia Arruzza and Tithi Bhattacharya. • Capitalism: A Conversation in Critical Theory. (2018). Co-authored with Rahel Jaeggi. • Contradictions of Capital and Care. (2016). New Left Review, 100. GLOSSARY What is ethnonationalism? (00:02:30 or p. 2 in the transcript) Ethnonationalism refers to the idea that legitimate membership in the nation is limited to those with the appropriate immutable, or at least highly persistent, traits, such as national ancestry, native birth, majority religion, dominant racial group membership, or deeply ingrained dominant cultural traits. Source. What is identity politics? (00:07:30 or p. 5 in the transcript) The term identity politics signifies a wide range of political activity and theorizing founded in the shared experiences of injustice of members of certain social groups. Rather than organizing solely around belief systems, programmatic manifestos, or party affiliation, identity political formations typically aim to secure the political freedom of a specific constituency marginalized within its larger context. Members of that constituency assert or reclaim ways of understanding their distinctiveness that challenge dominant characterizations, with the goal of greater self-determination. Learn more. What does identitarian mean? (00:10:00 or p. 5 in the transcript) The term identitarian often refers to supporters or advocates of the political interests of a particular racial, ethnic, or national group, typically one composed of Europeans or white people. Source. Click here to learn more about far-right Identitarian movements in Europe. What are pronatalist policies? (00:10:00 or p. 6 in the transcript) Pronatalist policies aim at encouraging a high fertility rate. Examples can include government support of a higher birthrate but also criminalization of abortions. Learn more. What is a meritocracy? (00:12:00 or p. 7 in the transcript) Meritocracy represents an ideal vision in which power and privilege would be allocated by individual merit, not by social origins. Click here to learn more about the controversies surrounding this ideal. What is Second Wave Feminism (00:12:30 or p. 7 in the transcript) Second wave feminism was a period of feminist activity and thought that began in the early 1960s and lasted roughly two decades. It began in the U.S. and quickly spread across the Western world. This wave unfolded in the context of the anti-war and civil rights movements. Learn more. What is neotraditionalism? (00:12:30 or p. 7 in the transcript) The concept of neotraditionalism breaks with notions of deeply rooted cultural essences or characterizations of static antimodern tradition. Such an approach treats seemingly historical institutions, practices, and values as subject to ongoing social and political contestation. Neotraditions serve political goals and are the subject of political contestation over the definitions of historical memory and “authentic” culture and can be useful tools for the consolidation of group identity. Source. What is cannibal capitalism? (00:17:30 or p. 10 in the transcript) Nancy Fraser uses the term cannibal capitalism to describe a self-destructive nature of capitalism, which she does not just define as an economy but as an institutionalized social order. She argues that while unwaged care and reproductive work as well as inputs from non-human nature are necessary background conditions for capitalism, capitalism “eats them up”, thus destabilizing its very own foundations of existence.
Undermining democracy by democratic means: how can we stop it?
Nov 04, 2020 26 min

Undermining democracy by democratic means: how can we stop it?

As the results of the 2020 US election are trickling in, we are taking a look at how laws - and notably electoral laws - can be used to undermine constitutional systems from within. Our guest Professor Kim Lane Scheppele (Princeton University) helps us understand how a new kind of elected leader is using their democratic mandates to take the whole system apart, how they are getting away with it and what we can do to stop it. Democracy in Question? is brought to you by: • The Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna: IWM • The Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy in Geneva: AHCD • The Excellence Chair and Soft Authoritarianism Research Group in Bremen: WOC • The Podcast Production Company Earshot Strategies Follow us on social media! Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna: @IWM_Vienna Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy in Geneva: @AHDCentre Subscribe to the show. If you enjoyed what you listened to, you can support us by leaving a review and sharing our podcast in your networks! BIBLIOGRAPHY • Kim Lane Scheppele. (2018). Autocratic Legalism. The University of Chicago Law Review, 85(2): 545-583. • Kriszta Kovács and Kim Lane Scheppele. (2018). The Fragility of an Independent Judiciary: Lessons from Hungary and Poland – and the European Union. Journal of Communist and Post-Communist Studies, 51: 189-200. • Laurent Pech and Kim Lane Scheppele. (2017). Illiberalism Within: Rule of Law Backsliding in the European Union. Cambridge Yearbook of European Law. GLOSSARY What is autocratic legalism? (00:00:00 or p. 1 in the transcript) Kim Lane Scheppele describes autocratic legalism as a process where charismatic new leaders are elected by democratic publics and then use their electoral mandates to dismantle by law the constitutional systems they inherited. These leaders aim to consolidate power and to remain in office indefinitely, eventually eliminating the ability of democratic publics to exercise their basic democratic rights, to hold leaders accountable, and to change their leaders peacefully. Learn more. What is soft authoritarianism? (00:01:30 or p. 2 in the transcript) The term soft authoritarianism is used to describe countries which have multiple parties and elections, but where the regime keeps the media and influential institutions on a short leash, exercising its power behind the ostensive freedom of choice.Source. What is autocracy? (00:02:30 or p. 2 in the transcript) Autocracy is a system of government in which supreme political power to direct all the activities of the state is concentrated in the hands of one person, the autocrat, whose decisions are subject to neither external legal restraints nor regularized mechanisms of popular control. Who is Viktor Orbán? (00:02:30 or p. 2 in the transcript) Viktor Orbán has been Prime Minister of Hungary since 2010. He also is President of Fidesz, a national conservative political party. Learn more.
Can and should Western style democracy be exported far and wide?
Oct 22, 2020 25 min

Can and should Western style democracy be exported far and wide?

The world is more formally democratic than ever before, if measured by the number of countries that have a representative form of government. But how viable is the Western model of liberal democracy as it travels to, and is transplanted in, different countries around the world? In this episode Professor Laurence Whitehead (Oxford University) and Dr. Yanina Welp (Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy, Graduate Institute, Geneva) examine these issues against the background of the trajectories of Latin America’s turbulent experiences with democracy and populism. Show Notes Learn more about: • Our guest Yanina Welp • Our guest Laurence Whitehead • Our host Shalini Randeria The Democracy in Question Podcast is brought to you by: • The Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna: IWM • The Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy in Geneva: AHCD • The Excellence Chair and Soft Authoritarianism Research Group in Bremen: WOC • The Podcast Production Company Earshot Strategies Follow us on Social Media! Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna: @IWM_Vienna Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy in Geneva: @AHDCentre Follow Yanina Welp on Social Media: @Welpita Subscribe & Support! If you enjoyed what you listened to, you can support us by leaving a review and sharing our podcast in your networks! Bibliography • Check out Yanina’s and Laurence’s new book: The Politics of Recall Elections • Whitehead, Laurence. (2010). Biology, Politics, and Democracy. Taiwan Journal of Democracy, 6(2). • Whitehead, Laurence. (2019). Temporal Models of Political Development: In General and of Democratization in Particular. In Democracy under Threat (pp. 23-44). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. Glossary What is modernization theory? (00:02:30 or p. 2 in the transcript) A central claim of modernization theory is that economic development, cultural change, and political change go together in coherent, and to some extent, predictable patterns. Once a society starts to industrialize, according to modernization theory, a variety of related changes become almost inevitable, such as urbanization and bureaucratization (explained below), and eventually, changing gender roles. […] The classic versions of modernization theory were deterministic, with the Marxist version tending toward economic determinism, and the Weberian version sometimes tending toward cultural determinism. Source: Ronald Inglehart, in International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences , 2001. Click here to learn more. What is bureaucratization? German sociologist Max Weber (1864-1920) argued that the growth of the population being administered, the growth in complexity of the administrative tasks being carried out, and the existence of a monetary economy requiring a more efficient administrative system were all preconditions for the emergence of bureaucracy in modern societies. As a result of the development of communication and transportation technologies, a more efficient administration became not only possible but demanded by the public. Weber argued that this shift was accompanied by an increasing democratization and rationalization of culture and that this resulted in public demands for a new administrative system that treated all humans equally. Learn more. What happened in 1949? (00:04:00 or p. 3 in the transcript) In 1949 The Federal Republic of Germany (popularly known as West Germany) was formally established as a separate nation, which marked the effective end to any discussion of reuniting East and West Germany. When did Evo Morales become president of Bolivia? (00:09:00 or p. 6 in the transcript) Evo Morales served as the President of Bolivia from 2006 to 2019. He was Bolivia’s longest-serving president and its first indigenous president. In 2019 he announced his resignation after weeks of intense protests sparked by a dispute over the results of the October 20 election. Learn more. What is partitocrazia? (00:10:30 or p. 7 in the transcript) Partitocrazia, also known as particracy or partitocracy, is a term strongly coined by Italian political scientist Mauro Calise. It is often used pejoratively to describe a form of government in which the political parties are the primary basis of rule rather than the citizens, individuals or corporations. Learn more. In which context was the Chilean constitution written? (00:19:30 or p. 12 in the transcript) The current Chilean constitution was written in 1980, during the time of a military dictatorship in Chile and so is seen by many to lack legitimacy. Learn more. What is clientelism? (00:23:30 or p. 14 in the transcript) Clientelism is a political or social system based on the relation of client to patron with the client giving political or financial support to a patron (as in the form of votes) in exchange for some special privilege or benefit. Source. Click here to learn more.
American democracy: a Trumpian blip or a deeper malaise?
Oct 08, 2020 25 min

American democracy: a Trumpian blip or a deeper malaise?

America is split into apparently irreconcilable political tribes and led by a highly divisive President who is upending democratic norms. The country is also being shaken by demonstrations against racial injustice and a severe economic downturn wrought by the mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic. Is American democracy having a momentary crisis or is it facing an existential threat? Professor Timothy Snyder (Yale University) joins us to investigate. Further readings: Timothy Snyder’s books The Road to Unfreedom (2018) and Our Malady: Lessons in Liberty from a Hospital Diary (2020)Timothy Snyder’s article on Trump’s ‘Delay the election’ tweet in the Washington PostIf you have any questions or feedback, you can email us at [email protected] This podcast is produced by Richard Miron and Anouk Millet from Earshot Strategies.
Introducing Democracy in Question
Sep 24, 2020 2 min

Introducing Democracy in Question

Liberal democracies are under unprecedented strain from within and without. Join renowned social anthropologist Shalini Randeria and leading scholars for an exploration of the challenges democracies are facing around the world. Subscribe now!
Democracy in Question?
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