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The Shocking Paper Predicting the End of Democracy

The Shocking Paper Predicting the End of Democracy

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  • I wonder if this can be attributed to human evolution in its current form. Are we too focused on what's on hand to worry about the bigger picture?

    'Democracy is hard work and requires a lot from those who participate in it. It requires people to respect those with different views from theirs and people

    I wonder if this can be attributed to human evolution in its current form. Are we too focused on what's on hand to worry about the bigger picture?

    'Democracy is hard work and requires a lot from those who participate in it. It requires people to respect those with different views from theirs and people who don’t look like them'. The recent agitation in Hongkong is evidence of the hard work needed to maintain hope of democracy when it is challenged. Are we ready for that? 🤔 Maybe not.

    I relate to this statement and have seen this happen in India, 'Unlike democracy, which makes many demands, the populists make just one. They insist that people be loyal. Loyalty entails surrendering to the populist nationalist vision. But this is less a burden than an advantage. It’s easier to pledge allegiance to an authoritarian leader than to do the hard work of thinking for yourself demanded by democracy'.

    I would still like to be optimistic that all is not lost, though it might be a long shot. 🙄

  • This analysis is dangerously thin in several ways:

    1) The assumption that the human brain is not equipped for cooperative self-governance does not follow from any given political trend; if you look only at the period 1965-1975, you could say, “The United States has made clear its people will never wage

    This analysis is dangerously thin in several ways:

    1) The assumption that the human brain is not equipped for cooperative self-governance does not follow from any given political trend; if you look only at the period 1965-1975, you could say, “The United States has made clear its people will never wage war again,” which would be an absurd conclusion to draw from one anti-war movement.

    2) Democracy does not just “go into decline” and not recover... Germany is a much better democracy now than it was in the 1930s; West Germany was already by the 1960s; great progress can be made very quickly.

    3) In the case of the US, the immediate predecessor to our own “right wing populist” was one of the great examples of a principled, ethical head of government who understood the obligation to be honorable in public service.

    4) It does not matter how we are “wired”; the protection of human rights, health and wellbeing requires that we develop more resilient open democratic systems. In a sense, democracy exists to help us deal with the more base tendencies that would have us resort to less just, less democratic approaches to problem-solving.

    5) Social media are not “more democracy”; they are the illusion of more democracy and have instead operated as engines of radical power imbalance. (We need to fix this.)

    6) We learn from every mistake; what we are learning by this period of political corruption is that it is possible, that it is dangerous, that it can happen anywhere, and there are specific levers that allow us to counter and eliminate corruption.

    7) There will always be pressures against democracy, because there will always be people who do not wish to be ethically constrained, or who are too ignorant of history to avoid repeating it, or to understand that they must.

    8) Democracy is hard, but also simple: its simplicity is rooted in the insight that the protection of rights is paramount to any quest for personal or factional profit or advantage.

    9) No government can have legitimacy that does not answer to the people and to the law.

    10) Psuedo-populist right-wing extremist governments are notoriously and obviously horrible at providing sound public service; this always leads to resistance and eventually the fall of the regime.

  • It's been three years since the Obama years and the optimism that it ushered in. So why this defeatism?

    Well, during the Obama administration, the right wing was just as pessimistic. We just didn't hear from them.

    Maybe if social scientists were to step back from their political biases, we'd have a

    It's been three years since the Obama years and the optimism that it ushered in. So why this defeatism?

    Well, during the Obama administration, the right wing was just as pessimistic. We just didn't hear from them.

    Maybe if social scientists were to step back from their political biases, we'd have a realistic understanding of where democracy is headed to.

    We have a bunch of depressed people with pulpits delivering their opinions with an authority that's undemocratic.

    Rosenberg is not wrong about "western style democracy" having severe birth pangs. He's forgotten that the cold war obliterated young democracies one by one in the 1950s and 60s. Americans and the USSR both undermined fledgling democracies, recently independent from colonizers, replacing them with insane despots.

    With the fall of the USSR, there was a rise of democracies once again, a second independence, this time from cold war colonizers. We have reset the clock and we are at the time of the American and French revolutions once again. Give the new democracies time to mature - a hundred years after the American experiment with democracy began, the Civil War threatened to set us back. We survived and thrived.

    The awful part of the Internet is that these dry, useless discussions come to light when they usually wouldn't have. People grasping for understanding because their politics is under threat.

    Ironically, this *is* healthy democracy, people from all sides having a debate. The only problem is that political pundits - in this case, pessimistic political psychology pundits - bring the "authority" of science and philosophy into the discussion. We didn't vote for this unhealthy imbalance. It's as disconcerting as the fake news nonsense.

  • We are more democratic in the west than ever. Literally everything is over thought, debated, re-thought, lied about, re packaged and delivered to the masses. It’s inescapable.

    The rise of stupid is actually what is being mistaken for democratic thought. Critical thought is being subverted for a lack of simple common sense.

  • I hope he is wrong. I don't know enough to criticise his work but history does show us that sections of academia do normalise far-right views with “science”/“evidence” when those views gain traction.

    It's ironic that he says the elites are losing control when it is very much the elites who seem to gain

    I hope he is wrong. I don't know enough to criticise his work but history does show us that sections of academia do normalise far-right views with “science”/“evidence” when those views gain traction.

    It's ironic that he says the elites are losing control when it is very much the elites who seem to gain the most when trust in institutions decays.

    This crisis of trust is happening after decades of capitalism remodeling the very essence of humanity. Every aspect of life has been turned into a commodity which require us to compete. It's striped down society in favour of individualism and selfishness. How is democracy supposed to work when our empathy for others has been purposefully destroyed?

    But all is not lost. The very place where Rosenberg presented his paper is proof of that. Portugal refused to accept austerity. It did the opposite and implemented socialist policies instead. As a result its economy is growing and it's one of the few success stories in Europe post-financial crisis. And at the core of socialism is … democracy.

  • Of all the things wrong with this article, three are the most glaring.

    First is the confusion between democracy and self-rule. Democracy is majoritarian, self-rule is libertarian. That means they're not just different things, but actually largely contradictory.

    Second is the lack of self-reflection

    Of all the things wrong with this article, three are the most glaring.

    First is the confusion between democracy and self-rule. Democracy is majoritarian, self-rule is libertarian. That means they're not just different things, but actually largely contradictory.

    Second is the lack of self-reflection apparent in the acknowledgement that conservatives are finding authoritarianism increasingly appealing, but not seeing that the same is true for progressives. Elizabeth Warren's "economic patriotism", and Bernie Sanders's anti-immigrant policy proposals are examples, but there are plenty more.

    And third was the suggestion that academics are somehow against elitism, which actually made me chuckle out loud.

  • Very interesting read. Rise of populism across the world has definitely raised concerns in many minds that is democracy will come back or this new wave will expand to other countries? Time will tell.

    However wonder if the economies who have not yet migrated to democracy, will they ever experience it

    Very interesting read. Rise of populism across the world has definitely raised concerns in many minds that is democracy will come back or this new wave will expand to other countries? Time will tell.

    However wonder if the economies who have not yet migrated to democracy, will they ever experience it or continue their path while an era comes to its end? Also in the long run, will it be scary and lead to more fights across nations as the intolerance will increase?

  • While I agree with most of it, i think it undervalues the impact of inequality between the elites and the rest. Elites always rule but they do by virtue of keeping the populace happy, fed and with their basic needs covered. When libertarians concentrate power and forget that they represent others is when the system collapses.

  • Interesting and uncomfortable read. I tend to agree with the more optimistic commenters. Even when democracies succumb to authoritarian leaders, there remain the "elites" and the students!

  • Maybe the most depressing/compelling piece I’ve read about the future of democracy in a while. Oof.

    That said, the point isn’t that big-D “Democracy” is under siege, but that representative democracy is. So it’s not that you need to teach all people how to sift through all this complex information

    Maybe the most depressing/compelling piece I’ve read about the future of democracy in a while. Oof.

    That said, the point isn’t that big-D “Democracy” is under siege, but that representative democracy is. So it’s not that you need to teach all people how to sift through all this complex information and start making these difficult decisions themselves now that technology has empowered them more than ever before (which is impossible), but more that you need to teach the people who are vying for their votes (i.e. part of those “elites” he talks about here) how to reach them and convince them to put their faith back in elected officials. In other words, it’s two things: elites getting better at convincing people to put their faith in them (tough given the checkered track record they have, but not impossible) and convincing people who now have Wikipedia in their pockets that it’s ok to say “I don’t know” and allow people who have more time and resources to deal with thorny political problems the time and space to actually do so.

  • Will and Ariel Durant had already written and spoken about this in their work: in "The Lessons of History" They go over several examples of how every regime (and economic system) contains in itself the roots of its downfall... But human beings ultimately crave freedom... So I'm not buying into the whole

    Will and Ariel Durant had already written and spoken about this in their work: in "The Lessons of History" They go over several examples of how every regime (and economic system) contains in itself the roots of its downfall... But human beings ultimately crave freedom... So I'm not buying into the whole "end of democracy" spiel...

  • The overall problem with these theories is that, as with science fiction, they are conceived through the prism of contemporary life and therefore reflect back the best and worst of the current age. Remember Samuel P. Huntington's "The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order"? This

    The overall problem with these theories is that, as with science fiction, they are conceived through the prism of contemporary life and therefore reflect back the best and worst of the current age. Remember Samuel P. Huntington's "The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order"? This was predicated on contradicting Francis Fukuyama's "The End of History and the Last Man". The former Soviet Union is very much making its mark on the world and the alleged partnership between the Islamic world and China has failed to emerge. China is in its ascendancy, but both books failed to take into account the digital age and how swiftly China would adapt, and in many places, exceed Western technology. Small " d" democracy is on the ropes but how much of that is because like all living and growing social or scientific theories it's just responding to the changing pace of economic and social growth? Are the tech titans now any less ruthless than the robber barons of the 19th century? Look how the people of the industrial age in many fledgling democracies of the time responded to the inequities of those times. It's early, don't write off democracy just yet.

  • Hard for me to believe overall that people naturally have a desire to be racist. Yes I do think people have a natural tendency for the lazy/simple answer, but negative natural political viewpoints is questionable.

    My question is: Is democracy having too much option the issue or not having enough option

    Hard for me to believe overall that people naturally have a desire to be racist. Yes I do think people have a natural tendency for the lazy/simple answer, but negative natural political viewpoints is questionable.

    My question is: Is democracy having too much option the issue or not having enough option? The Democratic and Republican parties aren’t offering what we want a lot of the time. There is no middle ground and there is no cohesiveness in the party actions, with the Democrats and Republicans both still scrambling to find out what their parties truly stand for these days.

    With people needing simple, maybe a democracy needs more options but have the people who are standing behind those pedestals of the parties be clear and true to what they are offering.

  • As I read that "right-wing populism is like cotton candy", offering "a quick sugar high", I had to think of instant gratification / delay discount vs. delayed gratification. When experiencing emotional distress, the quick way out is far more tempting than hard work and long-term patience.

    By the way

    As I read that "right-wing populism is like cotton candy", offering "a quick sugar high", I had to think of instant gratification / delay discount vs. delayed gratification. When experiencing emotional distress, the quick way out is far more tempting than hard work and long-term patience.

    By the way, not surprising then climate change denial is mostly found in combination with right-wing populism.

    The question is, can the pendulum swing back into balance before giving in to defeatism?

  • Judging by concerns raised in the comments democratic thinking is far from dead. I strongly disagree with the concept that democracy is managed by the elites. I suggest that part of the problem is that it has been a failure of the so called elites to ensure a reasonably fair distribution of income

    Judging by concerns raised in the comments democratic thinking is far from dead. I strongly disagree with the concept that democracy is managed by the elites. I suggest that part of the problem is that it has been a failure of the so called elites to ensure a reasonably fair distribution of income , wealth, opportunities and risk that has led to the high levels of distrust and anger. As an example there has been examples recently of academic nepotism and corruption. Trust in mainstream media is an all time low as the news services are seen as shills for political parties and corporate owners.

    Major political parties seem to abandon the center but while the fringe are controlling the message the center may just have the popular support. Low voter turnout may just be a symptom of distrust and moderates who either recapture their parties or form new ones can still form an inclusive popular government.

    Recent events in Germany and the UK seem to indicate that populism in not that popular. I remain hopeful

  • People want simple answers to complex questions and that’s our downfall. Life and it’s problems are complicated and we need leaders who can help us navigate the complexity but also a populace that understands that it needs to play a part beyond the simple vote.

  • Only two of the points noticeably missing from the Rosenberg argument are 1) the fact that current left wing dictatorships/authoritarian regimes such as China and North Korea use the very tactics listed by Rosenberg with greater frequency and effect; historically, see the rise of the Bolsheviks in the

    Only two of the points noticeably missing from the Rosenberg argument are 1) the fact that current left wing dictatorships/authoritarian regimes such as China and North Korea use the very tactics listed by Rosenberg with greater frequency and effect; historically, see the rise of the Bolsheviks in the old Soviet Union as just one example and 2) Balkanization of a national population which can certainly occur with unfettered illegal and legal immigration resulting naturally in a proliferation of self-interested tribal goals and desires historically results in a breakdown of civil discourse and peace often leading to civil war and or authoritarian dictatorship. (See Yugoslavia for the Balkanization piece. ) These are facts. Also, People have always been lazy, and there have always been rumors and disinformation, social media not required. And the people control by direct vote in this country the full Congress and the selection of the Executive. Like Franklin said, It’s a republic, if we can keep it.

  • True Democracy is a number game, it believes people collectively should rule, and all people, not just the elites and the experts, as everyone has that sacred one equal voice.

    Modern academics, analysts, journalists and politicians are either ignorant of this or have intentionally twisted the definition

    True Democracy is a number game, it believes people collectively should rule, and all people, not just the elites and the experts, as everyone has that sacred one equal voice.

    Modern academics, analysts, journalists and politicians are either ignorant of this or have intentionally twisted the definition to romanticise their own political ideals.

    Both Rosenberg and the writer aren't talking about the Decline of true Democracy, they are referring to the faux democracy they believe in - i.e. The Liberal democracy they fear is on the decline.

    Don't get me wrong, I am not talking about the morality (right or wrong) or the pragmatism (good or bad) of any political system. But am more infuriated by the distortion of basic political theory.

    The growing populism, anti elite and anti expert sentiments maybe very bad but they are inherently more in line with the true democratic principles.

    Rosenberg anamay or may not be right in the analysis, but he isn't talking about true Democracy!

  • It’s interesting how history repeats itself even in the most impossible of ways. This decade is one of enlightenment and transparency. The illusion of choice in politics is bound to unveil sooner or later as people get more and more informed. We might be reaching a point where we enter the age of “watchmen”.

  • Only if Trump is re elected and Moscow Mitch with the GOP party stay in control we will watch our democracy end before our eyes.

  • Yes., the stats show something; however besides such fake news, social media allowed more people to look at the news and think. Elitism is not necessarily a democracy, and if we were to follow its definition, greater number of people are involved in the decision making process (election&informaion) now

    Yes., the stats show something; however besides such fake news, social media allowed more people to look at the news and think. Elitism is not necessarily a democracy, and if we were to follow its definition, greater number of people are involved in the decision making process (election&informaion) now, so technically speaking, as a society, we are democraric more than everI, I believe.

  • Democracy that consists of the ill-educated (under-educated) general public that is biased in all sorts of ways will forever be self destructive. For it to function well is simply too ideal for the general public to manage, and as the governing infrastructure of the democratic system corrupts, there

    Democracy that consists of the ill-educated (under-educated) general public that is biased in all sorts of ways will forever be self destructive. For it to function well is simply too ideal for the general public to manage, and as the governing infrastructure of the democratic system corrupts, there are decreasing incentives for the well educated individuals to participate in it with sanity.

    Technological shifts and innovations are simply too fast for infrastructural adaptations, including that of the education system.

    We gotta slow down and take care of things for the long run, or the majority of the people would have to hit rock bottom and come back.

    But can we still slow down at the cost of economy? Are we not late?

  • Democracy works best when it's slow. The Internet speeds things up.

  • At least there is now research backing it

  • Fascinating and undoubtedly controversial analysis. Social media has led to world where many people have a voice in our democracy whether they understand its complexity or not. Democracy is hard work- many may prefer a simpler populist autocracy- or so argues this political scientist.

  • It may have been discussed at the conference but it didn’t make it into the report: one must weave in the shifting Western (and Global) economic dynamics that are in play as well. Populism works because it preys on fear, not just democratic complexity or lazy intellection.

  • Glad someone finally said it. I've been wondering if democracy had a shelf life for some time. Great story!

  • I agree with the psychology that is used. But like many psychologists he overlooks sociology and political economy. The very real threat from populism is also driven by rising inequality inside countries like the US and UK. Trump supporters may be 'deplorables' seeking simplistic answers but they are

    I agree with the psychology that is used. But like many psychologists he overlooks sociology and political economy. The very real threat from populism is also driven by rising inequality inside countries like the US and UK. Trump supporters may be 'deplorables' seeking simplistic answers but they are also people that globalization has screwed over ... Ignore that and you fertilise the soil to grow this populist crop.

  • I've been saying that democracy is flawed for a couple of years now. I couldn't agree more with this paper

  • Democracy is desired by all human beings that is not easy to get, we must fight for it.

  • Basically the larger a country is, the bigger the fear that it’s people can’t mentally handle a democracy. In America, I’d expect we’d have another civil war before giving up, though.

  • This feels like one of those situations where humans know a negative process is happening, know what we need to do to stop it, but decide not to / are unable to stop it. Climate change comes to mind in a similar fashion.

  • 🔥

  • Hum. Interesting.

  • I disagree with his US assessment. Trump lost the popular vote in 2016 and will again in 2020. In 2018 there was a nice House cleaning too. Now that doesn't mean Trump won't win in 2020