Citizenship Responsibilities in a Democracy

Citizenship in Liberal Democracy The idea of liberal democracy awkwardly combines two very distinct ideas into a larger normative project. Liberalism and democracy align in their values, but they diverge in their approach to citizenship. In a democracy the citizen becomes central to government. The people become sovereign. However, liberalism asserts the need to protect... Continue Reading →

Can Migration Facilitate Democratization?

Migration and Democracy Those who say immigration has become a prominent political issue likely understate its importance. Its difficulty involves multiple dimensions surrounding economic, political, and cultural concerns. However, most consider it purely as a domestic political issue. Americans consider its effects on America. Australians consider its effects on Australia. In the rare moments when... Continue Reading →

How to Use Science in a Democracy

Science in a Democracy In the classic work Democracy and its Critics, Robert Dahl said Plato made the most compelling case against democracy. Most of us recall Plato imagined a republic where a philosopher king ruled over an orderly utopia. For most of us it’s difficult to take seriously the idea of a philosopher king... Continue Reading →

Charismatic Movements and their Leaders

Charismatic Movements Last week’s focus on democratic backsliding incorporated many different themes from polarization to personalist leaders. This week’s focus narrows its scope to discuss charismatic leaders and their movements. The emergence of a charismatic leader often brings about democratic erosion. However, many of us struggle to understand why people so easily fall under the... Continue Reading →

Democratic Backsliding: How it Happens and Why

Democratic Backsliding I don’t like to write about American politics. Anything I say becomes interpreted through the lens of partisanship rather than as political theory. At the same time, it’s become difficult to discuss the global decline of democracy without mentioning the United States. Of course, it does help to limit the discussion to specific... Continue Reading →

How Compromise Shapes Life in Putin’s Russia

Compromise and Ambition Where do we draw the line between politics and the other parts of our life? It’s funny how anybody focused on politics distinguishes only between the political and everything else. The compartmentalization does not extend into economic, religious, and other social aspects of the world. For the political thinker the line is... Continue Reading →

Why the Armies of Arabia Remain Weak Institutions

Armies of Arabia Early in the book, Armies of Arabia, Zoltan Barany writes, “Perhaps the most important and conspicuous attribute that all Arab armies in republics and monarchies share is their remarkable ineffectiveness on the battlefield.” This is where most of us need to start. Barany seeks to understand why the Gulf monarchies field ineffective... Continue Reading →

Party Systems in 50 Different Democracies

Thomas Piketty is best known for the publication of Capital in the Twenty-First Century. It changed how the intellectual community thought about the problem of inequality. Despite the fact it may not have changed many opinions, it is one of the most influential books on economics in the past quarter century. It provided a language... Continue Reading →

Institutional Weakness as a Threat to Democracy

  What is Institutional Weakness? Over the past few years political science has woken up to the importance of state capacity in the construction of stable governments. Unfortunately, scholars have not paid the same level of attention to the strength of institutions. It’s easy to take for granted that improvements in state capacity will naturally... Continue Reading →

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