George Lawson – Democracy Paradox
Episode 13: erica chenoweth
This is the first conversation in a three part episode arc called “Resistance, Revolution, Democracy.” In this interview, Erica Chenoweth explains why civil resistance is more effective than violent resistance, why it is more likely to bring about democracy, and the strengths and challenges every campaign faces.
This interview sets the stage for the next two episodes. It explains some of the concepts and ideas of civil resistance scholars before the podcast moves on to ideas about revolutions (George Lawson) and transitions to democracy (Jonathan Pinckney).
Erica Chenoweth is best known for her groundbreaking empirical studies which demonstrate how nonviolent resistance is more effective than violent resistance in bringing about regime change. This insight requires a paradigm shift in political strategy that transforms how we consider revolutions and democratization. The Democracy Paradox will dive even deeper into these ideas over the next two episodes.
Erica is the Berthold Beitz Professor in Human Rights and International Affairs at Harvard Kennedy School and a Susan S. and Kenneth L. Wallach Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Chenoweth directs the Nonviolent Action Lab at Harvard’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, where they study political violence and its alternatives. Foreign Policy magazine ranked Chenoweth among the Top 100 Global Thinkers in 2013 for their efforts to promote the empirical study of nonviolent resistance. Her forthcoming book is Civil Resistance: What Everyone Needs to Know.
Listen at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher or wherever you find your podcasts. You can find Civil Resistance: What Everyone Needs to Know at Amazon or your local library. The music of Apes of the State is featured in the introduction and outro . You can find their music on Spotify or Bandcamp.
episode 12: Jill Long thompson
Jill Long Thompson has had a distinguished career in public service. She served three terms in Congress and was part of the Clinton and Obama administrations. Her new book The Character of American Democracy reflects on her experiences to explain the importance of ethics and character in politics.
Our conversation discusses how character and ethics affect public policy for leaders, but also the importance of character for citizenship in a democracy. The discussion spans many different perspectives with plenty of real world examples. The conversation concludes with a story from Jill about the character of the late Congressman John Lewis.
Jill Long Thompson teaches ethics at Indiana University in Bloomington. She is the author of The Character of American Democracy. From 1989 until 1995 she represented Indiana’s 4th district in the House of Representatives. In 1995 Bill Clinton appointed her Under Secretary of Agriculture for Rural Development where she served until 2001. President Obama nominated her to the Farm Credit Administration Board in 2009 where she served as the board chair and CEO from 2012 until 2014.
Listen at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher or wherever you find your podcasts. You can find The Character of American Democracy: Protecting Our Past, Protecting Our Future at Amazon or your local library. The music of Apes of the State is featured in the introduction and outro . You can find their music on Spotify or Bandcamp.
episode 11: Juliet B. schor
Larry Diamond once referred to the internet as a form of “liberation technology.” But his most recent writings have warned of a “postmodern totalitarianism.” Most of the democracy literature on the internet has focused on social media and artificial intelligence. However, the sharing economy has had a similar impact on capitalism and society.
Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb have become familiar brands, but there are numerous commercial and nonprofit platforms. Juliet and I discuss how these networks have transformed work in the twenty-first century. Our conversation spans topics such as class identity, racial discrimination, and the challenges of regulation.
Juliet Schor is the author of After The Gig: How the Sharing Economy got Hijacked and How to Win it Back. She is currently Professor of Sociology at Boston College. Before joining Boston College she taught in the Department of Economics at Harvard University. Schor is an internationally known scholar of labor, consumption, and environment. She is a former Guggenheim and Radcliffe Institute Fellow, recipient of the Leontief Prize in Economics, and the Public Understanding of Sociology Award from the American Sociology Association. She is the Chair of the Board of the Better Future Project.
Listen at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher or wherever you find your podcasts. You can find After The Gig: How the Sharing Economy got Hijacked and How to Win it Back at Amazon or your local library. The music of Apes of the State is featured in the introduction and outro . You can find their music on Spotify or Bandcamp.
episode 10: agnes cornell and svend-erik skaaning
“History… is far too important a topic to be left just to historians,” wrote Dankwart Rustow. The methods, techniques, and theories of political science are meant to have relevance in any historical era. So it is refreshing to hear Agnes Cornell and Svend-Erik Skaaning discuss democracy during the interwar period. They examine the critical period between two world wars as political scientists (along with Jørgen Møller) using a combination of statistical analysis and case studies in their new book Democratic Stability in an Age of Crisis: Reassessing the Interwar Period.
The conversation explains the reasons why many democracies proved successful during these years. Many key concepts are discussed such as the importance of civil society, democratic legacies, and party system institutionalization. Their study incorporates the fate of Latin American countries alongside the traditional examination of Europe. Successful outliers like Czechoslovakia and Finland are considered. Like always the conversation blends research, historical examples, current events, and political theory into a sophisticated, but accessible discussion.
Agnes Cornell is Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Gothenburg. Svend-Eric Skaaning is Professor of Political Science, Aarhus University. Along with Jørgen Møller they are the authors of Democratic Stability in an Age of Crisis: Reassessing the Interwar Period from Oxford University Press.
Listen at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher or wherever you find your podcasts. You can find Democratic Stability in an Age of Crisis: Reassessing the Interwar Period at Amazon or your local library. The music of Apes of the State is featured in the introduction and outro . You can find their music on Spotify or Bandcamp.
episode 9: John Gastil and Katherine Knobloch
John Gastil and Katherine Knobloch are the authors of Hope for Democracy: How Citizens Can Bring Reason Back into Politics. Their book explains an experiment in democracy called the Citizens’ Initiative Review (CIR). It incorporated the idea of delegative democracy into the initiative referendum process in Oregon. Everyday citizens were brought together to discuss initiatives before they were put before the voters. Their aim was to write a statement to inform voters in clear language about the effects of the proposal.
Our conversation explores the idea of delegative democracy. Gastil and Knobloch believe it is able to supplement direct democracy in ways to inform voters and enhance citizen engagement. This episode brings to life how ordinary people have been able to bring ideas to life and make a small difference in how democracy is shaped. But it also introduces how a contemporary reform fits into wider theories about democracy.
John Gastil (PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison) is a professor in the Department of Communication Arts and Sciences and Political Science at the Pennsylvania State University, where he is a senior scholar at the McCourtney Institute for Democracy. Gastil’s research focuses on the theory and practice of deliberative democracy, especially how small groups of people make decisions on public issues. The National Science Foundation has supported his research on the Oregon Citizens’ Initiative Review, the Australian Citizens’ Parliament, jury deliberation, and cultural cognition. His other recent books include Legislature by Lot and his debut novel, Gray Matters. He was born in San Diego, California, where his father ran for US Congress in 1976 and his mother followed suit in 1992-94. Raised as a Quaker, it’s fitting that he now lives in State College, Pennsylvania.
Katherine R. Knobloch is an assistant professor and the associate director of the Center for Public Deliberation (CPD) in the Department of Communication Studies at Colorado State University. At the CPD Knobloch trains undergraduates in civic engagement and facilitation and works with community partners to design and implement public forums. She studies the development, evaluation, and impact of deliberative public processes, with a focus on how the emergence of deliberative institutions alters communities and individuals. Her research has appeared in numerous academic publications, including Politics, American Politics Research, and the Journal of Applied Communication Research. She received her doctoral degree from the University of Washington and her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Louisiana State University. She was born and raised in the bayou region of Southern Louisiana and developed her interest in political structures while watching her father and grandfather navigate small-town electoral politics. She currently lives in Fort Collins, Colorado with her husband and two young children.
Listen at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher or wherever you find your podcasts. You can find Hope for Democracy: How Citizens Can Bring Reason Back into Politics at Amazon or your local library. The music of Apes of the State is featured in the introduction and outro . You can find their music on Spotify or Bandcamp.
episode 8: Yael Tamir
Yael Tamir is the author of Why Nationalism. We discuss Liberalism, Cosmopolitanism, and, of course, Nationalism. Since the end of World War II, Nationalism has largely been associated with the far right. Tamir believes this is a mistake and reimagines a path for the left to reclaim Nationalism through a realignment with Liberalism. Our conversation explores political philosophy and current events. The topics range from Catalan Separatism to Isaiah Berlin. She gives a beautiful story of how Isaiah Berlin became the advisor for her dissertation near the end of the podcast.
Professor Yael (Yuli) Tamir is the President of Shenkar College and an adjunct professor at the Blavatnik School of Government, Oxford University. Representing the Labor Party she served as Israel’s Minister of Immigration (1999-2001) and as Minister of Education (2006-2009), as well as the deputy speaker of the Knesset and a member of the Finance committee, the Education committee and the Security and Foreign Affairs committee.
Listen at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts. You can find Why Nationalism at Amazon or your local library. This is the first episode with the new introduction and outro which features music from Apes of the State. You can find their music on Spotify or Bandcamp.
Episode 7: joshua j. dyck and edward L. lascher, jr.
In the seventh episode Joshua (Josh) and Edward (Ted) Lascher join me for a conversation about what they describe as “Direct Democracy’s Secondary Effects.” Their recent book Initiatives without Engagement focus on the effects of popular initiatives. An initiative is a distinct form of referendum where citizens propose a law or policy change typically through a petition. Our conversation explores their findings with examples from California and Washington states. We go on to discuss the Brexit referendum and the country best-known for the use of referendum, Switzerland. Our discussion of the impact of initiatives on minority rights is the most consequential part of the conversation.
Joshua Dyck is an Associate Professor at the University Massachusetts Lowell. He is the director of the internationally recognized UMass Lowell Center for Public Opinion. His research focuses on elections and public opinion. Edward Lascher is Chair of the Department of Public Policy and Administration at California State University, Sacramento. His research has focused on direct democracy, causes of life satisfaction, academic writing, and college student success.
Listen at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts. You can find Initiatives without Engagement: A Realistic Appraisal of Direct Democracy’s Secondary Effect at Amazon or your local library.
Episode 6: William S. Smith
The sixth episode features a conversation with William S. Smith. He is the author of Democracy and Imperialism: Irving Babbitt and Warlike Democracies. Our guest is the preeminent scholar of Irving Babbitt, an early twentieth century political theorist. Babbitt is largely underappreciated among scholar today. His masterpiece, Democracy and Leadership, was published in 1924 before the Behavioralist Revolution in Political Science. But his political ideas have tremendous influence especially among conservative scholars. The conversation discusses political theory, international relations, education, and leadership.
William S. Smith is a Senior Research Fellow and Managing Director at the Center for the Study of Statesmanship at Catholic University of America. He also has 25 years of experience in government and in corporate roles including ten years at Pfizer Inc as Vice President of Public Affairs and Policy where he was responsible for Pfizer’s corporate strategies for the U.S. policy environment.
Listen at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts. You can find Democracy and Imperialism: Irving Babbitt and Warlike Democracies at Amazon or your local library.
Episode 5: Takis Pappas
The fifth episode is a conversation with Takis Pappas, the author of Populism and Liberal Democracy: A Comparative and Theoretical Analysis. Our guest defines populism as “illiberal democracy” so the concepts of liberalism, democracy and populism are all interconnected. The discussion introduces figures from contemporary events like Viktor Orbán and Donald Trump, but it also introduces historical figures like Juan Perón and Charles de Gaulle. The idea of the “charismatic leader” becomes central to the idea of populism as a form of “democratic illiberalism.”
Listen at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts. You can find Populism and Liberal Democracy: A Comparative and Theoretical Analysis at Amazon or your local library.
Episode 4: alexander cooley and daniel nexon
This interview focuses on the latest book from Alexander Cooley and Daniel Nexon, Exit from Hegemony: The Unraveling of the American Global Order. They are seasoned international relations experts. The conversation walks through some of the key concepts introduced in the book such as Hegemony and the “Liberal World Ordering.” From there many topics are discussed such as kleptocracy, Russia and China, Viktor Orbán, and, of course, Donald Trump. The entire conversation is often couched in the context of its meaning for liberalism and democracy. It is a great listen for serious IR professionals, undergraduate students, or an interested amateur.
Alexander Cooley is the Claire Tow Professor of Political Science at Barnard College and Director of Columbia University’s Harriman Institute. Daniel Nexon is an Associate Professor in the Department of government and at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.
Listen at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts. You can find Exit from Hegemony: The Unraveling of the American Global Order at Amazon or your local library.
Episode 3: Luis Cabrera
This interview highlights the book The Humble Cosmopolitan: Rights, Diversity, and Trans-state Democracy in an interview with its author, Luis Cabrera. The conversation explores the political thought of Ambedkar, Dalit rights in India, and the implications of global citizenship. Luis Cabrera gives his thoughts on the need for international and regional institutions designed to protect the rights of minorities, but also elaborates on some important interrelated concepts like humility-arrogance and rights-duties. The discussion opens important questions about the role of human rights and democracy in a global world order.
Luis Cabrera is Associate Professor in the Griffith Asia Institute and the School of Government and International Relations at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia. His research focuses on global citizenship, human rights, and justice.
Listen at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts. You can find The Humble Cosmopolitan: Rights, Diversity, and Trans-state Democracy at Amazon or your local library.
Episode 2: Marlene Mauk
This episode explores Marlene Mauk’s book Citizen Support for Democratic and Autocratic Regimes. It is unsettling to consider how some citizens prefer autocratic regimes to democracy. But this becomes an important discussion because we explore the ways democracies can reform to maintain or increase their level of support. It also considers the ways authoritarian regimes stifle opposition voices and use propaganda to increase their own popular support
The conversation explores some of the major figures of political science such as Robert Dahl, Seymour Martin Lipset, and Arend Lijphardt. This is a great way to introduce some of the larger concepts of political science while exploring new research and ideas. The prospects of democracy in Sub-Saharan Africa are also mentioned with an emphasis its enormous potential for democratization as a region.
Marlene is a postdoctoral researcher at Gesis, working with the European Data Laboratory for Comparative Social Research (EUROLAB) and Gesis Training.
Episode 1: Hannah Arendt
This podcast explores the ideas of Hannah Arendt in her classic work The Origins of Totalitarianism. It is the only episode where there is no interview. It gives me as the host an opportunity to explore some of the reasons why I created the podcast. I explore the distinctions Arendt makes between the law and the state. These are ideas I expect to continue to revisit throughout the podcast as new guests are introduced.