The China Model – Advantages of the One Party Meritocratic State?

China’s success in recent decades has been remarkable. Economic reforms have lifted hundreds of millions of people out of severe poverty, the greatest reduction in poverty ever[1]. Beneath China’s spectacular economic progress, however, the Chinese Communist Party retains much of its authoritarian nature.[2] But while the Party still relies on many of the classic tactics of authoritarianism to maintain its grip on power, supporters argue that the China Model has some critical advantages over the model of liberal democracy.[3]  Continue reading

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How Kleptocracy Shapes Our World

In many countries around the world today, governments are designed not primarily to govern but to serve the personal enrichment of ruling elites. Kleptocracy is the term used to describe such ‘government by thieves’, whereby top political elites systematically raid state resources with impunity.[1] Kleptocracy is enabled by the absence of democratic checks and balances on those in power. Kleptocratic governments undermine the rule of law, subjugate the courts and media, and deploy state security services to enrich the ruling elite and pacify the population.[2]  Kleptocracy is largely responsible for creating and perpetuating many of today’s global crises, including acute poverty and hunger, war, religious extremism, and global inequality.  Continue reading

The Populist Authoritarian – Hollowing Out Democracy From Within

Through the rise of populism, those who feel they lost out in the culture wars that have been fought democratically across Europe and the United States in recent decades are fighting back, and this time they do not feel the need to be restrained by the rules of democracy.

Democracy has been in a global recession for most of the last decade, and the recession is deepening. For three decades, from the mid-1970 to the mid-2000s, the world witnessed a spread of democracy never before seen in history. During this time, the proportion of democratic states doubled, from around 30 percent of the world’s independent states in 1974 to about 60 percent in 2006. [1] Since 2006, however, the spread of democracy has ceased, and many existing democracies have reverted to authoritarianism. This authoritarian resurgence is also happening in long-established Western democracies which are experiencing a threat not seen since the 1930s – the choice by large swathes of their electorates to vote for less democracy. [2]     Continue reading

The Solution to Democracy’s Crisis is More Democracy

A version of this article appears in the May edition of Village magazine.

Whatever else it is, Trump’s chaotic post-truth presidency is a gift for psychologists. Under their code of ethics, psychologists are not allowed to make pronouncements about the mental health of public figures. Despite this rule, thousands of psychotherapists in the U.S. have come together in Citizen Therapists Against Trumpism to warn about Trump’s dubious mental health. Psychology professors from top U.S. universities have also broken ranks to voice their clinical opinion that Trump suffers from a dangerous mental disorder.    Continue reading

Demons and angels: strongman leaders – democracy or mob rule?

Those who struggle for freedom across the world know that free elections, the rule of law, human rights, freedom of the press, and equality regardless of race, religion or sexual orientation are the pillars of democratic systems that protect us from a minority who would subjugate us and turn us against one another for their personal gain. Democracy matters because it is all that stands between us and the Hitlers, Stalins, Maos and Pol Pots that live among us still. Continue reading here.