Does Donald Trump’s foreign policy actually make sense?

After leaving allies rattled at the NATO Summit in Brussels and dodging mass protests in the UK, Donald Trump is now traveling on to meet with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki—a meeting he has said “may be the easiest of all.” Trump’s boorish behaviour in Brussels fits a now well-established pattern of attacks on democratic allies and praise for authoritarian leaders that has left the rest of the world struggling to make sense of his seemingly incomprehensible conduct. Viewed from the perspective of Trump’s possible mental state, however, his foreign policy makes perfect sense.

This article first appeared on Open Democracy Transformation.

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How Dangerous Personalities are Destroying Democracy

We are living in the age of the narcissistic leader. In this talk Ian Hughes explains how leaders with dangerous personality disorders – psychopaths and those with narcissistic and paranoid conditions – are rising to power and destroying democracy.

Democracy in Crisis and Why Democracy Matters

Educate the next generation so as to cope intellectually, morally, and politically with the messiness and complexity of the world.

            Yehuda Elkana

In developing democracy in the United States and Europe over the last few centuries, the people of both continents have forged five fundamental safeguards against the tyranny of those with dangerous personality disorders. These safeguards are: representative democracy, in which leaders are freely elected and freely removed by the people; the separation of church and state, which limits the ability of tyrants to wield the power of the state on behalf of sectarian causes; social democracy, in which the state has the responsibility to redistribute wealth in order to minimise poverty and ensure social cohesion; pooled sovereignty, which reduces nationalist sentiment and deprives tyrants of a rallying cry to arms; and the protection of individual human rights in law, including the rights of minorities, which deprives tyrants of their most vulnerable scapegoats. Although the mix of safeguards varies between the United States and Europe, and between countries in Europe, they together characterise the Western democratic model.   Continue reading

Trump and Nuclear Weapons

While Americans debate Trump’s domestic policies on health and tax cuts, the rest of the world worries that a leader with Trump’s volatile temperament has his finger on the nuclear button.

Today, nuclear weapons occupy the headlines in a way not seen since the Cuban Missile Crisis. On the positive side, this year’s Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to ICAN, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, an advocacy group that promoted the historic treaty to prohibit these weapons that was reached at the United Nations in July 2017. Although the treaty has been dismissed by the world’s nine nuclear-armed powers, its proponents believe that it will help to build a groundswell of support for the destruction of all nuclear weapons as the only way to guarantee that they will never be used again. This article first appeared on Open Democracy Transformation.    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