Democracy Paradox

Democracy Paradox

Is it possible for a democracy to govern undemocratically? Can the people elect an undemocratic leader? Is it possible for democracy to bring about authoritarianism? And if so, what does this say about democracy? My name is Justin Kempf. Every week I talk to the brightest minds on subjects like international relations, political theory, and history to explore democracy from every conceivable angle. Topics like civil resistance, authoritarian successor parties, and the autocratic middle class challenge our ideas about democracy. Join me as we unravel new topics every week.

Episodes

August 9, 2022 34 min

There were lots of opportunities for a certain part of Ukrainian society to encounter Zelenskyy and to feel that they knew him. He was not an unknown quantity when he ran for president. So, I think that's important for us to keep in mind. I would say the so-called Western World is still discovering who he is, but his loyalty, his integrity, his ideas or his group's ideas about Ukrainian political nationhood have been in the...

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As long as people are able to cast their ballot, irrespective of the illiberalism, irrespective of all these other shortcomings, democracy, at least from a voting standpoint, has the capacity to surprise.

Neil Devotta

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Neil DeVotta is professor of politics and international affairs at Wake Forest University. His article "Sri Lanka's ...

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The US consumer system is uniquely exploitative. US consumers are exploited by American companies, by French companies, by German companies, by Chinese companies, because there aren't laws protecting consumer data privacy that extend widely across the US consumer ecosystem. The main difference with Chinese companies is that the Chinese government has established an entire framework that pressures Chinese firms to share their da...

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There are a lot of people quietly who are deeply frustrated with this war. Every rich person in Russia with one or two exceptions are frustrated with this war. I think many of the so-called liberal technocratic elites in the government are frustrated with this war. Lots of regional leaders are frustrated with this war. It's not just the vocal opposition. I think there's a quiet minority and maybe even majority that is exhau...

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I think they're really important. But I don't think that they are a complete safeguard. Certainly, when you create democracies in hard places, you want to think very carefully about what institutions you want in place and how you strengthen them. But if you get illiberal governing parties in democracies in hard places, they can run over institutions.

Scott Mainwaring

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The war is never going to really end. Because even in the most optimistic scenario where Ukraine regains its territory and it goes back to the 1991 borders, Russia is almost certainly going to present a permanent threat to Ukrainian sovereignty. I think objectively it will. But even if objectively it wasn’t, after such an invasion, you can imagine the political environment's going to treat it as one.

Lucan Way

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Democracy is a complex concept. It has to do with elections. It has to do with legislatures. It has to do with civil society organizations and courts and political styles of politicians. There's a lot packed into the concept and it's multidimensional, because some of these components don't move together.

Michael Coppedge

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Michael...

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So, at some level, a belief in democracy was necessary in Benin as in elsewhere. Support for it - Absolutely. But what's interesting in the Benin case is that you were lacking that level of political elite leadership that were committed democratic ideologues.

Rachel Beatty Riedl

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A full transcript is available at www.democracyparadox.com...

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Nehru is asked several times in those early years, ‘Aren’t you doing something which has never been done before? You are 17% literate. Half of your country is below the poverty line. Under such conditions no democracy has ever stabilize itself and perhaps has not emerged.’ And his argument repeatedly is that we shouldn't be constrained by the history of the West.

Ashutosh Varshney

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When you hear people talk in such disparaging tones, that everything is broken, that nothing is possible, you need to ask yourself, is that right? When you look around, the answer is no. There are these examples where things do go right, where people work together and create a neighborhood or a community for themselves in which they can be prosperous and build better lives. And that's really what the democratic project is all a...

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This might sound like a cliche, but in Indonesia it's really, really true. My hope rests in the Indonesian people and the voters. I mean, the voters, they show up. The voters have been the ones to defend democracy. They've been the ones to reject the most anti-pluralistic candidates, not all Indonesian voters, but a slim majority. They've been managing to do it.

Dan Slater

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Boeing is pulling out, DuPont, Erickson, Analog Devices, Bombardier. Eventually all of these things are going to cause supply and production chain issues and unemployment in Russia. So, Mr. Putin doesn't have an infinite amount of time before havoc is wrought.

Kathryn Stoner

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A full transcript is available at www.democracyparadox.com.

Kat...

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There's something natural and organic about perceiving that the people in power are out to advance their own interests. It's in part because it’s often true. Governments actually do keep secrets from the public. Politicians engage in scandals. There often is corruption at high levels. So, we don't want citizens in a democracy to be too trusting of their politicians. It's healthy to be skeptical of the state and its ...

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This bonus episode is part of a series of interviews available for monthly supporters of Democracy Paradox at Patreon. Other interviews feature guests like Julia Azari, Mila Atmos, and Bob Shrum. But more importantly you'll help the podcast cover important expenses and continue to grow. Please consider becoming a monthly supporter by clicking on the link here.

If you want to help the podcast in other ways, please email the host,...

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So, if your aim is to get inside someone's device without their permission and gather up information, you could do that using a very sophisticated commercial spyware technology like Pegasus. The latest iteration of it employs zero click technology meaning that it can target and insert itself on any device without the owner of that device even knowing or being tricked into clicking on a link. That's very powerful, because th...

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May 3, 2022 30 min

Pure economic factors or technological factors or the level of economic development or level of technological development cannot explain the diversity of levels of inequality and structure of inequality that we observe throughout history.

Thomas Piketty

A full transcript is available at www.democracyparadox.com.

Thomas Piketty is Professor at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) and the Paris School of Economics an...

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I heard a verified story of a person who made his way with his family from an occupied town listening to our broadcast, because we were telling them where it was dangerous for them to go and where it was more or less safe to go. So, radio actually saves lives. I probably cannot save lives otherwise. But I can with the help of radio.

Andriy Kulykov

Recorded on April 19th, 2022.

A full transcript is available at www.democracyparadox.com...

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So, there's actually something about the basic mechanism of democracy that does make it harder to sustain diversity. In other ways, the principles of liberal democracy are the right solution. And so, obviously my vision for the future is that of a diverse democracy. But we shouldn't be at ease about the ways in which democracy can sometimes inflame ethnic and religious tensions as well.

Yascha Mounk

A full transcript is avail...

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I think the revolutionary process has become somewhat less consequential in some ways. The ability to bring about substantive change in the wake of revolution has deteriorated for one thing. We've gained certain things as well. I mean, revolutions are no longer as violent as they once were. They're more frequent than they once were, almost more normal in terms of being part of the political landscape in a way that they were...

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It's still shocking to me to read a lot of these documents and interviews in, The Afghanistan Papers, things that most people would think are obvious. What's the plan to end the war? What benchmarks do we have to achieve so that we know we can leave? You know, none of those things were thought out or articulated.

Craig Whitlock

A full transcript is available at www.democracyparadox.com.

Craig Whitlock is an investigative repor...

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