The People vs. Democracy: Why Our Freedom Is in Danger and How to Save It (英語) ハードカバー – 2018/2/5
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“We can no longer assume that liberal democracy is the wave of the future… This splendid book is an invaluable contribution to the debate about what ails democracy, and what can be done about it.”
―Michael J. Sandel, author of Justice
“Everyone worried about the state of contemporary politics should read this book.”
―Anne-Marie Slaughter, President of the New America Foundation
The world is in turmoil. From Russia, Turkey, and Egypt to the United States, authoritarian populists have seized power. As a result, democracy itself may now be at risk.
Two core components of liberal democracy―individual rights and the popular will―are increasingly at war with each other. As the role of money in politics soared and important issues were taken out of public contestation, a system of “rights without democracy” took hold. Populists who rail against this say they want to return power to the people. But in practice they create something just as bad: a system of “democracy without rights.” The consequence, as Yascha Mounk shows in this brilliant and timely book, is that trust in politics is dwindling. Citizens are falling out of love with their political system. Democracy is wilting away. Drawing on vivid stories and original research, Mounk identifies three key drivers of voters’ discontent: stagnating living standards, fear of multiethnic democracy, and the rise of social media. To reverse the trend, politicians need to enact radical reforms that benefit the many, not the few.
The People vs. Democracy is the first book to describe both how we got here and what we need to do now. For those unwilling to give up either individual rights or the concept of the popular will, Mounk argues that urgent action is needed, as this may be our last chance to save democracy.
“An acute analysis of the rise in populist nationalism and the challenges to democracy in our time. If you’ve not heard of Yascha Mounk before, you definitely will in the future.”―Francis Fukuyama
“Brilliant… Mounk’s argument takes us back full circle to the trepidations of the Founders, who empowered the people to select their own leaders but whose ultimate authority would be mediated and constrained by independent forces within a constitutional framework. As this superb book makes clear, we need both the liberal framework and the democracy, and bringing them back together is the greatest challenge of our time. The last 68 pages describe what we can do to pull ourselves back from the brink…take notes and start your to-do list. It’s important.”―Mickey Edwards, Los Angeles Times
“Democracy is going through its worst crisis since the 1930s. The number of countries that can plausibly be described as democracies is shrinking. Strongmen are in power in several countries that once looked as if they were democratizing, notably Russia, Turkey and Egypt. The United States―the engine room of democratization for most of the post-war period―has a president who taunted his opponent with chants of ‘lock her up’ and refused to say if he would accept the result of the election if it went against him. But what exactly is the nature of this crisis? And what is driving it? Yascha Mounk’s The People vs. Democracy stands out in a crowded field for the quality of its answers to these questions. Mounk provides an admirable mixture of academic expertise and political sense… A chastening read for all sorts of reasons.”―The Economist
“One of the many things to recommend this clarifying book is its international scope. As much as Donald J. Trump might fancy himself one of a kind, Mounk argues that the American president is part of a global wave. Populist forces are surging in Britain, Germany, Italy and France; in places like Venezuela, Hungary, Turkey and Poland they have already settled in, set up house and gotten around to the next step: gutting institutional safeguards in order to shore up their rule.”―New York Times
“Mounk’s extraordinary new book…provides a clear, concise, persuasive, and insightful account of the conditions that made liberal democracy work―and how the breakdown in those conditions is the source of the current crisis of democracy around the world.”―The Guardian
“A trenchant survey from 1989, with its democratic euphoria, to the current map of autocratic striving… Mounk…points out that one reason for the increasing indifference to democratic rule and the rising enthusiasm for authoritarian alternatives, particularly among young people, is the widening historical distance from any direct experience of the horrors of German Fascism or Soviet Communism.”―David Remnick, New Yorker
“Mounk, who writes with great verve and clarity, makes good use of survey data to illustrate the declining support for democracy across the west. He pours cold water on the idea that idealistic young people will prove to be the saviors of democracy. On the contrary, less than a third of millennials in America believe that it is extremely important to live in a democracy, compared to over two-thirds of older Americans… Mounk’s analysis of the strains within liberal democracy is acute and revealing.”―Gideon Rachman, Financial Times
“The comprehensiveness of Mounk’s analysis of populism’s advance is valuable, helping get beyond narratives that focus on a few especially colorful or nasty political figures or movements.”―Thomas Carothers, Washington Post
“[Mounk’s] book provides important insights into the present political moment.”―Ari Berman, New York Times Book Review
“According to Yascha Mounk, the tide that washed Donald Trump into the White House has been rising for decades, over much of the world, and it may not leave our form of democracy standing… Mounk convincingly explains the populist storm surge and suggests ways in which we might arrange democracy’s sandbags.”―Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
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非常に平易な英語と文書で、非常に読みやすいが、その内容は本当に深い。現在の状態をDemocratic Desconsolidationの状態だと捉え、自由と民主主義が併存している状態は決して安定したものでもなく、illiberal democracy = democracy without right の方向や、undemocratic liberalism = rights without democracyの方向や、dictatorship の方向に向かっていると分かりやすくかつ鋭く分析している。
I've found a synthesis of extraordinary worth. It is this book.
Something to bear in mind throughout the book is the meaning of the phrase "liberal democracy". The opposite of "liberal" in this case is "illiberal"; this has nothing to do with "liberal" versus "conservative" political views, but goes back to the original meaning of "liberal": suitable for free people (Latin "liberalis"). Illiberal democracies risk becoming oligarchies or dictatorships, whether of the right or the left.
The 24 page introduction covers much of the same ground as the rest of the book, but I'm not sure it adds much value. If you find it annoying or boring, then skip to Part One and Part Two, where the author presents and develops the same ideas in a more complete and coherent way.
Part Three, "Remedies", looks at ways to counteract trends such as toxic expressions of nationalism and extreme concentration of wealth to create an environment in which democracy can function more effectively. All of these suggestions deserve serious discussion and study, but a few might need some adjustment to avoid unintended consequences. For example, Mounk suggests that higher taxes on undeveloped land would encourage more housing development. While that may be true, land use policy should also consider environmental impacts ranging from destruction of wetlands to the effect of deforestation on climate.
“A quarter century ago, most citizens of liberal democracies were very satisfied with their governments and gave high approval ratings to their institutions; now, they are more disillusioned than they have ever been.” Liberal democracy in demise.
“…a liberal is somebody who is committed to basic values like freedom of speech, the separation of powers, or the protection of individual rights.
“A democracy is a set of binding electoral institutions that effectively translates popular views into public policy.
“A liberal democracy is simply a political system that is both liberal and democratic—one that both protects individual rights and translates popular views into public policy.”
He realizes “liberal regimes can be undemocratic despite having regular, competitive elections. This is especially likely to happen where the political system is so skewed in favor of the elite that elections rarely serve to translate popular views into public policy.”
His basic argument is the liberal democratic institutions are under attack in the Western world and may be lost to threatening forms of populists occurring here and across the EU – what is becoming a common theme in many works.
The high point of his work is his rich familiarity with the detailed struggles going on in a swath of countries, both in what has been happening and what could happen under the speeding demise of liberal and democratic forms, Hungary, Poland, Turkey and America being prime examples of countries where liberal democracy is being threatened.
He allows America, pre-Trump, as undemocratic liberalism -- where the political system is so skewed in favor of the elite that elections rarely serve to translate popular views into public policy – but treats his election as a populist victory. France, Germany, Netherlands, and Great Britain are in processes of transition along with others where established political lines are falling away.
“Unless the defenders of liberal democracy manage to stand up to the populists, illiberal democracy will always be in danger of descending into outright dictatorship.”
No mention of globalization or Asia but attributes 80% of lost employment in USA to technology, the rest to trade.
His solution to the ills of undemocratic liberalism ‘is to abolish tutelary institutions, to boot elites out of power, and to put the people back in charge.’
But how to get from here to there?
If those in power serving the elite are not replaced by leaders committed to liberal democracy, as defined, its opposite will rule and he has no theme for how that change will occur; the most embarrassing being a drift off into reinstalling ‘Civics’ in the class room.
He notes that each new generation has less faith in democracy as they see it and less faith in prevailing political structures and cries: The Young Won’t Save Us.
Here he may be wrong. The Millianians seeing where liberal democracy has vanished are pushing for new directions supporting more progressive or radical alternatives as opposed to Mounk’s basic theme of repairing what was virtuous. “…they are much more likely to vote for antisystem parties in many countries around the world.”
Seeing ‘the system’ as broken, why not?
The work is informative in many aspects on what has happened but weak on why and its remedies.
Here he could have referenced another political scientist Sheldon S. Wolin who warned of all this in Politics and Vision: Continuity and Innovation in Political Thought, especially his 2004 expanded edition with corporate control (“Democracy Incorporated”) incompatible with liberal democracy as the author defines it and all predating the rise of the populist revolt.
Interesting but a little tedious and perhaps better without his family history.
Read if not following events in other countries; here it is useful.