Archive for the ‘Democracy & Human Rights’ Category

30
Nov

Yascha Mounk is used to being the most pessimistic person in the room. Mr. Mounk, a lecturer in government at Harvard, has spent the past few years challenging one of the bedrock assumptions of Western politics: that once a country becomes a liberal democracy, it will stay that way.

His research suggests something quite different: that liberal democracies around the world may be at serious risk of decline.

Mr. Mounk’s interest in the topic began rather unusually. In 2014, he published a book, “Stranger in My Own Country.” It started as a memoir of his experiences growing up as a Jew in Germany, but became a broader investigation of how contemporary European nations were struggling to construct new, multicultural national identities.

He concluded that the effort was not going very well. A populist backlash was rising. But was that just a new kind of politics, or a symptom of something deeper?

To answer that question, Mr. Mounk teamed up with Roberto Stefan Foa, a political scientist at the University of Melbourne in Australia. They have since gathered and crunched data on the strength of liberal democracies.

Their conclusion, to be published in the January issue of the Journal of Democracy, is that democracies are not as secure as people may think. Right now, Mr. Mounk said in an interview, “the warning signs are flashing red.” Read more…

By NOV. 29, 2016

nyt.com

24
Nov

IR Club US Election Debate

Written on November 24, 2016 by Waya Quiviger in Americas, Democracy & Human Rights

ir-club-event

Written by Alejandro Pereda, MIR 2016/17 Student

The results of the US elections on November 8th were to many spectators and voters, especially among the young and middle aged constituencies, quite surprising and possibly even shocking. The so called ideological divide created during the campaign and the uncertainty of the policies of the new President-elect have created a vast confusion and left many of even specialist wandering how will the trajectory of the US politics both internal and that of the foreign affairs change in the wake of the elections and the new Presidency…Considering the still pivotal role of the US in international matters of security, trade, development and many others, how will the world in large respond, if it will react at all, to what seems to be (at least at face value) a turn back to the good old American isolationism and protectionism. Are we seeing a “right” turn in the moods of the US population following suit of the previous Brexit and other populist movements in Europe and elsewhere?

All these questions warranted comprehensive and critical analysis and in that sense, it was perfect occasion for the IE International Relations Club to organize its first event of the academic year in an attempt to start the dialogue among the IE community about the consequences of the US elections. The event which took place on November 15th at IE, asked the question of “what’s next” and also how we got there. It featured two keynote speakers – Dr. Daniel Kselman, Academic director of the MIR, who focuses in his research on democratization, economic development and political governance and Dr. Eliah Bures, who investigates intellectual conservatism as international movement. The panelist invited us to review the historical similarities of the populism’s rise in the US before with the current situation, the economic and social realities of the US in the last few decades, the overall change in global political attitudes, in an effort to understand the possible underlying causes of the results we saw. While further offering their expertise in the exploration of the practical policy decisions that the new administration will take, casting, for example doubt, on the possibility of immediate dismantling of trade deals already in place, however warning at the same time of the possibility of deterioration of the political tolerance and atmosphere in the US.  

The event then transformed rapidly into a very high quality debate with all the participants and spectators which allowed to really dig dip on the subject and review it from multiple perspective. The interest and the academic passions shown by all the participants carried the event well past the original scheduled one and a half hour and really made the conversation memorable. It was really amazing to see our fellow students and other invited guests to express unique and comprehensive perspectives and to engage with our distinguished panelist in a critical and truly collaborative discussion in not just trying to review the individual aspects but to build a holistic understanding of the issues revealed during and after the US elections and further to offer ways on how to address later what seems to become an immense field of policy debate and analysis.

IE International Relations Club would like to thank Dr. Kselman and Dr. Bures, all the guest and participants, the Campus Life team for not just making this first event possible, but making it a success! We hope this to be just first of many interesting and notable events to come from the IE International Relations Club!

15
Nov

nov16-10-55948705

My father-in-law grew up eating blood soup. He hated it, whether because of the taste or the humiliation, I never knew. His alcoholic father regularly drank up the family wage, and the family was often short on food money. They were evicted from apartment after apartment.

He dropped out of school in eighth grade to help support the family. Eventually he got a good, steady job he truly hated, as an inspector in a factory that made those machines that measure humidity levels in museums. He tried to open several businesses on the side but none worked, so he kept that job for 38 years. He rose from poverty to a middle-class life: the car, the house, two kids in Catholic school, the wife who worked only part-time. He worked incessantly. He had two jobs in addition to his full-time position, one doing yard work for a local magnate and another hauling trash to the dump.

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, he read The Wall Street Journal and voted Republican. He was a man before his time: a blue-collar white man who thought the union was a bunch of jokers who took your money and never gave you anything in return. Starting in 1970, many blue-collar whites followed his example. This week, their candidate won the presidency.

For months, the only thing that’s surprised me about Donald Trump is my friends’ astonishment at his success. What’s driving it is the class culture gap.

One little-known element of that gap is that the white working class (WWC) resents professionals but admires the rich. Class migrants (white-collar professionals born to blue-collar families) report that “professional people were generally suspect” and that managers are college kids “who don’t know shit about how to do anything but are full of ideas about how I have to do my job,” said Alfred Lubrano in Limbo. Barbara Ehrenreich recalled in 1990 that her blue-collar dad “could not say the word doctor without the virtual prefix quack. Lawyers were shysters…and professors were without exception phonies.” Annette Lareau found tremendous resentment against teachers, who were perceived as condescending and unhelpful. Read more…

Joan C. Williams is Distinguished Professor of Law and Founding Director of the Center of WorkLife Law at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.

Published in the hbr.org on Nov. 10, 2016

10
Nov

trump

Whether or not Donald J. Trump follows through on his campaign pledges to diminish or possibly abandon American commitments to security alliances such as NATO, his election victory forces nations around the world to begin preparing for the day they can no longer count on the American-backed order.

This creates a danger that derives less from Mr. Trump’s words, which are often inconsistent or difficult to parse, than from the inability to predict his actions or how other states might respond to them.

That uncertainty puts pressure on allies and adversaries alike to position themselves, before Mr. Trump even takes office, for a world that could be on the verge of losing one of its longest-standing pillars of stability.

“You’re going to see a lot of fear among America’s allies, and in some cases they may try to do something about it,” said James Goldgeier, a political scientist and the dean of American University’s School of International Service.

Mr. Trump’s election comes at a moment when rising powers are already pushing against the American-led order: China in Asia, Iran in the Middle East, and particularly Vladimir V. Putin’s Russia in Europe.

Allies in Europe or Asia, suddenly considering the prospect of facing a hostile power alone, cannot wait to see whether Mr. Trump means what he says, Mr. Goldgeier said, adding that they “will have to start making alternate plans now.”

Western European states like Germany and France “may decide they can no longer afford to take a tough stand against Putin’s Russia,” he suggested. “They may decide their best bet is to cut some kind of deal with him,” even if it means tolerating Russian influence over Eastern Europe. Read more..

By NOV. 9, 2016 ; nyt.com

4
Nov

‘Brexit is the greatest threat to national wellbeing since the war, and this will test the mettle not just of individual MPs, but of the nature and purpose of a representative democratic system.’

A momentous constitutional decision was taken by the high court of England and Wales this morning. A prime minister’s absolute power to do what they like, when they like, regardless of laws and treaties, was struck down. Theresa May cannot tear up our right to be EU citizens without the authority of parliament. Those rights were bestowed by parliamentary votes in a series of treaties. She can’t high-handedly abandon them and trigger our exit from the EU without parliament’s agreement.

Judges, wisely, do not generally want to usurp the power of elected governments to govern. Laws made by judges are a poor substitute for those made by elected MPs in parliament. But this is a matter of the profoundest constitutional importance, with deep implications, controversial whichever way they had decided. They rightly pronounced that parliament is sovereign – which is what the Brexiters claimed we were voting on, until it no longer suited them. Read more…

https://www.theguardian.com; Polly Toynbee; 3 Nov. 2016

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