The past ten years have seen the rise of autocrats in many countries around the world. Renowned author Moisés Naím, a Distinguished Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, analyzes the threats to democracy in conversation with journalist Matthew Bishop.
“Institutions that we thought were permanent, untouchable, unmovable and secure, proved to be fragile”, Naím observes, who examined the erosion of democracy in his recent book The Revenge of Power.
“The past decade has seen the ascent of leaders in a style of doing politics that in the book I call the three Ps: populism, polarization and post-truth”, Naím explains.
“What we have seen”, he continues, “is leaders that get to power through more or less valid elections, but the moment they get in power, they start undermining democracy by limiting, weakening the controls.”
Naím sees this play out in countries like India, Hungary, Thailand and Venezuela, but also the United States.
Technology platforms play an important role in this process: they create an environment that helps to spread “post-truths” but often fail to take responsibility, Naím says.
“I do want them to abandon the notion that they are just bystanders, that they are just allowing free expressions to thrive.”
The tragedy of the Ukraine war also has “some silver linings” in Naím’s view – because Russian President Vladimir Putin “has done wonders for the brand of democracy.”
In addition, “the war allows Europe to discover that they are a superpower, without realizing it”, Naím says. “They are a superpower, except that they did not act as one. And that requires unity and a shared capacity.”