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Posts Tagged ‘Democracy’

The Impact of Technology on Democracy

Posted by hkarner - 13. November 2018

Date: 12-11-2018
Source: The Wall Street Journal

Two former U.S. government officials also discuss the responsibilities private companies have to their users and the greater public

Questions have been raised about the effect technology is having on our political systems.

Capitol Hill has put Silicon Valley under the microscope.

With U.S. intelligence agencies continuing to raise concerns about foreign meddling in U.S. elections through online social platforms, technology executives have been called to account. In September, Facebook Inc. Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter Inc. Chief Executive Jack Dorsey testified at a Senate hearing on what their companies were doing in response to foreign trolls and bots ahead of the November midterm elections. Regulators and consumer-advocacy groups have also raised concerns about the responsibility of large tech companies like Google Inc. to protect the vast amounts of user data they hold.

To assess the impact technology is having on our political systems, as well as what responsibilities private companies have to their users and the greater public, The Wall Street Journal turned to Nuala O’Connor, president and chief executive of the Center for Democracy and Technology and the former chief privacy officer in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and Beth Simone Noveck, director of the Governance Lab and professor in technology, culture and society at New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering. Prof. Noveck previously served as the U.S. deputy chief technology officer in the Obama administration.

Edited excerpts follow.

A golden age?
WSJ: What do you think is the biggest threat that technology poses to our democracy today? What do you view as its greatest contribution? Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Can American Democracy Come Back?

Posted by hkarner - 8. November 2018

Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate in economics, is University Professor at Columbia University and Chief Economist at the Roosevelt Institute. His most recent book is Globalization and Its Discontents Revisited: Anti-Globalization in the Era of Trump.

America’s ideals of freedom, democracy, and justice for all may never have been fully realized, but now they are under open attack. Democracy has become rule of, by, and for the few; and justice for all is available to all who are white and can afford it.

NEW YORK – The United States has long held itself up as a bastion of democracy. It has promoted democracy around the world. It fought, at great cost, for democracy against fascism in Europe during World War II. Now the fight has come home.

America’s credentials as a democracy were always slightly blemished. The US was founded as a representative democracy, but only a small fraction of its citizens – mostly white male property owners – were eligible to vote. After the abolition of slavery, the white people of America’s South struggled for nearly a century to keep African-Americans from voting, using poll taxes and literacy tests, for example, to make casting a ballot inaccessible to the poor. Their voting rights were guaranteed nearly a half-century after the enfranchisement of women in 1920. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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How Democracy Ends by David Runciman review – what Trump and Corbyn have in common

Posted by hkarner - 25. Juni 2018

Date: 24-06-2018
Source: The Guardian

A wonderful, contrarian book captures Twitter-era politics and the danger of allowing democracy to be eroded from within

After Greece’s 2015 referendum, ‘some have argued the government caved in the face of what amounted to a silent coup’.

“Democracy dies in darkness” runs the slogan on the Washington Post masthead, but if democracy really is dying around us, its demise has never been so loudly heralded nor so brightly lit. Even before Donald Trump’s emergence as a presidential candidate, it was clear that the global trend away from authoritarian regimes to democratic ones had slowed down; his rise was accompanied by a barrage of authors’ warnings that we are heading back into the 1930s. Never have the last days of Weimar seemed so worthy of study. Historians have developed a nice sideline in self-help manuals for a life of underground resistance to tyranny.

David Runciman’s bracingly intelligent new book is both a contribution to this debate and a refutation of it. How Democracy Ends shares the widespread sense that representative democracy is not doing well, but argues powerfully against screaming fascism at every turn. History, as Runciman states at the outset, does not repeat itself. The challenge he sets himself is to use the past to see what has happened to democracy today, in particular to diagnose its ailments, without assuming that the only alternative is the one imprinted on our collective memory.

The most successful democratic politicians are the ones who try to turn parties into social movements Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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After decades of triumph, democracy is losing ground

Posted by hkarner - 16. Juni 2018

Date: 14-06-2018
Source: The Economist

What is behind the reversal?

IN A glass case at the Diyarbakir Bar Association are a striped shirt, dark coat and coiled belt. They belonged to the former chairman, Tahir Elci, a lawyer who was murdered in 2015 amid clashes between the Turkish army and Kurdish separatists. He was standing by the Four-Legged Minaret, a 500-year-old landmark in the ancient city, calling for peace. Someone shot him in the head. No one knows who killed him. The government blames Kurdish terrorists. Many Kurds blame the government. After Elci’s death, the army pounded the rebel-held part of Diyarbakir to rubble. The debris, including body parts, was heaped onto trucks and dumped by a river. Locals are scared to talk about any of this.

Barely a decade ago, Turkey was a budding democracy and aspired to join the European Union. Now it is galloping towards dictatorship. In 2016 army officers tried to mount a coup, putting tanks in the streets, bombing parliament and nearly assassinating the president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. It was quickly scotched. Mr Erdogan launched a purge. Over 200,000 people, mostly suspected members of the Gulen movement—the Islamist sect said to have led the failed putsch—were jailed or sacked. Anyone could be arrested for having attended a Gulenist school, holding an account at a Gulen-owned bank, or even possessing $1 bills, which the government says were a mark of Gulenism.

Millions of Turks are now terrified of their president. However, plenty admire him for protecting them from the Gulenists. Adem, an estate agent in Istanbul, congratulates Mr Erdogan for “cleaning away the enemies within”—echoing a government slogan. He says, of the purge’s victims: “They’ve been arrested because they’ve done something wrong.” He adds: “In America if you steal state secrets they put you in the electric chair, don’t they?” Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Wie demokratisch ist der Euro?

Posted by hkarner - 12. Juni 2018

Dani Rodrik is Professor of International Political Economy at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. He is the author of The Globalization Paradox: Democracy and the Future of the World Economy, Economics Rules: The Rights and Wrongs of the Dismal Science, and, most recently, Straight Talk on Trade: Ideas for a Sane World Economy.

SAN SERVOLO, ITALIEN – Italiens Präsident lehnte kürzlich die Ernennung des Euroskeptikers Paolo Savona zum Finanzminister einer Regierung der Parteienallianz zwischen Fünf-Sterne-Bewegung und Lega Nord ab. Nun stellt sich die Frage, ob er damit die Demokratie in seinem Land schützte oder schwächte. Abgesehen von verfassungsrechtlichen Beschränkungen im speziell italienischen Kontext, geht es bei dieser Frage im Kern um demokratische Legitimität. Die schwierigen Probleme in diesem Zusammenhang müssen auf prinzipielle und angemessene Weise angegangen werden, wenn die Gesundheit unserer liberalen Demokratien wiederhergestellt werden soll.

Der Euro stellt eine vertragliche Verpflichtung dar, aus der es im Rahmen der geltenden Spielregeln keine klare Austrittsmöglichkeit gibt. Präsident Sergio Mattarella und seine Verteidiger weisen darauf hin, dass ein Euro-Austritt im Wahlkampf, der die populistische Koalition an die Macht brachte, nicht zur Debatte stand und dass mit Savonas Ernennung eine Finanzmarktkrise und wirtschaftliches Chaos gedroht hätten. Mattarellas Kritiker hingegen argumentieren, dass er seine Autorität überschritten und den Finanzmärkten damit ermöglicht habe, sich gegen die Ernennung eines Ministers einer vom Volk gewählten Regierung zu stellen. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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The EU Needs Less Technocracy and More Democracy

Posted by hkarner - 16. Mai 2018

Date: 15-05-2018

Source: Foreign Affairs By Catherine De Vries and Kathleen R. McNamara

Subject: How Choice Can Save Europe

The European Union, bruised and battered by years of political and economic crises, is at a crossroads. In a recent speech to the European Parliament, French President Emmanuel Macron warned that today’s political divisions in Europe are like “a European civil war.” Although the decade-old eurozone crisis has faded from public view, the ongoing refugee crisis, Hungary’s and Poland’s descent into illiberalism, and the aftershocks of the Brexit vote continue to divide the continent. In this context, it is not surprising that the EU itself has become an increasingly politicized topic among voters, many of whom have come to doubt the competence and integrity of their political and financial masters in Brussels and at home. Although support for a full-blown exit from the EU still finds only limited public support, Euroskepticism has moved from the fringe to the mainstream.

Yet there is a way out of Brussels’ current predicament. It starts with recognizing that both Macron’s EU speeches and the broader debates between the pro-EU camp and hard-core Euroskeptics rest on a false dichotomy of the EU as a choice between “in and out,” between blind support for the European project and further integration or a retreat into nationalism. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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John Weeks – Politics of Monetary Policy and Why Progressives Prefer to Tax & Spend

Posted by hkarner - 12. Mai 2018

Thanks to M.R.

One of the most important victories of neo-liberalism was banning serious fiscal policy by democratically elected governments to deal with economic crises, relegating this power to monetary policy of purportedly independent, yet unelected, central banks. The result has been increasing inequality. As john Weeks points out, change means reinstating fiscal policy as a tool of government and democracy.

John Weeks is Professor Emeritus at SOAS, University of London, and associate of Prime Economics

 The recent article Richard Murphy raised fundamental issues that should guide all progressive policy making.  Perhaps the most fundamental of these is the role of fiscal and monetary policies.  He makes the fundamental point that democratically accountable governments implement fiscal policy, while almost without exception the agents of monetary policy, central banks, are either unaccountable in law or in practice.

Neoliberalism is the route by which we reached this inversion of policy making, the ascendency of the unaccountable over representative and democratic.  Since the late 1970s the ideologues of economic policy have relentlessly propagandised against fiscal policy and in favour of monetary policy, with astounding success.  Even some putatively progressive organisations endorse the neoliberal ideology that central banks, not elected governments, should serve as the initiators of economic policy.  The so-called QE for the People is an example of the allegedly progressive version of central bank supremacy, a petition for which I endorsed in a moment of insufficient analysis. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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China and the Future of Democracy

Posted by hkarner - 11. Mai 2018

Barry Eichengreen is Professor of Economics at the University of California, Berkeley, and a former senior policy adviser at the International Monetary Fund. His latest book is The Populist Temptation: Economic Grievance and Political Reaction in the Modern Era.

China’s growing geostrategic influence, rising soft power, and, above all, continued economic success suggest that other countries will see it as a model to emulate. But will China’s power and prosperity really boost the global appeal of its authoritarian model?

LONDON – Will China soon be the world’s leading economic and geopolitical power? Has it achieved this status already, as some suppose? And if the answer to either question is yes, what are the global implications for the future of democracy?

The indicators of China’s rise are clear. China is poised to overtake the United States in terms of aggregate GDP within two decades, although forecasting precisely when depends on what one assumes about the growth rates of the two economies and the exchange rate used to convert renminbi into dollars. China is already the world’s leading trading economy, and its push to internationalize the renminbi has resulted in a growing share of that trade being settled in its own currency, potentially challenging the dollar’s position as the leading global currency. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Why replacing politicians with experts is a reckless idea

Posted by hkarner - 6. Mai 2018

Date: 05-05-2018
Source: The Guardian

In the age of Trump and Brexit, some people say that democracy is fatally flawed and we should be ruled by ‘those who know best’. Here’s why that’s not very clever. By David Runciman

Democracy is tired, vindictive, self-deceiving, paranoid, clumsy and frequently ineffectual. Much of the time it is living on past glories. This sorry state of affairs reflects what we have become. But current democracy is not who we are. It is just a system of government, which we built, and which we could replace. So why don’t we replace it with something better?

This line of argument has grown louder in recent years, as democratic politics has become more unpredictable and, to many, deeply alarming in its outcomes. First Brexit, then Donald Trump, plus the rise of populism and the spread of division, has started a tentative search for plausible alternatives. But the rival systems we see around us have a very limited appeal. The unlovely forms of 21st-century authoritarianism can at best provide only a partial, pragmatic alternative to democracy. The world’s strongmen still pander to public opinion, and in the case of competitive authoritarian regimes such as the ones in Hungary and Turkey, they persist with the rigmarole of elections. From Trump to Recep Tayyip Erdogan is not much of a leap into a brighter future.

There is a far more dogmatic alternative, which has its roots in the 19th century. Why not ditch the charade of voting altogether? Stop pretending to respect the views of ordinary people – it’s not worth it, since the people keep getting it wrong. Respect the experts instead! This is the truly radical option. So should we try it? Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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‘Edge of Chaos’ Review: A System in Need of an Overhaul

Posted by hkarner - 30. April 2018

Date: 29-04-2018
Source: The Wall Street Journal

Democratic capitalism is a peerless engine of economic growth, but it threatens to break down if current trends continue. George Melloan reviews “Edge of Chaos” by Dambisa Moyo.

Economist Dambisa Moyo

Dambisa Moyo, a Zambian-born economist, made a name for herself in 2009 with “Dead Aid,” arguing persuasively that foreign aid has preserved poverty in Africa instead of relieving it. Now she is embarked on an even larger project, proposing reforms in democracy itself in the developed world.

Ms. Moyo is a dedicated democratic capitalist. After earning a master’s degree at Harvard in public administration and a Ph.D. in economics at St. Antony’s College, Oxford, she did a turn at Goldman Sachs before becoming a full-time author. She serves on several corporate boards.

She writes that economic “growth matters—powerfully—to ordinary people” and that democratic capitalism has “proven itself, historically, to be a peerless tool for growth. . . . Nevertheless, the system urgently needs an overhaul if we are to jump-start the global economy.” She is concerned about the world’s rising debt level and about threats to international trade: “Established measurements suggest that globalization is now slowing, or worse, receding.” The diminution of global trade, the collapse of cross-border capital flows and the mounting constraints on the movement of labor—separately or together, she believes, these developments will result in deteriorating living standards and geopolitical unrest. There is even the danger, she adds, of “a global economic death spiral.”

If you overlook the hyperbole, Ms. Moyo’s diagnosis is worth pondering. The anti-immigration backlash in Europe and the United States, not to mention Donald Trump’s trade sparring and protectionist leanings, are unsettling. But what she offers up as a solution—she calls it her Blueprint for a New Democracy—sounds a little dodgy as well. To her credit, she offers the arguments both for and against her 10 reform proposals. Most of the proposals focus on shoring up America’s democratic functions, but they could easily apply, in broad principle, elsewhere. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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