Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Monday, July 01, 2013

Talk amongst yourselves

Well, get your students to talk to each other as they evaluate Thomas Friedman's analysis of the state of democracy in the 21st century. He's discussing illiberal democracies, transitions to post-industrial economies, and the roles of social media.

It might be interesting to have students discuss these ideas as an introductory lesson. (Take notes.) And then have them evaluate the ideas again at the end of the course. (Compare discussions.)

Takin’ It to the Streets
Why are we seeing so many popular street revolts in democracies?… Former C.I.A. analyst Paul R. Pillar… asks: “The governments being protested against were freely and democratically elected. With the ballot box available, why should there be recourse to the street?”

It is an important question, and the answer, I believe, is the convergence of three phenomena. The first is the rise and proliferation of illiberal “majoritarian” democracies…
Istanbul protest

What the protesters in Turkey, Russia and Egypt all have in common is a powerful sense of “theft,” a sense that the people who got elected are stealing something more than money: the people’s voice and right to participate in governance…

A second factor is the way middle-class workers are being squeezed between a shrinking welfare state and a much more demanding job market. For so many years, workers were told that if you just work hard and play by the rules you’ll be in the middle class. That is just not true anymore…

Finally, thanks to the proliferation of smartphones, tablets, Twitter, Facebook and blogging, aggrieved individuals now have much more power to engage in, and require their leaders to engage in, two-way conversations — and they have much greater ability to link up with others who share their views to hold flash protests…

The net result is this: Autocracy is less sustainable than ever. Democracies are more prevalent than ever — but they will also be more volatile than ever…

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At 7:45 AM, Blogger Ken Wedding said...

Katherine Heidlage wrote, "This is also a good fit if your students have read Zakaria's The Future of Freedom.

I have my students read it for summer reading. Despite it being summer reading, they all enjoy it."


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