In the latest “A View from Afar” podcast Selwyn Manning and I explore what can be called the era of restive politics in national and international affairs. We review recent political dynamics in the US, UK, Brazil, Italy, Iran and the PRC to highlight that in the post-pandemic world, public disgruntlement, resentment and frustration has less to do with ideology and more to do with governments failing to deliver on, much less manage popular expectations of what the State should provide to the polity. The issue is one of competence and responsiveness rather than ideological predilection.
This is true for authoritarian regimes as well as liberal democracies (hence the choice of a small-N “most different” comparative survey of case studies), but the remedies are all too often offered by populist demagogues who see political opportunity in the restive moment. You can find the podcast here.
An excellent discussion, thank you. The comments about democracy, and the teaching of civics in school (how long we have heard that argument, but nothing done!) seemed to us particularly pertinent. I do think there is a lot of taking democracy for granted in many democratic nations, we forget the basic freedoms it brings. Its ‘fragile’ nature highlighted by more than one commentator lately.
The rundown on China also greatly interesting and enlightening. And here we were, thinking Xi’s re-election and semi-permanent installation as leader were a sign of strength. Not so! It shows up the great weakness of authoritarian regimes, succession.
Thanks so much to you both :-)
It was a bit difficult to offer even thumbnail analyses of six cases but we thought that focusing on restive politics was a way of tying them together (more or less). I agree that liberal democracy is under siege and that the lacks of civics education is a large part of that. Ironically, there is a large academic literature on the demise of democratic regimes but policy-makers seem to pay no heed to it. Sadly, when advanced liberal democracies show signs of institutional sclerosis, hyper partisanship, corruption/favoritism/patronage/nepotism/lobbying dominance and a general restive nature amongst the voting public, then it is not surprising that populist demagogues in those countries and in later developing or mature democracies would take advantage of the window of opportunity.