21ST CENTURY CITIZENSHIP
Is democracy dying?
Scholars and writers tackle a pressing question at an MIT Starr Forum
Speakers at the Feb. 26 Starr Forum, "Is Democracy Dying?" Left to right: Melissa Nobles, Daron Acemoglu, Maria Ramirez, and Yascha Mounk.
Is democracy dying, in the U.S. and around the world? Why or why not? And if so, what can anyone do about it?
Those vexing questions were at the heart of a public forum on the MIT campus Monday night, as scholars and journalists examined the current pressures on democratic systems of rule and suggested some measures to protect them. Held in the Stata Center, the event drew a standing-room only crowd of more than 300.
“Is democracy dying? Well, I don’t know, but it’s certainly having a rough ride,” said Daron Acemoglu, the Elizabeth and James Killian Professor of Economics at MIT and co-author, with James Robinson, of the 2012 book, “Why Nations Fail.”
“We’re seeing attacks on the very norms and rules that we need for liberal democracy to be stable,” said Yascha Mounk, a lecturer on political theory at Harvard University and author of the new book, “The People Versus Democracy: Why Our Freedom Is in Danger and How to Save It.”
And as the panelists noted, the erosion of democracy is international trend, given a recent withering of rights and norms in Hungary, Kenya, Poland, Russia, Turkey, and Venezuela, among other countries — as well as contentious debate about governmental norms and the balance of powers in the U.S.