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28 abr 2021

Why the Future is Democratic - by WVSA Vice-President Christian Welzel

Democracy and especially its liberal principles are said to be fast receding as various forms of authoritarianism surge. In truth, the long-term future for democracy in the world is much brighter than most imagine. In essence, “modernization theory” is proving correct. Economic development brings expanding levels of education, information, travel, and other experiences that enhance human knowledge, awareness, and intelligence. This “cognitive mobilization” inspires and empowers people to act with purpose and think for themselves, rather than accept received authority and wisdom. In other words, development brings value change that is highly conducive to the emergence and persistence of liberal democracy.

Why the Future is Democratic - by WVSA Vice-President Christian Welzel

Original publication in the Journal of Democracy

Recent accounts of democratic backsliding neglect the cultural foundations of autocracy-versus-democracy. To bring culture back in, this article demonstrates that 1) countries’ membership in culture zones explains some 70 percent of the total cross-national variation in autocracy-versus-democracy; and 2) this culture-bound variation has remained astoundingly constant over time—in spite of all the trending patterns in the global distribution of regime types over the last 120 years. Furthermore, the explanatory power of culture zones over autocracy-versus-democracy is rooted in the cultures’ differentiation on “authoritarian-versus-emancipative values.” Therefore, both the direction and the extent of regime change are a function of glacially accruing regime-culture misfits—driven by generational value shifts in a predominantly emancipatory direction. Consequently, the backsliding of democracies into authoritarianism is limited to societies in which emancipative values remain underdeveloped. Contrary to the widely cited deconsolidation thesis, the ascendant generational profile of emancipative values means that the momentary challenges to democracy are unlikely to stifle democracy’s long-term rise.

Why_the_Future_is_Democratic.pdf [Download count:179]


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