Posts tagged democracy

http://globalvoices.tumblr.com/post/92624839834/the-election-result-will-put-indonesia-on-par

globalvoices:

"The election result will put Indonesia on par with the world’s leading democratic countries."

Indonesia’s election officials have declared that Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo (Jokowi), a popular politician from the city of Solo, will be the country’s seventh president after completing…

theatlantic:

Rapping for Democracy in Afghanistan

Seventy percent of the country’s population is under 25. Can music make them interested in politics?

Read more.

newsweek:

(via DEMOCRACY | The Economist)

What’s gone wrong with the most successful idea of the 20th Century?

newsweek:

(via DEMOCRACY | The Economist)

What’s gone wrong with the most successful idea of the 20th Century?

What makes the current conflict so sad is that it could have easily have been avoided if minimal spaces for dialogue between opponents had been safeguarded. The crisis, it seems, is institutional.
Venezuela’s Bloody Crisis Was Years in the Making—and Could Have Been Avoided (via thenewrepublic)

Yep. Part of what it means to live in a democracy is to tolerate even those we think are awful people. Muzzling one’s opponents in the name of a “people’s revolution” has never ended well. In fact, it’s the surest way to encourage a counter revolution.

Besides, think how conceited someone must be to believe they (and only they and their coterie) understand the needs of the people or the true arch of history or whatever. And how awful someone must be to think their righteousness justifies using force in defense of their moral certitude.

foreignaffairsmagazine:

Why Robert Dahl was such an important political and social scientist: http://fam.ag/1mn6ir8

If you are at all interested in political science and political theory, but especially American democracy, you need to read at least one of his books.

foreignaffairsmagazine:

Why Robert Dahl was such an important political and social scientist: http://fam.ag/1mn6ir8

If you are at all interested in political science and political theory, but especially American democracy, you need to read at least one of his books.

From theatlantic:

Report: Global Freedom Has Been Declining for Nearly a Decade

In 2013, for the eighth year in a row, more countries registered declines in political rights and civil liberties than gains. Even as the number of electoral democracies in the world increased, nations like the Central African Republic, Mali, and Ukraine suffered devastating democratic setbacks. Thirty-five percent of the world’s population, living in 25 percent of the polities on the planet, found themselves in countries that aren’t free. As we enter a year in which more people will vote in elections than ever before, democracy appears to be in a holding pattern around the world—if not outright retreat.
Read more. [Image: Reuters/Marko Djurica]


Is the “third wave” of democracy over? That’s a question that pops up from time to time.

From theatlantic:

Report: Global Freedom Has Been Declining for Nearly a Decade

In 2013, for the eighth year in a row, more countries registered declines in political rights and civil liberties than gains. Even as the number of electoral democracies in the world increased, nations like the Central African Republic, Mali, and Ukraine suffered devastating democratic setbacks. Thirty-five percent of the world’s population, living in 25 percent of the polities on the planet, found themselves in countries that aren’t free. As we enter a year in which more people will vote in elections than ever before, democracy appears to be in a holding pattern around the world—if not outright retreat.

Read more. [Image: Reuters/Marko Djurica]

Is the “third wave” of democracy over? That’s a question that pops up from time to time.

theatlantic:

Secret Ops and Self-Government Don’t Mix

About the foreign policy being carried out with taxpayer money, in our names: Does the American public want to spend billions of dollars helping Columbia to assassinate the leaders of its leftist insurgency movement (with apparent success, such that the rebel forces are in disarray)? Do Americans want their NSA and CIA directly complicit in a Latin American army’s program of assassinations?
If the matter were put to a vote in Congress, or made the subject of a plebiscite, it isn’t at all clear to me that interventionist champions of U.S. involvement in Colombia would prevail. Yet the United States is providing Colombia with money, smart bombs, NSA intelligence, and CIA personnel to help target and kill rebel leaders. 
Why isn’t there any criticism of the program in the U.S.?
Read more. [Image: Reuters]


This is an interesting and important point. To what extent do military/security secrets contradict democratic self-government? What kind of balance is possible, considering that some operational secrecy is necessary but full secrecy makes it impossible for the democratic public to be informed decision-makers?

theatlantic:

Secret Ops and Self-Government Don’t Mix

About the foreign policy being carried out with taxpayer money, in our names: Does the American public want to spend billions of dollars helping Columbia to assassinate the leaders of its leftist insurgency movement (with apparent success, such that the rebel forces are in disarray)? Do Americans want their NSA and CIA directly complicit in a Latin American army’s program of assassinations?

If the matter were put to a vote in Congress, or made the subject of a plebiscite, it isn’t at all clear to me that interventionist champions of U.S. involvement in Colombia would prevail. Yet the United States is providing Colombia with money, smart bombs, NSA intelligence, and CIA personnel to help target and kill rebel leaders. 

Why isn’t there any criticism of the program in the U.S.?

Read more. [Image: Reuters]

This is an interesting and important point. To what extent do military/security secrets contradict democratic self-government? What kind of balance is possible, considering that some operational secrecy is necessary but full secrecy makes it impossible for the democratic public to be informed decision-makers?

From shortformblog:

soupsoup:

Switzerland will vote to give all adults guaranteed $2,800 monthly income.Grassroots organizers were able to collect the 100,000 signatures required to force a referendum on the proposed initiative. The move is the latest by Swiss grassroots activists who are pushing for reforms following the European financial crisis.Activists dumped 8-million 5-cent coins on Oct. 4— one coin for each person living in Switzerland— in the center of the Federal Square outside of Switzerland’s parliament in Berne.

A very handy reminder that there’s what most Americans consider left-wing, and then there’s the kind of conversation on social justice you sometimes find in European democracies. However foreign the notion of guaranteed monthly income may be to many Americans, Switzerland also passed a piece of progressive drug policy last week familiar to American liberals — the decriminalization of marijuana.

It’s interesting to point out that Switzerland is probably the most pro-market, and libertarian of the European democracies. So this is a big deal. It also shows how different American “conservatives” are from European ones (particularly since the latter tend to emphasize things like helping the poor and maintaining social safety nets).
In case you want some evidence for Switzerland’s free market credentials:
Switzerland ranks as the 4th “most free” economy according to the conservative Fraser Institute’s Economic Freedom of the World index (the US ranks 18th).
Switzerland ranks as the 5th “most free” economy, according to the conservative Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom (the US ranks 10th).
Former Libertarian activist, Nick Wilson, ranks Switzerland as the 2nd “most free” country in the 2013 State of World Liberty index (the US doesn’t make the top 10, but does make the top 20%).

From shortformblog:

soupsoup:

Switzerland will vote to give all adults guaranteed $2,800 monthly income.

Grassroots organizers were able to collect the 100,000 signatures required to force a referendum on the proposed initiative. The move is the latest by Swiss grassroots activists who are pushing for reforms following the European financial crisis.

Activists dumped 8-million 5-cent coins on Oct. 4— one coin for each person living in Switzerland— in the center of the Federal Square outside of Switzerland’s parliament in Berne.

A very handy reminder that there’s what most Americans consider left-wing, and then there’s the kind of conversation on social justice you sometimes find in European democracies. However foreign the notion of guaranteed monthly income may be to many Americans, Switzerland also passed a piece of progressive drug policy last week familiar to American liberals — the decriminalization of marijuana.

It’s interesting to point out that Switzerland is probably the most pro-market, and libertarian of the European democracies. So this is a big deal. It also shows how different American “conservatives” are from European ones (particularly since the latter tend to emphasize things like helping the poor and maintaining social safety nets).

In case you want some evidence for Switzerland’s free market credentials:

  • Switzerland ranks as the 4th “most free” economy according to the conservative Fraser Institute’s Economic Freedom of the World index (the US ranks 18th).
  • Switzerland ranks as the 5th “most free” economy, according to the conservative Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom (the US ranks 10th).
  • Former Libertarian activist, Nick Wilson, ranks Switzerland as the 2nd “most free” country in the 2013 State of World Liberty index (the US doesn’t make the top 10, but does make the top 20%).
To forcedranting:

pol102:

From theatlantic:

Bring Back Social Studies

The most obvious and well-reported casualties of the last decade in program-slashing educational policy include traditional elective courses like art, music, and physical education. But these are not the only subjects being squeezed out or eliminated entirely from many public K-12 curriculums.
Social studies—a category that includes courses in history, geography, and civics—has also found itself on the chopping block. Whereas in the 1993-1994 school year students spent 9.5 percent of their time in social studies, by 2003-2004 that percentage had dropped to 7.6, despite an increase of total instructional time.
Why has a traditionally “core subject”, which was ranked in the same academic hierarchy as English, science, and math for decades, been sidelined in thousands of American classrooms?
The shift in curriculum began in the early years of the Cold War. While U.S. military and technological innovation brought World War II to a close, it was a later use of technology—the Soviet launching of Sputnik in 1957—that historian Thomas A. Bailey called the equivalent of a “psychological Pearl Harbor” for many Americans. It created deep feelings of inadequacy and a belief that the U.S. was falling behind in developing new technology and weapons, which led to the passage of the 1958 National Defense Education Act. This legislation pumped $1 billion over four years into math and science programs in both K-12 schools and universities.
Despite this extra focus on math and science, social studies managed to make it through the end of the Cold War relatively unscathed (in fact, the number of classroom hours dedicated to teaching social studies in grades 1-4 peaked in the 1993-1994 school year at 3 hours a week). But drastic change came a decade later with the passage of President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind legislation.
Read more. [Image: Dyanna Hyde/Flickr]


Beyond the absolutely horrifyingly low levels of knowledge today’s incoming undergraduates have about the politics and history of their own country—and how that mortifies people like me who teach political science to undergraduates—is the sheer reality that we are becoming a large (population) democracy with a politically illiterate citizenry. How long do we think that can last? Another generation or two? 

As a political science teacher, how do you think we can escape the problem of “rational ignorance”, as discussed by Public Choice economists?

My dear young man/woman. I’m very glad you read Anthony Downs and are familiar with rational choice theory as it applies to cost/benefit analysis of obtaining political information. But please note that Downs is referring to specific information about specific issues. Not general information about the broader political system.
Fo a brief review, see the “rational ignorance" entry in Wikipedia. Notice that it applies to the cost of additional information relative to the perceived benefit. In other words, I may need to know that Congress has the power to declare war. But for any particular military action, the cost of obtaining individual legislators’ voting records to predict future votes may outweigh the general benefit. But basic knowledge of the problem, its context, and the institutions that deal with it is not within the scope of “rational ignorance” thesis as knowledge that’s immaterial.
BTW, Downs in his Economic Theory of Democracy wasn’t arguing that individuals should remain ignorant. He was arguing that although many individuals are ignorant about many issues, on average the voting across issues balances out because some individuals are knowledgeable about some issues. I’m fairly certain Downs’s theory falls apart if most voters are ignorant about most issues.
For example: I have a PhD in political science and am therefore probably considered “highly educated” about politics. But I don’t—and can’t possibly!—keep up with the policy details of every issues. No one can. So I can vote and remain ignorant of a lot of information involving key issues. But I assume that many of my peers or people I respect are knowledgeable, and so I defer to their judgement.
Here’s another example: It’s rational for me to not know how to repair my car’s engine. But it’s irrational for me not to know that my car has an engine and needs regular maintenance. And it’s irrational for me not to know that I should find a good mechanic to service the car.
In the context of American democracy, I should know what my basic rights are (including the right to remain ignorant). And I should know that laws are made by Congress, not the president. And I should have some idea of the general history of the country (and the world)—at least well enough to know when I’m being manipulated by someone.
I think that’s what most of us mean (at least what I mean) by a basic social studies education. I may be relatively ignorant of the ins/outs of the debt ceiling debate. But I should know it’s happening. I may choose to remain ignorant about bond interest rates and derivatives. But I should know that the Federal Reserve exists.
The real problem is that we can’t be (or claim to be) patriotic and then not teach the basic structures and principles of our country’s political system. Certainly the Founding Fathers didn’t think so. 

To forcedranting:

pol102:

From theatlantic:

Bring Back Social Studies

The most obvious and well-reported casualties of the last decade in program-slashing educational policy include traditional elective courses like art, music, and physical education. But these are not the only subjects being squeezed out or eliminated entirely from many public K-12 curriculums.

Social studies—a category that includes courses in history, geography, and civics—has also found itself on the chopping block. Whereas in the 1993-1994 school year students spent 9.5 percent of their time in social studies, by 2003-2004 that percentage had dropped to 7.6, despite an increase of total instructional time.

Why has a traditionally “core subject”, which was ranked in the same academic hierarchy as English, science, and math for decades, been sidelined in thousands of American classrooms?

The shift in curriculum began in the early years of the Cold War. While U.S. military and technological innovation brought World War II to a close, it was a later use of technology—the Soviet launching of Sputnik in 1957—that historian Thomas A. Bailey called the equivalent of a “psychological Pearl Harbor” for many Americans. It created deep feelings of inadequacy and a belief that the U.S. was falling behind in developing new technology and weapons, which led to the passage of the 1958 National Defense Education Act. This legislation pumped $1 billion over four years into math and science programs in both K-12 schools and universities.

Despite this extra focus on math and science, social studies managed to make it through the end of the Cold War relatively unscathed (in fact, the number of classroom hours dedicated to teaching social studies in grades 1-4 peaked in the 1993-1994 school year at 3 hours a week). But drastic change came a decade later with the passage of President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind legislation.

Read more. [Image: Dyanna Hyde/Flickr]

Beyond the absolutely horrifyingly low levels of knowledge today’s incoming undergraduates have about the politics and history of their own country—and how that mortifies people like me who teach political science to undergraduates—is the sheer reality that we are becoming a large (population) democracy with a politically illiterate citizenry. How long do we think that can last? Another generation or two? 

As a political science teacher, how do you think we can escape the problem of “rational ignorance”, as discussed by Public Choice economists?

My dear young man/woman. I’m very glad you read Anthony Downs and are familiar with rational choice theory as it applies to cost/benefit analysis of obtaining political information. But please note that Downs is referring to specific information about specific issues. Not general information about the broader political system.

Fo a brief review, see the “rational ignorance" entry in Wikipedia. Notice that it applies to the cost of additional information relative to the perceived benefit. In other words, I may need to know that Congress has the power to declare war. But for any particular military action, the cost of obtaining individual legislators’ voting records to predict future votes may outweigh the general benefit. But basic knowledge of the problem, its context, and the institutions that deal with it is not within the scope of “rational ignorance” thesis as knowledge that’s immaterial.

BTW, Downs in his Economic Theory of Democracy wasn’t arguing that individuals should remain ignorant. He was arguing that although many individuals are ignorant about many issues, on average the voting across issues balances out because some individuals are knowledgeable about some issues. I’m fairly certain Downs’s theory falls apart if most voters are ignorant about most issues.

For example: I have a PhD in political science and am therefore probably considered “highly educated” about politics. But I don’t—and can’t possibly!—keep up with the policy details of every issues. No one can. So I can vote and remain ignorant of a lot of information involving key issues. But I assume that many of my peers or people I respect are knowledgeable, and so I defer to their judgement.

Here’s another example: It’s rational for me to not know how to repair my car’s engine. But it’s irrational for me not to know that my car has an engine and needs regular maintenance. And it’s irrational for me not to know that I should find a good mechanic to service the car.

In the context of American democracy, I should know what my basic rights are (including the right to remain ignorant). And I should know that laws are made by Congress, not the president. And I should have some idea of the general history of the country (and the world)—at least well enough to know when I’m being manipulated by someone.

I think that’s what most of us mean (at least what I mean) by a basic social studies education. I may be relatively ignorant of the ins/outs of the debt ceiling debate. But I should know it’s happening. I may choose to remain ignorant about bond interest rates and derivatives. But I should know that the Federal Reserve exists.

The real problem is that we can’t be (or claim to be) patriotic and then not teach the basic structures and principles of our country’s political system. Certainly the Founding Fathers didn’t think so. 

From theatlantic:

Bring Back Social Studies

The most obvious and well-reported casualties of the last decade in program-slashing educational policy include traditional elective courses like art, music, and physical education. But these are not the only subjects being squeezed out or eliminated entirely from many public K-12 curriculums.
Social studies—a category that includes courses in history, geography, and civics—has also found itself on the chopping block. Whereas in the 1993-1994 school year students spent 9.5 percent of their time in social studies, by 2003-2004 that percentage had dropped to 7.6, despite an increase of total instructional time.
Why has a traditionally “core subject”, which was ranked in the same academic hierarchy as English, science, and math for decades, been sidelined in thousands of American classrooms?
The shift in curriculum began in the early years of the Cold War. While U.S. military and technological innovation brought World War II to a close, it was a later use of technology—the Soviet launching of Sputnik in 1957—that historian Thomas A. Bailey called the equivalent of a “psychological Pearl Harbor” for many Americans. It created deep feelings of inadequacy and a belief that the U.S. was falling behind in developing new technology and weapons, which led to the passage of the 1958 National Defense Education Act. This legislation pumped $1 billion over four years into math and science programs in both K-12 schools and universities.
Despite this extra focus on math and science, social studies managed to make it through the end of the Cold War relatively unscathed (in fact, the number of classroom hours dedicated to teaching social studies in grades 1-4 peaked in the 1993-1994 school year at 3 hours a week). But drastic change came a decade later with the passage of President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind legislation.
Read more. [Image: Dyanna Hyde/Flickr]


Beyond the absolutely horrifyingly low levels of knowledge today’s incoming undergraduates have about the politics and history of their own country—and how that mortifies people like me who teach political science to undergraduates—is the sheer reality that we are becoming a large (population) democracy with a politically illiterate citizenry. How long do we think that can last? Another generation or two? 

From theatlantic:

Bring Back Social Studies

The most obvious and well-reported casualties of the last decade in program-slashing educational policy include traditional elective courses like art, music, and physical education. But these are not the only subjects being squeezed out or eliminated entirely from many public K-12 curriculums.

Social studies—a category that includes courses in history, geography, and civics—has also found itself on the chopping block. Whereas in the 1993-1994 school year students spent 9.5 percent of their time in social studies, by 2003-2004 that percentage had dropped to 7.6, despite an increase of total instructional time.

Why has a traditionally “core subject”, which was ranked in the same academic hierarchy as English, science, and math for decades, been sidelined in thousands of American classrooms?

The shift in curriculum began in the early years of the Cold War. While U.S. military and technological innovation brought World War II to a close, it was a later use of technology—the Soviet launching of Sputnik in 1957—that historian Thomas A. Bailey called the equivalent of a “psychological Pearl Harbor” for many Americans. It created deep feelings of inadequacy and a belief that the U.S. was falling behind in developing new technology and weapons, which led to the passage of the 1958 National Defense Education Act. This legislation pumped $1 billion over four years into math and science programs in both K-12 schools and universities.

Despite this extra focus on math and science, social studies managed to make it through the end of the Cold War relatively unscathed (in fact, the number of classroom hours dedicated to teaching social studies in grades 1-4 peaked in the 1993-1994 school year at 3 hours a week). But drastic change came a decade later with the passage of President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind legislation.

Read more. [Image: Dyanna Hyde/Flickr]

Beyond the absolutely horrifyingly low levels of knowledge today’s incoming undergraduates have about the politics and history of their own country—and how that mortifies people like me who teach political science to undergraduates—is the sheer reality that we are becoming a large (population) democracy with a politically illiterate citizenry. How long do we think that can last? Another generation or two?