The Global State of DemocracyThose who study political systems around the world may be interested in The Global State of Democracy, a biennial report published by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA). This report "analyses global and regional democracy trends and challenges based on International IDEA's newly developed Global State of Democracy indices, which capture global and regional democratic trends between 1975 and 2015." Here, readers can explore the first edition of this report on the theme "Exploring Democracy's Resilience," which was published in 2017. This well-designed digital presentation offers an interactive overview of the report's eight chapters and statistical information, as well as links to additional materials such as resource guides, definitions, and methodologies. Those interested may also download as PDFs the full 346-page report or the 68-page overview, which is available in Spanish, French, Arabic, and Bahsaha Indonesian, as well as in English. Founded in 1995 and headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, International IDEA is a global intergovernmental organization that works to support and strengthen democratic institutions worldwide.
Human Rights Documentation InitiativeWhile the concept of human rights dates back at least to Cyrus the Great, the ancient king of Persia who freed slaves, declared the freedom to choose one's religion, and established racial equality in his kingdom, history is marked by innumerable violations of what the Romans called "natural law." The University of Texas Libraries' Human Rights Documentation Initiative (HRDI) seeks to document human rights struggles around the world in an effort to advocate for greater equity and understanding. Here readers will find sections on the Free Burma Rangers, the Rwandan Genocide, the Guatemalan National Police abuses, and other collections dedicated to exposing and ameliorating human rights violations around the world. While each section is unique (the section on Burma, for instance, is made up mostly of video footage), all of the materials share a commitment to clear and honest documentation.
Inter-Parliamentary Union: New ParlineReaders interested in accessing data on national legislative bodies from around the world would do well to check out New Parline, the open data platform of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). This resource "allows you not only to find information on national parliaments but also to compare the data for all parliaments or a particular region." Visitors can search for a particular country and legislative chamber from the main page, and they can also explore several ready-made visual comparisons on topics like how different countries' parliaments are structured and what percentage of their membership is made up of women. Those interested in creating their own comparisons can choose among a variety of aspects, including the average age of all members, electoral system, and the number of laws adopted by parliaments per year. Users can download the data and visualizations from New Parline, and the site is available in both English and French. Established in 1889, the IPU describes itself as "the global organization of national parliaments," and as of this write-up has 179 parliaments in its membership. [JDC]
Items: The Democracy Papers"Can representative democracies be strengthened to govern more effectively?" This is the question that the Social Science Research Council's (SSRC) Anxieties of Democracy program has been exploring. In the Democracy Papers, a series in the SSRC's digital publication Items, readers will find essays that "highlight and summarize new research presented at conferences and workshops related to the Anxieties of Democracy program." Written with general audiences in mind, these essays feature the work of experts such as professors and postdocs, as well as university students, and tend to focus on various aspects of democracy in North America and Europe. For example, one recent student contribution by Jenny W. Xiao of the University of Hong Kong examines Slovakia's 2019 presidential election and highlights three lessons from Zuzana Caputova's unexpected victory. Another recent article comes from Jason M. Roberts, a professor of political science at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, who explains his data-driven research on measuring the effectiveness of party leadership within the US Congress. These and the numerous other essays in the Democracy Papers offer readers insights into current social science research on democratic institutions.
Pew Research Center: Many Across the Globe Are Dissatisfied With How Democracy Is WorkingThis report published by the Pew Research Center examines views on how democracy is working from residents of 27 countries around the world. Released in April 2019, this report is based on Pew's Spring Global Attitudes Survey of 30,133 people conducted between May 14 and August 12 in 2018. While the opinions expressed about each nation's democracy varied considerably, the report found dissatisfaction regarding the performance of democratic systems in many countries and concluded that "most believe elections bring little change, that politicians are corrupt and out of touch and that courts do not treat people fairly." However, those surveyed are generally "more positive about how well their countries protect free expression, provide economic opportunity and ensure public safety." The report's analysis goes into further detail for each global region and includes numerous charts showing the results for individual nations. Those interested can read the full 61-page report online, or download it as a PDF at the link above, and the survey's topline questionnaire results are available as a PDF as well. This report was written by Pew researchers Richard Wike, Laura Silver, and Alexandra Castillo. [JDC]
"Politics and government mainly in the UK and the USA"
Sea of Liberty (Jefferson's ideas)The Sea of Liberty site can be a support for educators of many age groups. Largely drawn from the Monticello exhibit, The Boisterous Sea of Liberty, the site "traces the development and ongoing influence of Thomas Jefferson's transformational ideas about liberty, particularly those expressed in the Declaration of Independence." To access the widest breadth of resources, educators will likely want to create a free account. From there, they may scout the site's four sections: Explore, Create, Showcase, and Teach. Explore allows readers to browse the collection of objects, paintings, books, quotes, and other primary sources from Jefferson's world. Create lets teachers and students build a digital project out of the resources available on the site. Showcase features the projects that others have created. Finally, Teach features resources for teachers of social studies, language arts, world history, government, and other subjects.
Varieties of DemocracyVarieties of Democracy (V-Dem) is an international, collaborative research project that aims "to produce new indicators of democracy for all countries since 1900." Visitors to this ambitious project will find a number of interesting resources, including their annual democracy reports (currently available for 2017 and 2018); other publications (such as country reports and thematic reports); and a variety of analysis tools, such as interactive maps and motion charts. Social science researchers may be particularly interested in the V-Dem datasets, which (at the time of this write-up) include data for 201 countries and extend as far back as the year 1789 up to 2017. These datasets, which are released yearly around April, also include "450 V-Dem indicators, 47 mid-indices and 5 high-level indices," as well as documentation for each dataset and are available in formats such as SPSS, STATA, and Excel. Originally headquartered at the University of Notre Dame's Kellogg Institute for International Studies, V-Dem is now headquartered at the V-Dem Institute in the University of Gothenburg (Sweden). The University of Notre Dame became V-Dem's Regional Center for North America in 2018. V-Dem is funded by many organizations, including the European Research Council, the National Science Foundation, Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, and the World Bank.
Accidental AnarchistThis is the remarkable story of how Carne Ross, once a leading UK diplomat, became an anarchist. Rebelling against the establishment, he discovers a new form of politics, so relevant for these turbulent times. From America to Europe to war-torn Syria, he reveals how anarchist ideas of self-government and equality are being put into action across the world.
Cato's David Boaz Talks Politics, History, and His Path to LibertarianismDavid Boaz executive vice president of the Cato Institute sits down with Reason TV's Nick Gillespie to discuss his book, The Libertarian Mind: A Manifesto For Freedom, his personal history, and how libertarianism has guided his life. He talks about politics, history, philosophy, and many issues from a libertarian perspective. A Reason TV production.
Cyber Armies: How Social Media Wins ElectionsIn recent elections across Southeast Asia, a new army has risen. Digital social tools are being utilized as political weapons. These are the latest tools in cyber warfare and they have influenced major elections. They are bots, capable of automating likes, tweets, and shares on Twitter through multiple accounts. They elevate politicians, and vilify opponents. Who is powering this cyber-army, and should we be afraid?
Democracy Isn't for Everyone: A DebateIs it reasonable to expect the entire world to adopt democratic ways, or is it wrong to press other countries to embrace a system that—however beneficial it may, in theory, be—is completely at odds with their cultures and traditions? The motion under consideration in this Oxford Union-style debate is “Democracy isn’t for everyone.” Panelists in favor stress that true democracy is more than merely the holding of elections and therefore must evolve organically out of a society’s circumstances, while those against argue that to say democracy isn’t for everyone is tantamount to saying that democracy, for some, can never be—a proposition rejected because whatever some people can achieve, all are humanly capable of achieving. Questions from the floor follow. The final vote? Marginally against. Veteran British broadcast journalist Richard Lindley presides.
John LockeThis program chronicles the life and work of John Locke, the 17th-century English philosopher and political theorist considered by many to be the first notable thinker of the Enlightenment. Without a doubt, Locke’s legacy is vast: his articulation of empiricism laid the intellectual groundwork for an explosion of scientific activity that continues to this day, and his political philosophy is widely seen as the genesis of modern liberalism—an inspiration behind the American and French Revolutions and the philosophical foundation for the development of democracy in the West. Truly, John Locke is one of the principal architects of the modern world. Excerpts from Locke’s An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Two Treatises of Government, and Letter Concerning Toleration are included. (21 minutes)
Machiavelli: The PrinceFew literary works have inspired as diverse and impassioned opinions as Machiavelli’s The Prince. While some have denounced it as epitomizing the immorality and cynicism of despotic political rulers, others have considered it a paragon of pragmatism and lucidity in political affairs—including Napoleon Bonaparte, who deemed The Prince the only book that deserved to be read. In this program, the treatise that gave birth to modern political theory is examined in depth, both from a historical perspective and in the context of Machiavelli’s own turbulent life. As a diplomat and city official, Machiavelli witnessed firsthand and was eventually caught up in the power struggles and intrigues of 16th-century Florence. From these observations and experiences, The Prince—acknowledged by many as Western history’s most important text on politics—was born. Includes numerous excerpts from the text. (23 minutes)
Marx: Genius of the Modern WorldKarl Marx was a man who lived a life of contradiction: An angry agitator who spent years in scholarly silence in the British Library Reading Room. A family man who got the housekeeper pregnant. A brilliant mind who argued against exploitation, but lived off wealth exploited from workers in Engel’s family mills. Yet despite the paradoxes, this philosopher’s ideas had a greater influence in a shorter time than any other thinker in history. During his lifetime he was a little-known, impoverished intellectual, living on the charity of friends and spending his days reading and writing. But within seventy years of his death in 1883, almost a third of the entire human race was living under governments that called themselves by his name—Marxist. Host Bettany Hughes begins her journey in the city of Trier on the banks of the Mosel in Germany. It was here on May 5, 1818 that one of the most important philosophers of the 20th century was born.
The MarxistsKarl Marx’s revolutionary ideas literally changed the world. His far-reaching analyses and theories have inspired millions of people to become politically active. After the collapse of many socialist regimes, Marx’s popularity waned, but the financial crisis of 2008 has caused a re-emergence of his ideas. On the 200th anniversary of his birth, this documentary explores changes and developments in society today that find their roots in Marx’s thinking. From the Russian Revolution, the founding of the German Socialist Party, the long trek of Mao Zedong in China, the implementation of socialism in Eastern Europe after World War II to the revolutionary movements in Latin America and Cuba, Karl Marx may have been the most influential thinker of all time.
The National Security CouncilIn this FPRI Primer, Ron Granieri explores the role of the National Security Council in American foreign policy, and places it in its larger historical and geopolitical context.
Why Democracy? (5 parts)Democracy is arguably the greatest political buzzword of our time and is invoked by political leaders, corporations and citizens alike– but what does it mean? Can it be defined, measured, safeguarded? Can it be sold, bought, and transplanted? Can it grow? Can it die? What does it mean to people who can’t even talk about it? What does it mean to people who don’t believe in it? And what does it mean to you? In the 10 years since WHY DEMOCRACY? was broadcast in over 181 countries around the world, global politics has rapidly evolved; with corruption, globalization and rising violence becoming increasing prevalent. As these forces threaten to undermine established democratic structures around the world WHY DEMOCRACY? films are more relevant than ever -serving an urgent reminder that citizens fundamental right to engage in politics is core for democracy to flourish.