Exacerbating all this political antagonism is the development that might distress Madison the most: media polarization, which has allowed geographically dispersed citizens to isolate themselves into virtual factions, communicating only with like-minded individuals and reinforcing shared beliefs. Far from being a conduit for considered opinions by an educated elite, social-media platforms spread misinformation and inflame partisan differences. Indeed, people on Facebook and Twitter are more likely to share inflammatory posts that appeal to emotion than intricate arguments based on reason. The passions, hyper-partisanship, and split-second decision making that Madison feared from large, concentrated groups meeting face-to-face have proved to be even more dangerous from exponentially larger, dispersed groups that meet online.
Como se não bastasse o novo livro de Bob Woodward, em que Trump aparece recorrentemente retratado pelos membros da sua Administração como uma criança ignorante, este artigo vem confirmar a resistência de muitos destes membros e, creio, vai certamente espoletar uma acesa discussão na sociedade americana, desde logo porque, provavelmente, não tardará que alguém levante a questão da ausência de legitimidade democrática de membros da Administração e funcionários governamentais que frustram ou, pelo menos, limitam o alcance de decisões tomadas pelo Presidente dos EUA, mesmo que estas sejam disparatadas e contrárias ao interesse nacional. Por outro lado, a alusão à 25.ª Emenda irá certamente reforçar os que pedem que se incie um processo de impeachment. Entretanto, no Twitter, Trump invoca a segurança nacional para exigir ao New York Times que entregue o autor do artigo à Administração, revelando, mais uma vez, os seus tiques autoritários e mostrando que continua sem perceber como funciona uma democracia liberal e a liberdade de imprensa.
Esta semana podem encontrar um artigo da minha autoria no Prisma, nova plataforma de slow journalism do Jornal Económico, em que viso contribuir para o debate sobre a política externa portuguesa na era de turbulência em que vamos vivendo, marcada pela crise do euro, crise dos refugiados, Brexit, Trump, Putin, Merkel, populismo, eurocepticismo, fundamentalismo islâmico e uma União Europeia à procura de perceber o seu futuro.
Needless to say, technocratic rhetoric provides an excellent opening for populists, because it invites the very questions that populists are wont to ask: Where are the citizens in all this? How can there be a democracy without choices? This is how technocracy and populism can start to reinforce one another. They can seem like opposites – the intellectual versus the emotional, the rational versus the irrational. And yet each is ultimately a form of anti-pluralism.
The technocratic assertion that there is only one rational solution to a problem means that anyone who disagrees with that solution is irrational, just as the populist claim that there is only one authentic popular will means that anyone who disagrees must be a traitor to the people. Lost in the fateful technocratic-populist interplay is everything one might think of as crucial to democracy: competing arguments, an exchange of ideas, compromise. In the absence of democratic discourse, politics becomes a contest between only two options. And those committed to either side share the view that there are never any alternatives.
The proliferating global influence activities of China and Russia diverge from traditional means of public diplomacy. Instead, they use wealth, stealth and coercion to coopt influential policy voices and players, control information flows, censor unfavorable reporting and analysis, and ultimately mold societal attitudes and government postures.
The methods vary. Each regime has relied heavily on the promotion of its state-controlled media abroad, such as Xinhua News Agency, CGTV, and RT (formerly Russia Today). Russia has been perfecting a new form of geopolitical warfare, using social media to intensify political polarization, inflame social divisions, sow doubt and cynicism about democracy, and promote pro-Russian politicians and parties. Through investments, partnership agreements, donations, exchanges, positions on boards of directors, and other “friendly” relations, China has fostered wider and deeper penetration into the vital tissues of democracies—media, publishing houses, entertainment industries, technology companies, universities, think tanks, and non-governmental organizations. These intrusions are rapidly expanding not only in the West but in Latin America, post-communist Europe, and Africa as well. In different but perhaps equally devastating ways, China and Russia are using the openness and pluralism of democracies to subvert and bend them to their strategic objectives—principally, the weakening of Western democratic alliances and the relentless expansion of their own economic and geopolitical power.
What these two resurgent authoritarian states are projecting, argue Walker and Ludwig, is power that is not “soft” but rather “sharp,” like the tip of a dagger: It enables them “to cut, razor-like, into the fabric of a society, stoking and amplifying existing divisions” (in the case of Russia) or to seek, especially in the case of China, “to monopolize ideas, suppress alternative narratives, and exploit partner institutions.”
The bottom-line stakes are existential: Will the United States—and liberal democracies collectively—retain global leadership economically, technologically, morally, and politically, or are we entering a world in which we conspire in our own eclipse?
Hoje, a convite do Pedro Correia, contribuo para o Delito de Opinião com um post sobre a incapacidade crónica para debater civilizadamente de que sofrem alguns académicos que, por defeito, deveriam ser intelectualmente humildes, honestos e pluralistas e fomentadores da civilidade.
America’s uniqueness, even pre-Trump, was expressed as much through negative indicators as positive. It is more violent than other comparable societies, both one-on-one and in the gun massacres to which the country has become so habituated. It has worse health outcomes than comparably wealthy countries, and some of the most important of them are deteriorating further even as they improve almost everywhere else. America’s average levels of academic achievement lag those of other advanced countries. Fewer Americans vote—and in no other democracy does organized money count for so much in political life. A century ago, H.L. Mencken observed the American “national genius for corruption,” and (again pre-Trump) Transparency International’s corruption perceptions index ranks the U.S. in 18th place, behind Hong Kong, Belgium, Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Germany—never mind first-place finishers Denmark and New Zealand.
As I said: pre-Trump. Now the United States has elected a president who seems much more aligned with—and comfortable in the company of—the rulers of Turkey, Hungary, Uzbekistan, and the Philippines than his counterparts in other highly developed countries.
That result forces a reshaping of the question of American exceptionalism.
“Why was the United States vulnerable to such a person when other democracies have done so much better?” Part of the answer is a technical one: The Electoral College, designed to protect the country from demagogues, instead elected one. But then we have to ask: How did Trump even get so far that the Electoral College entered into the matter one way or another?
Thinking about that question forces an encounter with American exceptionalism in its most somber form. If, as I believe, Donald Trump arose because of the disregard of the American political and economic elite for the troubles of so many of their fellow-citizens, it has to be asked again: How could the leaders of a democratic country imagine they could get away with such disregard?