The People vs. Democracy: Why Our Freedom Is in Danger and How to Save It

The People vs. Democracy: Why Our Freedom Is in Danger and How to Save It

by Yascha Mounk


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“We can no longer assume that liberal democracy is the wave of the future… This splendid book is an invaluable contribution to the debate about what ails democracy, and what can be done about it.”
—Michael J. Sandel, author of Justice

“Everyone worried about the state of contemporary politics should read this book.”
—Anne-Marie Slaughter, President of the New America Foundation

The world is in turmoil. From Russia, Turkey, and Egypt to the United States, authoritarian populists have seized power. As a result, democracy itself may now be at risk.

Two core components of liberal democracy—individual rights and the popular will—are increasingly at war with each other. As the role of money in politics soared and important issues were taken out of public contestation, a system of “rights without democracy” took hold. Populists who rail against this say they want to return power to the people. But in practice they create something just as bad: a system of “democracy without rights.” The consequence, as Yascha Mounk shows in this brilliant and timely book, is that trust in politics is dwindling. Citizens are falling out of love with their political system. Democracy is wilting away. Drawing on vivid stories and original research, Mounk identifies three key drivers of voters’ discontent: stagnating living standards, fear of multiethnic democracy, and the rise of social media. To reverse the trend, politicians need to enact radical reforms that benefit the many, not the few.

The People vs. Democracy is the first book to describe both how we got here and what we need to do now. For those unwilling to give up either individual rights or the concept of the popular will, Mounk argues that urgent action is needed, as this may be our last chance to save democracy.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674976825
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 03/05/2018
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 931,324
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Yascha Mounk is Associate Professor of the Practice of International Affairs at Johns Hopkins University, a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund, and a senior advisor at Protect Democracy. A frequent contributor to the Atlantic, the New York Times, and Die Zeit, he is the host of Slate’s The Good Fight Podcast.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Losing Our Illusions 1

Part 1 The Crisis of Liberal Democracy 23

1 Democracy without Rights 29

2 Rights without Democracy 53

3 Democracy Is Deconsolidating 99

Part 2 Origins 133

4 Social Media 137

5 Economic Stagnation 151

6 Identity 161

Part 3 Remedies 183

7 Domesticating Nationalism 195

8 Fixing the Economy 216

9 Renewing Civic Faith 237

Conclusion: Fighting for Our Convictions 253

Notes 269

Credits 358

Acknowledgments 362

Index 371

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