The State of Democracy Today

Joe Biden recently organized an international virtual summit on the future of democracy.

The agenda included global reflection on the future of a political regime that we thought would be forever triumphant after the fall of the Berlin Wall a little over 30 years ago.

Today, it is being challenged by great authoritarian powers such as China and Turkey.


We saw liberal democracy spreading throughout the world, as if every country had to convert to it. It was a dream. But just a pipe dream.

Today, it is again, in many respects, a peculiarity of Western society. We should have known better: Democracy requires a particular cultural and civilizational context in which to flourish. Democracy is not imposed by force or by bombs, as we have seen in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But we can also see today that democracy is weakened in the Western world. However, the picture is more complex as we see conflicting diagnoses for the crisis.

For some, democracy is threatened by what they call populism. An image of raging people, tempted by the tyranny of the majority’s identity. For others, it is the opposite: Democracy is threatened by a government of judges and the omnipotence of “minority” lobbies that stifle the legitimate aspirations of the majority.


Through all this, what are we to think of social networks that are transforming our way of debating, of the ideological fanaticism that is back in fashion, of censorship laws that are multiplying, of economic powers that no longer think on a national scale?

In short, the crisis is profound.

We simply don’t know what we are talking about anymore when we speak about democracy. The first thing to do is to clarify the language, get beyond the confusion. It is really a question of mental clarity.

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