Authoritarian regimes are increasingly using the openness of democratic societies as a vehicle to consolidate and expand their power at home and abroad. The prevailing wisdom during much of the post-Cold War period assumed that authoritarian regimes’ exposure to democratic values and norms would encourage political reform at home, but in many respects, the opposite has occurred. Democracies around the world find themselves at greater risk due to authoritarian exploitation of open media, financial systems, and challenges to democratic norms and principles. Authoritarians also are using a sharpened version of soft power to project their influence, and democracies have been slow to respond.
In the blog’s inaugural post, “Reevaluating Authoritarianism in an Era of Globalization,” International Forum for Democratic Studies Director Shanthi Kalathil explains that Power 3.0 will examine:
- how the internet and other communication technologies….have been used to weaken and divide democracies even as they potentially strengthen authoritarian censorship and surveillance practices around the world
- which facets of the international financial system have enabled authoritarian kleptocrats to loot their own countries and then hide their ill-gotten wealth overseas, corrupting a range of democratic institutions in the process
- how authoritarian and illiberal regimes use culture and education in a global context to burnish their own reputations, deflect criticism, and promote their own narrative
- how democracies are drawing on their strengths to respond, from networked, global forensic journalism that uncovers kleptocrats’ worst abuses, to innovative efforts to combat disinformation, to civil society efforts to incorporate internet freedom into the architecture of the Internet itself
This week, Power 3.0 also features Lee Morgenbesser’s assessment of how authoritarian regimes corrode the democratic norm of free and fair elections, as well as Peter Kreko’s post on authoritarian manipulation of social media.