After presenting his research in Washington, DC, in November 2012 at an International Forum for Democratic Studies event titled “In Mistrust we Trust: Can Transparency Revive Democracy,” Ivan Krastev published the TED Book In Mistrust We Trust: Can Democracy Survive When We Don’t Trust Our Leaders? in January 2013. TED is a world-renowned non-profit devoted to “Ideas Worth Spreading” which disseminates the ideas of prominent thinkers through TED Talks, Books, Conferences, and other initiatives.
Krastev serves as Chairman of the Board for the Center for Liberal Strategies (Bulgaria), a member institute of the International Forum’s Network of Democracy Research Institutes (NDRI). He is also a member of the Forum Research Council, the Journal of Democracy Editorial Board, and was the 2010 Lipset Lecture speaker.
In Mistrust We Trust, Krastev considers the impact of the growing sense of mistrust that many citizens feel towards their democratically elected governments. Although a series of political, information, and thought “revolutions” over the past 50 years have made societies around the world more free and democratic, Krastev argues that our sense of collective purpose has fractured, inequality is on the rise, and citizens are now more skeptical than ever. Ultimately, this makes citizens feel ineffective in creating change.
In response, many activists have turned to technology to promote transparency in an attempt to reassert control over political leaders and promote more open government. Krastev questions this assumption by noting “There is nothing more suspicious than the claim of absolute transparency.” Transparency-centered reform is not an alternative to mistrust, but is instead a major justification. In the end, Krastev asks whether we can enjoy the rights of a democratic society without enjoying real political choice or power.
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