Category Archives: democratic reform overseas

how to respond to a leader’s call for civic renewal

During the 2008 presidential campaign, then-Senator Barack Obama spoke at length, consistently, and passionately about renewing citizenship in the US. I collected many of the key quotes here. There was a depth to these comments because Obama had worked for a faith-based organizing … Continue reading

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alienation from politics in Europe

I have been invited to speak in Spain on “youth alienation from politics” this June. I have no doubt that if you ask young people in any of the wealthy democracies what they think of politics, you will get negative responses. But … Continue reading

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the age of the strongman

China: Xi Jinping is “a president who has ruthlessly centralised power while embarking on an ambitious project to revitalise Communist rule and to secure the party’s future. … One of his major themes is a war on ‘western values’, including a … Continue reading

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Greece and Germany and getting to yes

The situation involving Greece and the European Union is a complex game, with numerous players and potentially many phases. Just as an example, voters in Spain are players who will have a chance to choose the new government in December; they may opt … Continue reading

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postcolonial reaction

Two recent articles by Pankaj Mishra put very different valences on the same fundamental story. In “Modi’s Idea of India” (The New York Times, Oct 24), Mishra decries the “intellectual insecurity, confusion and aggressiveness” of Hindu nationalists and links it … Continue reading

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the Communist Party battles against equality

The profound irony of this kind of story seems under-appreciated: The Beijing-appointed leader of Hong Kong, Leung Chun-ying, said Monday evening that it was unacceptable to allow his successors to be chosen in open elections, in part because doing so … Continue reading

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propaganda in Russia and in the USA

(Washington, DC) Russian media serves a steady diet of stories about how the crashed Malaysian airplane was filled with already-dead bodies; definitive proof that Ukraine shot it down to frame the Russian separatists; and even evidence that it’s the same … Continue reading

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Mike Edwards on civil society

The third edition of Michael Edwards’ invaluable book Civil Society is newly out, and Mike makes a strong argument on OpenDemocracy.net that draws from his book. He notes that nonprofit organizations are growing (by almost all measures) and offering significant benefits to the people … Continue reading

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youth Participatory Budgeting in Boston

On Friday, I had the opportunity to observe about 50 Boston young people at work on the city’s youth Participatory Budgeting initiative. I will write the whole story for GOOD Magazine, so this is just a teaser. In essence, volunteer young … Continue reading

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what happens if EU members overturn their democracies?

I’ve had several moving conversations recently with democratic reformers from southeastern Europe. They are near despair about their respective countries. Instead of quoting their confidential assessments, I’ll cite this summary by Tamas Dezso Czigler of LSE: I have previously written … Continue reading

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