Democracies under threat

Nov
13

Livestream

Press

  • 'The immune system of our democracy is broken' Handelszeitung Interview with Hélène Landemore on 26.12.2023 read

  • «Das Immunsystem unserer Demokratie ist kaputt» Handelszeitung Interview mit Hélène Landemore am 26.12.2023 lesen

  • «Der zweite Versuch der Macht­ergreifung ist gefährlicher» Republik Interview mit Daniel Ziblatt vom 30.11.2023 lesen

  • 'Democracy dies in a fire' Watson interview with Jason Brennan on 19.11.2023 read

  • 'Hitler managed to take power thanks to mainstream politicians. We must remember this.' NZZ am Sonntag interview with Daniel Ziblatt on 2.12.2023 read

  • 'Macron believes the population is too immature to decide on issues such as immigration' NZZ Interview with Hélène Landemore on 14.11.2023 read

  • «Hitler schaffte die Machtübernahme dank Mainstream-Politikern. Daran müssen wir uns erinnern» NZZ am Sonntag Interview mit Daniel Ziblatt vom 2.12.2023 lesen

  • Die Freiheit könnte uns gestohlen werden Republik Aufsatz von Herta Müller vom 20.11.2023 lesen

  • «Die Demokratie stirbt in einem Feuer» Watson Interview mit Jason Brennan vom 19.11.2023 lesen

  • «Macron hält die Bevölkerung für zu unreif, um über Themen wie die Immigration zu entscheiden» NZZ Interview mit Hélène Landemore vom 14.11.2023 lesen

  • Sind die Amerikaner zu dumm für die Demokratie? Watson Artikel vom 24.9.2023 lesen

Overview

Democracies around the globe are increasingly under threat. In many countries, populists are gaining ground, polarization is increasing, and voters often fail to vote. Public intellectuals are debating the prospects for post-democratic politics. At the same time, authoritarian regimes are seeing a resurgence. What is driving these trends? And what can be done to reverse them? This was the main topic of our series, which consisted of three events, beginning with a lecture by Wolfgang Schäuble (in German), who provided a political-historical framework of the topic, followed by a talk by experimental psychologist Steven Pinker, who discussed the role of rationality for democratic societies. We concluded with our annual Forum for Economic Dialogue, where experts from various fields discussed the topic from both a political and an economic perspective.

Democracies around the globe are increasingly under threat. In many countries, populists are gaining ground, polarization is increasing, and voters often fail to vote. Public intellectuals are debating the prospects for post-democratic politics. At the same time, authoritarian regimes are seeing a resurgence. What is driving these trends? And what can be done to reverse them? This was the main topic of our series, which consisted of three events, beginning with a lecture by Wolfgang Schäuble (in German), who provided a political-historical framework of the topic, followed by a talk by experimental psychologist Steven Pinker, who discussed the role of rationality for democratic societies. We concluded with our annual Forum for Economic Dialogue, where experts from various fields discussed the topic from both a political and an economic perspective.

Image: Alex Azabache via Unsplash
Image: Alex Azabache via Unsplash

Speakers

Schriftstellerin, Nobelpreisträgerin
Herta Müller

Herta Müller wurde 1953 in Rumänien geboren, studierte in Timisoara rumänische und deutsche Literatur und arbeitete später als Übersetzerin in einer Maschinenfabrik. Weil sie sich weigerte, ihre Kollegen für den rumänischen Geheimdienst (Securitate) zu bespitzeln, verlor sie ihre Anstellung und geriet selbst ins Visier der Securitate. 1987 kam Herta Müller nach Deutschland, wo sie das kommunistische Regime Rumäniens und den Verfolgungsterror der Securitate lange Zeit nicht abschütteln konnte. Die ständige Präsenz der Verfolgung durch das Regime spiegelt sich in ihren zahlreichen preisgekrönten Veröffentlichungen wider. Im Jahr 2009 erhielt sie den Nobelpreis für Literatur. Ihr Werk wurde in über 50 Sprachen übersetzt.

Eaton Professor of the Science of Government at Harvard University
Prof. Daniel Ziblatt

Daniel Ziblatt is Eaton Professor of the Science of Government at Harvard University and director of the “Transformations of Democracy” group at the WZB Berlin Social Science Center. He specializes in the study of Europe and the history of democracy. His three books include How Democracies Die, co-authored with Steve Levitsky, a New York Times best-seller, translated into thirty languages. He is also the author of Conservative Parties and the Birth of Democracy, an account of Europe’s historical democratization, which won several prizes including the American Sociological Association’s Barrington Moore Prize and the American Political Science Association’s 2018 Woodrow Wilson Prize for the best book in government and international relations. His first book was an analysis of 19th century state building, Structuring the State – The Formation of Italy and Germany and the Puzzle of Federalism. Ziblatt has been a visiting scholar at Ludwig-Maximilian University (Munich), Sciences Po (Paris), the European University Institute (Italy), the Max Planck Institute (Cologne), Stanford’s Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and was the 2019 recipient of the Berlin Prize from the American Academy in Berlin.

Professor of political theory at Yale University
Prof. Hélène Landemore

Hélène Landemore is a professor of political theory at Yale University and a Distinguished Researcher at the Oxford University Institute for Ethics in AI. At Yale she is also a leader of the Institution for Social and Policy Studies (ISPS)'s Democratic Innovations program. She is the author of Democratic Reason (Princeton University Press 2013, Spitz Prize 2015), Open Democracy (Princeton University Press 2020), and Debating Democracy (Oxford University Press 2021, with Jason Brennan) as well as various edited volumes and articles in democratic theory. She has served as governance board member of the French Citizens' Convention on end-of-life issues from October 2022 to April 2023 and is a strategic advisor to the non-profit organization DemocracyNext.

Robert J. and Elizabeth Flanagan Family Term Professor at Georgetown University
Prof. Jason Brennan

Jason Brennan is Robert J. and Elizabeth Flanagan Family Professor of Strategy, Economics, Ethics, and Public Policy at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University. He specializes in politics, philosophy, and economics. He is the editor of Public Affairs Quarterly and an associate editor of Social Philosophy and Policy. He is currently overseeing a $2.1 million project on “Markets, Social Entrepreneurship, and Effective Altruism”, funded by the Templeton Foundation. He serves on the Virginia Advisory Committee to the US Commission on Civil Rights, chairs the Designing the Future(s) Committee at Georgetown, and serves on the Georgetown Faculty Senate. He is the author of 16 books and he has published over 50 articles in peer-reviewed journals and over 30 peer-reviewed chapters in edited anthologies. In 2022, Brennan received the Provost’s Innovation in Teaching Award for his development of the Ethics Project, a student-directed experiential learning project.

Professorin am Institut für Politikwissenschaft, Universität Zürich
Prof. Silja Häusermann

Silja Häusermann ist Professorin für Politikwissenschaft an der Universität Zürich in der Schweiz, wo sie Vorlesungen über Schweizer Politik, vergleichende politische Ökonomie, vergleichende Politikwissenschaft und Wohlfahrtsstaatsforschung hält. Ihre Forschungsinteressen liegen im Bereich der vergleichenden Politikwissenschaft und der vergleichenden politischen Ökonomie.

UBS Foundation Professor of Macroeconomics and Financial Markets, Research Fellow CEPR

Joachim Voth received his PhD from Oxford in 1996. He works on financial crises, long-run growth, as well as on the origins of political extremism. He has examined public debt dynamics and bank lending to the first serial defaulter in history, analysed risk-taking behaviour by lenders as a result of personal shocks, and the investor performance during speculative bubbles. Joachim has also examined the deep historical roots of anti-Semitism, showing that the same cities where pogroms occurred in the Middle Age also persecuted Jews more in the 1930s; he has analyzed the extent to which schooling can create radical racial stereotypes over the long run, and how dense social networks (“social capital”) facilitated the spread of the Nazi party. In his work on long-run growth, he has investigated the effects of fertility restriction, the role of warfare, and the importance of state capacity. Joachim has published more than 80 academic articles and 3 academic books, 5 trade books and more than 50 newspaper columns, op-eds and book reviews. His research has been highlighted in The Economist, the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Guardian, El Pais, Vanguardia, La Repubblica, the Frankfurter Allgemeine, NZZ, der Standard, der Spiegel, CNN, RTN, Swiss and German TV and radio.

Professor of European Studies at the University of Fribourg
Prof. Natasha Wunsch

Natasha Wunsch is Professor of European Studies at the University of Fribourg. She was previously Assistant Professor at Sciences Po and Senior Researcher at ETH Zurich. Her research studies the interaction between processes of democratisation and democratic backsliding and EU-level cooperation, with a particular focus on the post-communist region. Wunsch holds a PhD from University College London and completed her habilitation at ETH Zurich.

Professor of Development and Emerging Markets, Affiliated Professor at the UBS Center

David Yanagizawa-Drott received his PhD from IIES at Stockholm University in 2010. At that point, he was hired as Assistant Professor at John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. He was then promoted to Associate Professor in 2014. In 2016, he was hired as a full professor at University of Zürich. His research has shown that propaganda can cause violent conflict, studying the impact of hate media during the Rwanda Genocide. David has also examined the role of political protests in shaping policy outcomes and elections, establishing evidence that they can be highly effective in moving public opinion. In developing countries, a lot of his work focuses on the how to improve health outcomes and economic outcomes for poor households. In this line of work, for example, David implemented a randomized field experiment that showed that a simple Community Health Worker intervention in Uganda, based on a social entrepreneurship model, reduced child mortality by more than twenty percent. David is a member of several research networks, such as Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL), The Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development (BREAD), European Development Research Network (EUDN) and Center for Economic Policy Research (CEPR). His work has been highlighted in various international media outlets, such as the New York Times, Washington Post, The Guardian, The Economist and various national TV news broadcasts in the U.S.

Business Moderator & Journalist
Carolin Roth

Carolin Roth is a freelance broadcast journalist for CNBC International and conference/events moderator, with a passion for complex topics in finance, economics and politics. She has 12 years of experience in live TV as an international finance and business journalist at CNBC.

Schriftstellerin, Nobelpreisträgerin
Herta Müller

Herta Müller wurde 1953 in Rumänien geboren, studierte in Timisoara rumänische und deutsche Literatur und arbeitete später als Übersetzerin in einer Maschinenfabrik. Weil sie sich weigerte, ihre Kollegen für den rumänischen Geheimdienst (Securitate) zu bespitzeln, verlor sie ihre Anstellung und geriet selbst ins Visier der Securitate. 1987 kam Herta Müller nach Deutschland, wo sie das kommunistische Regime Rumäniens und den Verfolgungsterror der Securitate lange Zeit nicht abschütteln konnte. Die ständige Präsenz der Verfolgung durch das Regime spiegelt sich in ihren zahlreichen preisgekrönten Veröffentlichungen wider. Im Jahr 2009 erhielt sie den Nobelpreis für Literatur. Ihr Werk wurde in über 50 Sprachen übersetzt.

Eaton Professor of the Science of Government at Harvard University
Prof. Daniel Ziblatt

Daniel Ziblatt is Eaton Professor of the Science of Government at Harvard University and director of the “Transformations of Democracy” group at the WZB Berlin Social Science Center. He specializes in the study of Europe and the history of democracy. His three books include How Democracies Die, co-authored with Steve Levitsky, a New York Times best-seller, translated into thirty languages. He is also the author of Conservative Parties and the Birth of Democracy, an account of Europe’s historical democratization, which won several prizes including the American Sociological Association’s Barrington Moore Prize and the American Political Science Association’s 2018 Woodrow Wilson Prize for the best book in government and international relations. His first book was an analysis of 19th century state building, Structuring the State – The Formation of Italy and Germany and the Puzzle of Federalism. Ziblatt has been a visiting scholar at Ludwig-Maximilian University (Munich), Sciences Po (Paris), the European University Institute (Italy), the Max Planck Institute (Cologne), Stanford’s Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and was the 2019 recipient of the Berlin Prize from the American Academy in Berlin.

Professor of political theory at Yale University
Prof. Hélène Landemore

Hélène Landemore is a professor of political theory at Yale University and a Distinguished Researcher at the Oxford University Institute for Ethics in AI. At Yale she is also a leader of the Institution for Social and Policy Studies (ISPS)'s Democratic Innovations program. She is the author of Democratic Reason (Princeton University Press 2013, Spitz Prize 2015), Open Democracy (Princeton University Press 2020), and Debating Democracy (Oxford University Press 2021, with Jason Brennan) as well as various edited volumes and articles in democratic theory. She has served as governance board member of the French Citizens' Convention on end-of-life issues from October 2022 to April 2023 and is a strategic advisor to the non-profit organization DemocracyNext.

Robert J. and Elizabeth Flanagan Family Term Professor at Georgetown University
Prof. Jason Brennan

Jason Brennan is Robert J. and Elizabeth Flanagan Family Professor of Strategy, Economics, Ethics, and Public Policy at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University. He specializes in politics, philosophy, and economics. He is the editor of Public Affairs Quarterly and an associate editor of Social Philosophy and Policy. He is currently overseeing a $2.1 million project on “Markets, Social Entrepreneurship, and Effective Altruism”, funded by the Templeton Foundation. He serves on the Virginia Advisory Committee to the US Commission on Civil Rights, chairs the Designing the Future(s) Committee at Georgetown, and serves on the Georgetown Faculty Senate. He is the author of 16 books and he has published over 50 articles in peer-reviewed journals and over 30 peer-reviewed chapters in edited anthologies. In 2022, Brennan received the Provost’s Innovation in Teaching Award for his development of the Ethics Project, a student-directed experiential learning project.

Program

13.00 Door opening
13.30 Welcome address
David Yanagizawa-Drott (Universität Zürich)
13.45 Keynote: Demokratien in Gefahr (in German)
Nobel laureate Herta Müller
14.30 Coffee break
15.00 Research slam:
Polarization of democratic politics
Silja Häusermann (Universität Zürich)
Going viral – Propaganda, persuasion and polarization
Hans-Joachim Voth (Universität Zürich)
Who tolerates democratic backsliding?
Natasha Wunsch (Université de Fribourg)
Understanding the rise of opinions as facts
David Yanagizawa-Drott (Universität Zürich)
16.00 Coffee break
16.30 Disputation: Debating democracy
Hélène Landemore (Yale University) and Jason Brennan (Georgetown University)
17.30 Reception
18.00 Zurich Lecture of Economics in Society: How democracies die – and what can be done to save them
Daniel Ziblatt (Harvard University)
19.00 End of event
13.00 Door opening
13.30 Welcome address
David Yanagizawa-Drott (Universität Zürich)
13.45 Keynote: Demokratien in Gefahr (in German)
Nobel laureate Herta Müller
14.30 Coffee break
15.00 Research slam:
Polarization of democratic politics
Silja Häusermann (Universität Zürich)
Going viral – Propaganda, persuasion and polarization
Hans-Joachim Voth (Universität Zürich)
Who tolerates democratic backsliding?
Natasha Wunsch (Université de Fribourg)
Understanding the rise of opinions as facts
David Yanagizawa-Drott (Universität Zürich)
16.00 Coffee break
16.30 Disputation: Debating democracy
Hélène Landemore (Yale University) and Jason Brennan (Georgetown University)
17.30 Reception
18.00 Zurich Lecture of Economics in Society: How democracies die – and what can be done to save them
Daniel Ziblatt (Harvard University)
19.00 End of event

Venue

Kongresshaus Zürich

Claridenstrasse 5, 8002 Zürich
(Google Maps)