Authoritarian Power and the challenges to Liberal Democracy

Authoritarian Power and the challenges to Liberal Democracy

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Constitutional democracies in Europe, North America, and Asia stand at a crucial turning point. The global balance of power—economic, technological, and military power—between democracies and autocracies has shifted substantially in the last twenty years, often in the favor of non-democracies. In a century marked by rapid and disruptive economic and technological change, many democracies have shown signs of political dysfunction and a certain degree of public apathy (or even hostility) towards basic liberal democratic ideals, while many authoritarian states have shown, at least in their foreign policy and official pronouncements, increasing confidence and energy. 

Unlike the dictatorships of the twentieth century, twenty first century authoritarianism is becoming high-tech, focused on the control of populations through digital surveillance and information management, and deeply integrated into the global economy. 

This volume gathers the contributions of an international group of professors and graduate researchers in political studies to study of new forms of authoritarian power in a variety of areas, including geopolitics, economics, technological development, and military strategy. The authors ask: 

• What are the trends and challenges faced by liberal democracies in a world of growing authoritarian power? 

• How viable, in the long run, is the political and economic model of centralized, authoritarian state-capitalism? 

• Can autocracies use foreign direct investment (FDI) and other economic tools to achieve their own political and foreign policy objectives within developing nations—and even within democracies, like the member-states of the European Union—possibly against the long-term interest of democratic governance? 

• How do authoritarian regimes use digital technologies, social media, and forms of ‘cyber warfare’ to spread misinformation online, increase mutual distrust among democratic populations, and weaken liberal international institutions? 

• What role does cutting-edge technologies—especially, Artificial Intelligence (AI), digital surveillance tools like facial recognition cameras, Big Data, and space technology—play in strengthening authoritarian states? 

• What is the risk that democracies themselves are becoming more authoritarian, and more intolerant, while constructing parallel forms of ‘Surveillance Capitalism’ and mass monitoring of civilians? 

Contributing Authors: Constança de Matos, Pamela Machado, Luís Leal de Faria, Manuel Poêjo Torres, Corina Lozovan, Maria Cortesão Monteiro, William Hasselberger, John Owen IV 

Edited by: William Hasselberger and Francisco Proença Garcia 


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