Support for Democracy Collapsing
Immigrants from undemocratic countries/cultures have lower support for democratic systems and the ancient rights/traditions of native cultures.
Natives in the West, particularly Anglo-Saxons, prefer liberty to democracy. Democracy was favored because it was seen as the best system for protecting rights. When the population is homogeneous, there are two political parties that both agree on the fundamental rights, traditions and culture of a nation. As diversity increases, there is no consensus. The Anglo-Saxon nations have the highest level of individualism, but as democracy replaces liberty, effectively the only rights you have are what you win in democratic debate. Hence the rapid increase in identity politics as the Venn diagram of “people who support liberty” increasingly overlaps with race and ethnicity.
There are two trends at play. One is non-Western (and non-Anglo-Saxon people in the Anglo countries) who come from collectivist, undemocratic and/or authoritarian cultures. They may openly oppose the native system (Muslims who want Sharia being the latest example) or they will favor policies that benefit the group, even if it erodes the native system. Current progressive politics is openly opposed to traditional Western culture and politics, labeling it things such as “white privilege.” Essentially, they are correct: when a nation is overwhelmingly one race or ethnic group, it’s system by definition is designed for itself. As diversity increases, so does the number of people who don’t “fit” into the system.
The other trend is natives who value liberty/tradition above democracy. People who don’t think of their system/culture/tradition as an ethnic/racial system, but as “the way things are.” Democracy is seen as illegitimate if it revokes rights or reverses tradition. If this group is losing support for democracy, we should see support for liberty hold up. And that’s what the data shows:
Taking the pooled data from Europe and the United States, we find that attitudes toward liberal institutions do not differ radically among different generations. But a liberal conception of democracy is somewhat less entrenched among millenials (born since the 1980s) than their baby-boomer parents (born during the first two decades after the Second World War).
Millennials are a very diverse generation. The decline in liberalism is likely a result of increasingly non-Western people in that cohort, rather than a decline in support among natives.
The American Revolution and Civil War (and earlier civil wars in England) were fought among Anglo-Saxons. The current demographics in the Anglo-Saxon nations argues for a far more combustible situation. Both sides in a conflict may be opposed to democracy.
In a society made up of a growing cohort that opposes liberty and doesn’t oppose authoritarian rule (willingly submits to it or isn’t motivated enough to oppose it), and another growing cohort that wants to preserve liberty even if it means dumping democracy, one stable point is authoritarian government that protects liberty. Pinochet, Kemalists, the King of England.
Based on the timeline, it appears a nation needs to have the dominant identity group above 80 percent of the population. The nation in worst shape is the United States, headed for below 50 percent for the largest ethnic/racial group.
Even if subsequent research should show that democratic deconsolidation really is underway, this would not mean that any particular democracy would soon collapse. Nor is it obvious that the democracy that had deconsolidated the most would be the first to fail. Regime change is always a matter of accident as well as intention, of historical circumstances as well as structural preconditions. But if democratic deconsolidation were Roberto Stefan Foa and Yascha Mounk 17 proven to be in progress, it would mean that what was once unthinkable should no longer be considered outside the realm of possibility. As democracies deconsolidate, the prospect of democratic breakdown becomes increasingly likely—even in parts of the world that have long been spared such instability. If political scientists are to avoid being blindsided by the demise of established democracies in the coming decades, as they were by the fall of communism a few decades ago, they need to find out whether democratic deconsolidation is happening; to explain the possible causes of this development; to delineate its likely consequences (present and future); and to ponder the potential remedies.
The quickest and easiest way for a democracy to “deconsolidate” is via political breakup: secession. The United States is well suited for a breakup because much of the political conflict overlaps with geography: the left is concentrated in a few state and urban areas. And as the nation drifts into authoritarianism, support for secession grows on both sides of the political spectrum.
On Tuesday afternoon, Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra’s office released an official title and summary for the initiative, now called the “California Autonomy From Federal Government” initiative.
The proposal, scaled back from an initially more aggressive version, would direct California’s governor to negotiate more autonomy from the federal government, including potentially putting forward a ballot measure to declare independence.
The initiative wouldn’t necessarily result in California exiting the country, but could allow the state to be a “fully functioning sovereign and autonomous nation” within the U.S.
Backers of the plan, known informally as “Calexit” have 180 days to collect nearly 600,000 valid signatures for the initiative to go on the 2018 ballot.
A long-term decline in social mood will push these trends to the extreme. The odds of a major political reformation in North America and Europe is growing, but even if there’s no major akin to the collapse of the Soviet Union, there will be increasing political volatility. The Western nations most likely to avoid chaotic transitions and political volatility are those who oppose migration, have very homogeneous populations and are already being accused of authoritarianism: the nations of Eastern Europe.