Talks on TED. Ivan Krastev: Can democracy exist without trust?
This talk was presented at an official TED Conference. Ivan Krastev is the chairman of the Centre for Liberal Strategies, Sofia, and permanent fellow at the IWM Institute of Human Sciences in Vienna. He is a founding board member of the European Council on Foreign Relations, a member of the advisory board of the ERSTE Foundation and a member of the global advisory board of the Open Society Institute. He is also associate editor of Europe's World and a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of Democracy and journal Transit – Europäische Revue. His latest books in English are The Anti-American Century , co-editors with Alan McPherson, (CEU Press, 2007) and Shifting Obsessions: Three Essays on the Politics of Anticorruption (CEU Press, 2004). He is a co-author with Stephen Holmes of a forthcoming book on Russian politics. So from his home base in Bulgaria, Ivan Krastev thinks about democracy — and how to reframe it.
Political scientist Ivan Krastev is watching the Euro crisis closely, fascinated by what it reveals about Europe's place in history: What does it mean for the democratic model? Will a fragmented Europe return to nationalist identity politics?
In his latest work, Krastev places recent events on a continuum of five revolutions over the past decades:
So this is what went right. But if we're going to see what went wrong, we're going to end up with the same five revolutions. For example, we have the market revolution of the 1980s and the huge increase of inequality in societies. Until the 1970s, the spread of democracy has always been accompanied by the decline of inequality. The more democratic our societies have been, the more equal they have been becoming. Now we have the reverse tendency. The spread of democracy now is very much accompanied by the increase in inequality. And I find this very much disturbing when we're talking about what's going on right and wrong with democracy these days. And when we talk about the Internet, yes, it's true, the Internet connected all of us, but we also know that the Internet created these echo chambers and political ghettos in which for all your life you can stay with the political community you belong to. And it's becoming more and more difficult to understand the people who are not like you. Many people have been splendidly speaking about the digital world and the possibility for cooperation, but have you seen what the digital world has done to American politics these days? This is also partly a result of the Internet revolution. This is the other side of the things that we like. And when you go to the brain sciences, what political consultants learned from the brain scientists is don't talk to me about ideas anymore, don't talk to me about policy programs. What really matters is basically to manipulate the emotions of the people. And you have this very strongly to the extent that, even if you see when we talk about revolutions these days, these revolutions are not named anymore around ideologies or ideas. Before, revolutions used to have ideological names. They could be communist, they could be liberal, they could be fascist or Islamic. Now the revolutions are called under the medium which is most used. You have Facebook revolutions, Twitter revolutions. The content doesn't matter anymore, the problem is the media.