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Globalization vs. Democracy

Unchecked economic globalization has empowered the leaders of major powers, particularly the United States, to wield disproportionate influence over the well-being of billions of people who have no say in selecting these leaders. This erosion of global democracy is having far-reaching geopolitical consequences.

ITHACA, NEW YORK – Democracy is in retreat across much of the world, with authoritarian leaders and extremist movements gaining momentum amid widespread discontent with established political parties and institutions. As democratic governance comes under strain, our most cherished ideals, such as equal freedom and rights for all, are increasingly at risk.

Democratic backsliding has many causes, including the depredations of Big Tech and the rapid spread of misinformation and disinformation. But the one that plays a critical role is emerging from a strange concoction of unchecked economic globalization and severe political balkanization. This has enabled major powers like the United States to wield disproportionate influence over the well-being of billions of people worldwide, who have no political voice.

The bedrock principle of democracy is that people affected by the decisions of political leaders should have a say in selecting those leaders. This idea is so fundamental that even authoritarian countries like Russia and North Korea hold elections, ostensibly allowing citizens to “choose” their leaders. Of course, these elections pose no real threat to the existing regime. In North Korea’s 2023 election, for example, Kim Jong-un’s Workers’ Party received 99.91% of the votes.