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August 19, 2016
What sort of world, or country, will your children be living in? Does it matter?
Mark Movsesian writes at First Things on "The End of the Liberal Tradition?" that a new paper suggests young American are giving up on democracy.
. . . a fascinating new paper in The Journal of Democracy suggests that liberal democracy is losing ground even at home, in the West. Political scientists Roberto Stefan Foa and Yascha Mounk review data from recent World Values Surveys and observe some truly remarkable trends, especially among young people. Young people often reject the traditions of their elders; that's nothing new. What they seem to be rejecting nowadays, though, in increasing numbers, is the tradition of liberalism itself.
Well, "liberalism" might mean any number of things, right? So what are they talking about exactly?
For example, the percentage of people in Western Europe and the United States who say it is "essential" for them to live in a democratically-governed country has declined dramatically across generations. In the United States, less than one-third of millennials—defined as people born since 1980—say it is essential for them. Think about that: More than two-thirds of American young people say democratic government is not a crucial factor in where they would want to live.
Perhaps this is just a lack of enthusiasm or knowledge of how democracy really works? No:
According to Foa and Mounk, these numbers do not reflect growing indifference to liberal democracy, but growing opposition. In the surveys, young people increasingly express openness to authoritarianism—especially young people who are rich. An astonishing 35 percent of wealthy young Americans say it would be "a 'good' thing for the army to take over" the country!
It's not the word "democracy" that is getting the cold shoulder. Surveys also
reveal that younger Americans value civil liberties, such as free speech, less than their parents did. For example, only 32 percent of millennials say that civil rights are "absolutely essential" in a democracy, a steep drop from previous generations.
There may be no more crucial time than now to become acquainted with various political ideologies and realize, before it's too late, what makes them tick and how they have fared (and how people have flourished or suffered under them!). One hint: the American Founding Fathers greatly distrusted democracy! That's why they founded a constitutional republic, in which democracy plays an important part, along with a system of checks and balances. That system has been slowly weakened, and without it, democracy alone can result in mob rule. Watch out.
Related Salvo articles from the archives, filed under CIVILIZATION:
Utopian Creep & the Struggle for Human Rights & Freedom
by Terrell Clemmons
Truth vs. State
It Takes Courage to Confront False Ideologies
by H. Lynn Gardner
Citizens Cain & Abel
The Dilemma of Soulcraft & the State
by Cameron Wybrow
Fr. Roman Braga: How One Man Found Freedom Inside a Communist Prison
by James M. Kushiner
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