Today, liberal democracies are under unprecedented strain from within and without. In each episode, renowned social anthropologist Shalini Randeria invites a leading scholar to explore the challenges and dilemmas facing democracies around the world. They investigate what needs to be done to ensure the future well-being of our democratic institutions and practices.
Mary Kaldor on NATO, Human Security, the Changing Face of Global War and the Effectiveness of Sanctions and Debt Cancellation
A new world order is in place where according to Kaldor, perpetual violence has become the norm. How come these so-called new wars, or “forever wars” as Kaldor refers to them, are not tied to contest over national territory? Furthermore, does NATO still adhere to Cold War patterns of thinking and is there a willingness in the organization to change the focus towards matters relating to human security? Is Putin's war of aggression in Ukraine not a throwback to the old wars fought for control over territory against neighboring states? And where can we locate the sights and actors of successful resistance, and should these be civilian rather than military? Can the military even be part of the solution, or is the inherent logic of the military industrial complex part of the problem in the first place? Given the current geopolitical tensions can democratic status quo be preserved by relying on a self-limiting and limited capacity for defensive deterrence mixed with policing functions?
Thoughts on the Past, Present and Future of Diverse Democracies
What are the main threats to diverse societies and why is the timely recognition of these threats more important in liberal democracies? Can we or should we overcome the framework of methodological nationalism when we talk about the future of diverse democracies? Is the nation-state still the optimal scale for political action? How can diverse societies coexist with democratic institutions and governance structures on both the subnational and the supernational scales? How can the metaphor of the public park apply to diverse democracies of today?
Current State of Affairs in Putin’s Russia
This episode presents a description of the current situation in Putin's totalitarian Russia and analyzes whether there is hope for change coming from within the country itself. It is a vivid picture of how authoritarian regimes shape what citizens see, believe, and think and how this leads to a profound sense of hopelessness, isolation, a state of general anxiety and despair. Is the resurgence of Putin’s new imperial ambitions likely to bolster his power nationally and internationally? Can sanctions or economic sanctions in general give a hope in resolving the conflict?
Faltering democratic systems and the need to reconstruct democracy
Why is democracy faltering around the world even in countries where it was previously well established? Why an unelected, non-democratic body like the House of Lords has joined the debate on democracy and is sounding off alarms? Can crises like Brexit or the war in Ukraine encourage the debate to rethink how democracy works? What type of media and politicians can best assist in achieving this?
The French Presidential Election and the State of Democracy in France
In this episode the focus is on the latest presidential elections in France and the state of its democracy. What were the significant differences between this election and the previous one? Is there a new wave of anti-intellectual sentiment spreading across the country? It also delves upon how current political entities manoeuvre their way within the framework of the traditional right/left divide: has Macron forsaken his liberal values and did that lead to reluctance among his voters? Did Marine Le Pen’s strategy of de-demonization work? How did the far-left fare and who did they vote for in the second round?
Perspectives on Putin and Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine
This episode discusses how Vladimir Putin’s worldview was shaped and explores his possible motives for invading Ukraine. Also examined is the global response to the invasion, which has not been uniform around the world, as well as how the invasion has brought about closer unity between the United States and Europe, which had been drifting apart for some time.