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“Where Is Democracy Heading After Trump?”

2017-03-13 | 관리자

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“Democracy is under threat, but it is still the only desirable form of
governance. Overcoming the threat of nationalism and populism,
we must spread the awareness on the severity of current global crises,
and strive to build a better future through international cooperation.” 

On January 11, 2017, Professor John Ikenberry of Princeton University,
an Eminent Scholar of Kyung Hee University, thusly spoke at Kyung Hee
Global Forum for Humanities and Social Studies (GFHSS). Professor Ikenberry
is a recognized authority on International Politics and, on top of his academic
responsibilities, currently serving as an advisor to the U.S. State Department.
 

This year’s GFHSS was held between January 6 and 18, 2017, on the
Seoul Campus with the title “Looking out into the future from the window
of the past.” Two special lectures and one seminar were offered, and this
two-parts series will introduce the lectures and the seminar.

 

“In an era of aporia, the democratic ethos has run aground” 

In a lecture titled, “Where is democracy heading after Trump: the liberal
internationalism at crisis and the possible solutions,” Professor Ikenberry
dealt with the predicament in which American liberal intellectuals found
themselves after Donald Trump’s electoral victory. He diagnosed, “Although
the liberal democracy won the Cold War, the democratic ethos that we have
taken for granted has run aground and lost direction in the current era of aporia.”
After World War II, liberal democracy became the dominant governing ideology
in many countries with its supreme reputation securely cemented by the end
of the Cold War. But, as shown recently in the latest American presidential election
and the Brexit, the ethos of liberal democracy that once deemed as the only
possible solution to our political woes has seemingly lost traction in a new age
of uncertainties.”
 
 

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“The essential, indispensable role of international cooperation in dealing
with the global problems” 

Professor Ikenberry then asked, “Why has liberal democracy fallen?
Is there a fundamental, systematic flaw? Or is this ostensive setback
only temporary?” The cause of the current crisis of liberal democracy,
he argued, stems from the weakening of the international cooperation
and the sense of solidarity. He said, “The latest global crises such as
climate change, nuclear proliferation, deadly epidemics, and so forth
are of international nature which containment and eradication goes
far beyond the resource and capability of any single nation, even the
strongest nation on earth. The old political alliance of the Western
countries that propelled the ascendancy of liberal democracy, however,
has been all but dissolved in the absence of the threat of nuclear
annihilation. And the rise of rapidly developing nations such as
China, India, Brazil, and Russia introduced a new rule of multilateral
power struggle in the arena of international politics. To tackle these global
challenges, it is necessary to galvanize the entire international community
under a single directive, but the current relationship between the two leading
nations, the US and China, is rather strained, weakening our hope for a
better tomorrow. The crisis is also happening to our sense of international
solidarity, as we see a resurgence of chauvinistic nationalism and myopic
populism hampering any meaningful international dialogue and cooperation.
A meaningful dialogue is only possible when there is a set of shared values
among all participants: we need a new source of value to achieve solidarity.”
 

He named as the new source of international solidarity the common threat of
planetary destruction and the possible extermination of humanity. Professor
Ikenberry said, “When all the nations in the world feel the palpable threat of
mass extermination creeping up their throat, we shall have a truly meaningful
and productive international cooperation. Now is the time; it cannot be too soon
for us to band together against this common threat.”
 

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“A glimmer of hope from the young generation interested in global warming”

Professor Ikenberry was somewhat pessimistic about the future of democracy in
the short term. He said, “The election of Donald Trump is as much a denial of the
political status quo as it is the rejection of previous alliances and codependences.
The global cooperative effort to save earth has suffered a significant setback,
and a future of uncertainties is upon us.” But he did not completely lose hope
saying, “While the gloomy future of our discontent has certainly enthralled us,
I see a new hope in the young generation who take serious interest in the global
exigencies like climate change. I look forward to new environmental ethics to
take root in their hearts and minds.”

He then concluded his lecture saying, “The source of all our global problems is
inevitablytraced back to us: we are our own undoing. Now is the time for
intervention.It is upon the young generation to take up the courage to tackle the
intractable problems. I hope they will have a better future than what we had.”
 

Kyung Hee Global Forum for Humanities and Social Studies (GFHSS) is an
expansion of the Global Collaborative Summer Program (GC Summer Program)
into the winter break.

 

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