In Singapore, we’re used to political stability, but in some countries around the world, we see democracies breaking down. In this climate, we never know what will happen next. That’s why we need to understand what went wrong, what could go wrong, and how it can be prevented. Here are some books that can help.
To learn from the past, read:
How Democracies Die: What History Reveals About Our Future by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt
Cases of democracies falling into authoritarian regimes — like in Venezuela and Hungary — would definitely spur one to question what happened.
Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, draws on a wide range of historical examples, characterising dead democracies with the election of an authoritarian leader, the abuse of governmental power and the complete repression of opposition.
“History doesn’t repeat itself. But it rhymes. The promise of history, and the hope of this book, is that we can find the rhymes before it is too late.”
To understand the present, read:
Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest by Zeynep Tufekci
Today’s protests are internet-fuelled, leaderless and quick to gain momentum. With examples such as the Occupy Movement and the Zapatista uprisings, Tufekci explains modern protests — how they form, how they operate, and their strengths and weaknesses.
By understanding the tools that protesters and governments use against each other, readers will be more aware of how leaders of various nations are switching gears to deal with new forms of protest.
“How do you think this will end?” I say that I do not know. In the mountains of Chiapas, I learned a Zapatista saying: “Preguntando caminamos.” It means “we walk while asking questions.”
To prepare for the future, read:
The People vs Tech: How the Internet Is Killing Democracy (and How We Save It) by Jamie Bartlett
Could our democracy be in danger without us even realising? Bartlett argues that democracy WILL be destroyed by technology.
He demonstrates this by listing 6 pillars that make democracy work and by showing how they are threatened by social media, big data, mobile technology and AI. Here are the pillars:
- Active citizens
- A shared culture
- Free elections
- Stakeholder equality
- Competitive economy and civic freedom
- Trust in authority
Before you panic, he gives suggestions for how democracy and each of us must change in order to survive the digital age.
Get the book here: eBook
Let us know if you have more book suggestions that may give tomorrow’s democracy some hope. ;)
National Reading Movement
National Library Board