© Suhrkamp Verlag

Liberal democracy is a marathon

» I have long been concerned about why globalization is going wrong, why democracy doesn’t seem to be working. «
Arjun Appadurai

Why are so many people around the world growing tired of liberal democracy? Why are demagogues like Erdogan and Trump able to attract massive throngs of adoring supporters? In this interview, Arjun Appadurai compares the liberal democratic process to that of a marathon: it requires endurance and patience.

However, many seem to have lost that necessary patience these days. Weary of marathon negotiations and diplomacy, they yearn for a politics that »sprints« and makes its decisions fast. Consequently, more and more citizens are turning their back on democratic systems. Rather than articulate constructive criticism or simply remain loyal to the status quo, they choose a path of political »exit« and no longer feel tied to any party, product or society.

Appadurai goes on to address a central contradiction of our times: namely, that while commodities continue to circulate freely across the globe, a rumbling call for more borders looms on the horizon.

»In a way, people in many nation states want to eat the cake and keep it, too. They want the benefits of globalization – they want the cash, the freedom to move, they want this and that –, but they don’t want the ›wrong kind‹ of people, the ›wrong kind‹ of ideas, the ›wrong kind‹ of this and that.«