Subject: Authoritarianism

April 2013, Volume 24, Issue 2

Review Essay: A Voice from the North Korean Gulag

Evidence of the evil perpetrated in North Korea’s prison camps continues to emerge, as most vividly highlighted by Blaine Harden’s Escape from Camp 14: One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West.

January 2013, Volume 24, Issue 1

China at the Tipping Point? Goodbye to Gradualism

China is heading toward a tipping point, with two likely scenarios for how a political opening will come about. Most Chinese intellectuals think that only gradualism—“slow and steady,” step-by-step reform—can offer China a safe and feasible path toward liberal democracy. But they are wrong. Instead of “taking it slow,” China should shun gradualism and opt…

January 2013, Volume 24, Issue 1

China at the Tipping Point? The Rising Cost of Stability

Although the Chinese Communist Party has tried to institutionalize the political system in the reform era, such efforts have been hampered by the Maoist legacy. To cope with challenges from the society, the CCP mainly relies on a highly centralized and resource-intensive weiwen system, and shows little respect for institutional differentiation and formal procedures.

January 2013, Volume 24, Issue 1

China at the Tipping Point? The Turn Against Legal Reform

Over the past decade, Chinese authorities have turned against many of the legal reforms they themselves had enacted in the late 20th century. Lawyers have come under increased pressure. Political campaigns warning against rule-of-law norms have rippled through the courts. And central authorities have massively increased funding for extralegal institutions aimed at curtailing and suppressing…

January 2013, Volume 24, Issue 1

China at the Tipping Point? The Troubled Periphery

The response of the Chinese state (and of Chinese society at large) to the problems of the country’s periphery—Tibet, Xinjiang, and Inner Mongolia, as well as hundreds of counties, prefectures, and townships in Sichuan, Qinghai, Yunnan, and other areas—is piling more tension and misery upon the populations there, but it is not undermining state power.

January 2013, Volume 24, Issue 1

China at the Tipping Point? From “Fart People” to Citizens

In recent years, Chinese netizens have shown boundless creativity and ingenuity in expressing themselves despite government restrictions on online speech. Will new political discourse give birth to a new political identity? Are new forms of networked communication enhancing opportunities for social change and helping to move China toward a “threshold” for political transformation?

July 2012, Volume 23, Issue 3

African Elections: Two Divergent Trends

Regular elections have become a fixture of political life throughout sub-Saharan Africa, but there are now “two Africas” in this regard: one where elections bring the blessings of greater political openness and competition, and another where elections are, in effect, one more tool that authoritarians use to retain power.

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January 2012, Volume 23, Issue 1

Morocco: Outfoxing the Opposition

Morocco was not immune to the 2011 upheavals in the Arab world, but the country’s monarchy deftly managed the crisis through cosmetic constitutional reform.

July 2011, Volume 22, Issue 3

Belarus: A Tale of Two Elections

Strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s suspiciously lopsided 2010 electoral victory—and subsequent crackdown on dissent—may seem like a repeat of the events of 2006, but much has changed in the interval, and his regime is much more precarious today.

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April 2011, Volume 22, Issue 2

Paradoxes of the New Authoritarianism

Why are the unfree regimes of the former Soviet world proving so durable? A lack of ideology and—perhaps surprisingly—a degree of openness are proving to be not so much problems for authoritarianism as bulwarks of it.

January 2010, Volume 21, Issue 1

Authoritarianism’s Last Line of Defense

The new electoral authoritarian regimes of the post–Cold War era have formally adopted the full panoply of liberal-democratic institutions. Rather than rejecting or repressing these institutions, they manipulate them.

October 2009, Volume 20, Issue 4

Jordan: Ten More Years of Autocracy

Jordan gets much good press for having one of the more open and liberal regimes in the Arab world, but that reputation masks a considerably grimmer reality.

April 2009, Volume 20, Issue 2

Reading Russia: Tools of Autocracy

Arguably a flawed democracy in the 1990s, Russia took a distinctly authoritarian turn under President Vladimir Putin from 2000 to 2008. The country now lives under a façade democracy that barely conceals the political and administrative dominance of a self-interested bureaucratic corporation. The regime manufactures consent by means of three tools: information and propaganda campaigns…

April 2009, Volume 20, Issue 2

Reading Russia: Forms Without Substance

Twenty years ago, there was a more thoroughgoing political pluralism in Russia than there is today. In some respects, the forms of democracy-including party consolidation-have been enhanced, but they have been so manipulated as to deprive them of substance. Either “electoral authoritarianism” of “multiparty authoritarianism” (Juan Linz’s terms) may reasonably be applied to contemporary Russia,…

July 2008, Volume 19, Issue 3

ASEAN’s “Black Swans”

Can regionalism help to redress the uneven spread and internal weaknesses of democracy in Southeast Asia? Unforeseen events in the region and positive political entrepreneurship may yet transform ASEAN into a force for democracy.

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January 2002, Volume 13, Issue 1

The End of the Transition Paradigm

Must countries where authoritarian regimes have fallen therefore be “in transition” to democracy? Many democracy promoters seem to think so. Yet trends on the ground in country after country are raising doubts about whether it is true or useful to think of democracy’s prospects in this way.

January 2001, Volume 12, Issue 1

Fighting Authoritarianism in Zimbabwe

The stunning defeat of a draft constitution backed by President Robert Mugabe and the opposition’s unexpectedly strong showing in the June 2000 parliamentary elections may have marked the beginning of the end of ruling-party hegemony in Zimbabwe.

January 1997, Volume 8, Issue 1

A Laureate’s Lament

A review of The Open Sore of a Continent: A Personal Narrative of the Nigerian Crisis, by Wole Soyinka.

January 1995, Volume 6, Issue 1

Tyranny and Myth

A review of The Soviet Tragedy: A History of Socialism in Russia, 1917-1991, by Martin Malia and Modern Tyrants: The Power and Prevalence of Evil in Our Age, by Daniel Chirot.