In his opening remarks, Niall Ferguson refers to Freedom House, an independent watchdog organization dedicated to the expansion of freedom and democracy around the world, which provides an annual global report
on political rights and civil liberties, composed of numerical ratings. Freedom House recorded the 13th consecutive year of decline
in global freedom, from 2005 to 2018. The share of Not Free countries rose to 26%
while the share of Free countries declined to 44%. Between 1988 and 2005,
corresponding with the fall of the Soviet Union, the percentage of countries ranked Not Free dropped by almost 14 points
(from 37% to 23%), while the share of Free countries grew
(from 36% to 46%). Syria, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Libya, and Somalia are among the 13 countries with the worst scores for political freedom and civil liberties. Meanwhile, Angola, Armenia, Ecuador, Ethiopia, and Malaysia showed signs democratic progress in 2018.
Michael Ignatieff mentions the rise of authoritarian regimes under the leadership of Vladimir Putin, Victor Orban, and Recep Tayyip Erdogan. This Time Magazine article
explores the rise of these ‘strongmen’ around the world, including in the US, Philippines, Brazil, Egypt, Nicaragua, and Venezuela.
Niall Ferguson talks about the populist rise of Boris Johnson. This Economist piece
explains how the Conservative Party transformed from a party with rebel Eurosceptics on the fringes to one that embraced a hard Brexit with Remainer MPs routinely being sidelined.
Niall talks about the connection between increased migration and rise of populism
. In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision in 2015 to open the doors to 1 million refugees from Syria and other zones of distress sparked the rise of the anti-immigrant AfD. Far right parties in Sweden, France, Spain, and Austria have also seen gains
due to anti-migrants sentiments in those countries.
Niall talks about Heteredox Academy
, which was established by NYU Professor Jonathan Haidt to combat the narrowing of political viewpoints on college campuses.
In a recent survey
, 53% of students reported that they do not think their college or university frequently encourages students to consider a wide variety of viewpoints and perspectives. 32% of conservatives (vs. 8% of liberals) were very reluctant to discuss politics in the classroom.
Another report from FIRE
showed 58% of students think it is important not to be exposed to "intolerant or offensive ideas." Disinviting speakers is supported by 78% of "very liberal" students and by 38% of "very conservative" students.