By: Douglas Heaven
Published: BBC, 30 March 2017, http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20170330-the-uncertain-future-of-democracy
Level of Difficulty: ***
Note to the student: This is a long text but a very good and topical one so I have prepared a reading task to accompany it. There are some natural stopping places in the text so feel free to complete the task in two sittings. Videos have been attached to some of the questions to break the monotony and help with comprehension.
BEFORE YOU READ
In order to be able to fully appreciate this text, you will need to prepare. Below you will find videos of experts whose opinions are discussed in the text. Watch, listen and take notes.
· WFD 2016 debates. Joan HOEY, The Democracy Index, The Economist Intelligence Unit, UK https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKAJR8Z1y0o
· Confucius and the History of Meritocracy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtvNBFucjys
· Democracy Meritocracy Or Both https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BS130QDg6Fw (There is a 7 minute introduction)
1. Read the story of Joshua Wong. What is ironical about the response of the West to his exploits?
2. We understand from the text that Western governments are far too apt to point the finger when in fact……….
3. Study the “Democracy Index”: https://infographics.economist.com/2017/DemocracyIndex/. Check the ratings for the USA, Western Democracies, a selection of countries in the Middle East and the Far East.
· What trend is observed in the USA, France and the Netherlands?
· Which countries in Europe score the highest?
· What areas of the world have the lowest score?
· Why is the low score Middle Eastern countries have got surprising?
4. Which trend which emerged in the Democracy Index is the writer most concerned about?
5. Which of the statements below best reflects the conclusion that can be drawn from the paragraph beginning “The result”?
· There have been drastic changes in the rankings
· There have been certain changes in the rankings
· There have been predictable changes in the rankings
· There have been qualitative changes in the rankings
6. Why has North Carolina been singled out according to the text?
7. Hoey is more pessimistic/ more optimistic than those who see the global financial crisis as the reason for the drop in US standing in the democracy index. The reason for his attitude is the fact that…
8. According to Hoey, the election of Donald Trump is the cause/result of the flawed democracy in the US
9. What word or phrase could you replace “this” with in the phrase “Some may argue that this is because…”?
10. We understand from the text that: Mark True or False
· The distance between the people and the politicians has grown
· The distance between the politicians and the people is bridged by professionals
· It is surprising that left wing parties have lost contact with their base
· People only pay lip service to Abraham Lincoln’s definition of democracy
11. The result of the movement of both more left wing and more right wing parties towards the middle has created a void which has been filled by……………………….because they have taken the bull by the horns and…..
12. The recent “political shocks” like the election of Donald Trump and the vote in the UK to leave the EU should not have come as a great surprise because: Mark True or False
· People were fed up with being ignored
· People didn’t want to vote indirectly
· Politicians have been failing to check the public pulse
· The chickens have come home to roost
13. What is the writer referring to when he states” Diamond sees a darker side”? Be specific. Now state precisely what his concern is.
14. The brakes in the example of the car refer to
· Equality and civil liberty
· Checks and balances
· The supreme court
· The constitution
15. Watch the following video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sv7IP2qL0gg . Now answer the question: Many thinkers attribute the rise of authoritarianism in the early 20th century to the Great Depression. Why did they do so?
16. Watch the video and check out the following article concerning the populist message of ultra right wing presidential candidate Marine Le Pen: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/marine-le-pen-front-national-speech-campaign-launch-islamic-fundamentalism-french-elections-a7564051.html Now answer the question: Marine le Pen will avoid Geert Wilders fate if …
17. Access the graph and study it: http://afrobarometer.org/blogs/do-africans-still-want-democracy-new-report-gives-qualified-yes . Check out the countries where the supply is greter than the demand. Are there any surprises? Why or Why not?
18. Read the opinions of Daniel Bell to the end. Bell feels
· Classification is important
· We are oversimplifying the issue
· We are too fond of pigeon-holing
· Performance matters
· Officials should be elected
19. Watch the video featuring Daniel Bell describing his views: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4LhlM7BYGg Now answer the questions
· Would Trump have been able to become president in China? Why or Why not?
· What Western attitude does Bell criticize?
· Corruption can only be controlled in China if…
· Chinese leaders are better qualified for the job T/F
· The vast infrastructure projects and the fight against poverty in China are attributed to the lack of..
· To what extent does Bell believe China will become a democracy? Why?
20. The only way to promote democracy is, according to Huey, to…
Write an essay discussing why democracy is in crisis and what the solutions are.
THE UNCERTAIN FUTURE OF DEMOCRACY KEY AND TEACHERS’ NOTES
This is a very topical text concerning the current crisis of democracy and the populist backlash. It is a text that should lead to some robust discussion.
1. Many countries that applaud activism are letting democracy slip. (You cannot say “it”; you have to write down what it refers to)
2. The problem is in the heart of the most mature democracies
3. They have become flawed democracies/ Scandinavian countries /The Middle East and some parts of Africa / Certain East Asian countries / They underwent the Arab spring.
4. The decline in democracy in the most mature democracies
5. The first
6. Because it brought in voting restrictions that reportedly disenfranchised black voters
7. More pessimistic / The US’ relegation to “flawed democracy” in the EIU’s ratings is not because of the 2016 presidential elections
8. The result
9. Some people may argue that trust in the government has declined sharply / plummeted/ dropped sharply/ decreased radically… and the like
10. All True
11. Populists / talked about issues that established parties have been unwilling to address candidly
12. T, F,T, F
13. Diamond sees a darker side to the fact that everybody is talking about democracy / the vulnerability of pure democracy to the tyranny of the majority.
14. Checks and balances
15. When people feel threatened, either physically – by terrorism say – or economically they tend to be more receptive to authoritarian appeals and more willing to give up certain freedoms
16. The other candidates don’t see what is happening and don’t make significant policy adjustments
17. No there aren’t. These are countries where there have been political crises and the people have opted to give up their freedoms
18. We are oversimplifying the issue
19. No, because government officials are appointed and promoted according to their competence and performance / The idea that Western Democracy is at the top (video)/ there are/ China has more mechanisms to keep politicians accountable/ T/ The lack of an electoral cycle/ To a certain extent (He has reservations) because he thinks more people might sign up to join the ruling party.
20. Do it by example