Skip to main content
Back to Results
Cover image of Defending Democracy in an Age of Sharp Power

Defending Democracy in an Age of Sharp Power

edited by William J. Dobson, Tarek Masoud, and Christopher Walker

Publication Date
Binding Type

Explores how authoritarian regimes are deploying "sharp power" to undermine democracies from within by weaponizing universities, institutions, media, technology, and entertainment industries.

The world's dictators are no longer content with shoring up control over their own populations—they are now exploiting the openness of the free world to spread disinformation, sow discord, and suppress dissent. In Defending Democracy in an Age of Sharp Power, editors William J. Dobson, Tarek Masoud, and Christopher Walker bring together leading analysts to explain how the world's authoritarians are...

Explores how authoritarian regimes are deploying "sharp power" to undermine democracies from within by weaponizing universities, institutions, media, technology, and entertainment industries.

The world's dictators are no longer content with shoring up control over their own populations—they are now exploiting the openness of the free world to spread disinformation, sow discord, and suppress dissent. In Defending Democracy in an Age of Sharp Power, editors William J. Dobson, Tarek Masoud, and Christopher Walker bring together leading analysts to explain how the world's authoritarians are attempting to erode the pillars of democratic societies—and what we can do about it.

Popular media, entertainment industries, universities, the tech world, and even critical political institutions are being manipulated by dictators who advance their regimes' interests by weakening democracies from within. Autocrats' use of "sharp power" constitutes one of the gravest threats to liberal, representative government today. The optimistic, early twenty-first-century narrative of how globalization, the spread of the internet, and the rise of social media would lead to liberalization everywhere is now giving way to the realization that these same forces provide inroads to those wishing to snuff out democracy at the source. And while autocrats can do much to wall their societies off from democratic and liberal influences, free societies have not yet fully grasped how they can resist the threat of sharp power while preserving their fundamental openness and freedom.

Far from offering a counsel of despair, the international contributors in this collection identify the considerable resources that democracy provides for blunting sharp power's edge. With careful case studies of successful resistance efforts in such countries as Australia, the Czech Republic, and Taiwan, this book offers an urgent message for anyone concerned with the defense of democracy in the twenty-first century.

Contributors: Ketty W. Chen, Sarah Cook, William J. Dobson, John Fitzgerald, Martin Hála, Samantha Hoffman, Aynne Kokas, Edward Lucas, Tarek Masoud, Nadège Rolland, Ruslan Stefanov, Glenn Tiffert, Martin Vladimirov, Christopher Walker

Reviews

Reviews

Defending Democracy in an Age of Sharp Power is must-reading for anyone concerned about trends in global democracy.

Liberal democracy is passing through a precarious moment, as authoritarians draw on a new playbook to subvert our institutions from within. This book identifies the dangers and shows us how to face up to them.

Powerful autocracies, particularly China and Russia, are trying to intimidate, corrupt, and demoralize the world's democracies. This lucid and immensely valuable book reveals how democracies can defend themselves if they mobilize truth, transparency, and vigilance from governments and civil societies alike.

It's democracy, stupid. Authoritarians attack democracies because of what they represent to them: systemic threats. So deterrence must begin with defending our open constitutional orders. For how, read this terrific book!

About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
232
ISBN
9781421448046
Author Bios
William J. Dobson
Featured Contributor

William J. Dobson

William J. Dobson is a coeditor of the Journal of Democracy and the author of The Dictator’s Learning Curve: Inside the Global Battle for Democracy. He previously served as the Chief International Editor at NPR, the Washington Bureau Chief of Slate magazine, and Managing Editor of Foreign Policy.
Tarek Masoud
Featured Contributor

Tarek Masoud

Tarek Masoud is the Ford Foundation Professor of Democracy and Governance at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and a coeditor of the Journal of Democracy.
Christopher Walker
Featured Contributor

Christopher Walker

Christopher Walker is Vice President for Studies and Analysis at the National Endowment for Democracy. He is a coeditor of Authoritarianism Goes Global: The Challenge to Democracy and Sharp Power: Rising Authoritarian Influence.