Democracy and Authoritarianism

The end of the Cold War seemed to herald a new era of global democracy. But something has gone awry. Even in nations that hold elections to choose their leaders, the first decades of this century have witnessed a sharp regression toward authoritarianism. Left-leaning regimes are as vulnerable to this tendency as those of the right. Political leaders can now use sophisticated digital technology to surveil and repress, to create mass disinformation networks to stir grievance, and to scapegoat racial and ethnic minorities.

Pulitzer Center grantees are reporting on political leaders consolidating power via the tools of nationalistic and populist rhetoric and policies, media manipulation, and the repression or marginalization of vulnerable groups. They also shed light on creative and courageous acts of resistance by activists, academics, artists, and other members of civil society.