Yascha Mounk: The Fate of Diverse Democracies

With the attack on Ukraine well underway, political thinker Yascha Mounk recently admitted in The Atlantic that, “We stand at the beginning of a new era of naked power politics.” The Russian invasion is not simply an assault on a neighboring country motivated by strained ethnic relations or security concerns, but it is an assault on the democratic values and political system espoused by Ukraine. It is the latest setback in a “democratic recession” now entering its 16th consecutive year, according to Freedom House. “In 2021, the number of countries moving away from democracy once again exceeded the number of countries moving toward it by a big margin.” Why is this happening and what can be done to reverse this global trend?

Yascha Mounk argues that democracy has long struggled to embody both equality and diversity, and despite the challenges past and present facing democratic institutions, he believes that with ambition and vision, there is still reason to be hopeful.

Yascha Mounk is a German-American political scientist, author, and associate professor of practice at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies. His works have appeared in The New York Times, Politico and the Journal of Democracy. His works have included assessments of American democracy, the dangers of nationalism and ethnic relations in democratic settings.

In The Great Experiment, Mounk argues that the struggle of free countries to be both diverse and equal in their political systems is the greatest experiment of our time and essential to the continuation of democracy. While this feat is unprecedented, he contends, understanding the past and underlying conditions that have led to division and social injustices is critical to avoiding them in the future, and he writes that we should have genuine hope in humanity’s ability to accomplish it.

Join us as Mounk explores the long and complicated history between democracy, equality and diversity, and explains that with a bold vision as our guiding light, we can harmoniously celebrate our differences without letting them divide us.


This program is part of The Commonwealth Club’s Future of Democracy Series, supported by Betsy and Roy Eisenhardt.


Future of Democracy Series


Photo by Steffen Jaenicke.

Image - Yascha Mounk

Yascha Mounk

Founder, Persuasion; Professor of the Practice of International Affairs, Johns Hopkins University; Contributing Editor, The Atlantic; Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations; Author, The Great Experiment: Why Diverse Democracies Fall Apart and How They Can Endure; Twitter @Yascha_Mounk

Image - Steven Saum

In Conversation with Steven Saum

Editor, WorldView Magazine