Democracy Decline, Multiculturalism and Global Immigration Crisis: Challenges of the Post-democratic Age

Prepared for delivery at the 98th Annual Meeting of the Southwestern Social Science Association
October 10-13, 2018, Orlando, Florida

The rise of nationalism, populism, xenophobia, and racism (ECRI, 2016) has dominated the political, social and economic debate, expressed in the critical approaches to unexpected political outcomes with unsettling social and economic consequences: Brexit (Norris & Inglehart, 2018) and the United States 2016 presidential election (Levitsky & Ziblatt, 2018; Mounck, 2018). Contributing to global anxiety is the decline of democracy registered in countries with a tradition of stable democratic regimes (EIU, 2018). From the threat of globalization to the perils of multiculturalism (Parrillo, 2009; Dalton, 2015; Gonzalez, 2016), anxiety spreads as fears of displacement by cultural diversity are amplified by the upsurge of immigration and its association to unemployment, low wages, crime, and terrorism. The global crisis of governance and democracy is deepened by the rise/consolidation of a populist/nationalist rhetoric (Hooghe & Dassonneville, 2018; Beltran, 2017), reshaping the world of politics with inadvertent synchronicity, from America to Europe, with a shared embrace for anti-immigration policies, EU-skepticism, and trade reversal decisions. A consensus is yet to be reached on the underlying causes of the current social unrest. The ongoing debate is centered on the financial burden and the cultural clash that immigration is considered to be triggering in Europe, adding to the growing multiculturalism that seems unrelenting in America. However, there is a lesser aspect acknowledged in the discussion, and that is the consequences of the erosion of democracy as a direct cause of social unrest and cultural antagonisms, resulting in cyclic crises represented by the breakdown of democracies (Linz, 1978) and their turn into authoritarian and populist regimes, provoking significant immigration waves. This paper addresses the association between the democratic discontent and immigration as an escape valve (Brown-Gort, 2016), and how this crisis is determining the social stance contemplating the multicultural background in a post-democratic world.

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