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To Save Democracy, Fight Inequality

Rising inequality has transformed our political and economic systems, fueling sociopolitical unrest worldwide. Future generations will be shocked that we tolerated such extreme levels of social injustice, just as we are horrified by our ancestors’ acceptance of practices such as slavery.

ITHACA, NEW YORK – In these tumultuous times, it often feels like one shock quickly eclipses another. Before one problem can be solved, another crisis emerges. Just a few weeks ago, the war in Ukraine dominated headlines, but the recent outbreak of violence between Israel and Hamas has since taken center stage.

To be sure, during times of crisis, our instinct is to focus on extinguishing the fire that is closest to us. But it is equally crucial to understand and address the root causes so that we have fewer fires to fight.

As populist forces have polarized electorates and deepening social divides worldwide, the global political climate has grown increasingly volatile. While determining the causes of this shift will undoubtedly take some time, one could argue that the rapid advance of digital technologies, unchecked globalization, and rising inequality have transformed our political and economic systems, fueling sociopolitical unrest.