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The Age of Authoritarian Democracy

Growing social inequality in the West is undermining democratic capitalism's allure, while people living under authoritarian regimes are demanding greater freedom. Authoritarian countries’ middle classes may push their leaders towards greater democracy, but Western democracies will also likely become more authoritarian.

MOSCOW – The world is currently being shaken by tectonic changes almost too numerous to count: the ongoing economic crisis is accelerating the degradation of international governance and supranational institutions, and both are occurring alongside a massive shift of economic and political power to Asia. Less than a quarter-century after Francis Fukuyama declared “the end of history,” we seem to have arrived at the dawn of a new age of social and geopolitical upheaval.

Dramatically, the Arab world has been swept by a revolutionary spring, though one that is rapidly becoming a chilly winter. Indeed, for the most part, the new regimes are combining the old authoritarianism with Islamism, resulting in further social stagnation, resentment, and instability.

Even more remarkable, however, are the social (and antisocial) grassroots demonstrations that are mushrooming in affluent Western societies. These protests have two major causes.

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