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How to Fix Democracy with Robert Kagan

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Since its origins, democracy has been a work in progress. Today, many question its resilience. The Bertelsmann Foundation, Institute for Canadian Citizenship, and Humanity in Action have teamed up with Andrew Keen, author of How to Fix the Future, for How to Fix Democracy: a video and podcast series exploring practical responses to the threats facing democracies around the world. Host Andrew Keen interviews prominent thinkers, writers, politicians, technologists, and business leaders who enlighten and challenge us as we seek the answers to How to Fix Democracy.

How to Fix Democracy Season 5 covers 100 years of American democracy between 1924 and 2024. The season uncovers the complexities of U.S. history and asks our distinguished guests why it remains the most iconic and yet misunderstood democratic system in the world. This season is brought to you by the Bertelsmann Foundation and Humanity in Action.

In this 3rd episode of the season, host Andrew Keen talks to Robert Kagan, the distinguished Brookings Institute scholar of foreign policy, about America’s dramatically changing place in the world during the Twenties and Thirties.

According to Kagan, at the end of World War I Europe expected American democracy to lead a new world order. The Versailles Treaty, designed to engage America in post-war Europe, failed to gain domestic support. America, the world’s leading economic powerhouse, retreated into its heartland of domestic concerns: consumer consumption, fears of anarchy, socialism, and communism as well as immigrants from Eastern and Southern Europe and Asia. The U.S. Senate, led by conservatives, reinforced America’s isolationist foreign policy throughout the 1920s. The domestic power only shifted to the White House and State Department in the late 1930s when the dangers of European fascism threatened America’s stability and power. (listen | watch)

This series is made possible with the kind support of the William H. Donner Foundation. Find more episodes here.