Current Issue

Polarizing Polities: A Global Threat to Democracy

Guest Editors: Jennifer McCoy and Murat Somer

Vol. 681, January 2019

This volume of The ANNALS, “Polarizing Polities: A Global Threat to Democracy,” special editors Jennifer McCoy and Murat Somer gather scholars to explore eleven country case studies of pernicious polarization, and its resulting obstinate political blocs and its effects on democracy. By examining the emotional and identity facets of polarization and the role of political entrepreneurs who use polarizing discourse for their own instrumental ends, this volume offers insight into the causes of pernicious polarization and possible policies to prevent it.

The conventional approach to the study of polarization primarily addresses the distance and difference between voters or political parties on policy issues. Societies become “perniciously” polarized when they divide into mutually antagonistic “Us vs. Them” camps and this antagonism extends into social relationships and becomes part of one’s social identity. Loyalty and alignment to one’s own camp can result in a self-perpetuating logic that potentially undermines democratic norms.

From the Archives

Truth as a Weapon in the Free World
Vol. 278, November, 1951
Richard Brecker

From the Introduction

In an address to the American Society of Newspaper Editors on April 20, 1950, President Truman declared that it was necessary for us to, “make ourselves heard round the world in a great campaign of truth”.   Calling attention to the vital importance of the psychological front in the present battle for world friendship, the President noted that the task of presenting the truth, “to the millions who are uninformed or misinformed or unconvinced… is not separate and distinct from other elements of our foreign policy. It is as important as armed strength or economic aid.  “We must,” he said, “pool our efforts with those of the other free peoples in a sustained, intensified program to promote the cause of freedom against the propaganda of slavery.”