Democracy Disrupted

In Democracy Disrupted, journalist and political scientist Ivan Krastev proposes a provocative interpretation of the "Occupy" movements that have surfaced in the United States, Great Britain, and Spain, as well as the more destabilizing forms of unrest in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia.

Democracy Disrupted
The Politics of Global Protest

Ivan Krastev

2014 | 88 pages | Paper $16.50
Political Science
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Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Protest against Politics
Chapter 2: The Democracy of Rejection
Chapter 3: Exit Politics


Excerpt [uncorrected, not for citation]

From the Introduction

The desire to make sense of the present is what guided me in writing this little book on protests and democracy. It is not a book about any particular protest, although the protests in Bulgaria inspired me to undertake this adventure, and protests in Russia, Turkey, and Thailand are central to my argument. The book does not attempt to venture an overarching theory of the protests or to conceptualize the new protest experience. It is not a book by somebody who was really there or even dreamt of participating in the events it describes. It does not strive to classify the protests or to figure out how to judge their success or failure. Its aim is more modest: to capture the meaning of the events, to reflect on the complex relationship between mass protests and democracy, and to analyze how mass protests are transforming democracy.

In the three short years between Occupy Wall Street and Vladimir Putin's "Occupy Crimea," we witnessed an explosion of protests all around the world—the Arab Spring, Russian Winter, Turkish Summer, and the dismembering of Ukraine all were part of the protest moment. Each of these demonstrations—and many less monumental ones—was angry in its own way, but the protests are also a worldwide phenomenon. Do they signal a radical change in the way politics will be practiced? Or are they simply a spectacular but ultimately insignificant eruption of public anger? Is it the technology, the economics, the mass psychology, or just the zeitgeist that has caused this global explosion of revolt? Do the protests prove the technologically amplified power of citizens? Or, alternatively, do they mark the decline of the political influence of the middle class and its growing discontent with democracy? Will it be the empowering energy of the protests or the conservative backlash against them that will shape the future of democratic politics?