Terrorism and Democratic Recession
18 Pages Posted: 26 May 2017 Last revised: 6 Sep 2017
Date Written: May 25, 2017
This short essay examples the potential causal mechanisms that might link terrorism to democratic decline. That causal pathway is often asserted in political rhetoric about terrorism — but such assertions do not rest on a robust body of theory or empirical knowledge. I hypothesize three ways in which acts of terrorism might lead to a decline in democratic practices. These three pathways work through the use of emergency powers, the creation of a repressive state apparatus, and the conjuring of a populist style of politics adverse to democratic contestation. I tentatively conclude that terrorism is most likely to undermine democracy through its accelerating effect on state-development and its corrosive effect on democratic politics. Recognition of this possibility, I conclude, has implications for the doctrinal treatment of individual rights in the teeth of security threats.
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