Citations Needed

Citations Needed is a podcast about the intersection of media, PR, and power, hosted by Nima Shirazi and Adam Johnson.

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Episode 25: The Banality of CIA-Curated Definitions of ‘Democracy’


Few words elicit such warm feelings as the term "Democracy." Wars are supposedly fought for it, foreign policies are built around it, protecting and advancing it is considered the United States' highest moral order.

Democracy's alleged opposite - broadly called "authoritarianism," "autocracy" or "tyranny” - is cast as the ultimate evil. The stifling, oppressive boot of the state that curtails liberties and must be fought at all costs. This is the world in which we operate and the one where the United States and its satellite media and NGO allies fight to preserve and defend democracy.

So how is "democracy" defined and how are those definitions used to justify American exceptionalism? Where do positive and negative rights come into play, and how do societal choices like illiteracy, poverty, and hunger factor into our notions of freedom?

On today's episode, we discuss the limits of democracy rankings, the oft-cited "Polity IV" metric devised by the CIA-funded Center for Systemic Peace, and more with guest George Ciccariello-Maher.


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 2018-01-31  53m