The next section of the Conflict Frontiers Seminar Series focuses on applying Massively Parallel Peacebuilding strategies to the big challenges facing contemporary liberal democracy and, especially, worrying trends toward hyper-partisan political dysfunction and a new kind of high-tech authoritarianism driven by populist revolts on the left and the right. As a U.S.-based project, our principal focus and expertise is the United States—a country that Is having immense difficulty dealing with its own problems and, therefore, has no business telling the rest of the world how to solve its problems. That said, it is clear that many countries have problems similar to ours and we have much to learn from one another.
We call this part of the Frontiers Seminar Series the "Authoritarian Populism" section because it first focuses our attention on the populist revolts (right and left) against the liberal democratic order that are providing so much of the energy behind the current U.S. political crisis. The authoritarian focus stems from rapidly decreasing interest in the search for mutually-beneficial compromises and the desire of both the left and the right to utterly defeat and dominate the other—a kind of us-vs-them framing that can easily be co-opted by aspiring authoritarians.
The Authoritarian Populism section is itself divided into four sub-seminars. The first, Frontiers Seminar 7: Using MPP to Understand the Authoritarian Populism Problem was written during the midpoint in the Trump Presidency and analyzes the problem based on the earlier Frontiers Seminars and, especially, the problems posed by Scale, Complexity, and Intractability and our strategy for dealing with the problem which we call Massively Parallel Peacebuilding.
The next three sections further apply these ideas from the perspective of three distinct periods in recent U.S. history:
- Seminar 8a: The Trump Years – MPP-based Strategies for Addressing the Authoritarian Populism Problem
- Seminar 8b: The 2020 US Election – What Happens When We Have an Election That Both Sides Absolutely Positively Can't Afford to Lose?
- Seminar 8c: The Biden Transition – Saving Democracy and Biden’s Challenge to the Conflict and Peacebuilding Fields
- Seminar 8d: Bad-Faith Actors – Challenging "Bad-Faith" Actors Who Seek to Amplify and Exploit Our Conflicts
We continue to develop and refine the above ideas in the context of an online discussion that Beyond Intractability is convening in partnership with the Conflict Resolution Quarterly. For our latest thinking, we recommend these articles and invite you to follow and contribute to the discussion.