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Photo: “Flags around monument at sunset“, by Mommy110710, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0. Hue modified from the original

Pillay, Anton M., and Jeremiah Madzimure. “DEMOCRACY IN DECLINE: THREE GLOBAL TRENDS AND HOW THEY HIGHLIGHT THE CASE OF” AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM” AND THE NEED TO RE-THINK IR THEORY.” Eurasian Journal of Social Sciences 9, no. 3 (2021): 138-149.


Spurred on by emergency Covid-laws and the desire to defeat Covid-19 by any means necessary, governments globally are using their newfound powers to steadily diminish the level of democracy in their countries. This malfeasance is not only occurring in institutionally weak states but in traditionally strong democratic states. Deploying examples from across the globe, this paper highlights the decline in democracy from three perspectives, namely; the crackdown on opposition, censorship, and unabated corruption. As the pandemic drags on, these three issues are becoming more prominent and require contemplation. Exploration of these issues, configuratively described as “democracy in decline”, gives way to the latter part of this research; the idea that America is exempt from democracy, a condition known as American exceptionalism. American exceptionalism, in part, claims that the US is the world’s strongest democracy, global democratic torchbearer, and a government worthy of being imitated. Using the November 2020 US Presidential elections as the litmus test, this research shows that American democracy is far from its righteous claim propagated in International Relations (IR) theory. The impetus is then on students and practitioners of IR to pluralize the field. The study is valid because the term democracy is being used as a wallpaper to disguise illiberal strategies.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.