RevDem at Six Months: A Word From the Editors of the Democracy Institute’s Review of Democracy
October marks six months since the launch of the Review of Democracy–RevDem for short–an intellectual and academic online journal founded by the Central European University Democracy Institute with support from the Open Society University Network. At RevDem we set out to provide an open platform for discussing and debating the ongoing processes of re-democratization and de-democratization, as well as offering analyses, reflection, and opinion pieces on such developments in Europe and around the globe. This was a challenging task, as there are mixed sentiments about the current need for another intellectual journal. Ultimately, we at RevDem felt there still was a hunger for reflection on what’s happening in democratic societies. Indeed, the fact that the journal’s readership has grown in the last six months from 20 viewers per day to 200 provides some confirmation of that need.
As a platform for exploring and debating democracy, RevDem gathers the intellectual resources of several European universities and research centers (European University Institute in Lithuania, London School of Economics, Oxford University, and The Delors Centre in Berlin) and shares them within OSUN’s lively network. Five editors and 15 assistant editors manage five sections within the journal, focused on growing intellectual connections and fostering dialogue among researchers, practitioners, and activists worldwide.
RevDem looks at democracy in a comparative perspective fueled by ongoing dialogues with historians of ideas and practices. The staff organizes debates on hot issues linked to de- and re-democratization, conducts interviews with key scholars and practitioners, offers reviews of major new publications, and commissions op-eds and longer essays that explore relevant new research initiatives linked to democracy. A large number of younger scholars and practitioners of democracy play a significant role in the editorial work: hailing from Europe’s top universities, they not only assist editors but also record podcasts, suggest relevant topics, and organize debates on select issues and publications.
RevDem explores democracy through five key lenses. The history of ideas section (the richest one so far) explores various theories of re- and de-democratization, probing the relationship between democracy and liberalism at the heart of current populist crises and pursuing debates about citizenship. Contributors and interviewees include Jan Werner Mueller on how to strengthen the critical infrastructure of democracy, Carlo Invernizzi Accetti on the Christian Democrat alternative to far-right Christian populism, LaTosha Brown on Black Votes Matter, and Lilli Rutai on the state of feminism in Hungary.
Cross-regional dialogue provides a comparative and transnational perspective, establishing new connections by reflecting on democratic processes around the globe. Hot topics include the Constitutional Convention in Chile and the discontent and possible unraveling of democratic institutions in Tunisia.
Political economy and inequalities are two issues central to democracy surviving and flourishing. This section analyzes the interplay between socioeconomic pathways and political change, examining the ways European integration and other forms of shared sovereignty regimes shape democracy at the national and supranational levels. Gabor Scheiring regularly reviews key texts in this area, giving readers a thorough orientation in the field.
The Rule of law section reinforces the fact that the most recent processes of de-democratization are based less on physical coercion or violence, but more on new ways to instrumentalize law to diminish political rights and neutralize democratic institutions. This section re-examines theories of Europeanization that have largely failed to forecast or properly address democratic backsliding in the region. Writers such as Petra Bard, Gabor Halmai, Laurent Pech, and Dimitry Kochenov provide key analyses of the regional instances of backsliding that are currently eroding the rule of law.
Finally, the section on the future of democracy in Europe provides a forum for rich debate on innovation and what lies ahead for the continent. New ideas and practices of democracy are crucial to the flourishing of the European project, which is currently threatened by democratic deficits. Right now, the editors are closely watching the Conference on the Future of Europe, an online platform for citizens to debate Europe’s challenges and priorities, with the hopes of formulating strategies for strengthening European democracy.
The foundation of an online journal always involves learning by doing, especially when it operates on a global level. At RevDem we are therefore gradually learning who is reading our pages and what their expectations are. So far, we have been surprised to learn that beyond Europe, RevDem is also read in the US, South America, and India and not only by academics but also by social activists. This information alone inspires confidence that a live intellectual platform is not only needed but could potentially grow audiences in areas that were previously overlooked. Please join the many debates and conversations now taking place at RevDem.
Post Date: 10-05-2021