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The Takeaway

Democracy Is Under Siege—but Can Be Saved

Yascha Mounk Thinks the Globe’s Authoritarian Drift Can Be Reversed, If We Fix the Economy and Fight for Our Convictions

By Reed Johnson

Several years before a certain Queens real estate tycoon became president, Yascha Mounk had a sense that the United States and other liberal democracies had arrived at “a moment of acute political instability.”
    Mounk, a Harvard University political scholar, had found illuminating and alarming data indicating that, in country after country, people were becoming disillusioned with liberal free-market economies and democratically elected governments.
    As he told a packed audience at a Zócalo/Daniel K. Inouye Institute event titled “Is the Public Destroying Democracy?”, Mounk was seeing early warning signs of what he calls “democratic deconsolidation”—a loss of faith in the liberal democratic system, triggered by economic decline, rising inequality, and the stirring up of racial ...


Chimpanzee Behavior Isn't Just Monkey Business. It's Culture.

Grooming, Using Tools, and Fishing for Termites Show the Humanity of Our Primate Cousins

By Craig Stanford

In 1961, famed primatologist Jane Goodall discovered that wild chimpanzees were fashioning tools from sticks and using them to fish termites out of their nests—revolutionizing our understanding of culture and animal intelligence. Her mentor Louis Leakey telegrammed her that “now, we must redefine ‘tool,’ redefine ‘man,’ or accept chimpanzees as humans.”
    Nearly 60 years later, this redefinition—of chimps, culture, and ourselves—continues. There are now seven chimpanzee field studies that span more than 25 years, as well as many shorter ones. These long-term studies have produced exciting new information on how chimps use simple tool technologies. The sum of all this work has given us a rich portrait of what a truly cultural species our closest relative is.
    It’s one thing for an animal to use a simple ...

Connecting California Joe Mathews

  • Can Taiwan Teach California How to Thrive Under an Authoritarian Power?

    The Island Nation Knows How to Navigate Beijing's Threats. The Golden State Could Do the Same With Washington.

    Is California becoming another Taiwan?
        In asking that, I don’t mean that earthquakes will turn California into an island. Instead, what California and Taiwan share is a problem—the ...

  • Fear and Loathing of L.A. and S.F. on the Campaign Trail

    Our Gubernatorial Race Could Turn on Which City Californians Resent Most

    Which city—San Francisco or Los Angeles—do you love to hate more?
        This is shaping up to be California’s question for 2018. Each of the two top contenders for governor is a former mayor of one of those cities, with each embodying certain grievances that Californians hold about their ...

  • If Californians Won't Ride Trains, How Come Our Family's Amtrak Trip Was Mobbed?

    A Journey on the Pacific Surfliner Shows Why We Need More High-Speed Rail, Not Less

    If any of the conventional wisdom about trains in California is true—that no one ever rides them, that Californians prefer to drive or fly, and that high-speed rail or other train projects are “boondoggles” or “trains to nowhere”—then how do you ...

  • Video Highlights

    In his book "Age of Anger: A History of the Present," the writer Pankaj Mishra examines the 18th-century antecedents of the 21st-century disillusionment with liberal, free-market democratic systems that has triggered voter backlashes and violent outbursts. ...