Revenge of Power: How Autocrats are Reinventing Politics in the 21st Century
[MUSIC] Hello. My name is Richard Kiy, President and CEO of the Institute of Americas located in the white California here on the campus of the University of California, San Diego. On behalf of the institute, I'm pleased to welcome you to the Institute's first program of our 2022 distinguished lecture series. Today we are honored to have with us Dr. Moises Naim, author of the book, The Revenge of Power and How Autocrats Are Reinventing Politics In The 21st Century.
The book is now available. Before we get started, I want to thank our board member, Malin Burnham and the Burnham foundation that helped to make this program possible. At this time, I'd like to turn to Dr. Naim and
the important and timely perspective that he offers us, particularly in light of the recent events unfolding today in real-time with Putin's invasion of Ukraine, as well as the attack on democratic institutions around the world, including here in the United States. Dr. Naim's new book helps to remind us all of the growing influence of autocrats across the Americas, which are riding the coattails of populism and anti-politics. None of us can take this for granted as our democracies are ultimately under assault. Those in Venezuela, they've learned that lesson the hard way.
At this time, I am pleased to introduce Jorge Rosenblut, the chairman of the Institute the Americas, who will introduce our distinguished speaker, Moises Naim, Jorge take it away. Thank you so much, Richard. Hello to everyone on this great event. Being the Chairman of the Board of the Institute of the Americas, it's a great privilege for me.
One of the manifestations of this privilege is that you get to introduce a person of the caliber of Dr. Moises Naim. He is considered one of the world-leading thinkers by British magazine, Prospect, one of the 100 most influential global thought leaders by Swiss think tank, GDI, Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute. He received Ortega Gasset prize, one of the most prestigious awards for journalism in the Spanish language.
He's a distinguished fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for Peace in Washington DC. He is the founder and chairman of the board of the group of 50, which brings together top flight progressive Latin, Central American business leaders. Ladies and gentlemen, I could go on and on. Moises Naim is truly a trendsetter.
His books are bestsellers and I will only name a few. The End of Power in 2013, recognized by many more leaders as a must-read. Illicit, Washington Post in 2005, name one of the best non-fiction books of the year.
It has been published in 18 languages. With this new book, The Revenge of Power, Moises take us to the current, brutal, unsteady, risky present times by connecting populism, polarization, and post-truth. Probably the politically correct term for lying and seizing and hoarding power.
This three Ps, as he calls them, now being combined by autocrats to undermine democratic light. Now with a capacity of Moises to understand the future ahead of time, he had just published in the Foreign Affairs magazine, last edition and it said the Dictator's New Playbook. Watching current events including Russia, Ukraine development, and worth reading the book, I rest my case. Moises Naim, ladies and gentlemen is from another lead. It is my pleasure and privilege today to leave this Zoom to my very good friend, Dr. Moises Naim. Moises, take it away.
Thank you, Jorge. Thank you, Steve, and Richard for the invitation, for the kind introduction, for your generous hospitality. It's quite a privilege for me to be talking to you and having an exchange of ideas and perspectives with your audience. Let me start by citing Jose Ortega gazette, the very well-known is political philosopher from Spain. Writing in 1938-1939 in Europe, he was very worried by the trends that he was watching. In one of his books about that he wrote, "We don't know what is happening to us."
That is exactly what is happening to us, not knowing what's going on. We have the right to feel that way, not knowing what's going on. Now, this week the latest we have is a war. Before that we have the pandemic.
Before that, or simultaneously we had financial crashes in 2008-2009 as you recall. We have the revolutions brought by artificial intelligence that have changed and will continue to change drastically the way we work, the way we shop, the way we live in many important ways. Of course, we have the pandemic that has appended our lives and ways of doing things. We see geopolitical upheaval around the world, but we also see people taking to the streets. They go into the streets and marching and denouncing and protesting has become a way of political participation.
Not necessarily affiliated with an ideology or political party, is just a statement of unhappiness with the situation. The streets of the world, the public squares, the highways, taking them and blocking them is now part of political reality in different places. Most recently we saw it in Canada. Who would have said that gentle country where politics are not as rough and raw as they are anywhere else, but still it face Canada. Face that they cover of one of its main cities and the blocking of the main cities by a group of truckers and other protesters.
Geopolitical upheaval, political upheaval, the streets on fire, a pandemic, a mental health crisis, generally recognized as one of the untreated by-products of all what's going on. Growing intolerance for inequality for gender discrimination, for the way we relate with each other. It is within all that that we need to make sense, which is very hard because things are moving all the time and are very fluid. But I have identified for my own perspective, for my own use, a few ideas that helped me understand, and looking at the world through that lens is quite revealing, at least for me.
One is the ideas about the mutation of power, how power is changing, not necessarily the nature of power. The definition of power has not changed. Power is getting others to do or stop doing something you want them to stop doing or do. That hasn't changed much. What has changed are the origins, the sources of that power and how that power is wielded. Jorge, in his introduction mentioned the prior book, a book I wrote nine years ago, Tidal The End of Power.
In that book, I surveyed the ways in which power were being fragmented, weekend, degraded, and what was happening to power and try to disentangle all that was going around it. One of the central, or perhaps the central message of that book then the power was that in the 21st century, power has become easier to acquire, harder to use, and easier to lose. That happened everywhere, in each and every country, every city, how it happened in politics, but it also happened in business, where we saw new comers dislodging from power established behemoth companies that we thought were untouchable and removable.
We see it in culture, we see in religion, wherever power is a currency, you can detect how it has become easier to acquire by new comers playing with a different playbook. But then when they get power, they discover that it's not what they thought. It's much harder to will and therefore very often they lose it, and so easier to acquire, hard to use, easy to lose. That is happening now. If you could imagine the recent leaders, you can see that we have seen that pattern.
We have seen people identified as some of the most powerful people in the world that continue to be powerful, but they have constraints. They can no longer do whatever they want. They are limited by others, by institutions, by global trends, by new technologies, by a variety of factors that are on their mind, their ability to concentrate power completely.
After nine years, I started writing a new book, which is the one that was published this week, titled The Revenge of Power. Essentially he starts with the assumption that people that have power are not sitting down waiting for the forces of fragmentation to take over and dislodge them from their privileged position. Thus, the revenge of power is an examination of the forces that fragment and concentrate power.
I like to make the equivalence, the end of power was a look at the centrifugal forces that spread power. The Revenge of Power is an examination of the forces of the centripetal forces that concentrate power. It's a clash and intertwining and mutually influencing patterns between these two forces, those that concentrated power and those that fragment it, that explain a lot of what's going on. Is Vladimir Putin, very powerful? Undoubtedly. Will he be powerful for the long-term, perhaps no.
It's very hard to make those calls with individual situations that are still unfolding, but there is one way of interpreting what's happened to him and to Russian and in Ukraine to understand that his victory in five years from now, we don't know how that will look. It may look like the end of Putin and the Putin era, or it may look like the consolidation of a tyrant in that area of the world and perhaps with attempts at expanding it even further beyond Ukraine. That observation of power easier to acquire, harder to use, easier to lose. Plus the other one, which is about power, is also concentrating and it's happening simultaneously.
It's one angle that I use to understand what's going on. Another is to pay attention to the fact that many of the things that we felt permanent have proven to be transient and many of the things that we felt were transitory, are here to stay. Think about the remote work.
Remote work, we saw that this was during the pandemic, we will stay home, the pandemic will go away and we go back to our cubicles. Well, it's no working out that way. The nature of work where it happens, how it happens, with whom, and what are the arrangements, and what are the incentives and the compensations and other.
Everything has been appended by that work. Work is work and will continue to be work, well, and it's not transient work. Remote work is going to stay with us even after the pandemic abates or disappears. But then things that we thought permanent, untouchable are still with us. In question is not clear that our assumptions, for example, about the permanent, the staying power of American democracy was untouched.
It turns out that we have seen plenty of examples in which American democracy has been attacked. A day doesn't go by without reading an article or looking at the news in which the debate about the survival or the nature of American democracy is being challenged, and perhaps American democracy is not as permanent as we assumed. The confusion about what's here to stay and is movable and unchangeable and what changes is part of the way we should look at the world and try to understand how even aspects, business models, ways of thinking, ideologies, distributions of power and activity and politics and economics may be more transient. Some are going to be transient and also going to be permanent. Another way of looking at the world that helps me understand some of the things that's going on is what I call political necrophilia. Necrophilia is a perversion that some human beings, most men suffer, which is a strong attraction to cadavers.
They feel very attracted to cadavers. I claim that there is a political dimension of body of necrophilia, a political necrophilia, which is a strong attachment to bad ideas, to bad policies, policies that we have seen once and again around the world in the same country at different times, in different ways. But they all end up in failure. Yet periodically very regularly they come back, bad ideas come back, are embraced by populists, by others that make offers and promises to gather the support of the people. We're going through about of necrophilia, of using again all the ideas that never end well for the great majority of the people. I have no doubt that behind the Vladimir Putin's decisions to invade Ukraine, there is a huge dose of political necrophilia, where looking at the world in ways in which it was and ways that we had thought we abandoned because we have very bad ideas.
But we are back. The are reshaping, redrawing of national boundaries, the invading by force, all what we have seen. I finally summarized what was going on in terms of a new way of exerting power by autocrats.
I mentioned that there is a new breed of autocrats that are undermining democracy from inside. Eventually they get elected democratically, but immediately they start undermining the check and balances that define a democracy they'll stop power, limit the concentration of power in one institution or one individual. I called this new breed of autocrats, the three-P autografts because the main tools that they use is populism, polarization, and post truth. The three I have always existed except that now they're coming back. We renewed potency and the way they are intertwined, amplified energize by new technologies and by other societal changes and new economics and new ways of which we organize our political life have allowed these three-P autocracy to gain a lot of power around the world and Putin surely is one of them. Populism, which is often mistakenly confused as an ideology, is not.
Populism is just a set of practices, strategies, behaviors, styles, even placed at the service of those who want power or want to retain power. Populism is as old as politics is based on the old idea of divide and conquer. If you divide society enough, you retain the power to run it.
The way in which this is done is, we have seen how very different leaders with completely opposite ideologies, different background, different perspectives, different everything. But then we see them when using power their populism is identical, that their toolkit is identical. The book The Revenge of Power, I have chapter's about Hugo Chavez as well as a dictator and Donald Trump resemble, an incredibly uncannily way even though they are very different. One of the things they do is steer and deepen the cleavages of society and that's polarization.
Polarization has always existed. It is different social groups clashing, competing for power, presenting different ideas are representing different groups, different interests, different ideologies. In many ways there is polarization, which is now very common around in the world in most democracies today, I hyperpolarize and therefore have a hard time functioning.
But I claim that polarization is like cholesterol. There's good cholesterol and bad cholesterol. Well, there's good polarization and bad polarization. Good polarization is one in which a democratic society organizes, articulates the different groups, different ideas, interest, and so on and eventually that dispute is resolved by elections. One group wins the election and then works or doesn't work in coalitions and alliances with others.
That's democracy, one aspect of democracy, but there is an alternative very bad way of acting in terms of polarization and that is the polarization, that is so extreme that it makes it impossible to govern. It's hard to come to an agreement on basic ideas, basic arrangements, social contract, even the very basic contract, the reading of what's going on is completely obliterated by the hatred even against those who don't share the same way of thinking. Polarization also then serves to amplify the wedges and the visual society and bring new ones, very often even imported from other countries where the three-P dictators are working. Then there is the third P that this is the post truth. Which is we have always lived with that that's called propaganda, it's political propaganda, it's normal. Adolf Hitler had propaganda ministry, in China, they have a ministry of propaganda, but this is different.
This is beyond government that issues information campaign to influence the way it is perceived by the voters, or the followers, or the citizens. This way of thinking, this way of operating, the post truth way, attempts against the basic sharing of our reality. We do not expect reality to represent the way we are thinking. Then this clashing views are also very paralyzed. Those three things and their effects are the ones that create conditions for this new autocrats who operate.
They operate in very similar ways. Stealthy activities are very important. Are there minding checks and balances, as I just already said, is very important. Manipulating the logistics of democracy is very important pretending that there is no democracy. It is fake is very common. Recently, I did some research on very interesting paradox.
Democracies in recession for the last 16 years, the number of countries that could be called functional in democracy has been going down. At the same time, the number of elections has source is moving. There are elections everywhere every day for Prime Minister, for President, for members of Congress, the regional authorities, governors, everything.
At this point I'm sure that somewhere in the world an election is going on. How does one reconcile the decline of democracy and moving elections? Well, the answer is, of course, that are many of these elections are sham elections, so these are autocrats that are pretending to have elections, but they're not fair and free and credible and legitimate, but they hold onto them. It's very interesting to see that even the most extreme autocrats still want to be perceived as democrats. They seal good housekeeping that their democracy bestows in a regime. Putin is a good example of this when he was term-limited at one point before and he had to leave power, he essentially invented a switch and bait move where he bought the vice president to act as president and then he had a rock. But everybody knew that he was still running the show.
In a lot of these elections, everybody knows that they are tricked, that they are corrupted and yet they still go ahead with it. The main reason is because they give them even a little bit of legitimacy. Legitimacy, which is the power that society gives a ruler to govern them in very short supply in the world today because in order to be legitimate, among other reasons, you have to be a good leader among other reasons. But It's very hard to govern these days because the quantity of emergency difficulties makes it very hard to be a successful government.
The frustration of the population source and there is a very bad political situation that enlarge part then arose legitimacy and makes it very even harder to govern. These lack of legitimacy is going to be with us and we will explain a lot of what's going on. The search for this legitimacy is an example of the stealthy, opaque, and mandatous ways in which these autocrats seek to retain power and it's part of the tool kit that they use. I think I'm going to stop here to engage with you in your questions and have a conversation. Thank you. Moises, thank you so much for your observations and remarks.
I want to start with the current invasion of Ukraine as that sounds everyone's mind right now. In your book, you mentioned the following, "That Vladimir Putin has proceeded further down the road of gangsterization than any of the other practitioners of the three P framework, and the Mach is state operating out of the Kremlin now destabilizes countries worldwide." Want to see if you could elaborate on that quote from your book.
Sure. Thank you. We all know that corruption is a factor in political life everywhere. Corruption typically entails someone outside the government that cahoots with somebody inside the government, arrive at a deal in which there's overpricing, kickbacks or payment if you allow the to change a regulation or real estate zoning, building pyramids, all of that is corruption.
There's a transaction that is essentially illegal that benefits both somebody inside the government and somebody outside the government. That's a traditional way of corruption. That doesn't quite capture what is going on now.
Now we have another dimension that is called kleptocracy. These are governments that are essentially looting the country for the benefits of themselves, their family, their cronies and typically the military. They don't have any major geopolitical interests. They are there to loot and steal as much as possible in the shortest possible period.
That's kleptocracy. But I also think that that doesn't quite capture what is going on, which is the criminalization of the state. Which is the state does not only use this criminal behaviors to enrich the leaders of the regime, but also uses this criminal behaviors as a toolkit in the state graph in managing the political relations. The organized crime becomes inside the government. At the top of government, there's an organized criminal organization that runs it, not just to make money, but also to use a crime and international criminal organizations to further their goals and essentially stay in power.
You talked about the toolkits that autocrats use, including Putin in your book, you talked about specific power tools, you spoke about the psychological, communicational, technological, legal, electoral, financial, and organizational power tools of autocrats. Could you elaborate on that? Well, each one of those has a weight of view. A lot of them are quite old, but now they have been combined and re-engineered for current times.
They are all driven also, they are all based on benefit from the demonetization of the rivals, and the demoralization of the past. The populists and the three P leaders need to persuade their country that the past was unacceptable and that here are they to correct all the wrongs that were in society. We just recently heard Vladimir Putin in a very long diatribe that the completely distorted the story of Ukraine, but that he uses to justify his invasion of Ukraine. Well, that's normal. They use that all the time. The distortion of historical realities, the lying and the demonetization of those that challenge them or the arrivals or don't believe in their government.
In your book, you talked about one of the tactics of autocrats is norm breaking. You talk a lot about some of the tactics that Donald Trump used and he certainly broke many norms here in the United States. Want to see if you can elaborate on that and how you see that as a method in which autocrats began to take power in their respective countries.
That has a lot to do with another trend, which is anti-politics. It started in Latin America with the idea that everyone that had anything to do with power needs to go. [FOREIGN] was a phrase used throughout Latin America. That means we don't believe in any of you in the business sector, of you the bankers, or you the journalist, or you the government officials just get out. Everything that was done in politics was unacceptable, foul, and corrupt, and so anti-politics became a very strong force.
In many countries, you find people that will tell you, I don't care about politics, they are all crooks, they are there to enrich themselves, they're corrupt, so there is no point of going through the motions of believing in elections and everything else. Anti-politics is very important. As part of the anti-politics, the more you have that the more, breaking the rules and breaking with social contracts and breaking with arrangements that have held the country or the government or the state together become a very important options.
We have seen Donald Trump doing it again this week when for the first time ever a former president offers an alternative view of the government of the United States with respect to how to think about Putin which he clearly admires. On the topic of breaking norms, one of the topics you bring up in your book is how autocrats are manipulating the media. You cite examples such as Boris Johnson, of course Trump. But also we see examples in Italy and Brazil. I want to see if you can elaborate on that and also how you see the world today and the vulnerabilities of medium particular, what they call the mainstream media in being able to fight back against some of these autocratic tendencies.
A three P autocrats don't have a comfortable relationship with data, with numbers, with evidence, so any evidence-based proposal is a threat to them. Who has that? Well, scientists, experts, academics, and journalists. They are the ones that have the data to show that what the autocrats are doing is a bad idea, is a manifestation of political necrophilia. There is a backward-looking, "Neutralizing experts," neutralizing the media is very important.
The way to do it is by demonizing it. Again, it's quite striking and the book has examples of very different individuals, Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, talking against the media, sounds exactly the same as the President of Hungary, even though they are in different countries and different individuals. That is a pattern that we see internationally that is quite revealing in terms of the very uncomfortable relationship that they have with evidence and data. Thank you for that. I want to turn to Latin America.
How do you see the landscape today in Latin America? Give me the growing prevalence of populism and anti-politics we're seeing in the region. You're from Venezuela, you're the former minister of trade and industry in Venezuela, and obviously a lot has changed in your country, but obviously you have a perspective across the hemispheres, so like to get your thoughts. Well first, when one talks about Latin America, bringing Venezuela is a distortion because there's an extreme case that has very peculiar characteristics and we can discuss them and we can just have a conversation about Venezuela. How did it get there? How do we get out of the tragedy that is Venezuela today? But the reality is that Latin America is moving left. We have a new left of center president in Chile. Same in Peru. We have
Fernandez and Kirchner in Argentina. It looks like Lula Da Silva in Brazil will become again the president. Maduro in Venezuela. There is left off-center candidate that is leading the polls in Colombia. Is very probable there is not a minor probability that next year Latin America is going to veer quite significantly to the left. On that point, we have several viewers originating from both the US and Mexico.
You highlighted in your book that both countries have been victims of the three Ps. What lessons can the US and Mexico draw from your home country, Venezuela? As you point out the rise of Trump is a movie that you've seen before, but only in Spanish, so I thought you could just comment on that. Yeah, it was quite striking to see Trump doing what he did even in the campaign.
He kept doing things that I said, "Well, I have seen this movie before except that it was in Spanish and Hugo Chavez was the protagonist." It's quite significant the parallels and the similarities. But you also asked about Mexico and the United States. In Mexico, we have one of the main examples of political necrophilia.
Lopez Obrador policies are clearly based in very old, outdated, obsolescent understanding of what does it mean to propel an economy towards both democracy and progress. Thank you. I want to turn to the Summit of the Americas. As you know, the United States is going to be hosting the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles on June 6th through the 10th in LA.
The theme of the summit is building a sustainable, resilient, and equitable future. The key focus of the summit is going to be promotion of the democracy across the Americas. Given the fragility of democracies in the Americas today, what in your opinion can the United States do in terms of providing leadership to counteract some of these forces that we're seeing today and that's driving some of the autocrats throughout the region? Well, there are several assumptions there. One of the assumptions is that the United States can be a model for the rest and can lecture the region on how to manage democracy.
I don't think United States today is in a position to be very credible as when one sees the debates, when one listens to what senators and members of the House, the way they talk about policies and political process it looks very dire. That's one. One of the way to do to perhaps think about this is what the United States cannot teach Latin America.
What are the mistakes that took place in the United States that Latin Americas need to be aware of that. That's one aspect. Again, these summits have taken place quite a bit except for a few of them, they have yielded very little for the typical citizens, they have not meant much. In your book, you talk about important ways that democracies can counteract some of these autocratic tendencies. If you talk about five things, in particular, the battle against the big lie, the battle against criminalized governments, the battle against autocracies that seek to undermine democracies, the battle against political cartels and stifled competition, and the battle against illiberal narratives.
I wonder if you can comment on that point that you make in conclusion. There are five models that we need to win in order to win the battle for democracy and against the autocracy. The first one is a big lie.
We all know that politicians embellish, exaggerate the stores and sometimes just lie outrightly about things. But now we have bigger lies. We have lies that Boris Johnson and Brexit. Boris Johnson was part of the group in the UK that developed and pushed Brexit and successfully passed it. It was all based on lies, all the statistics, all the numbers and they continued. They lied big time and nothing happened.
In fact, the contrary happened. He was rewarded and first was a secretary of the foreign affairs, and then now the prime minister. Donald Trump, the big lie about his election, which is a fundamental, very important things, and there are millions of Americans who believed that his election was stolen, even though all the evidence points in the other direction. Vladimir Putin that his lies first he was not going to invade Ukraine and effectively he did, or his distortion of the history of Ukraine.
The big lies what happens is that there is no cost to them. If anybody's caught on a big lie, it doesn't seem to pay the consequences. I think it's urgent that societies get organize to make the costs, the risks, and the consequences of lying more important, and the peaceful coexistence with big lies. If there is one societies needs to develop the tools, institutions, and technologies to expose and make the big liars in politic pay a price. There are several others.
There are five in total, but I will not bore you with all of them. The last one that's very important is about the narrative. The illiberal narrative that risks off anti-politics that doesn't believe in the basics of democracy is gaining terrain.
We were talking about Latin America and its shift to the left. Well, the people espousing that have a narrative that these illiberal and that has not being effectively countered by those of us who believe in the liberal narrative. We need to think about that. But also be aware of that there is not just a problem of substance and the subjects of the narrative. Democracy is defective. Democracy will need to be fixed.
It has problems. It doesn't address some of the 21st century challenges that we have. It doesn't address a new class of individuals or societies that have different requirements, demands, expectations, frustrations, and ways of thinking about life. Democracy needs to be fixed, but the way it is presented to the world also needs to be improved. On that point and related to this challenge on battling the illiberal narratives that we're seeing more, I wanted to see if you could touch on the topic of Big Tech.
You spoke about it a lot in your book, the power of Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, and being able to manipulate misinformed publics around the world. I wanted to see if you could talk about the role that you see that the government needs to play in regulating Big Tech to address some of these challenges that we face in democracy around the world. I believe that consumers need to be protected by the state, not with limitations. I'm not a big government person.
But we have consumer protection agencies for manufactured products, for a chemical, pharmaceutical products, for our food, there are government agencies that ensure that the private sector doesn't deliver food that is tainted or medicines that are toxic and so on. We have all of that for products that are manufactured, we even how it for some services. But we don't have a consumer protection for the digital consumer. We're naked when we go into this world of social media and everything else, our privacy, our behavior, our habits are all on the market and being traded often without us knowing.
I believe that we need first boost the digital education of citizens and then explain what are the risks associated with different usages of the Internet and the social media. We need to have monitoring and supervision of how the digital companies are treating their customers. Thank you. I want to turn to some of
the questions from the audience. One of the questions is how a certain countries and policies found ways to innovate new approaches to counter 3P strategies on these new generation autocrats? Well, in the book I have recommendations for how to deal with each one of those. But there are things we can do. There are combinations of institutional changes, political changes, educational, technical changes that can help.
But the book is rooted in the notion that not sufficient attention has been given to the ways in which these new autocrats behave and gain power and wield it. It's very important that people become better educated, better informed as to why these things happen. How has it happens at people that some of these highly undesirable people that we see in running government end up there. Yes, there are things we can do, but they will not be done effectively unless the whole society understands that there is an existential threat ahead and that democracy is in danger. We've got another question.
Besides Venezuela, which resumes in Latin America do you think are abusing the 3Ps the most across the region? Argentina without any doubt. They're just quite amazing to see how such a wealthy, cultured country that used to be a developed country has now fallen into deep disrepair. Argentina will be my main and Peru. Peru is just more of a forest than a regime. There is a question, what happened Juan Guaido Sally seems like he's completely disappeared and quickly becoming a footnote in the Maduro chapter of Venezuela and the autocratic regime not only remains in power, but even more firmly. Want to see if you could comment on that.
Sure. Guaido he's always trying to do as much as it can. It's very limited in what he can do. He doesn't have the support of the army, and the end of the story there in Venezuela, it has to do with guys with guns. Is there militaries, the armed forces that define the game there and Maduro is their head. Together with the Cubans, you cannot understand what's going on in Venezuela today and how to get out of the mess in which countries without factoring in the Cuban elements, Cuba is in fact an occupying nation in Venezuela.
He's doing what occupying nations do, which is looting the country. We've got a question from Eduardo Tapia. What are the risks of amylose continuing, polarization of politics in Mexico? Paralysis, and eventually a moral autocratic governments.
As I speak Amber's popularity is very high and people like him. But they weigh the policies that we know he's taking the way he's treating the media, the way he's treating the opposition, the way he makes decision, I think are very harmful for Mexico. We've got a question from Ernie Gaihova. Political scientists used to teach the idea that more education would lead to stronger democracies. Was that belief wrong? Not necessarily, but trying to find the factor that determines such a complex outcome is very hard. When democracy fails.
It doesn't fail because there is lack of education or not enough education. There is a list of factors that weaken democracy combined in new ways all the time. Got another question, you wrote about many lateralism in 2009. This concept has gained currency since then, particularly with climate policy in the so-called climate clubs, can you discuss how the concepts discussed in your new book effects prospects for multilateralism, unilateral action, and action in small groups of countries. That is a highly sophisticated [LAUGHTER] question. Let me just briefly and I thank the person that asked the question because it's very timely I believe.
I essentially mentioned that there was deep and correct frustration with the outcome of what is called the international community of multilateralism and essentially, you have meetings. Typically the United Nations or our agency of the United Nations. and you had over 190 countries operating there and of course, it's very hard to get agreements that are acceptable to all of them. The result has been to accept the minimum common denominator, kicking the head to avoid having to show that there is no consensus.
What I did was I looked at I believe there were seven areas of international cooperation. I calculated how many countries contributed to 90 percent of the problem. It turned out that the number was very small. It only takes a group of less than 10 countries to generate 90 percent of the problem and 90 percent of the solution.
That is minilateralism. It's trying to bring together countries that in small numbers that are more manageable to try to get some progress going. Yes, the idea since then has gained a lot of currency. Thank you. We've got a question from Julia Kenny. Do you see a role for cities and sub-national leaders in the pushback against these issues, as we've seen from mayors in Europe and Africa, as they push back against authoritarian national policies? Absolutely. Absolutely and I think
that's a very important way out. Devolution is important having regional leaders, state and local. These are the people that are in the first line of defense of relationship with the citizens. The citizens are far closer to the local leaders and their national leaders in the nation's capital. There's no doubt that that's a very important route. We've got a question from Isabelle.
Would you say then that ideology is dead? Do you see China in Islamist still partially audiological? Of course, I don't think ideology is dead much the contrary, ideology is there. We cannot easily understand it as an ideology. But people are being driven and politics are being driven by ideas and statements about how to operate in a country today.
Crescendo Nunez asks, was Huntington right in his Clash of Civilizations when he talked about the civilization fault lines for example, in Ukraine and other countries? Well, there is a lot of evidence that what Huntington mention, the Clash of Civilizations essentially took place in it was a clash inside civilization. It's not in-between. The number of Muslims murdered by Muslims is much, much higher than any other number. That is happening inside one of their big groupings.
We don't have a very good trying to generate a political movement, and identity-based on threats of other religions, I think is very dangerous. We've got a question from Abe Lowenthal, who is a professor Meredith from USC and he's an advisory council member for the institute. Abe asks what do you see as the proper responsibility if any of the United States and pressuring for measures to counter autocratic countries like Cuba and Venezuela in Nicaragua. What are the limits and how do these differ from the responsibilities of Latin American democracies? He also thanks you for your important book. Well, Abe has been my friend and I have admired his writing and working for decades now.
I'm honored that he has joined this conversation and of course, I'm very interested in his own take. I would rather have me here asking questions to him that answering any questions. But his question is very concrete and very apropos and they watch you the United States do. It will surprise you. My answer is pay attention and increase the level of the frequency which high-level decision-makers in Washington pay attention to Latin America. Perhaps that's too big a statement.
Perhaps, identify a few countries that have the potential to move in the right direction and works within a very sustained way with resources, with attention, with programs to undermine the 3Ps autocrats. I'm aware this is a very limited and modest proposal, but I think it's very practical because the rest is a blowing. I wrote years ago, an article in which he explained how there was a structural bias in terms of the attention that the US government would normally offer Latin America.
Latin America was also always competing with other emergency other priorities, other superpower has. There was always something that made Latin America less relevant. We've got one final question. When you look at the protesters in many western democracies, we see a certain demographic case of US, mostly older white men of middle-income level. They espouse all conspiracy theories and seemed to excuse Putin's aggression and extreme right wing ideology. Wouldn't perhaps that being how should western democracies confront some of these tendencies from interest groups of this sort? That has a lot to do with the narrative, that has a lot to do with how we fix our democracies in order to avoid that a small interest group has a disproportionate effect and power.
Essentially the way to do this is to depending and democracy and solve some correct or some of its defects. Thank you. With that, I want to close. I want to thank Moises Naim for his wonderful presentation and commentary. I want to encourage all of you to buy his book, which is now out and available in all bookstores and online.
Also, want to thank the sponsor of this virtual forum, the Burnham Foundation, and thank the support of UCTV. Thank you again for your participation day and we look forward to seeing you at future Institute of the Americas events. Thank you very much. Thank you very much. [MUSIC]