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Democracy and Political Violence

We are living in a dangerous political moment, when people are seeing their political opponents as enemies, not just partisans of a different political stripe. When we believe our political opponents should “be eliminated or destroyed,” writes Michael Ignatieff, then “all means that might be used to combat them are fair.”

As political polarization deepens in the world’s democracies, political violence is on the rise. And in the wake of these acts, conspiracy theories often bloom. We offer three essays that look at these forces that threaten to upend democracy, and what must be done to overcome them.

Image credit: Brent Stirton/Getty Images

The Politics of Enemies

When political struggle in a democracy becomes a battle between existential foes, the future of democracy is endangered.

By Michael Ignatieff

Image credit: lev radin/

The Rise of Political Violence in the United States

In a deeply polarized United States, ordinary people are increasingly primed to commit violence.

By Rachel Kleinfeld

Image credit: Felix Hörhager/picture alliance via Getty Images

Why Democracies Fuel Conspiracy Theories

The political competition that is inherent to democracy is driving the spread of lies, fake schemes, and half-truths.

By Scott Radnitz