Economic Insecurity and Trust

Interview with Ian Shapiro, professor of Political Science at Yale University. In his view, the underlying problem of increased mistrust is economic: the disappearance of long-term employment security, the decline of middle-class incomes, and the downward mobility of many middle-class people. A great motivator of action is the fear of experiencing a loss, which fear is exploited for political gain. In Europe, it is the failure of left-of-center parties to protect their constituencies and the inability of the traditional social democratic mainstream parties to deliver the sort of protections that they used to provide. This is all linked to economic factors, the decline of industrial jobs, the collapse of labor unions, globalization, jobs going to technology. That is causing mistrust in political institutions which is exploited by political entrepreneurs as a way of getting to power, resulting in populism. It is a failure of the political, educational, and economic system to deliver security that is breeding mistrust. He talks about the cause of polarization in political parties and the complacency of businesses while desperate people are being mobilized by politicians who are going to do things those businesses don’t like: immigration, trade wars, protectionism.

The interview covers also his newly published book “The Wolf at the Door” which he wrote with Michael Graetz, about rising inequality as a threat to democracy.