The Great Experiment
How to Make Diverse Democracies Work
It is easy to forget that democracy is a relatively novel form of government, and that multiethnic democracies are more novel still. Only in the past few decades have increased levels of migration and immigration — and, in the US, the end of Jim Crow — brought us into an era where diverse constituencies must find a way to build a common future. Across the globe, modern democracies put off a true debate about the nature and rules of a multicultural society until it became undeniable just how much their newfound diversity was already shaping their politics. In The Great Experiment, Yascha Mounk turns his political scientist’s eye to the realities of this moment in which we now find ourselves.
The Great Experiment maps out the current obstacles to true egalitarianism, provides a vision of the ideal case, and then offers a roadmap for how we might get there. In so doing, Mounk engages with the major arguments coming out of both the left and the right, seeing in both the right-wing turn towards ethnic nationalism and in the mounting left-wing pessimism about the possibility of racial justice a failure to recognize the true promise and potential of the democratic project. Mounk offers a rousing defense of the liberal principles that have since become unfashionable, arguing in favor of meritocracy, of cross-cultural exchange, of integration, and of civic patriotism.
Building on the case against populism he made so effectively in The People Vs. Democracy, he now plants a flag firmly on the side of optimism as he charts a course forward for democracy. Whether we can shift the contours of our politics to accommodate a range of backgrounds, identities, and points of view is a matter of utmost urgency—and The Great Experiment promises to be the essential guide for the challenges ahead.
Claire Nozieres manages the translation rights for The Great Experiment