Issue 530 of New Internationalist

Reader-owned global journalism

March-April 2021

Democracy on the edge

Disinformation. Polarization. And flat denial of election results. Democracy seems to be in trouble today. But are these death throes - or perhaps growing pains?


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In this issue

  • Almost half of Nigerians want to move abroad in the next five years, Nosmot Gbadamosi writes, and the country’s population is expected to surpass that of the US by 2050.

  • As his comrades argue about trans women, a reader feels conflicted. Step forward Agony Uncle.

  • Violeta Santos Moura’s poignant photo essay reveals the tragedy of Nepal's human-trafficking crisis – and the courage of those fighting back.

  • Does being educated at home limit or enrich children’s experiences? Lindsey T Powell and Cheryl Fields-Smith have different opinions. 

  • Iris Gonzales reflects on the human cost of the state’s war against its critics. 

  • Claire Fauset is on board with Arka Kinari, an extraordinary ecological live music project staged from the deck of a traditional sailing ship as it tours the world.

  • Psychoanalyst Adam Phillips talks about our need for privacy in a digital age.

  • Vanessa Baird offers some nifty tips in tackling a growing problem.

  • It twists and corrupts democracy in hidden ways. Peter Geoghegan explores the murky world of think tanks and billionaire backers.

  • Propaganda and media expert Peter Pomerantsev on tackling disinformation and the power of the digital platforms. 

  • Rebel chefs are on a mission to decolonize diets across sub-Saharan Africa. Kareem Arthur goes in search of new ingredients.

  • Michael Fakhri, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, has a bold vision for a trade system that reflects how people actually eat.

  • Hazel Healy imagines an end to cheap meat.

  • Nilanjana Bhowmick on the double whammy of natural disaster and Covid-19 that has brought a vulnerable ecosystem to the brink.

  • Laxmi Murthy reports on the theory of ‘love jihad’ that is sweeping across India.

  • Art is essential to building a better future, writes Nanjala Nyabola.

  • Danny Chivers weighs up the evidence on carbon-capture technologies and finds them wanting.

  • A kickstart for a habitable future. Claire Mellier and Rich Wilson make the case for citizens’ assemblies.

  • In the absence of enough trained doctors, reliance on other, less-qualified health workers is growing in the Global South. Physician Neil Singh’s exploration begins with a personal encounter. 

  • Why bully boy Bezos can’t stop smirking.
  • Unloved and under threat from several sides, democracy seems to be in peril. Should it be saved – or helped to change? Vanessa Baird investigates.

  • While Argentina wins abortion rights, in Brazil even a pregnant 10-year-old is threatened and coerced to give birth, writes Leonardo Sakamoto.