Cornell professors discuss rise of authoritarianism

Kaushik Basu zeroes in on Greta’s Dilemma theory 

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Zoom webinar welcomes Cornell Professor.

On Apr. 6, Queen’s Economics Professor Christopher Cotton hosted a webinar with guest speaker Kaushik Basu, Cornell University Professor of International Studies and Economics. The event was held via Zoom and discussed the rise of authoritarianism and its link to economic game theories. 

“The rise of authoritarianism and authoritarian leaders is the focus. You can see this [currently] with Putin’s rule,” Basu said.

When examining the rise of authoritarianism, it’s important to look at the “structure” and “data” of the world’s current economy. 

“There is somehow a very distracted state of the nature of politics in the world—politics is polarized,” Basu said, specifically referencing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Basu believes it’s imperative for us to do innovative work and urged his professional colleagues and political scientists to collectively put their minds to challenge authoritarianism.  

Basu went on to discuss game theory in economics, a framework that analyzes situations where parties make interdependent decisions—one of Basu’s prime interests.

The Greta’s Dilemma and Incarceration Game offers insight into how dictators may make matters worse when they collectively interact in situations.

Greta’s Dilemma stresses how people’s selfish actions have the potential to harm future generations. Basu added that constitutions may vary based on geographical location, complicating matters.

“We live in such a globalized world that a set of rules for Canada,  a set of rules for India, and so on­—there is just too much going on,” said Basu.

Combating dictatorship and authoritarianism is a difficultchallenge, but a necessary one.

“[We] have the capacity to change the rules of the game and that’s what we have to do collectively. This is our opportunity for the world, but there are risks we cannot deny.”


Cornell, Politics, Ukraine

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