The doomed fate of Democracy
The year 2020–21, the Pandemic era has brought a major revival in Authoritarian Regimes all around the world. The so-called defenders of Democracy’s have had the fiercest of struggles against the stubborn authoritarian regimes. A report from Freedomhouse.org, a U.S Non-Profit organization, which conducts research on global democracy’s, political freedom and human rights, said that 2021 would be the 15th consecutive year, where global freedom and global democracy has declined. Countries experiencing authoritarian rule or regimes have outnumbered the one’s showing a positive influence in their democracies. The democratic recession narrative, which started in the year 2006, has shown one of its steepest negative curves this year. The pandemic era in general has brought a new and much broader range of autocratic regimes. Impacts of which are now being felt globally.
The west for long has played a blame game upon the rising Chinese and Russian influence across wider regions, as the root cause for dying democracies. While parts of it might be true, because both these powers have been particularly known to be on the opposite tables to democracies. In addition, both these powers have always been at the helm of human rights abuse, and anti-democratic behaviour in peaceful and democratic regions. Thus, a global decline in democracy would do no harm to them. In fact, they would be the one’s to celebrate the demise of global democracy. So, yes the motive is pretty strong here. But there is more to this issue than Russian and Chinese influence.
Authoritarianism is on the rise
How can we talk about Authoritarianism and Dictatorships without mentioning China. The PRC (People’s Republic of China), the ruling party of mainland China, is the world’s most populous dictatorship. The pandemic era, has brought out a new era of misinformation and censorship in the Beijing administration. Since, the discovery of the Covid-19 virus in Wuhan last year, Beijing has tried every trick in the book to cover up the initial outbreak inside its borders. The Chinese state sponsored media ran a 24 hour cycle of fake propaganda and news, for once portraying that it was Italy and not China where the initial virus outbreak happened.
The result was catastrophic, as the rest of the world was deprived of an initial response against the pandemic, leading to thousand of casualties. 2020, was also the year when Beijing enforced its autocratic regime upon the democratic autonomy of Hong-Kong. Human rights abuse was at its peak on mainland China, when reports of mass genocide against ethnic Uyghur Muslims, caught international eye’s. China’s autocratic regime has certainly gained fame on the International stages like UN Human Rights Council, which have kept a mum approach over recent atrocities.
The Covid pandemic turned out to be a blessing in disguise for autocratic, semi-autocratic and wannabe authoritarian governments throughout the world. Dictatorships across the world resorted to discriminatory restrictions on freedom of speech, movement and gathering, by using the name of the pandemic. Large scale oppression became a norm, as dictators seized the opportunity to squash their opposition and critics, with the help of violent enforcements.
The Fake News Era
The Covid-19 era is most accurately, “the era of false information’s and fake news”. Political leaders throughout the world spread entire streams of false and misleading information’s, forbidding the general public from obscuring reliable data. Spreading misinformation and hate against each other, turned out to be fruitful for many governments, as it helped turn the public from the real issues and inadequacies.
The rise of authoritarianism in the last one and a half decade was a combined effort of the political revival of extreme wings in governments and the incompetence or inconsistent presence of major democracies on the international stage. The last 10–15 years, have shown a steep rise in military activities for resolving political, social or territorial disputes, throughout the world. Middle-East, is in a far more worse political order, than it was decades ago. Syria, Libya, Yemen, Ethiopia, Azerbaijan and Armenia all have been through some serious military activity due to their authoritarian regimes.
India is surprisingly disappointing
India is by far the largest democracy in the world. With the dismal rise of authoritarian regimes all over Asia, all hopes were upon India to maintain a peaceful and thriving democracy in the midst of all the chaos. The 2021 Freedom Index report has shown a drop for India from a free to a “partly free state”. This is probably the biggest blow to rising democracies, given India’s rich history of being an extremely tolerant and democratic state. India’s downward graph movement has accelerated since the appointment of Prime-Minister Narendra Modi, back in 2014. Modi, is also the leader of BJP, a right wing, Hindu nationalist party currently governing the country.
Since the reinstatement of the government in 2019, Modi along with its state-level allies have led to some serious crackdowns against several of its critics and opposition. And then there is the issue of rising communal tensions, against the Muslim population of the country. The country now faces a steep challenge against the very fundamentals of secularism, which was laid by the founding fathers of the country. Intense nationalism and the growing rant of Hindutva regime, has led to a widespread scapegoating of ethnic minorities.
India’s case is deeply concerning
The BJP government is popularly known for its over the top and bizarre political moves, in its seven years of governance. The covid era, saw one such epic move, in which the government imposed a misguided nationwide lockdown, which turned out to be a absolute catastrophe for the millions of migrant workers in the state. India’s demotion in the democracy index is a major concern for global community, given the country’s status and position in the Asian and International politics. It looks like, the largest democracy in the world needs to take a second or two, and take a peak on its history. India’s fall in the democratic index has had a potential impact on global democracy standards, which makes India’s case that much necessary.
The dark phase of US democracy
The United States has always been a role-model for aspiring and evolving democracies. For long U.S along with its allies has been the enforcer as well as the protector of democratic rights throughout the world. But Trump’s Presidency and his naive regimes have brought out some visible dents in the United States democracy. The last four to five years have been a major setback to America’s position as the apex democracy and raised questions upon its leadership abilities. One of Trump’s key propaganda policy, about which he was pretty adamant about from the start was the “America First” policy.
It was a perception of his, to feed the American’s, how he would make the country great again. The result was United States exclusion from several international platforms, which in many ways eclipsed its position as the protector of democracy. Trump’s Presidency term was all about what America mustn’t be, as a role model for democracies all over the globe. Racism and Right wing Extremism were two faucets, which gained a lot of uprising during Trump’s Presidency. But things went bad to worse, during the final weeks of Trump’s administration. The outgoing President, refused to accept his loss at the General Elections. While raging hate speeches and vindicating his supporters to disrupt Congress’s certification of the results. Lawmakers of his own administration silently supported the menace, by taking the course of inactivity.
Democracy in U.S is in trouble
Trump’s tenure as the President saw an accelerating decline in U.S’s democratic index. Corruption, resistance to transparency, harsh immigration policies and rising racial discrimination, all were at prevalence during the four year rule. But, if you had to pick the single most catastrophic event which shook U.S’s image at the global stage, it would most definitely have to be the Capitol incident. The Capitol incident was a showcase of political violence by an outgoing President, who was in complete denial of his loss at the polls. Hundred of thousands of Trump’s supporters had stormed into, what was the symbolic heart of U.S democracy. And the worst part was that the whole incident was incited by the President himself. The entire incident was a mess, which had made an absolute mockery of U.S’s democratic image at the international stage.
The sheer audacity of Donald Trump to overturn the will of the American voters, was arguably one of the darkest phases of American politics in recent times. What followed next was a drumbeat of baseless claims, misinformation and questions regarding integrity of the Country’s electoral system. Several months of poisoning the public, led to nationwide protests. Several Authoritarian governments questioned America’s credibility of forcing and blaming others on undemocratic issues, given its own democracy was in turmoil. For them, this was the perfect opportunity to demean U.S’s democracy. These incidents had provided ample fodder for Authoritarian governments to attack democracies world wide. While feeding their public, how inefficient and useless, democracies are!
Democracy needs a firm U.S
Since the 1950s, America despite of some of its mistakes, has had a firm stance on its foreign policy based on democratic principles and support for human rights. These core policies is what has made U.S the leader of democracies on the global stage. U.S has been long known for its role in pressurizing offenders to reform, for its constant support to activists, and bringing countries aboard. Trump’s Presidency might have tarnished and tormented this image for now, but the appointment of President Biden might pave the way for older routes. The U.S is in a dire need to improve its own democracy, after the beating it received from the last President. Recent incidents have definitely shown some vulnerabilities in the U.S democracy.
For a start, the U.S needs to strengthen its institutions against future attacks, protect its electoral system from foreign and domestic interference, keep a check on the rising extremism and intense polarization, and the most important one, uphold the freedom and rights of all its people, with no selection bias. Democracies across the globe benefit, when the U.S democracy serves as a positive model. U.S itself reaps a lot of benefits in a more democratic world. A democratic world where freedom and social justice prevail would see more stable and secure governments, less military interactions, and less displacement of lives and refugees. A thriving U.S along with its allies would help keep a check on rising authoritarianism across the globe, which is a major source to modern political disputes.
All is not lost
History tells us that, Democracies all over the world have been attacked several times. But despite of several lows and blows, democracy has managed to rebound each and every time. Despite the global decline of democratic index in the last few decades, some countries have managed to hold upon their democratic functions in these torrid times. In the year 2020, Malawi (a low-performing democratic system) showed its resilience against its corrupt electoral system. In a landmark of an event, the court of Malawi ordered fresh democratic elections, which resulted in the appointment of a new President. Taiwan, a democratic island successfully managed to control the spread of the Coronavirus, without resorting to any abusive methods. Early implementation of a pandemic response aided with effective contact tracing and testing efforts helped control the disease.
Resiliency of Democracy
Democracy has certainly shown its metal in the pandemic times, while hosting a number of successful elections across regions. Montenegro and Bolivia were some of the prime examples, where elections were held peacefully and democratically. Independent journalism in countries like India, China and Brazil continued to express its criticism over a variety of topics. Ranging from corruption, inequality, and mishandling of the health sector, showcasing the desire to address democratic operations within the country.
Topics of equality, freedom, and equal opportunity is still a relatively new concept to this world, considering our history of Authoritative rule. For centuries, humans have lived on various authoritarian regimes, which is why some countries are resistive to democratic changes. But democracy is gaining rapid popularity in what is a more hostile world.
The Principal author of the blog Just Logically Speaking, Susanta Ray is an enthusiast for information and learning. He thrives in subjects related to Modern Technology, Science, History, Space, Finance and Global Affairs.
If you liked what you saw, and want to read more contents from this author, Hop into his own blog at the following link : Just logically speaking