With January 6 on the way, is democracy dying?


One of the many books that came out of O’Sullivan’s fireplace this Christmas was “The Last Swordfish / Le Dernier Espadron” by Blake and Mortimer. The Blake and Mortimer comic book series is now under new authorship but started in Belgium (close cousin of Tintin) in the late 1940s and like John Buchan’s early books for example, they speak of a cartoonish vision of Britain, its honest male role models. , with doses of racism.

Similar to books like Greenmantle or the Three Hostages (Buchan), those by Blake and Mortimer have a recurring theme of good versus evil, the possibilities of technology, and the struggle between free and tyrannical countries.

Brexit

While reading “The Last Greatsword” my first thought is while in Britain today many prominent politicians (Gove, Johnson, etc.) Mortimer, while showing none of the skill, the bravery and virtue of these characters (and those of Buchan and similar writers).

This manifests itself not only in a crisis of identity and relevance, but also in a crisis of democracy. Britain, in its own way, is rightly admired as an example of democracy and strong institutions, although the current government has done much to erode it, such are the temptations of populism.

At a time when we face many great risks – climate change, war in Eastern Europe and the COVID pandemic to name a few, my greatest fear is that the heart of the democratic world will recoil. .

Attack on Capitol Hill

Another example from the press this week (no doubt before January 6) is the coverage of The Economist (still a bad predictor) which shows the Republican Party in the United States “moving away from democracy”. An even more disturbing recent example is the de facto elimination of the free press and the opposition in Hong Kong. It was absorbed into China, with little more than a grinding protest from the democratic countries.

As the world enters a new chapter (post-COVID, multipolar) marked by dazzling technologies, financially healthy consumers, we remain in a democratic recession, to use the term of political scientist Larry Diamond.

This idea is supported by last year’s EIU Democracy Index, which shows an unhealthy democracy (the index is at its lowest since 2006, and only 8% of the world’s population live in “low-income democracies.” full part ”). Likewise, Freedom House shows that last year was the worst year since 2005 (when they started measuring the spread of democracy) for democracy in the sense that the number of countries whose democracy has weakened by compared to those where it improved (-45) is the highest on record.

In both cases, the spread of democracy stopped in the aftermath of the global financial crisis and then deteriorated from 2015. This is a watershed moment. Under globalization, the idea was that democracy would spread from democratic countries to the rest of the world, now, in a multipolar and contested world, democracy is just one of many competing models or sets of values ​​(conflict diplomatic relations between small Lithuania and China are worth seeing here).

Europe

It’s bleak, even though, as I reported in my last post for 2021, democracy in Europe is doing well ahead of elections in Italy and France. One of the reasons for this may be the fact that the party system in countries like France, Germany and Italy is flexible – within certain limits (funding and voting thresholds) new parties can be formed and come to power while the elders are quickly deformed.

In the medium and long term, this produces political mud which pushes extreme opinions to the confines of politics and turns the center into a contested political space. Imagine if the Conservative Party had been allowed to separate in the 1990s, Brexit probably would never have happened. The same is true in the United States.

I’m not sure what it will take to break down one of the four major Anglo-telephone political parties, although the ideological divisions within them are the deepest there is. It may be that an aspiring separatist leader (Tom Tugendhat in Tories or Liz Cheney in Republicans) needs the help of large (social) media organizations and wealthy donors, a compromise that is itself the antithesis of democracy.

State of pennsylvania

I find this fight between Republicans “Bush” and “Trump” fascinating, not only in terms of spectacle, but also in terms of bringing new people into the fray (like Bridgewater’s David McCormick as a potential Republican candidate for the Senate). of Penn. course).

In this context, where the consensus is that the American body politic is busy destroying democracy, it is worth reflecting on the non-democratic world, where in notable cases “managed democracy” has been replaced by the idea. of a medieval “strong democracy” man for life ”(Russia, China and Turkey). Turkey, like Lebanon, shows that people’s patience with the erosion of democracy has limits and, at one point, is linked to banking systems (there has been a massive leakage of deposits through banks Turkish).

China is fascinating here. Growth is slowing, Hong Kong is a depressing view of the ‘Chinese Dream’ and as we move forward into 2022 the big story could be growing opposition (within the Communist Party) to Xi Jingping’s policies – if we ever hear about it. of this.


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