Friday, December 11, 2015

Is Democracy Over?

The progress in democracy seen in the late 20th century has stalled in the 21st. Even though around 40% of the world’s population, more people than ever before, live in countries that will hold free and fair elections this year, democracy’s global advance has come to a halt, and may even have gone into reverse. Freedom House reckons that 2013 was the eighth consecutive year in which global freedom declined, and that its forward march peaked around the beginning of the century.

The author states several reasons for the decline of democracy in the world. Two strike close to home. The first was the financial crisis of 2008-2009 and the following multiple government (i.e., using tax payers' money) bail out of financial institutions to benefit the top "1%" versus the "mainstreeters" who lost their homes to foreclosures and bankers' greeds. The other is the war in Iraq that was seen as the failure of democratic policies of the US, the richest and most successful model of modern democracy in the world, that uses democracy as a pretense to spread American imperialism (and oil security) under the cover of democracy, resulting in political instability and spread of terrorism. The other major factor is the rise of China. China's one party system breaks the monopoly of economic growth. While America's economic system doubles the standard of living every 30 years, the Chinese tightly controlled system has doubled the standard of living every 10 years for the last 30 years. American's democratic system is a symbol of gridlock in comparison. The same can be said about similar, western style democracies in India and Western Europe.

What are your thoughts on these relatively recent phenomena with respect to the adoption of democracy in the world? What happened to the Arab Spring revolution in the Middle East? The rise of Russia in the Eastern Europe? Is America losing her grip of economic and political dominance, and hence the waning success of democratic adoption? What do you think of China's emergence as an alternative, prosperous system? Is China's economic growth sustainable or will it collapse under its own expectation?

http://www.economist.com/news/essays/21596796-democracy-was-most-successful-political-idea-20th-century-why-has-it-run-trouble-and-what-can-be-do

3 comments:

Nevan Samadhana said...

I agree strongly with the point that U.S intervention in Iraq and it's positive correlation with the increased growth and spread of terrorism is a large factor in the decline of democracy in the world. It seems like it only served to make things worse and create a negative image of America that is felt by not only citizens of other countries, but citizens in America also. The numbers presented about China doubling its standard of living every 10 years compared to America's 30 years is startling at first but how did the U.S standard of living compare to China's when the study began? I would imagine that the U.S standard was much higher and that China was catching up over the years and that both should be around the same now in the present day.
I believe that now, universal democracy is not as important as universal democracy to our leaders. The idea of growing democracy around the world is a hopeful one, almost naive, so it might be better to focus on making theocratic governments more humane first, and then get them to shift towards democracy. It might seem like progress of democracy in the world is slowing down but progress is better than nothing at all.

Nevan Samadhana said...

It should say
"national interest" instead of universal democracy twice. Sorry!

Alex Binsacca said...

I like to agree with Nevan's point that the in Iraq has help put a decline in the spread of democratic governments around the world. I would also like to agree that it shouldn't be a matter of spreading democracy before it is a matter of making non democratic governments more humane. However, I would also like to say that this decline in democratic governments can also be a result of the cold war. As americans and russians were fighting for the spread of their types of governments, many of the countries experiencing the proxy wars were very agitated at both countries because it involved them in a phenomenon that was between two bigger countries, and thus forced them to fight each other. In fact it is the american older brother feelings that help result in the war in Iraq. As any piece of history the cold war has left its mark on the world, and it is still very apparent even during modern times.