Democracies on Decline -Abu Tahir Mustakim
Currently, the global recession of democracy has begun. Viktor Orbán of Hungary, Jarosław Kaczyński of Poland, Jair Bolsanaro of Brazil, Donald Trump of the United States, and Narendra Modi of India; are all democratically elected. Some of them are still in power.
There are some democracies like Egypt, Pakistan, Bangladesh etc. whose armies get help from abroad in the package of US aid, UN peacekeeping missions. The armies are strong enough to dictate the democracies in these countries. Army general Fattah Sisi is ruling Egypt which was being in the process of being a democratic country under the Mohammad Morsi government which was elected on popular vote. In Pakistan, Tehrik-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan is holding their army responsible not only for his plight but also for the plight of Father of the Nation Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1971. Armies of these predominantly Muslim countries have to keep balance between dictations from home (from where they salaries) and abroad (from where they get aid, peacekeeping missions, etc.).
As elected representatives, they severely bend various democratic elements such as non-partisan judiciary, bureaucracy, independent media, intellectual community, university academic space, etc.
In many democracies, including the United States, abuse of the Supreme Court is becoming possible for vested interests. Mr. Orban has managed to fill the court with his supporters sitting on the chest of Europe. He has subdued the media as well! Among them, Mr. Bolsenaro and Mr. Trump have been ousted from the democratic process.
But as expected, their defeat was marginal. To a large section of the population, this defeat remained unacceptable and abnormal. That latent dissatisfaction is appearing to a large number of people in the form of majority rule over a thin minority and many times in the form of oppressive laws. In most cases, the process of transfer of power is delayed and the results of almost all elections are in question.
Anti-Muslim bigotry is now being used to boost votes in democratic elections. Islamophobic comments are a trend before elections in Europe. France’s Mr. Macron said before the election, ‘Islam is a religion in crisis’.
In India, known as the largest democracy, the practice of religious hatred is the mainstay of politics. Leader of Opposition Rahul Gandhi’s plight gives an idea of how democracy can be used to suppress opposition parties and opinions. And Mr. Modi’s democratic India has emerged as the most oppressive democracy in history. It appears that democracy is not able to protect its secular and moral high ground in India as well as in Europe and America.
In the United States, Mr. Trump filled the Supreme Court bench with a Republican conservative majority. Because of this, the Conservative Bench was able to outlaw abortion. It is a matter of concern that instead of determining truth or falsity based on scientific reasoning, unintended judicial intervention is taking place. In all these cases democracy appears as tyranny over the lives of millions of people.
It is true that in ‘advanced’ democracies, Mr. Trump has failed in his quest to destroy the institutional safeguards of democracy. However, many people fear that he will win in 2024. In that case, he may not bid farewell to democracy from the world, but it is feared that he will remain president for life in the democratic process.
Various ‘democratic coercions’ are now the norm in many countries around the world. As a result, since 2021, Mr. Biden has been trying to protect the decline of democracy. He clearly understood that the global decay of democracy cannot be saved only by saving this decline in his own country. As a result, he has taken the responsibility of protecting the decay of democracy as the agenda of his presidency. Rescuing a stagnant democracy involves the question of his re-election and image.
The greatest failure of democracy is economic and social inequality. Undoubtedly, economic inequality has increased in the democratic world as a whole. Globalization based on the neoliberal economy of democracy and free-market economy has increased economic inequality globally. Moreover, it is not possible to ensure economic restructuring and fair distribution of wealth in a democratic system. Rather, it continues to increase inequality.
Needless to say, democracy has completely failed to resist the aggressive role of capitalism. Because power under democracy has been concentrated in the hands of the rich and the elite class. Neither realignment of power nor economic redistribution is possible in the free union of these two. So naturally, many countries in the world today have autocracy, kleptocracy, or plutocracy in the name of democracy.
Technology has harmed democracy. Trump’s victory was largely made possible by technology-assisted ‘microtargeting’ of votes; which Influences the opinion of voters in certain areas. Similarly, Cambridge Analytica has begun to be used beyond the geographical boundaries of many countries to influence public opinion in elections, including the Brexit vote.
Democracy has no safeguards against this abuse of technology. As a result, democracy has become an ‘outdated’ ideology in terms of time, and reform of democracy is required.
When democracy becomes a mere legal system as a system of governance, it fails to take into account the linguistic, cultural, religious, moral, and even philosophical significances that exist collectively within the state. Democracy is not a universal global system of governance. It has become very important to keep an eye on democracy so that social and religious development does not become meaningless and becomes a threat to socio-culture.
A 20-year-long international effort to impose modern democracy on Afghanistan has failed. The NATO countries jointly introduced a modern constitution based in Kabul in Afghanistan. About 300,000 soldiers were raised with modern training and modern weapons to uphold the Constitution. These 300,000 people surrendered to the Taliban without fighting a traditional Afghan war of valor to protect a constitutional obligation – a product of modern political thinking! The Taliban also declared amnesty for them without resorting to violence!
As a democratic transition, the ‘constitution’, and ‘elections’, which are inconsistent with the society, culture, and tradition in Afghanistan, have led to the failure of constitutional democracy. In this way, ‘Lessons Learned’ for democracy.
It is time to be alert to the decaying and destructive nature of democracy. In many states, the `code of laws’ has been replaced by ‘constitutions’ that protect colonial and imperial interests. As a result, it has adopted Western ideals rather than reflecting the hopes and aspirations of the society or the people. So stopping this social destruction of democracy is emerging as a trend of modern democratic movements.
Despite the enmity of the powerful Western democracies, the economic emancipation of the masses has been demonstrated under China’s communist regime of mass population and Iran’s ‘non-democratic’ regime. So democracy is not a universal world governance system. Why Communist China’s model or Iran’s Islamist model is effective and successful can be deeply discussed. We are very little familiar with these doctrines. For that reason, it should also be considered whether democracy is getting extra benefits as a doctrine of natural choice.
Let us not forget, democracy is for the people; People are not for democracy. #