RIP, Liberal Democracy (Part 2)

Part Two of Two-part series on 'Future of Liberal democracy around the world'

Democracy Journal

The fact that the world population went from 3 billion to almost 8 billion in just under 50 years with a guarantee of further growth also has something to do with this 'too much closeness and not enough space to breathe free' type feeling all over the world. The Indian saying 'Guest is God' sounds hollow even to most Indians and an anti-immigrant sentiment pervades the world. 

Of course, it could not have happened so dramatically, but for the 'helping hand' of the cunning and scheming strongmen, oligarchs and semi-dictators all over the world who fed them a steady diet of fear and victimhood based nationalism, spiced with religious and racial hatred. They actually promoted the 'Us vs. Them' syndrome with, of course, themselves as the Saviors! People, in their moment of weakness and desperation, bought it hook, line and sinker! Thus came Trump in the U.S., Bolasaro in Brazil, Duarte in Philippines and Putin in Russia, Erdogan in Turkey plus dozens of such strongmen in Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia. Even the Indian majority community pled victimhood and abandoned secularism to support muscular religious nationalism with a strongman at the helm of this narrative. People like Trump and Modi promise the moon and people are so mesmerized that they don’t even register the reality that the economy has actually gone downhill under their rule. People like to drink the 'feel good coolade' to escape reality; so unrealistic promises and slick marketing, not performance, carry the day. These Strongmen also use the State machinery and technology to monitor and control the potential opponents or open resisters. That capability is likely to strengthen with the AI [Artificial Intelligence] enabled growth of such monitoring and controlling Social Media technical tools, a cause for concern about the future of liberal democracy and free-thinking.

So, is there any hope for liberal democracy? Will there be a Second Coming of liberal democracy? Well, actually there is some hope. As usual, America will have to lead and the signs are already emerging. A strong coalition of educated women, young people and urban intellectuals has spoken out in the clearest terms: 'we are secular liberal democrats and globalists'. This may sound like wishful thinking but the chances are, they will succeed in the November 2020 election to lead the re-emergence of liberal democratic world order. This revival cannot just be based on the ideas. It has to be coupled with an economic revival for the middle class as well, for it to take roots and flourish. That is where American creativity and ingenuity come in the picture. Innovative businesses like the Green New Deal may actually be THE economic solution, creating well paying new jobs in the wind, solar and farming arena. In fact, the latest alternatives to meat in terms of Soy protein, creating vegan meat look-alikes has the potential of creating a global industry that will be good for business and humanity at the same time. One can point to at least dozen more such brand new businesses [in addition to AI—the Artificial Intelligence] that will positively impact the way of life for the American middle class, bringing back peace and prosperity again. That will boost confidence, harmony and a sense of happiness, ushering in a new age of liberal democracy.

But how can we be sure that the U.S. can actually make this turnaround from the current desperate scenario? Well, because the U.S. has done it before—twice, just in this century. Rebound from the days of the Great Depression in the 1930s and the transformation from Smoke Stack industries to High Tech in late 1970s show that “when going gets tough, the tough get going”. That is the core of the American spirit. It will rise again. The New Green Economy is the way out for the middle-class revival and that will change the attitudes. As the solar, wind and soy protein type businesses will create good-paying jobs in rural and semi-urban areas where the local people can make a good living without uprooting or changing their local cultures, the psyche will change dramatically and the defensive posture will diminish.

The world history shows that you can fool some people for some time, but cannot fool all people all the time. People will soon wake up to the reality and realize what a ride these Strongmen, Oligarchs and Nationalists have taken them for. In fact, looking at Trump’s popularity numbers fading, that time may come sooner, rather than later. Let’s see.

- Sunil Deshmukh

(Author is a U.S.A. based philanthropist and Corporate leader of Wall Street. He is the Originator of the prestigious  'Maharashtra Foundation Awards for Literature and Social work'.)

This article is published in two parts. Click here to read 'part one' of this article.

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