On Globalisation & World Politics
Authoritarian rulers have emerged in various parts of the world in recent times, and their emergence raises an important question: Is Democracy in danger? In fact, the definition of Democracy is a multidimensional one. One of those dimensions is to ensure the special Constitutional Rights of citizens, irrespective of their caste, ethnicity, race and religion. It is the responsibility of the Judiciary, as well as the Media, to monitor whether the elected Government is respecting the Constitution of the country. If these two pillars are not Independent and Strong in a country, the country cannot be called a Democratic nation.
In most of the countries, unelected people with special qualities, often termed Elites, run the Judiciary and the Media. In a broader sense, the Elite Class can be considered as the powerful population outside the so-called periphery of Politics. Therefore, Democracy is basically a process of sharing power between the Elites and elected representatives of people. Naturally, this process is not the same in all countries. Based on their history and circumstances, some countries give more power to the people’s representatives, while others allow the unelected elites to enjoy power. Due to all these, many issues have to be taken into account before judging the depth of Democracy in a country.
In the post-Second World War era, common people used to get various benefits from their Governments in developed countries. Most of the developed nations provided substantial unemployment benefits. The volume of subsidies in the education, health and transport sectors was huge. Experts are of the opinion that the combination of sympathetic Government with the Market Economy strengthened the foundations of Democracy in developed nations at that period of time.
However, Globalisation changed this foundation of Democracy in the 1980s. Since the cost of labour was quite cheap in developing countries, industrialists in developed countries began to move their factories to developing nations in an attempt to increase their profits. The move triggered a rise in the number of unemployed people in developed countries. After the fall of the erstwhile Soviet Union, the industrialists of the developed nations no longer needed to keep the working class of their countries happy. As a result, the condition of the working class has not improved in developed nations much since then, although those countries have witnessed a steady economic growth. Instead, competition has increased at workplaces, and other benefits have decreased. Furthermore, Governments in many countries have reduced taxes and started providing industrialists with various facilities in the pretext of creating job opportunities. As expected, facilities for the common people have gradually decreased in developed nations, too.
In a Democracy, it is the responsibility of the elected Government to safeguard the interests of the common people. However, all political parties need financial support to win elections. They receive this support from the industrialists ahead of elections. Therefore, Governments have not made any effort to reduce economic inequality by going against industrialists even in developed countries. As a result, common people have lost faith in Democracy. One can blame the Totalitarian Greed of elites for the emergence of Authoritarianism in developed nations.
In Developing Nations, elites have so far enjoyed the greatest benefits of globalisation, and the majority of them are businessmen. Their market and income have increased at a huge rate as a result of globalisation. The second class elites in these countries are highly qualified skilled professionals. Globalisation has helped this category of people get jobs in multinational organisations, and also helped them get an opportunity to earn in foreign currency. Hence, economic prosperity has made these two groups of elite people more influential, politically.
The first group of elites wants the monopoly of their businesses in their own countries. So, they want a leader who can bargain hard with developed countries. The second group considers themselves as equals, as they have been working side by side with people from developed countries for many years. However, their colleagues from developed countries still enjoy the (decision-making) Power. Many of these elites, therefore, want a strong leadership in their respective countries. It should be remembered that although this group is financially prosperous, they spend their days in a corporate atmosphere. So, they do not mind much about living lives inside a cage.
These two groups of elites are the main support base of authoritarian leaders, especially in developing nations. If the foundations of Democracy are not strong, authoritarian leaders do not have to care much about the people in their countries. Only a strong Democracy in developing countries and elections at a regular intervals prompt authoritarian leaders to implement developmental projects there. Thanks to the advancement of technology, many Government benefits can now be delivered directly to the public. By providing people with such benefits and encouraging the culture of Hero Worship with the help of social media, some people try to deify an authoritarian leader, and to help her/him win elections, thus weakening the foundation of Democracy from within. Hatred is the main weapon to undermine the very base of Democracy in all countries, developed or developing. The main target of hatred is the minority community and migrants from developing countries. Therefore, the authoritarian leaders are strongly Nationalist.
In fact, the authoritarian leaders want to weaken the Human Rights aspect of Democracy as much as possible. If they get success in doing so while in power, it is possible for them to greatly prevent the rise of any political opponent. The emergence of the authoritarian leaders in a Democratic System is, therefore, an indication of a serious crisis of Democracy. Still, there is a difference between Authoritarianism and Dictatorship. The term Dictator refers to a leader who rules the country completely by her/his own will. Dictators arbitrarily oppress their countrymen, and also exploit them to the extreme in order to enjoy power. Many such dictators have ruled their countries for a long period of time in Africa and Latin America.
All the authoritarian leaders in the contemporary world are not dictators. Many of them have ensured steady economic growth patterns in their respective countries. Under President Vladimir Putin, the income of the Russians has increased several times. In China, many people have risen above the poverty line under the rule of multiple authoritarian leaders. Similar developments have taken place in some Southeast Asian countries. Although the authoritarian leaders are generally unkind to their opponents, their main aim is not to exploit their countrymen. Instead, they try to establish their supporters at the highest levels of all international organisations, and to throw a strong challenge to the elites of developed countries. This cannot be done by completely neglecting their countrymen. So, many of them try to centralise political power with little decentralisation of their economic decisions. Although they do not want free General Elections at the central level, they do not mind a small and controlled Democracy at the primary level. Instead of a Free Press, the authoritarian leaders want an indirectly controlled Press, which shall never challenge their authority, but shall give a proper understanding of the internal situation of the country to them. The main support of these leaders in this venture comes from the industrialists and the elites. The main crisis of modern-day Democracy lies in the enormous influence of the elites (who determine all the policies of the country), instead of the masses.
Today’s World Politics is the Politics of the Elites, as the elites constantly push themselves in the developed and the developing nations. Globalisation has brought these two types of elites into contact with each other. It has triggered a change in their mentality and culture. The impact of this change has also been felt in the governance in their countries. In Democracies, the undisputed influence of elites gives the impression of a clear Authoritarianism. As usual, Authoritarianism seeks to establish itself as an ideological alternative to Democracy by taking some of the good aspects of the latter as its own.
In today’s world, the borderline between Democracy and Authoritarianism is becoming increasingly narrow. Finding a way to protect Democracy is the undeniable duty of the time.
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