Monday, March 4, 2013
International aspects of political development
International aspects of political development
Here I will elaborate on the topic in the last post, The Decline of Politics.
Democracy for any prize?
The degree of democracy possible without counterproductive effects in the form of instability depends on
1. Political development on the way up.
2. Political decline on the way down again.
It is important that the degree of democracy should always follow the maximum level, which is possible without chaos, in the light of the political level.
Most third world countries are not yet sufficiently politically developped to implement democracy in the full western sense. This would lead to instability and will often be terminated by coups. To demand democracy from such countries is irresponsible!
Also China and Russia are not sufficiently politically developed to implement full Western democracy. To demand they should is also irresponsible unless of course it is a deliberate attempt to weaken them and so easier defeat them in the international competition! But a break down of effective government in such important countries would harm the whole World, not least economically!
We saw what can happen if democracy is enforced too early in Russia after the fall of Gorbatjov. The strengthening of the government under Putin was necessary. China would also have plunged into a chaos even worse, if the students had won in 1989.
But of course a country can also limit democracy more than necessary in relation to the political level.
From the age of Enlightenment Western Europe and North America were ascending in political level, Southern Europe a bit later. The Third World much later. This culminated probably in the sixties and seventies of the last century. Since then the downward trend has been underway as described in the last post.
This means that Southern Europe and the Third World have not and will not reach the most developped states before the downward turn. Italy reached a new low point in the elections. “Two clowns” won more than 50 % of the votes.
The west inspires the rest. When the west declines, so does the rest.
The international competition for supremacy
There is one more threat to democracy. This one is valid for the big players on the international political scene. These countries are competing with each other for dominance and therefore their internal strength and thus political efficiency is important, so they don’t lose in the competition from the other powers.
This threat was not very relevant for the Romans after Zama. No opponents of any strength existed west of the Parthians. And this probably also is a part of the explanation why the internal chaos continued until just before Augustus put an end to the Warring States or Modernity phase or as Toynbee calls it, the Time of Troubles. As a single Roman general could subdue and eradicate whole states, the politicians and military leaders in Rome itself could afford the chaotic in fights much longer without fearing that outside forces would take advantage of the situation.
This was very different in the same period in the first Chinese civilization, where all the major powers were very strong and each had armies of one million troops. Here only the most effective states could stand the competition and the wars. Qin won the fight by being extremely well and harsh governed.
For our civilization we are somewhat closer to the old Chinese condition. Our Rome, the United States is not alone, but has competitors like China and Russia and soon maybe more. This means that it is imperative for the Americans to be well governed and effective.
This pressure for efficiency is another major threat to democracy. Here like with the other threats, it would be ideal to save democracy by strengthening the executive just as much as needed and no more. We don’t want to have the Qin solution with its brutal oppression! But if the Americans hope to continue as the "leading nation on Earth" they will have to strengthen government.
A World power cannot continue as a such, if the opposition sabotages the necessary decisions. Today the right wing Republicans, tomorrow under another president perhabs left wing Democrats.
Even more harmful could be the extreme anti-Washington sentiments. People whose dream is a decentralized state not ruled from Washington and the "political establishment" and instead want small communities ruled by "Christian" pro-life, pro-gun, anti-tax, anti- Obama care people and defended by small bands of individual desperados armed by the Rifle Association. Even a small approaching of this condition would imply a serious weakening of the United States.
I guess not even the Tea Party movement or other right wing Republicans want the Chinese and Russians to win the competition for world hegemony?!
The smaller countries in the old continent do not anymore take part in the competition for world hegemony. Therefore they do not feel the external pressure making inner strengthening necessary. They could end like the greek city states. At a time representatives of four competing parties from the formerly so well ruled Sparta were in Rome each seeking support for their cause in the chaotic political battles.
The EU is an attempt on the level of all European states at countering the trend. Create a common executive above the single governments. But this will fail as the decline within the states continues.
For the World it may make only a little difference who wins, the Americans or the Chinese. They may be approaching the same level of limited democracy, even though from opposite sides.