Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Trump, Orbán, Kaczyński and Netanyahu

Trump on trade with China: "Listen you m-----f------, we're going to tax you 25 percent!"
He also claimed that the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive. Hillary Clinton was the worst foreign minister ever etc. etc.

Netanyahu recently accused the Palestinian leader Abbas of directly urging Palestinians to attack Israelis with knives. And worse, he claimed Hitler only started the Holocaust after being persuaded to this by the Palestinian Grand Mufti of Jerusalem.

 Kaczyński, now de facto leader of Poland, claimed that there is a secret plan to destroy the Polish nation by filling the country with Moslem refugees bringing diseases and parasites.

Such obviously absurd viewpoints from leading politicians is a bad omen for the future of democracy.

That the tendencies have been apparent for some time also in West Europe is no secret. The large influx of Syrian refugees is not causing, but reinforcing the tendency in Eastern and Western Europe. But the development is universal.

The simple figure of a parable rising to and then decreasing from a top illustrates the development of mature democracy in our Western civilization.

Of course the real curve is not as smooth as in the figure. Economic, military and political crises have resulted in large deviations. We were at the top-point or rather top-plateau perhaps in the 60s and 70s. Since then the decline has set in. No matter the deviations the overall averaged developmemt follows the pattern of increase, top and decline in level of maturity.

Seen apart from the 30s and 40s North America and West Europe have followed the curve quite closely. In contrast, because of their position east of the Iron Curtain East European countries had the deviations continued until Gorbatjov.

Since then these countries have come back on the main track, following West Europe with a certain time lag. But now almost before they have reached the peak, the general decline sets in, and some of these countries revert to more undemocratic forms. Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary with their geographic and political proximity to West Europe and their pre-war development had the strongest democratic traditions, also under Sovjet dominance. Now even these countries show worrying signs.

Hungary has become quite authoritarian under Orbán, it maltreats refugees and builds fences against them.

Slovakia broke out  from  Czechoslovakia partly because it was not as mature as the Western part and wanted to oppress the Gypsies and the Hungarian minority. Now the Czech Republic seems to follow the Slovaks in its attitude to the refugees.

Despite economic progress and almost complete lack of Middle Eastern refugees the new government in Poland won the elections by abusing a postulated threat from Syrians. The ideal is Orbán's Hungary.

Despite their sad recent past the post-Yugoslavian Balkan states almost seem like the most mature states in East Europe except for the southernmost part like Kosovo which seems on the way to chaos before it ever reaches a functioning democracy.

But it is important to keep in mind that the picture in East Europe may be complicated by the possible emerging still rudimentary East European civilization.

Turkey may be the same story of decline. Erdogan builds a giant palace for himself, destroys the peace process with the PKK, reduces press freedom and democracy. Latin America could follow a similar path of late reached maturity with a short duration.

As often said the right wing parts of the US Republicans are a sign of the same decline as we see in Europe.

The developments in Israel more and more turning towards the right and towards racism are not only a political development per se, but as we can see in the absurdities from not only the prime minister, but in broad sections of society, it also represents the decay. New irresponsible settlements are approved all the time. Even Israeli Arabs are treated and defamed as second class inhabitants, Communists and terrorists.

Of course the political decline needs not only manifest itself as a movement on the right wing. Also left wing and even centrist populism as seen not least in southern European countries are parts of the tendency.

All these developments are of course worrying in themselves, as they are damaging national policies and continuity. But when they affect countries with international importance it is directly dangerous. Just a couple of well-known examples which do not need elaboration:
- Turkey's new war with the Kurds compromises the fight against ISIS.

- Israel's policy can have disastrous consequences.

- Worst of course are the developments in the worlds leading power, the United States. If one of the very few countries with the ability to calm the world itself gets unstable, we are in real trouble.

As said elsewhere, in pre-decline times democracy was stable. Self-sustained responsible political parties through the press, radio and TV guided the different groups within the societies who identified themselves with them and voted for them. Governments cooperated closely with experts and affected groups of society, and matters were debated seriously in the public sphere. Now mob rule replaces this, see my posts  "The Decline of Politics" and "Decline of Modernity".

China and Russia are better equipped to resist the decline.  The Chinese collective and meritocratic leadership is supplementing itself and finds leaders from its own circle. Of course decline may also affect Chinese politicians as the leading circles get richer and more influenced from abroad. Maybe it was not a bad idea to ban communist party members from attending golf clubs.

In the old USSR the intelligent leadership under Kosygin, Brezhnev and Gromyko could have developped in the same direction as the present Chinese party top. But the rigidity and lack of adaptability lead to the necessary but perhaps too quick changes under Gorbatjov and the resulting disintegration and chaos under Jeltsin. Putin with great skill succeded in rising Russia again. And his continued leadership gives a new stability replacing that of the old rule of the Communist Party. The stability can continue, but this demands that a way of transition can ensure that Putin is followed by people with similar abilities. This is an absolute condition.

In this respect one-man-rule has the same weakness as democracy: a capable leader can be followed by an idiot. But it takes longer time.

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