New challenges to democracy

Dhaka,  Sun,  25 June 2017
Published : 15 May 2017, 20:30:18
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New challenges to democracy

K B Ahmed
Essentially in any form of governance, consequential decision of public policies requires consultation and at times public hearing before finalisation. Governance in its institutional form is a complex and self-serving apparatus to mobilise, control and manoeuvre public support. But in some cases, even an unknown demagogue might take advantage of the failing purposes of governance, and that is what catapulted Mr. Donald J Trump to the Presidency of the United States.

Ordinarily, it should not worry any one, if it had happened in any other country, but the United States is the pivot of pluralistic governance, champion of social and civic rights and, above all, it is the wealthiest nation on earth.

Is it not surprising when Mr. Trump by his own admission conceded that governance and in particular, the Presidency has very complex functioning mechanism that he is trying to acquire by learning.  He faltered when he made decisions arbitrarily and when in his defence, did not want to trust anyone, and instead built a cocoon with his immediate family members. Some psychologists suggest that it would be a normal behaviour for Mr. Trump to continually look for a fall guy to cover his mistakes and his deficits in understanding. Bullying is also natural of him to hide his own inadequacies.

Queer as it may sound, he may have unwittingly been making a great contribution to humanity by challenging the institutions of democracy as they are managed now. A new challenge has now become very clear with regard to purposes and functioning of these institutions of governance. He has now successfully exposed that the governance cannot be effectively managed without belonging to an established political clique and manning the institutions can only be done by the political groups with vested interest. The 'deceitful' concept of "common cause" in public management is now squarely challenged. Although Mr. Trump is finding it difficult to assert and implement his independent perspective of governance, he, even with his failed attempts is making "eye-openers" for all of us.  

The cabal-clique type political syndications, the protracted maintenance of regional conflicts and dominating the capital management are the few that have now become visible.

Mr. Trump's inability and general reaction to his election have raised a concern over the consequences that would follow from isolation, inappropriate prioritisation of social benefits, undermining of geopolitical perceptions and the disconnect with the tradition of alliances. These are basic fundamentals to maintaining peace and international commitment to the rule of law and social justice.  These were the core concerns in citizen's mind that caused massive victory of the socially liberal but fiscally conservative candidates in the general elections in the Netherlands and France, for which Mr. Trump should deserve a credit.

As technology advances, in particular digitisation, the world is faced with  new challenges, for which neither the citizens nor the political leaders are adequately prepared to integrate into the management of political institutions for governance. It appears that in short term, technology is winning and has gradually taken over, unnoticed, social and political control. Political perceptions of governance will soon be undergoing a change to accommodate the advent of technology and thereby reducing intellectual ability to define general functioning of citizens and their society. Existential threat now prevails to many of our common values and traditions; in particular the scope for discretionary management for mitigating social inequality will now be diminished. Public policies for both financial and fiscal requirements will gradually be redefined to a new paradigm.  

The corrosive dishonesty of the political leadership as experienced since the turn of the century left most of the public institutions under the hegemony of the few that caused immense mistrust in the perceptions of ordinary citizens. From the developed world to poor nations, both social and political leadership followed the same pattern of hypocrisy, misrepresentation and demagoguery to divide and rule the nations and maintain protracted regional conflicts at the cost of huge human tragedy and financial losses. Mr. Trump's election to the Presidency is a symptom of desperation of the citizens who are casually but deliberately left out of the loop.

Human history is a bizarre sequel of tragedies, sufferings and sacrifices that were caused only by the few for their greed and lust for power and control. On the other hand, all human achievements in all nations are the symbols of great human sacrifices and persistent endeavours of overcoming hurdles of restrictions, oppressions and bigotry. It is now obvious that more informed citizens will oppose such leadership unless corrections in the management of the public institutions are made. In fact, when the traditional leadership failed in the Brexit and the US election, the enlightened and informed citizens of the Netherlands and France came forward to save and preserve the democratic values.

Developing nations are perhaps unaware of the changes taking place in their societies and are unable to relate it to the new phenomena which will soon dawn on their shores to surprise them. Technology of communication is now penetrating in the distant rural communities making them aware of their rights that for long they were deprived of by their leaders.

Poverty first and terrorism later were to become 21st century's political trend and as such in all multinational efforts, focus was made to augment the impetus for combating poverty and terrorism. Meantime billions of dollars seemed to have been invested in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to remove poverty, and sovereign countries like Iraq was assailed to prevent terrorism without any rational and geo-strategic justification.

The US-led coalition of the Western Alliances successfully dismantled the Soviet hegemony during the cold war and reduced it to be a crater of chaos and corruption. Old satellite states of the USSR were allured out of the union and supported to become tyrannical democratic showcases. But the haemorrhaging within the democratic systems of the West began unnoticed and institutional malfunctioning soon was becoming the cause of social, political and economic failures. Mr. Vladimir Putin in Russia set himself up to revive and gain the full potential of his resources. He established trade relations with Western Europe and soon became the principal energy supplier and as well, began setting up surrogates around the globe by offering both investments and war-hardware to quell the dissenters.

Against this background, Mr. Putin achieved what he intended, causing chaos in Washington and undermining democratic institutions around the world. The cause of democracy from the West which had demolished the Soviet's totalitarian regime is now at the receiving end of a death blow as Mr. Putin regains his capacity to deal it.

With the US, the wealthiest nations on the earth, debating over providing healthcare to its citizens and the European nations failing to provide shelters to those who were made homeless by their thoughtless actions in the past, Mr. Putin need not wait for any better opportunity to be presented with to take revenge on the West and on its democracy.     

kbahmed1@gmail.com

 
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