The Crisis of Democracy: What’s next?

The information war that has been unfolding in the world seems to be hopelessly mired in fakes and lies, and, most importantly, it does not struggle for truth, but against it. But more and more often the Western media demonstrates some glimpses of unusual common-sense rhetoric.

The National Interest magazine recently published an article by Professor of the US Naval War college in Newport, RI, Lyle J. Goldstein: From Siberia to Crimea: The Revenge of History in U.S.-Russian Relations. In the article, the distinguished scholar and teacher of the strategy of the Chinese Maritime Studies Institute attempts to shed light on a large number of historical facts forgotten by the United States. The author concludes that during the Crimean War the US and Russia had friendly, but pragmatic relations, largely due to rivalry between the US and Britain, the old imperial enemy.

During the war, commercial contracts were signed between Russia and the United States, an American military delegation visited Russia to advise the army, weapons and ammunition were sent. “This serious enough desire of America to get the rights to Crimea was revealed already then. And it underlines the fact that the American strategy in Eurasia (and also in other parts of the world) is based on challenging Russian claims on this blood-soaked peninsula in the Black Sea” – the author writes. America wanted to get rights to the Crimea, and wants, and it’s no secret that it will want. But Mr. Goldstein quite rationally notes: “We can recall that Russia first received the Crimea in 1783, that is, at the time of the end of the American Revolution. Simply put, the Russians has been controlling the Crimea for a long time, and it is very unlikely that they will refuse it, and therefore let’s not hope for anything and build our strategy on absurd, neoliberal ideas devoid of historical meaning. ”

It should be reminded once again that the events connected to the Crimea are not a precedent. In international political history there are already episodes, which are senseless to interpret, for they are facts. Therefore, the idea of the Americans about the Crimea’s entry into Russia as something unheard of in world history is a simulacrum (an image replacing reality), well orchestrated with the help of the media. The reunification of  East and Western Germany (without a referendum), the reunification of the Ruhr region (or Rurstadt) and West Germany was recognized by the world community. As well as Kosovo, Bangladesh and Pakistan … etc. But the policy of double standards establishes a rule: it is the White House decides who can do what, but not the international law.

The idea of democracy with its egalitarianism, individuality and freedom became the same simulacrum. Trying to give it a world-wide character, the USA automatically canceled it, when, for example, they invaded Iraq. Opposing real violence to invisible dreams of democracy, the US protected its interests, but at the same time kept farther away from the image of the defender and champion of freedom and equality. Some countries at this moment, for example, North Korea and Iran, realized that the rescue of drowning people is the drowning men’s own job.

And they directed their efforts to develop their own nuclear weapons, as the only real guarantee of state  as well as moral sovereignty.

Most recently, the Pentagon published the National Defense Strategy, which offers a new scale of America’s national security priorities: “rivalry with China and Russia is more important for the United States than fighting international terrorism,” the Washington Post said. Two decades of the “war on terror,” which is characterized by losses, casualties, huge costs and never yielding tangible geopolitical benefits, is the  evidence of the utopian nature of US policy. But the new image of the old enemy no longer impresses the Americans themselves. And the country itself is now undergoing  a difficult period. The expectations of Americans about the great America are again clouded by real facts, which the United Nations special rapporteur on poverty and human rights, Philippe Elston, recently shared. UN studies suggest that more than one in eight people in the United States live in poverty, half of them in extreme poverty. Studies also predict the rapid social stratification in the USA, and also note that there is almost no chance for poor citizens to emerge from poverty. According to the UN special rapporteur, the situation will only worsen, the impoverishment of the population and social stratification will only grow. Can this turn the American political establishment from the utopian ideas of world hegemony to facing reality? Even the Freedom House (most of its work is financed by the US government) says this, showing remarkable courage and objectivity.

In its 2018 report on the state of freedom in the world, the Freedom House  concludes that, as in 2017, America’s own democratic standards are being rapidly destroyed more than ever before. The “key institutions” of America, the authors of the report write, “have been attacked by the administration, which rejects established norms of ethical behavior in many areas of activity.” Currently, the total US score (reflecting the degree of freedom and democracy) is 86 – it’s only one point higher than Poland’s. Today, the USA are less free and democratic than Latvia. We can assume that the report is again the result of the rejection of Trump as president. In any case, a very reasonable question arises: how the US, with their rating of 80 points on the scale of Freedom House, will play the role of patron of world democracy? And to what extent is this status justified, in conditions of growing world disintegration and regionalization? As writer Salman Rushdie notes: “America is becoming more and more wounded and fragmented, and these differences are increasing every day.

Eight and a half years ago we experienced a moment of common hope. People like me believed that everything would work out. Instead, we are even more strongly thrown back. ”
I must say that, in addition to taking the journey into the history, the above-mentioned Lyle Goldstein, in fact, is trying to revise the modern neoliberal attitude to reality. And he is not alone. Much the same criticism is heard even from the camp of  his adherents. The Guardian author, Cornel West, writes: “We must testify to the existence of justice. We must justify the truth by our willingness to suffer and make sacrifices when we oppose domination. Thirdly we must remember courageous people like Martin Luther King Jr, who will provide moral and spiritual inspiration as we build multiracial alliances to combat poverty and xenophobia, Wall Street crimes and war crimes, global warming and police abuse – and to protect precious rights and liberties”. Then the author calls for courage, empathy and a mature sense of history, so as not to be afraid of elusive democracy. Further comes a completely disarming frankness: “We must not turn away from the forgotten people of US foreign policy – such as Palestinians under Israeli occupation, Yemen’s civilians killed by US-sponsored Saudi troops or Africans subject to expanding US military presence”.

Some experts call these processes “democratic deconsolidation”, others – “a democratic recession”. These processes can not be slowed down by a simple statement of the diagnosis. Without a conscious review of the political paradigm of the West, they can not be stopped.

First published in our partner International Affairs