- Date published:
8:30 am, April 28th, 2018 - 27 comments
Categories: Deep stuff, democratic participation, elections, Europe, Globalisation, International, jacinda ardern, leadership, Left, Politics, uk politics, us politics - Tags:
I want you to imagine a world in which all but a handful of countries – where politicians really have to answer to real live people, where their policy decisions really can and do change if they are held up to enough scrutiny from the media, and where elections really are fought on the difference between policies – are true democracies.
This is where we are now. There is a fate to democracy itself.
Its permanence is not inevitable.
Its alternative is certainly not beyond civic imagining.
New Zealand is one of the shrinking number of democracies who really do all of the above.
Ain’t no other elected leader wearing a cloak of a disposessed yet proud postcolonial people, is there?
At the height of World War Two, Henry Luce founder of Time Magazine, argued that the United States had amassed such wealth and power that the remaining half century would be simply “the American century”.
Despite being challenged by World War Two’s Nazism and the totalitarian Soviet Union, liberal democracy was rolled out throughout many countries. The liberal democracy definition means: one person one vote systems who also supported human rights as defined in the UN human rights charter.
The definition of ‘liberal democracy’.
It felt so inevitable for so long that ever since representative democracy and strong states emerged together, they spread as if pushed forward by inevitable forces of modernisation. Surely if citizens from Italy, to India, to Venezuela could be loyal to essentially the same political system, it must have been because they had developed a deep commitment to both individual rights and collective self-determination. And from the early 1990s, if the Poles and Filipinos could make a transition from dictatorship to democracy, it must have been because they too shared in the universal human desire for liberal democracy.
Alas, ideals about human rights were not disconnected from economic and geopolitical success. Civic ideals may have played a part in converting the citizens of formerly authoritarian regimes into convinced democrats, but the astounding economic growth of western Europe in the 1950s and 1960s, the victory of democratic countries in the Cold War, and the defeat or collapse of democracy’s most powerful autocratic rivals were just as important.
And here we are in the eternal politics of New Zealand, celebrating the last and purest forms of democratic hegemony and bouyed by democracy’s greatest and most reflexive successes, a budget surplus better than anyone else, with the world as we know it coming to an end. Do we lead the death of “neoliberalism”?
Or do we get to pull the shroud over western civilisation’s dead face?
Beyond your imagining, whether you supported Key, English or Ardern, we are the last of the good. One very small country at the ends of the earth.