Reuters reports that after days of tension between the civilian government and the military in the aftermath of the most recent election, in which Aung San Suu Kyi’s party won 83% of the vote, the military has seized power, imposed a state of emergency for a year, and detained Suu Kyi and others.Read more
What explains COVID’s east-west divide? (John Feffer)
COVID-19 has drawn a clear line between Asia and the rest of the world. What’s particularly striking about this latest divergence is the lack of significance in types of governance. The countries that have been successful in Asia have very different forms of government, as well as different histories, religious backgrounds, and relationships with the countries of the West. How can this be explained?Read more
Is Trump’s 1776 Commission Report an extremist manifesto?
Trump’s 1776 Commission Report, released on 18 January 2021, puts forward ideas that are designed to give shape and logic to the notions of extremists. It is a dangerous document that provides the façade of a coherent political philosophy to hide, and to disguise, the rising illiberalism in America. The final conclusion is chilling, comparing the contemporary situation in America with previous crises that were resolved by violence and insurrection.Read more
This time it’s the end of democracy: Fukuyama and big-tech
How to Save Democracy From Technology: Ending Big Tech’s Information Monopoly puts forward a confused and inadequate set of arguments concerning the “gigantic Internet platforms Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Twitter”. Its focus on yesterday’s technological challenges while tomorrow’s threats are almost upon us is disappointing, and misses where the real threat to democracy and individual freedom is beginning to take form.Read more
How the IMF and World Bank turned a pandemic into a public relations stunt (Walden Bello)
Serious calls for reform at the World Bank and the IMF first emerged 50 years ago. After 50 years, the absence of change in either policy or intellectual paradigm has been paralleled by the glaring lack of reform in the governing structures of the Bretton Woods twins. Perhaps this is the time for developing country governments to begin exploring an exit strategy? The IMF and the Bank would like the global South to believe that they are indispensable. They are not.Read more
Historian and philosopher Yuval Noah Harari urges the world to trust science
In a 14 minute program from France24’s The Interview, Professor Harari talks about coronavirus and other crises confronting humankind, including the need for multilateral action on climate change and re-establishing trust in science.Read more
An alliance of democracies: with the US or for the US?
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called for an “a new grouping of like-minded nations, a new alliance of democracies”. By bringing together its European and Asian allies under American leadership, the US hopes to bring them into line with its own China strategy. But an “alliance of democracies” would not really be an alliance with the US – it would be an alliance for the US, to further the American interest, to which the interests of its allies would inevitably end up being subordinated.Read more
The challenges of the post-pandemic agenda (Jean Pisani-Ferry)
There is a growing possibility that the COVID-19 crisis will mark the end of the growth model born four decades ago with the Reagan-Thatcher revolution, China’s embrace of capitalism, and the demise of the Soviet Union. The small government, free-market template suddenly looks terribly outdated. Instead of regarding growth as the ultimate solution to inequality, advanced economies will need to tackle distributional issues head on. It is to be hoped that they will be spared the convulsions that often accompany structural and policy changes of such magnitude.Read more
The global order after COVID-19 (Stephen Walt)
The COVID-19 crisis will not produce a dramatic and enduring increase in global governance or significantly higher levels of international cooperation. Instead it is likely to reinforce divisive trends; to accelerate a retreat from globalization, raise new barriers to international trade, investment, and travel, and give both democratic and non-democratic governments greater power over their citizens’ lives. The post-COVID-19 world will be less open, less free, less prosperous, and more competitive than the world many people expected to emerge only a few years ago.Read more
Confronting global warming and other looming crises: can democracies marshall the necessary expertise?
Confronting the dramatic trends taking place in the rates of global warming, destruction of the environment, extinction of biodiversity, and global social injustice urgently requires unprecedented societal and economic transformations. Can major democratic economies overcome the combination of disillusionment with government and distrust of experts, and position themselves to bring about the transformations these crises demand?Read more
Voices of Central and Eastern Europe: Perceptions of democracy & governance in 10 EU countries (Globsec)
A survey of Central and Eastern European countries exposes the shallow roots of liberal democracy, with significant numbers indicating that they would trade off democratic freedoms for greater security, welfare, and preservation of traditional values. In only half of surveyed countries would a majority of the respondents choose liberal democracy over an autocratic leader.Read more
Who’s first wins? International crisis response to COVID-19 (EUISS)
Is the pandemic not just a test for healthcare systems around the world, but an international contest for which country has the best political system? Did democracies really respond to the Covid-19 pandemic less swiftly than authoritarian systems – and if the determining factor is not the political system, what are the key elements in crisis response?Read more
Inequality and repression undermine democracy and market economy worldwide
The latest BTI Transformation Index shows that the rule of law and political freedoms are being eroded in an increasing number of democracies, and the number of people who are governed poorly and less democratically is increasing worldwide. The BTI ratings for quality of democracy, market economy and governance have dropped to their lowest level.Read more
Serbian democracy: a case of state capture?
The Belgrade Centre for Security Policy (BCSP) has produced a disturbing report on what it describes as the “deliberate political undertaking in which political actors use the consequences (both real and imagined) of the previous government as justification for the complete capture of the state’s institutions” in Serbia. At a time when the EU is struggling to live up to its core political values, the Serbian government’s commitment to the rule of law and separationRead more
The Deep State conspiracy theory: Is Trump laying the groundwork for The Great Presidential Robbery?
Should US presidential hopeful Joe Biden prevail in November, the grounds will have been laid for Donald Trump to cry foul – with the potential for a crisis of political legitimacy. Australian policymakers, struggling with balancing the economic relationship with China and the security relationship with the US, should be following domestic trends in America with nervous apprehension.Read more
Surviving and thriving in the 21st century: the harder reality of humanity’s road to the future
The report from Australia’s Commission for the Human Future sets out clearly and with insight the major and inter-dependent challenges that will persist beyond the pandemic – including global warming, food insecurity, biodiversity loss, environmental degradation, resource scarcity and wealth inequality. Action is vital, but how to respond seems as elusive as ever.Read more
Regulation, tariffs and reform of supply chains: neoliberalism under pressure?
By Mike Scrafton | For the moment, reducing reliance on overseas supply chains appears to be a big lesson out of the COVID-19 pandemic. But reluctance to regulate corporate and commercial activity has been a hallmark of governments across the world. Are neoliberal governments capable of reversing the direction they have been taking for three or four decades?Read more
Yuval Noah Harari: the world after coronavirus
Yuval Noah Harari thoughtfully examines the issues around the rush to put in place technological surveillance-based responses to COVID-19 pandemic management, and governments’ pivot to nationalistic solutions to problems which are essentially global in nature.Read more
What COVID-19 tells us about preparing for global warming
While it is difficult to see an inflection point during a crisis, missing that moment is potentially catastrophic. To subsequently persist with former paradigms when the world has shifted is folly. The artefacts of neo-liberal economics—globalised production, transnational supply chains, international finance, the erosion of the welfare state, and the abandonment of responsibility to the faceless market by governments—have produced a world not-fit-for-purpose in a crisis.Read more
David Runciman: Coronavirus has not suspended politics – it has revealed the nature of power
In an article in The Guardian, David Runciman shows how the pandemic has removed “one layer of political life to reveal something more raw underneath”. He writes, “As Hobbes knew, to exercise political rule is to have the power of life and death over citizens. The only reason we would possibly give anyone that power is because we believe it is the price we pay for our collective safety. But it also means that weRead more