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The year of the rooster

January 30, 2017 | Expert Insights

Liberal democracies must examine their own glass houses to see how the liberal order has produced too many losers, too many corporate robber barons, while creating a level of social inequality, job loss and poverty that begs the title neo – feudal. 

 2017 has brought us changes that we least expected in 2016. The post – Second World War order and the global rule of law are loosing out to the rule of individual men. 

 In some of the most powerful and populous countries, the pillars of international affairs are being overwhelmed by the whims of authoritarian leaders domestically. These leaders are capable of undermining the international law that form the foundation of post war peace and security.  The evidence can be found in daily headlines 

 In China, the leadership is using its growing military and economic power to defy laws of the seas in South and East China Seas. According to Shiv Shankar Menon, the former National Security Advisor of India and a China expert, Chinas foreign policy first seeks primacy in Asia and then in the rest of the world. It sports a benign face; great powers always behave like this. The priority for the Chinese is regime stability, control of the periphery, continued economic growth. 

 These authoritarian leaders are role models for middle – power politicians whose countries previously had willingly joined the community of liberal democracies. Leaders in the EU member countries such as Hungary and even Poland are increasingly taking on authoritarian policies and laws. The Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has gone so far as to express a wish to end liberal democracy in his country. The newly elected Polish government follows the Russian model of limiting independence of the media and undermining the independence of the judiciary – and like Oban government is stoking fears of refugees and immigrants. 

 Seemingly democratic elections have also given rise to increasingly authoritarian governments in the Middle East and Asia. The government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has, in the wake of a coup attempt, detained or arrested more than 400,00 journalist, academics, judges military officials on alleged coup related charges. In the Philippines, president Rodrigo Duterte has turned away from western allies after being rebuked for extra judicial kicking of alleged drug traffickers. 

 How can the remaining fortresses of international liberalism – like Canada, Germany, Scandinavia react against such populist forces. 

 First they must use all their powers of political, economic and social persuasion to shine a bright light on the post – truth fabrications fuelling the new authoritarianism – the terror, corruption and fraud perpetuated by this new generation of populist leaders.

 Second, they must internally examine why the Washington Consensus liberal order has produced too many losers , too many corporate barons , while creating a level of social inequality , job loss and poverty.

 Finally, it will be the duty of all to draw back the millions who may have wandered over to the authoritarian camp by focusing on human rights to promote lives and interest of all.