The Fallacies of The West.
The curious dance of Western Democracy.
Against the magnificent backdrop of the Parthenon, Pericles, widely regarded as one of the fiercest proponents of democracy, delivered the Funeral Oration. The speech, delivered with immense technical skill, possibly laid the foundations of modern democracy, stitching the art of speech into the fibres of our daily lives.
Over 2,000 years later, Lincoln defined the course of the United States of America in 271 words. The power democracy was unleashed by two men, 2,000 years apart. In doing so, they laid the foundations upon which much of the Western civilization exists today. Western Democracies, often referred to as Liberal Democracies have led the march of humanity for well over 3,000 years, stretching back the the founding of the Roman Empire. Today, more so than ever, the nations that lead us are ardent supporters of democracy. The mere whiff of autocracy sends sanctions flying and resolutions marching upon those that dare defy them. These democracies, the G7s of the world view themselves as the custodians of the world. The captains of a ship that is in imminent danger of capsizing. Like a brave and honourable captain, they never jump ship. Yet, is it all that honourable? Are our fearless leaders really that honourable? Or would they sink others to keep themselves afloat?
The last time Europe went to war, seventy-five million people died. So it’s probably not the best idea for Europe to ever go to war again. And democracy was the answer. The European Union has endured for decades and will continue to do so. Democracy won. The UN was formed. Everyone got a vote. Universal Suffrage much? Democracy won. The United States of America outmanoeuvred, outpowered and outlasted the authoritarian Soviet Union. Democracy won.
Did it though?
Did democracy win? Let’s take a look. The United States of America, once a world leader now shies away from the world stage. China lurks in every nook and cranny. Russia quitely influences elections around the world. In North Korea, Kim Jong-Un defies the world even as the United Nations Security Council vetoes itself into ineffectitutde. Democracy won. But where?
You Don’t Crap Where You Eat
The G7 know this better than most. After all, the business of war is one of the most lucrative ones around but never when it’s at home. Because war at home means sacrificing your loved ones. Your people. And the democratic ideals will never allow that. The economy doesn’t win when you fight a war over your own land. It wins when you fund a war over others. At the end, for the G7, it is all about winning. And keeping their premier positions in the world. After all, it is almost always lonely at the top but there’s no penury. So they fund the wars away from home. They call it anti-terrorism. They call it peacekeeping. Whatever.
The Wars That Never End
The battleground changes. Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Syria, Korea. The players remain the same. USA. Russia. France. UK. Germany. China. Open up the Wikipedia page for any of the recent wars. The common denominator? The irksome meddling of the G7. They claim to be there to help. To fight against atrocity. To support democracy. Legitimacy. Do they really care? No. They condone the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. They harp and preen online, then turn around and sell billions of dollars of weapons back to authoritarian regimes. They sell their football teams to them. Money wins. Not democracy. The examples are endless, each worse than the other.
All Roads Lead To War… Just Not At Home.
Peace at home, war away. This mantra of the West is undeniable. The theatres are far from home, in Asia and the Middle East. Allegiances change faster than the weather in London. Yet, not a single Western democracy has officially gone to war with another since World War 2. They say the consequences could be too nightmarish to warrant thought. What, then of the consequences of the hundreds of millions dead in proxy wars funded by the “great democracies”. Is that any less catastrophic? A legion of experts in geopolitics have guided these countries into misstep after misstep, funding wars that fuelled economies at home and devastated lives abroad.
The Leaders Laid Bare.
Is the US still the leader of the free world? Short answer, no. Long answer? Still no. A four year White House tenure for Trump was just the catalyst needed to hasten the impending implosion of the richest, most powerful nation on the planet. Covid-19 came along and stoked the flames. Today, the US riots against its own while the President condones and threatens violence against the very people who voted him into the Iron Throne. Small surprise.
The One Pandemic To End Them All
Covid-19 hit the world like a runaway train at full tilt. Scientists, experts, Bill Gates, they all warned us. We did nothing. Yet the curious case of the strongest nations in the world comes to fore. China failed to contain yet another virus and failed to tell the world about it. Europe, bar a few nations struggled to get to grips with the “invisible enemy”. The US is now wearing it’s 100,000 deaths as a badge of honour, according to President Trump. The ‘leaders’ have failed to lead. Yet, some have emerged as stronger, more united than before.
The Reign Of Empathy
What do Trump, Putin, Boris, Bolsonaro, Modi, Orban et al have in common? They’re the architects of machismo. The strongmen who authored the rulebook on self-centric rule. They know no empathy. They build societies on hate and partisanship. Bolsonaro ignores the virus as it consumes Brazilians. Modi imposed a lockdown on 1.3 billion with no way out. Trump…..is Trump. Boris decided that the Britishers were sheep and needed herd immunity. None of it worked. What did work? Empathy.
See Jacinda Ardern. The wonderfully capable woman who has led New Zealand through this pandemic with just 21 deaths. She loves her people. They love her. It’s a society built on love. It’s a society that succeeds.
Who Leads Now?
I believe that this pandemic was a litmus test. A test of nations that band together in the face of adversity and others that lay blame, divide along fault lines and teeter on the brink of collapse. Success and failure is not black and white. A lot of factors come into play, and a lot of questionable decisions must be made. Yet, the moment we lose empathy, we lose to the virus. We lose as a democracy. In my opinion, stable democracies that understand their people and were elected on merit, generally won.
South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, New Zealand, Switzerland, to some extent, Germany. They dealt with the virus in a stable manner, cementing their unity, and uniting for the common good.
On the other hand, the US is more divided than ever as their president tweets at the wheel and pops prescription drugs. Dominic Cummings jaunts around the countryside to test his eyesight and Boris protects him. Bolsonaro calls rallies and shakes hands with all and sundry as cemeteries fill up to capacity.
Do we want these people to lead the world? I do not.
The Dawn Of a New Era.
Ever hit the reset button on your phone? Covid-19 is our reset button. While the grim reality of hundreds of thousands dead, millions unemployed and many more millions suffering is hard to overlook, we need leaders like Jacinda Ardern to lead us to a progressive era where everyone matters and is cared for. Not just the strongest of ’em all. Because if we don’t, Covid-19 is just the precursor of what could follow.