I was reading an interesting article by the Economist magazine. It was titled “Authoritarians are on the march”. It really was talking about Democracy and Human Rights. It may not be your normal morning reading but it does give you a nuanced look at how we have gotten into this predicament of dehumanizing those who are opposite one’s point of view. It is pretty primal and very understandable.
We had all this great promise back in 1990 when the Berlin Wall fell. I remember a few days later I was in East Berlin with a group of middle eastern businessmen who were considering putting in new bakeries for this part of the city. The whole experience was pretty rare. I got to stay in the “best” hotel which still had the 1940’s switchboard. We also went to the best restaurant where our waiters stood in one area and never approached our table for service. The restaurant was nearly empty. Finally, one came over and asked what we wanted. Almost everything on the menu was not available. They told us what we could eat which ended up being a certain fish. They served the food and never came back to ask if we needed anything. This was a society not used to giving or receiving service.
When the wall fell, we had such hope and promise for Russia and all the surrounding countries. Unfortunately, Russia was prosperous for awhile and then reverted back to the old authoritarian leader. This is true of many countries today. We are having a rise in authoritarians. Throughout Africa, the Middle East, Russia, China, parts of Europe and Latin and South America, authoritarians are the bulk of the world’s leaders. Only northen Europe, America, Australia and New Zealand can tout democratic models. We have proven that even when America has gone into a country to “westernize it”, such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Viet Nam, we have failed. Why? What are we missing that perpetuates the model of authority figures leadership, even when the country becomes a more wealthy country. What are we currently missing in America with the rise of an authority figure such as Donald Trump? What don’t we get? Why does the US and other northern Europen countries continuously perform better in prosperity, social programs and personal freedoms? China misses the subtlety of their argument. “This is the fact that cynical politicians sometimes set out to engineer insecurity because they know frightened people yearn for a ‘strong man’ rule.” The Economist
Trump saw that he could exploit “left-behind” voters’ anxiety to moblize support. He and his minions have set about warning that their political opponents want to destroy their supporter’s “way of life” and threaten the very survival of the country. This, of course, spreads alarm and hostility on the other side. The same playbook can be said for prior Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro. You will hear a similar cry from various leaders like Putin. Putin was able to capitalize on the ethno-nationalist insecurities, especially when growth later faltered.
Part of the answer for a more secure and safe country comes from prosperity built on the rule of law. Wealthy countries have more resources to spend on disasters, such as the pandemic. Also, citizens of rich countries know that they are less vulnerable to the chance events that wreck lives elsewhere. Such as famine in Africa.
“A bigger part of the answer lies in how countries cope with change, from global warming, AI or the growing tensions with China.” The Economist. Countries that manage change well will be better at making a society feel confident in the future. This includes tolerance, free expression and individual inquiry. All help harness change through consensus. This consensus is forged by ” debate and reform”. This is the best way to bring about consensus.
Be aware of the authoritarian model of leadership. It doesn’t work for America. We started out with an authoritarian, King George. That did not work out well for him. We were born with a 5 Life Path, the number of change and freedom. Just wave the red flag of the authortarian saying that another will take away your freedom and Americans go ballastic. We are in a messy phase of American democracy. It will stay messy through the 20’s but cooler heads will prevail and we will finally reach the 2030’s when much of a dream future will start to be a realty.
In the meantime, do not take the bait. Stay with virtue and dignity as we adjust to the uncertainties of these times. We forgot to remember that every day in uncertain and always has been. The moment we are born we begin to die. Do not take your life for granted or feel depressed, lonely etc. Do not waste your time on too much screen time. Be with people and don’t eat alone too much. Don’t ruminate over the indictments, scandals and who did what to whom. You can’t control it but you can say no and manage yourself. Our young people will lead us out of this nutty phase. They will race ahead, burning the Koran, the Bible and know that it is tolerated. Censoring books and rewriting history is not their rule book. Pay attention to the small moves being set up now. For example, the newly won Montana case brought by young people ages 5 to 22 regarding the disregard for their health and well being by Montana’s drilling and mining. More to come in this area. Watch for young people running for office. The old order is cracking. It will take time for it to be removed and replaced.