The world has seen epidemic changes in world politics within last few decades. Frustration over democracy, rise of populism, People’s Republic of China’s constitutional amendment for keeping Xi as president for life, Russian Federal Assembly allowed Putin to be elected as the President for the third time albeit constitutional obligations, failed Turkish coup to overthrow totalitarian Endogen regime, Mugabe could not last to power after coup in last November, rise of power hungry Mohammad Bin Salman in Middle East. And most surprisingly Donald Trump own 2016 US Presidential Election. All these incidents indicate about one thing, which is awakening of repressive regime and disastrous marginalization of liberal democracy.
Retreat from democracy and increment of autocracy is more tangible to us. Every corner of the world is now experiencing totalitarian regimes. A phrase “rise of dictatorship” related to 1930 is more apparent in the context of twenty first century. Even the leaders of western hemisphere once who used to claim humane and democrats are now throwing their liberal coats away. What people want is suppressed by the will of autocrats in the name of betterment and advancement of nations. Definition of democracy given by the US President Abraham Lincoln is getting new dimension. Those totalitarian leaders are apparently coming from people and perhaps elected by the people but not for the people. Hitler and his contemporary dictators also had to go door to door begging for votes. Once they were in legislature, they had forgotten commitments and rights of citizens. So the character of these dictators has nuance from that of fascists. In true sense, present democracy is devoid of liberalism.
Story of the dictators of twenty first century is not very different in the way they come to power and exercise that. Usually a dictator win an election by using massive propaganda. They also set some visionary manifestation. In most of the cases, totalitarian regimes slowly move in but do not take hasty move to meet their hidden goals rather they concentrate on bureaucratic encirclement. Then democracy gets washed and beaten by authoritarian values. Oppositions do not find any room to express their demands. Leaders of the third world country are used to fleeing home when they are out of power. Totalitarian regimes not only snuff out free media but also launch massive propaganda countering oppositions or whoever seems adversary.
There is a surprising factual similarity in most of the cases of totalitarian regimes. Development is the weapon of dictators to bewilder peoples mind and thought. For example, Putin was the man who could outstrip left behind Soviet economy. But the mechanism he used to get this development is always not morally and lawfully justified; there is less qualitative difference between 1930′ work camps of Stalin and 2018′ Putin. Dictator never changes. Government has to exploit citizens harshly to fund development projects. Taxes rise higher as much as possible. Economic depression appears to light after certain period. Then grievances start to come out from people. This is what dictators afraid most. Governments do not want to hear a bit from dissidents. Authorities are so rude nowadays. Finally totalitarian regimes start to take the wraps off and use carrot and stick theory to punish protesters.
Once judicial independence considered to be an important criteria to understand a government`s character. Nowadays judicial organs have become handicapped by the will of dictators. For instance, Rodrigo Duterte openly announced the Chief justice as his enemy. Technically Duterte was able to step her down recently. Mistrust among people about law enforcing agency is higher than ever before. Sentsov, an ethnical Russian-Ukrainian social activist, was sentenced for 20 years only because of protesting against Vladimir Putin’ invasion of Crimea and illegal trespass in Ukraine. Fair trial is absent among these regimes.
Election is the most suitable way to express citizen’s choices. Dictators demonstrate farcical election with the help of elites and power groups to acquire legitimacy in outside world. Once election seemed to be the main cornerstone of democracy but now it is clear that periodic election held by dictators is not above question. Political activities have been confined to a narrow shell. Then people realize that they are caught but it is too late to prevent totalitarians. We do not know what to do if ghost is out of bottle. Democracy undergoes one way or another.
Nowadays we hear about police state or fascist sate. Are we really passing through democratic transition to fascist state? Fascist symptoms are available to every part of this world. Powerful and continuing portrayal of nationalism is a fashion of dictators. Rising ultra-nationalism around the world is clearer to everyone especially after US Presidential Election 2016. Trump is more aware about US interest while defines others as greedy. European death venomous nationalism is on raise. BREXIT is the ultimate result of vicious British mentality. Religion and politics are reconciling in 21st century.
Some pre World Wars syndromes are apparent to us. Newborn trade war is an alarming bell to us. World Wars were also a delitescent cause of competition among European colonial powers. Giving up of humanity is common nowadays. United Nations Security Council acts as if it has nothing to do in Palestine, Yemen and others conflicting places. USA who used to claim as a champion of human rights protection recently withdrew from United Nations Human Rights Council. Frustration over international organizations is not a good sign. Hitler’s Nazi Germany and contemporary superpowers frequently left League of Nations to start massive destruction in Europe. It is a serious challenge to UN to keep its credibility otherwise peace and security in upcoming days might not be auspicious. History repeats over time. Who knows if bloody 1930 will return in 2030?
After all, it is evident to us that totalitarianism hastening democracy to the tomb. From western developed world to African under developing countries are not out of the shadow of autocracy. Message of democracy is not attractive anymore. Liberalism is wiping out by barbarianism. Overriding power of dictators is swallowing up democratic ideals. Upcoming days must be tough for democracy. Someone is predicting funeral of democracy.
Imran Nazir is a current student of Department of International Relations, University of Dhaka. firstname.lastname@example.org