Democratic ideals are under threat. With no change in current trajectories, autocratic states will get ahead of democracies in economic influence and size in the next decade. Global democratic rights are declining for the 13th straight year, as China and Russia surge ahead. While not yet threatening gains made in the 20th century, it is still concerning.
In 5 years, autocracy-based countries will have 50% of all global income, as per IMF figures. During the 50s and 60s, the USA and European allies were responsible for 66% of global economy. In 1990, autocratic countries had a 12% share of global economy that has now grown to 33%, similar to the 1930s, when fascism was rising.
It raises questions whether democracies were helped by individual rights and free speech or whether they were simply helped by West European and American prosperity. Democratic systems will have to struggle more if they have lower output levels compared to autocracies. Monck and Foa stated that authoritarian resurgence was leading at the moment, with authoritarian capitalism rising increasingly.
Most autocratic regimes either collapsed or turned democratic as time passed. However, now, many countries have installed market-friendly mechanisms along with autocratic rule, enabling continuous economic growth beyond normal levels. At the G20 summit, Putin stated liberalism was no longer useful.
Autocracies still have fundamental inflexibility and weakness, making them fragile. For instance, Xi Jinping of China faced protests in Hong Kong against a Chinese extradition bill. Russia had to drop charges against Ivan Golunov after media and the public supported the journalist. Turkey also saw new changes as Ekrem Imamoglu, the opposition candidate, was voted back in as mayor, which was seen as a decision against Erdogan’s authoritarian rule. Indonesia, India, and Nigeria are also stabilizing, with anti-authoritarianism measures in place. The USA could also continue its traditional role as champion of democracy.
While Trump is often condemned for his relationship with various autocrats and strongman tendencies, he has also supported Venezuelan democratic efforts, opposed Chinese trade practices and opposed Iran’s mullahs.
The United States started its story as a democracy, having liberal principles unseen before. Since then, the USA has been instrumental in democracy’s growth, decline and growth throughout the centuries.
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