Democide, step by step

Source– The post is based on the article “Democide, step by step” published in The Indian Express on 18th January 2023.

Syllabus: GS2- Polity

Relevance– Democracy and its different forms

News– The article explains the challenges and threats to democracy in recent times.

What are challenges before democracy in current times?

Inflation and middle class anxiety is increasing. Breaking party systems, Populism and demagogues are creating threats for democracy. There is increasing bigotry, religious intolerance, and media untruths.

There has been a spate of violent attacks against elected governments. Washington witnessed a well-organised mob assault on the Capitol Hill by thousands of protesters.

In Frankfurt, a 20,000-strong network of far-right extremists known as Reichsbürger, was arrested on suspicions of leading a plot to storm parliament and violently overthrow the elected government.

In Brazil, thousands of pro-Bolsonaro citizens invaded and occupied the Three Powers Square.

What are threats to the destruction of democracy?

Democracy can be destroyed in multiple ways, in different tempos. There’s no single Iron Law for it.

Democracy can perish more gradually through high-level political plots and behind-the-scenes manoeuvrings. The military coup against the elected governments of Egypt, Myanmar, Chad, Mali, Guinea and Sudan during the past decade are examples.

Then there is the populist road to destruction of democracy. It is slower destruction. Populist demagogues take years to win out, to prove that ballots can be used to ruin democracy just as effectively as bullets.

The cases of Hungary and Serbia suggest that around a decade is required for populist governments to have ruinous effects on democratic institutions.

Democracies can perish in still other ways, and even more gradually. Different explanations of destruction of democracy neglect civil society and environmental foundations on which any given democracy rests. Democide can happen through the slow-motion convergence of social deprivation and environmental decay.

The slowest form of democide is the most lethal. It happens when citizens and their chosen representatives become victims of thoughtlessness. It stops them from seeing extreme weather events and other environmental catastrophes that breed power grabs and get people used to emergency rule.

What is true democracy?

Democracy is much more than pressing a button on a ballot paper. It goes beyond the election results, majority rule and lists of minority rights. It can not be reduced to lawful rule through independent courts or attending local public meetings.

Democracy is a whole way of life that has delicate geo-social foundations that can not be ignored.


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