Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Deep Turmoil in Europe as the present Global Order faces Existential Threat

World is going through a big turmoil situation.  And at the center of this turmoil is the situation in Europe.

As Theresa May, the UK Prime Minister, battles the full impact of the fissures and differences in the country and even more importantly within her own party – the full impact of Brexit move is now unfolding before the British populace.  It is a road to disaster no matter who wins.  Because the divisions in the nation will ensure it is a Pyrrhic victory for whoever breasts the tape.

Deep Turmoil in Europe as the present Global Order faces Existential Threat @FareedZakaria @PedderSophie @George_Osborne @RNicholasBurns Click To Tweet

Mrs. May has been battered from multiple directions by her management of the European Union withdrawal, or Brexit. In particular, many hard-line Brexit supporters within her party believed she was not making a complete enough break with the bloc.

And, this comes in the wake of the dire warning by the Bank of England on going through the Brexit move without a deal and a transition period, which is what the hardliners in May’s Conservative party are fighting for.  Here are some of the ramifications.

  • GDP drops 8%
  • House prices fall 30%
  • Commercial property prices plunge 48%
  • Sterling falls 25% to below parity with the dollar
  • Unemployment rises to 7.5%
  • Inflation accelerates to 6.5%
  • BOE benchmark rate rises to 5.5% and averages 4% over 3 years
  • Britain goes from net migration to net outflows of people
  • The BOE analysis, carried out in response to a request from a committee of lawmakers, is the latest to highlight the dangers from having no new trade arrangements in place by the time Britain leaves the EU on March 29

Meanwhile, in France major protests are underway.  Rioting has still not stopped and is set to hit France’s economy in a big way.  Macron meanwhile, faces an uncertain future.

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President Emmanuel Macron’s attempt to quell violent rioting across France by offering economic concessions to his countrymen — expected to cost the country $11 billion — appears to have been insufficient. Leaders of the “Yellow Vest” protest movement indicated Tuesday that Macron’s offers were not enough, as hundreds of students staged a “Black Tuesday” of protests over Macron’s education policies and voiced solidarity with the Yellow Vests.

Macron took to the national airwaves to address the spiraling crisis for the first time on Monday. He announced an increase in the minimum wage, tax cuts for retirees and other concessions aimed at calming the streets.

But CBS News correspondent Charlie D’Agata reported on Tuesday morning from Paris that another day of Saturday demonstrations — the mass-protests which have been seized upon by extremists of all stripes for four weeks in a row — still appeared on the cards. (source)

Farid Zakaria discussed the situation in Europe in his Farid Zakaria GPS this week.  He discussed it in the overall context of the leadership of the Western world.

Although Nicholas Burns discusses it as a crisis in short term, but later in the program there was a grave concern from the whole panel on how the democratic leaders are becoming weaker, while the global dictatorial leaders like Putin and Xi Jinping are more and more confident. Is democracy itself at cross-roads?

And, that is an important question to look at. We, at Drishtikone, had suggested in the predictions for this year that in the next few years the world will come to a point where they will look at the global order and think if democracy is indeed the right way to go?

That is why, I am convinced, that by the end of 2018, there will be credible voices asking the obvious (yet heretical) question – Is Democracy Relevant Today?

The answer – given the opposition – is as obvious as the question is.  Fight between Oligarchies and Democracies is like a fight between an Army with canons and guns and that with swords and spears.  The former will always win.  For, they can game and play your system to choose your leadership and disrupt your nations, you cannot make a dent into theirs!

What we had predicted for 2018 is now unfolding as someone as respected amongst the important geo-politics voices – Fareed Zakaria has started entertaining this question in his own program, as Burns says somewhat tangentially that in the battle of ideas between democratic ideals and authoritarianism, the latter seems confident and the former seems unsure and weak!  This challenge to democracy as an ideal will only grow more acute.

Why is that happening?

Because limited democracy with controlled and somewhat managed information and media is the only way to make it work against authoritarianism.  As long as the West was working along those lines and kept the freedoms between limits, it was all fine.  The first main threat came in the 1960s with the hippies and that entire movement was defeated by various maneuvers by the intelligence and the government.  Some pin the responsibility of bringing down the hippies on the CIA.

Unfortunately, for the larger Western economies, Internet has become the tool of global commerce as well as expression.  While it can be controlled, it is difficult to stop the exchange and flow of ideas as well as manipulation of those ideas to convey socially dangerous ideas within the confines of law.

Authoritarians are making use of exactly that.  While, these authoritarians have closed or highly regulated the access to the web themselves.

Expression of the free is now poisoned by the expression of the authoritarians and there is no way to distinguish.  That suits the authoritarians as it hurts the democratic.  The latter will surely lose.  For the only way for them to win is to destroy the web as we know it.  That will not happen.

The very foundations of democracy have been used by the rulers of those democracies to keep the expression and its flight in check.  Internet opened it up beyond a point where it really could be ‘managed’.  As expression expanded, the authoritarians stepped in.  They closed their doors to outsiders and then they used the ideals propounded by the democratic leaders against the people of democratic lands.  All the while chiding their leaders on not being open enough.

Those behind closed doors can easily defeat those whose very ideals forbid them to close them.