Skip to main content

Manifesto against democratic 'deficit' and capitalist Westphalian nation state

Trump, Modi, Erdoğan, Johnson, Bolsonaro
By Bhabani Shankar Nayak* 
What is happening to democracies across the globe? Democratic deficit, neoliberalism and rise of authoritarianism moving together by dismantling social harmonies and states… The rise of Donald Trump in USA, Narendra Modi in India, Boris Johnson in United Kingdom, Erdoğan in Turkey, Jair Messias Bolsonaro in Brazil and many others are not only examples of the symptoms but also the results of democratic deficits in the world today.
The local, national and international politics is driven by ethnic, racial and religious conflicts in Asia, Africa Americas, Europe and Middle East. These populist upheavals did not change the old-world order rather reinforcing it more vigorously.
God, national glory, lawlessness, vulgar wealth and huge inequalities are five common features between old and modern world. It creates the foundation for reactionary nationalism and authoritarian capitalism across the globe. Democracy and states have become tools of such a dangerous worldwide process.
The pioneers of globalisation and lovers of free market argued that it will bring peace and prosperity by ending war and conflicts. They also argued that it will help in the growth and establishment of vibrant and multicultural democracies.
But in reality, globalisation has expanded the conflicts and old world inequalities. Rich became richer and poor became poorer. The class, gender, race, caste and regional fault lines continue to grow under capitalism.
The neoliberal capitalist project outmanoeuvred the ideal alternatives of October revolution, French revolution and promises of anti-colonial struggles. And all idealisms are in downward spiral now. How do we analyse these upheavals? Is it a sign of end of Westphalian nation state?
It is impossible to offer alternatives for a better tomorrow without understanding present predicaments and its history.

The lineages and transformations

The democratic deficit of the state is embedded with history of capitalist Westphalian nation state. The peace Treaty of Westphalia in 1648 consolidated capitalism by establishing nation states based on the idea of territorial sovereignty. It helped to end thirty years of savagely war in Europe. It also helped Europe to plunder the world with colonial rule in different parts of the world.
The resources of the colonies were used to establish different institutions of economic development and democratic governance in Europe. Therefore, Westphalian states are innately colonial, capitalist and authoritarian by nature but dressed up as democracy. The referendum results and debates over Britain leaving European Union (EU) is a classic example of democratic deficit and its relationship with European capitalism led by EU.
The post-colonial states emerged after the success of anticolonial struggles. The post-colonial states promised democratic governance based on ideals of liberty, equality, justice and welfare of all its citizens. The anticolonial struggles had positive influence on European states.
It transformed the nature of state in Europe by making them more democratic, secular and multicultural in terms of citizenship rights with welfare orientations. But the neoliberal Washington consensus led to the universalisation of neoliberal welfare state by ending ideals of democratic, and welfare state.
Vox Populi and Vox Dei are replaced by capitalist order, market and money dominate every social, economic, political, cultural and religious sphere
The centralisation and securitisation of state became order of the day to uphold the interests of the private capital which grown enormously after the implementation of neoliberal policies of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation.
We live in a world today where Vox Populi, Vox Dei (the voice of the people is the voice of God) is replaced by the order of the capitalism where market and money dominates every social, economic, political, cultural and religious sphere. It is within this context; democracy and state face challenges from capitalist world system accelerated by Westphalian ideals.
Neoliberal authoritarianism emanates from such a political and economic project that creates a culture of democratic deficit and unreliable state. The legitimacy crisis of state creates the vacuums where ruling and non-ruling elites control the masses and all resources with the help of securitised, centralised and authoritarian state.
The ideological narrative of neoliberalism was based on individual freedom but in reality, we live in a society today where people are in free prisons of market where prices are independent and free. It means the dead capital is free and lively labour in captives.

The quest for alternatives manifesto

The crisis created by democratic deficit, neoliberal authoritarianism and rise of reactionary right wing politics is a global phenomenon. Local and national contexts are important in search of alternatives but the current political and economic crisis needs international solutions. It is imperative to develop pluriversal praxis that is applicable to the world today.
  • The first step is to dismantle the structures of Westphalian capitalist state system and all its affiliated supranational and international organisations. This is only possible by creating solidarity of all grassroot movements for alternative democracy for peace, environment, development and prosperity as inalienable citizenship rights. It is important to have continuous solidarity of struggles to develop conditions for non-discriminatory and pluriversal and inalienable rights based on progressive and scientific thoughts.
  • The second step is to develop conditions where local communities can control and manage their local resources based on their needs and desires with egalitarian distributive mechanisms. 
  • The third step is to develop local, national and international struggles against all conflicts, wars and industries affiliated with it including nuclear weapons. Defence industry creates wars to expand its profits. 
  • The fourth one is continuous struggle against all forms of authoritarianism and all forms of discrimination in every sphere of life. 
  • The fifth one is about creating a decentralised, democratic, progressive and egalitarian state where individual rights and right to self-determination is inalienable. 

---

*With Coventry University, UK

Comments

TRENDING

'Modi govt's assault on dissent': Foreign funds of top finance NGO blocked

By Rajiv Shah  In a surprise move, the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, has cancelled the foreign funding license of the well-known advocacy group, Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA), known for critically examining India's finance and banking sectors from human rights and environmental angle.

Misleading ads 'manipulate, seduce, lure' to market unhealthy harmful food

By Our Representative  The Nutrition Advocacy in Public Interest (NAPI) in its new report “50 Shades of Food Advertising” has sought to expose how seductive, luring, manipulative or deceptive these advertisements can be. Consequences of such advertising are increased intake of unhealthy food products that is associated with obesity and diabetes, it says. 

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

'Failure of governance': India, China account for 54% pollution-related deaths globally

By Vikas Parsaram Meshram*   A recent report jointly prepared by UNICEF and the independent research organization Health Effects Institute has been released, and the statistics within it are alarming. It states that in 2021, air pollution caused the deaths of 2.1 million Indians, including 169,000 children who hadn't yet fully experienced life. These figures are indeed distressing and raise questions about why there hasn't been more serious effort in this direction, putting policymakers to shame. 

How US is using Tibetans to provoke conflict with China 'ignoring' India

By Lobsang Tenzin*  On July 12, US President Joe Biden signed the Resolve Tibet Act, and Tibetans cheered for it, believing that the law promotes a resolution of the dispute between Tibet and China. Is this true? First, let's look at the issue of the ownership of Tibet. 

August 9 to be observed as Corporates Quit India day: Top farmers' group

By Our Representative A recent general body meeting of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), the top farmers' organisation, stated hat "there is no need for any illusion of change in the pro-corporate policies of the BJP-NDA government" following the recent elections in which BJP failed to achieve even simple majority. It insisted,  Prime Minister Narendra Modi "is hell bent" to continue 'business as usual' policies.

Over 3.8 billion animals at risk: India on crossroad in animal welfare practices

By Rupali Soni*  In a collaborative effort, the India Animal Fund and Dasra have unveiled their report , "Our Shared Future | Securing Animal Welfare, Human Wellbeing, and Sustainability in India." This landscape report provides a thorough overview of animal welfare and underscores its indispensable role within India's socio-economic and ecological frameworks. It also illustrates how animal welfare is intricately intertwined with public health, labor welfare, and climate resilience.

Tribals from 60 villages observe seed festival to 'protect' diversity of indigenous seeds

By Bharat Dogra*  Nearly sixty villagers are sitting on an open floor covered by a roof for shade but otherwise open on all sides. Women and men are present in equal numbers but the visibility of women is higher because of their colorful dresses.