Word of the Week #121:

Advent

Democracy by itself is not a new thing.

As with many other things, the Greeks did it first. The format itself was dissimilar to what we observe today, but the intent was largely the same.

Experiments with electoral systems continued almost for two thousand years, before the first modern democracy was established. Of course, even that seems archaic by today’s standards.

So, when did real, modern democracy become a norm? As we discussed last week, a lot of this was an aftermath of the two world wars. Essentially, we can mark three major points of inflexion in our recent history.

1918

After their losses in World War I, the German, Russian, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empire fell, laying ground for the foundation of—at least relatively—democratic regimes. Universal suffrage in the United States followed soon.

However, this push could not build to a tipping point, as a combination of economic strain and budding nationalist sentiments led several states towards authoritarianism. This was one of the major causes for World War II.

1945

After World War II, the balance did tip in most cases. The newly liberated colonies opted into this democratic experiment, as did Japan. However, authoritarian communism stayed strong in the Soviet Union, and soon spread to China as well.

With the world divided between the two superpowers, each espousing a diametrically opposite ideology, tension continued to brew. Often referred to as the Cold War, this tension further precipitated in conflicts in Korea and Vietnam.

1992

Eventually, the Russian influence began to wane, before being extinguished completely with the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The end of the Cold War ushered an era of economic growth in the former Soviet dominions and allies, and saw another push towards liberal democracy. The unparalleled power of the United States, the consolidation of the European Union and the rise of China and India, aided by the rapid progress in technology, initiated a movement towards unprecedented globalisation.

Those are the two words I would say represent these past few decades: Liberalism and Globalisation.

So, why do we need to talk about this now? Well, to put it simply, I believe we may be moving towards another point of inflexion. The pieces are all there, one simply needs to put the puzzle together.

What is going on? Why should we care? Let us discuss that next week, shall we…

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