Contributed by Joe Montero
Today (9 December 2021) begins the two-day United States hosted Summit for Democracy. Leaders representing government, civil society, and the private sector of 110 nations will be brought together for a carefully managed event, purporting to defend democracy against authoritarianism.
Proceeding will be dominated by those few signing onto continuing Western supremacy, imposing a neoliberal economic order, and ganging up on China and Russia. Others will be there because of their economic and political ties wit the West. Attendance is by invitation only and among the invitees are leaders of governments not considered democratic by any definition. who you line up with is far more important than what you do.
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty: United States President Joe Biden
The summit presided over by President Joe Biden is a major step towards unleashing a new cold war, and the narrative goes this way. Those who stand with the United States are for Democracy and those who don’t are with the Chinese and Russians and therefore siding with authoritarianism.
Reality has is on its head to justify United States supremacy and distorted to fit the ambition for more power.
The tradition of modern democracy emerged out of the English Revolution, the American War of Independence, the French Revolution, and other places where thew population fought to transfer political power from a few at the top to those lower down.
In contrast, today’s self-titled champions of democracy are about preserving the political power of the few at the top and denying it to those below.
Recent developments in the United States and its closest satellites, the United Kingdom and Australia, for proof of this. Europe has been experiencing similar developments.
Restrictions on basic rights have been creeping in. Police are increasingly militarised. Sections of the population are targeted for attack, and the politics of hate, aided by media monopolies, is promoted, and applied. A fascist and white supremacist movement, backed by sections of the powerful, is emerging once again. Refugees, often the result of wars for spheres of influence and resources, treated as less than human, and in some cases, locked into what can be called concentration camps. Ultra right groups are being promoted and legitimatised by the political establishment and major media outlets.
Photo by Stanton Sharpe/Getty: The Proud Boys is one of the fascist groups being promoted by the political elite and media in the United States.
Denial of the right to a decent job, income, proper housing, and healthcare, amount to further denials of democracy. There is no democracy for most at work, nor consultation about major economic and other decisions that impact on everyday lives. The transparency of government is disappearing. Restrictions on the right of workers to organise into unions and on unions to defending their members is the order of the day.
The definition of democracy is minimised to just the right to vote every few years and denying that democracy extends to the ability subject leaders to the supervision of their constituencies, compelling them to listen and act in their interests and be subject to recall when they fail.
Minimised democracy denies that political power exists in the hands of those who control bureaucracy, legal system, media, and the police and armed forces. Let’s not leave out those who derive political power through their control over the economy and ability to finance connections with the other centres of political power.
The faceoff with China and Russia paraded as a battle between democracy and authoritarianism, is an exercise in brazen hypocrisy, and echoed in the major topics at the summit.
Written in bold is commitment to a “rules based international order.” It would do well to mention that such an international order is written into the Geneva Conventions, signed by all nations after World War Two, and that it is the United States that claims to be exempt from them and the International Court of Justice established to police them.
American exceptionalism is a denial of democracy because it imposes a privilege denied to others.
Waging war against other nations and imposing governments of the choosing of the violates Geneva conventions. So do the use of economic warfare, assassination of leaders, kidnapping and torture of political opponents, the persecution of people according to race, ethnicity, or other difference, and the clamping down on whistleblowers exposing inconvenient truths.
Restrictions on the right of journalists to report inconvenient truths are mounting.
Democracy in today’s conditions is not about good states versus bad states. It is about democracy versus authoritarianism within states. A genuine summit on democracy would examine how the participating states can build their own democracy.
Instead of this the world gets posturing, increasing militarisation, and the drive to war.
A key plank is to beef up NATO to aid the face off with Russia and increasingly China, as the number one enemy. This joins the military buildup in the Pacific and Indian Oceans to encircle China. Associated with this is the increasing the use of black propaganda to villainise the stated enemy as a threat and violator of human rights.
China is branded a dictatorship, and pressure to change how the country is governed is justified. Never mind that the Geneva Conventions forbid the imposition of a form of government by an outside state. Put the label aside, and what is left, is a political system that in several respects is familiar, although it has marked differences.
Since 1949, members of their parliament get there through an electoral system, although the process is different. Another difference is that those not holding a ministry portfolio are paid only a modest allowance and encouraged to remain at their regular jobs and within their communities.
China’s stated view of democracy is that it should be based on society’s shared interests rather than on differences. Doubters should read their documents and find out something about the practice.
The political structure is remarkably decentralised. This is more to do with history than intention. Regional and city governments guard their authority. There are undoubtedly shortcomings in the Chinese political system. But at least they are talking about them, and a process of political reform is underway.
Serious attention is being put to building the authority of street and directly elected neighbourhood committees. The right of communities to sack political leaders they are dissatisfied with, has been strengthened by law. Economic democracy is being built through new tighter regulation of big business and the encouragement of cooperatives and other forms of social economy, as a path to the future. State owned enterprises play a significant role. There is a private sector. Both are subject laws that protect workers, enshrine worker participatory democracy in the workplace, through the Workers Congress system. All enterprises must under law operate in the interests of the community.
But what about the question of the Uyghurs? It is true that there has been historical mistreatment of this minority, Xinjian has long been among the poorest of China’s provinces, and that China will not let the province break away.
There is also incontestable evidence that al Qaeda and Islamic State elements have infiltrated the Islamic minority Uyghur community, often from neighbouring Afghanistan and other parts of the Caucuses and have carried out bombings and assassinations in Xinjiang and other parts of China, in their attempt to establish a separate caliphate. This has resulted in a level policing and arrests. But this does not equate to claims of mass concentration camps and slave labour. Those who make the claims have the responsibility to shift from spreading hearsay to providing the evidence.
An al-Qaeda English language publication details the story of Xinjian now being peddled, referring the Chinese region as part of the Caucuses based intended mega sharia law caliphate called Turkistan. They refer to Xinjian East Turkistan. Islamic State has a similar ambition.
Few in the outside world realise that the Uyghur are not the majority in Xinjiang. They come third after the Mongol and Han populations, who would be excluded from a caliphate.
Joe Biden’s summit is expected to pass a resolution in support of “Uyghur freedom,” which amounts to continuing support for al Qaeda and Islamic state operations in Xinjian and the rest of China.
China’s military has not expanded around the world, while that of the United States and its allies patrol every corner of the planet and every ocean, right up to China’s borders, which face encirclement by hostile land and naval military bases.
The Chinese threat is not military or political interference. It is the threat that a newly rising economy is challenging Western global economic supremacy and China’s growing diplomatic influence. This is something that a continuing colonial view of the world finds hard to swallow.
The summit is about legitimising preparations for war. The intention might be to limit this to a cold war and prevent a hot war. But it is all too easy for this to get out of hand. It is an incredibly dangerous strategy.
Even a cold war is the greatest threat to democracy today. Under its cover, fundamental rights will be reduced at a faster rate, more resources will be diverted from peaceful use to war preparations, and big brother government become more pronounced. Jingoism and fascist elements will be further encouraged to light the fires of social division.
Attention will shift further from improving cooperation to overcome the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, and from the need for unity to overcome the threat of global warming. The cost top humanity will be terrible.
A hot war will multiply the cost a thousand fold and destroy the world as we know it is inseparable from the battle for real democracy.