Should we rethink liberal democracy?

Editor’s Note: Keith Lamb graduated from the University of Oxford with an MA in Contemporary Chinese Studies. His main research interests are Chinese international relations and “socialism with Chinese characteristics”. The article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of CGTN.

It was Winston Churchill who said, regarding liberal democracy, “No one claims that democracy is perfect… democracy is the worst form of government except all these other forms. Ironically, he said this as the leader of the British Empire which denied any form of democracy to its colonies in the Global South.

This Western double standard has not changed. The United States often cuts the wings of liberal democracies when voters “wrongly” vote. For example, the CIA brought to power the Chilean Pinochet and the Venezuelan elections are declared null and void, while the country is sanctioned. Moreover, even before the elections, the United States is meddling in secret funding and support for front NGOs.

Clearly, the reversal of the foreign election by the United States negates the liberal rallying cry of Hillary Clinton, who once said that “liberal democracy is the only form of democracy.” This statement, which goes against Churchill’s more cautious words about liberal democracy, represents the essence of an elite who at least claim that liberal democracy with its multi-party system and free press is perfect.

This is precisely how the many bloody wars, waged by liberal democracies since September 11, have been propagated to Western citizens. That is, liberal democracies simply want to export their optimal governance freedoms. However, both those in the South, victims of liberal aggression, and Western citizens, who are aware that they did not vote for these wars, are bewildered by liberalism’s claims to be democratic.

Indeed, without the propaganda emanating from the “free press” owned by the billionaire, it is unlikely that support could be garnered for the liberal wars. As such, the quagmire, when it comes to Western democratic superiority claims, is how can it be democratic if it produces undemocratic results?

Even on the home front, the United States, which is considered the main liberal democracy, is, despite its immense wealth, unable to provide the basic foundations of democracy such as housing, affordable education and health care. health.

Unfortunately, instead of real democratic results, Westerners often fetishize the “perfect” democratic process above all else, which, again, negates Churchill’s claim that “no one claims democracy is perfect.” After all, a rational mind judges the health of a system by the results. For example, just because large pharmaceutical companies can openly push their minority to the right through their media and by funding political parties does not mean that it is democratic.

So, if we fetishize the process of democracy, then whatever results from it, even if it is prejudicial to the majority, will be falsely accepted as democratic. Indeed, this delusional fetishization is, in part, what justifies the worst that liberal democracies have to offer the world as its undemocratic wars.

A campaign event takes place in Atlanta, Georgia, United States on December 14, 2020. / Getty

A campaign event takes place in Atlanta, Georgia, United States on December 14, 2020. / Getty

Of course, some, like former US President Donald Trump, believe that America’s democracy is so corrupt that it is rigged in the ballot. He might be wrong, but given the aforementioned nature of liberal democracies, obnoxiously interfering with democracy abroad, it would be reasonable for liberal capital, the main sponsor of liberal democracy, to also be able to carry out similar strategies at home.

In any case, the liberal system is rigged even before the ballot. Beyond the mass media, controlled by liberal capital, corruption legalized by funding political parties sells democracy to the highest bidder. Here, the competition between two parties, the blue and the red, which have been controlled to serve the minority interests of capital, is sold to the public as a democracy.

Therefore, voters have the choice to choose an unimaginative status quo manager who, even if he had imagination, is powerless to implement material democratic change. Let us not forget that even the great hope, former President Barack Obama had his cabinet preselected by the Wall Street bank Citigroup and, as such, he sided with the minority interests of capital over the people in the subprime crises by bailing out the banks, with taxpayer money, while driving families out of their homes.

However, what else could Obama do? Liberal democracy is, to use the traditional Marxist term, bourgeois democracy set up for the minority interests of capital rather than the majority interests of society. Its premise is that politics cannot interfere in any way with the basic order of our material reality.

With economics the main arena of democratic possibility, beyond the reach of liberal democracies, the main Western democracies find themselves with the policy of rearranging minority issues to make them acceptable to capital while liberal democracies not. Western countries risk being “cut” or sanctioned if voters make the “wrong” choices.

Currently, Westerners, although they are largely unaware of why there is a crisis in liberal democracy, nonetheless know that there is a crisis. This was reflected in a recent Pew survey showing that few Westerners believe liberal democracy is a good example to export to other countries.

From this perspective, liberal democracy must be transformed in order for it to work for the majority. However, it is not clear whether this true democratic change can be achieved in a systemic way and, at any rate, semantically, should liberal democracy shed its bourgeois nature even be called liberal democracy?

At the very least, no matter how the West decides to resolve their democratic deficit, they can no longer, through undemocratic means such as gunboat diplomacy, impose a failed system on others. This, in turn, requires respect for other systems, as well as other’s interpretations of democracy so that Westerners can understand why other forms of government might be preferable to some.

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