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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Bad Moon Rising Part 102 - Good Guys, Bad Guys

image: multipolar world

How Much of the World Will the US Burn in the Transition to Multipolarity?

By Conor Gallagher
Naked Capitalism
October 29, 2023

China recently marked the 10th anniversary of its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) by gathering national leaders from 23 countries across the world, including from South America, Africa, and Asia, in Beijing.

Europe essentially boycotted the Belt and Road Forum (BRF). The 2017 forum saw 10 representatives from European countries attend, and there were 11 in 2019. This year, just two European leaders made the trip: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.

The US, of course, hasn’t attended any of the forums. As this most recent BRF was underway and following the BRICS expansion and the WestҒs increasing isolation on the Palestine-Israel issue, I couldn’t help but think of Beijing’s repeated invitations for the US to partner with them in the BRI:

Later in the video Thornton revealed that Kerry told him that not taking up Chinas offer to jointly do the BRI was “the single biggest missed opportunity of my life.” pic.twitter.com/YHYw1MoxrX

- Arnaud Bertrand (@RnaudBertrand) June 1, 2023

China has invited US to join in the Belt and Road initiative since 2013, China invites US almost every year, the last invitation was in March this year… pic.twitter.com/zqwyd0s5AL

- Lei (@luckbeide001) September 19, 2022

The US initially dismissed the BRI and then became threatened by it.

Initially, US was convinced China was an idiot throwing money away on infrastructure for third world with no prospects of profitability. China invited US to join but was refused. Now US wants to copy. The world is already grateful if US doesnt bomb the existing infrastructure… pic.twitter.com/6ZJP3Q4Nif

- America-China Watcher (@PandemicTruther) May 6, 2021

The US could have helped steer projects that would have also benefited the US if it had partnered with China, but it’s inconceivable that the US Blob would ever seriously entertain such a proposal, which would require a complete rethink of decades of US foreign policy that prioritizes rentierism and conflict over all else.

Instead we got the usual aggressive responses: the ill-fated TPP, sanctions, export bans, a new Cold War, a spy balloon scandal, the disastrous effort to weaken Russia before taking on China, the successful effort to sever Europe from Eurasia to disastrous effect for Europe, and the desire to see a Ukraine sequel in Taiwan.

It’s impressive what the BRI has already accomplished despite setbacks here and there. According to a Chinese WHITE PAPER on the BRI, released just prior to the recent forum, Beijing has signed more than 200 BRI cooperation agreements with more than 150 countries and 30 international organizations across five continents. And while BRI lending has DROPPED in recent years, it will continue to be a major piece of China’s foreign and economic policy going forward.

Imagine what it could have done with a good faith US partner. The world’s two largest economies joining together to build a more prosperous world would have been quite the development.

Rather than all the billions the US has spent in recent years pointlessly extinguishing lives in Ukraine and elsewhere, the US could have spent that money at home, say, housing the millions of Americans living in modern day Hoovervilles. They could have asked the Chinese for help to build high speed rail lines. There could be massive infrastructure spending in Latin America rather than coups and drug wars. The possibilities are endless.

Instead, Washington will spend its time hatching plans to tear down efforts like the BRI and BRICS . The US, meanwhile, is on its umpteenth plan to rival the BRI. The India-Middle East-EU transport corridor (IMEC) is the latest iteration, but its already running into problems with the situation in the Middle East. Aspects of the plan appeared to have lacked thought from the outset:

Hilarious irony of the day. This is the map of the new India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) thatҒs presented as (yet another) initiative to counter ChinaӒs Belt and Road Initiative.

Where does the corridor end? In the port of Piraeus. Who owns that port? China.  pic.twitter.com/fBAzGmklbx

- Arnaud Bertrand (@RnaudBertrand) September 11, 2023

The anti-democracy Trans-Pacific Partnership was another one, as was the G7 “Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment,” but none have had the impact or staying power of the BRI.

That could be because the goals behind China and the US efforts are not the same. China is attempting to spread development. Sure, it isnԒt just a giveaway. The BRI helps Beijing to develop new trade ties, secure critical materials, open export markets and boost Chinese incomes. What exactly is the US-led West offering?

The Council on Foreign Relations admits that “Washington has struggled to offer participating governments a more appealing economic vision.” Or is it simply that the vision offered by Washington is increasingly dystopian, anti-democratic, and filled with austerity and plunder that only enriches the already-rich in the West.

A Classic Case of US Projection

For years US officials and their friends in the media have accused Beijing of practicing debt trap diplomacy with the BRI and other lending.

Deborah Brutigam, the Director of the China Africa Research Initiative at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, has WRITTEN that this is “a lie, and a powerful one.” She wrote, ”OUR RESEARCH SHOWS that Chinese banks are willing to restructure the terms of existing loans and have never actually seized an asset from any country.”

Even researchers at Chatham House ADMIT that’s not the case, explaining that the lending has instead created a debt trap for China. That is becoming more evident as nations are unable to repay, largely due to the economic fallout from the pandemic and the US proxy war against Russia in Ukraine.

So while it is not true that China engages in debt traps, the same can not be said of the West. The US plan for the world is centered on more debt, more austerity, more conflict, and more profits for American corporations, which it accomplishes by getting countries to forfeit natural resources and crack down on labor in order to deal with foreign debt and get western loans. As Michael Hudson writes in The Destiny of Civilization:

The aim is to persuade low-wage countries that they can rise into the middle class if they let the U.S. and European investors establish factories for local labor-intensive production. A vocabulary of deception has been crafted to block them from recognizing that U.S. and European diplomacy aims at locking them into a foreign-debt trap that turns their domestic policy making over to foreign creditors. This trap enables the IMF and related U.S.-centered diplomacy to ‘bail them out’ by imposing austerity and debt deflation - capped by U.S. demands to control their rent-yielding natural resources and infrastructure monopolies.

The problem is countries are increasingly aware of this trap as its methods have been laid bare, and the US is often times left attempting to install dictators that will “cooperate” by selling out their countries. This is of course sold as joining the “democratic” West, while China represents “autocracy.”

One of the US’ biggest problems with China’s lending is that it represents an alternative to the West - and one that has also been willing to cancel and restructure debt. That is leading for calls for the West to do the same. African political economists, for example, are hopeful that China’s public and private debt forgiveness during the pandemic will apply pressure on western financial institutions to “rethink the harshness of their debt repayment-austerity governance model.”

China’s WHITE PAPER released prior to the BRF can be seen as speaking to the Global South, for instance when it states, “the economic globalization dominated by a few countries has not contributed to the common development that delivers benefits to all… Many developing countries have benefited little from economic globalization and even lost their capacity for independent development, making it hard for them to access the track of modernization. Certain countries have practiced unilateralism, protectionism and hegemonism, hampering economic globalization and threatening a global economic recession.

In August, China announced the forgiveness of 23 interest-free loans for 17 African nations, while also pledging to deepen its collaboration with the continent. Despite that gesture and its efforts to extend maturities, the West continues to hammer home the message that Beijing is engaged in debt-trap diplomacy with Yellen claiming multiple times that Beijing has become the biggest obstacle to ԓprogress in Africa.

While Beijing offers imperfect infrastructure-for-minerals deals, the US, offers up worthless token items like cultural ties (as Biden SAID at last year’s US-Africa Leaders Summit, the US has a significant population of African Americans. ԓI might add that includes my former boss, he said.) and stuff like this:

Ghana’s debt problems will soon be behind us given that the US is sending a full-time resident debt advisor. This is the only ingredient that was missing. pic.twitter.com/62CUnJWX0C

- Grieve Chelwa (@gchelwa) March 27, 2023

It is becoming increasingly clear that the battle for hearts and minds in the Global South is over - a decisive victory for China. But much like the US’ new Cold War with Russia, the China version will also largely be decided in Europe.

Europe’s Big (Missed) Opportunity

Zhou Bo, a retired PLA colonel and current senior fellow of the Centre for International Security and Strategy at Tsinghua University, REVEALS the view from China:

The competition between the two giants won’t be in the Global South, where the US has already lost out to China, while in the Indo-Pacific, few nations want to take sides. Rather, it will be in Europe, where the US has most of its allies and China is the largest trading partner.

It wasn’t that long ago that it looked like Europe might wake up and join in the emerging multipolar world. Italy joined the BRI back in 2019. Other nations were increasing ties with Beijing and Russia (a few like Hungary still are). But that all came to a halt with the Ukraine war as the US has tightened its grip over Europe.

The contradictions and rudderlessness of the EU’s policy are evident in Italy’s attempts now to extricate itself from the BRI. Despite its economic struggles, Italy is tasked with doing so simply because that is the dominant attitude in the West now. Meanwhile Rome simultaneously seeks to boost economic ties with Beijing. Make sense? The South China Morning Post QUOTES Lorenzo Codogno, chief economist at the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance from 2006 to 2015, saying the following:

“The issue for Italy right now is how to move out of the [belt and road], which is a political and not an economic tool, while maintaining or maybe strengthening the economic links with China. That is the challenge Meloni faces.”

The piece also mentions the belief that Italy has damaged its reputation in the West due to its wayward ways. As Rome plots its exit, it is unthinkable that an EU state would sign on to the BRI or attempt to strengthen ties with China in today’s climate.

Germany continues its self-immolation by erecting barriers between itself and its largest trading partner. And the EU has generally become a laughingstock on the world stage due to its self-harming subservience to Washington.

China, at least, still holds out hope, with repeated statements like the following from THE GLOBAL TIMES:

China treasures its relationship with the EU, always considering Europe as an indispensable trade and economic partner, and more importantly, a benign force to maintain global diversity and plurality in an increasingly volatile world. China’s 1.4 billion people hope that Europe could maintain its soberness and impartiality - not to toe the political line set by the US government. The EU should judge China independently.

The US government has coerced European countries to play with bans, export controls and other restrictive measures to limit Chinese access to advanced tools and technologies, a blatant assault on China’s future development prospects.

By all metrics, acting as each other’s heavyweight trade partners, the EU and China have benefited a lot from their close economic relationship. The two giant economies should build up the favorable partnership, create a fair and nondiscriminatory business environment for each other’s enterprises, and always stick to the win-win mentality.

Beijing continues to humor EU leaders but the frustration is growing, as it is elsewhere with Brussels. Meanwhile events will continue to pass the EU by as Eurasian integration continues and Brussels clings to Washington. It may take true nationalist forces in Europe to emerge in order to break the EU and the US control over the bloc. As Michael Hudson writes:

There is still a tendency to think of nationalism as a retrograde step. But for foreign countries, breaking away from today’s unipolar global system of U.S.-centered financialization is the only way to create a viable alternative that can resist the New Cold War’s attempt to destroy any alternative system and to impose U.S.-client rentier dictatorships on the world.

Now no doubt Beijing has many of its own problems with neoliberalism, surveillance, etc, but in international affairs one thing is sure. China constantly harps on win-win arrangements.

It is aggressive US policies that are driving the new cold war, not China. Beijing has constantly called for peace and cooperation.

President Xi emphasized this again in his speech at the Belt and Road Forum on October 18, stressing mutual benefit, common development,… pic.twitter.com/zYHG00MBR3

- Ben Norton (@BenjaminNorton) October 23, 2023

It attempts to find ways it can benefit in tandem with other nations. And it takes diplomacy seriously, thus far not resorting to force in an attempt to advance political objectives. In essence, on the world stage China is the opposite of the US, and it will continue to play an outsized role in the emerging multipolarity.

Right now, the US is making it easier for them to build a more China-centric alternative world order, helping countries overlook their differences because they see a common threat to their national interest, which is an overly aggressive declining hegemon in the US.

Indeed, it has become self-fulfilling. The more China, Russia, India, etc. build up that multipolar world order, the more the US works to undermine it with coups, sanctions, threats. This only hardens the resolve of the other powers and Global South countries.  Meanwhile the US works harder trying to tear things down.

Maybe Biden will show some statesmanship at his upcoming meeting with Xi by rethinking the US aggressive stance towards China. It would be smart domestic politics, as well. According to recent POLLING by National Security Action and Foreign Policy for America, only 13 percent of Americans want an aggressive approach and 5 percent want a confrontational one with China. 78 percent of Americans want to focus more on working to avoid a military conflict with China. But relying on Biden or anyone in neocon-dominated Washington for deft foreign policy isnӒt a smart bet.

The real question is just how much destruction the US will cause in the transition to a more multipolar world one where it must practice actual diplomacy and work with other countries.

That day will likely come first in Europe where there are at least rumblings of throwing off the US shackles, throwing out US lackeys, and pursuing European interests (or the interests of individual European states). The EU project may have to die first but that one can envision. Whether its Brexit forces, or the AfD in Germany, or Orban in Hungary, Fico in Slovakia, there are increasing calls for national interests (even if their idea of nationalism seeks to serve local oligarchies or right wing fantasies). Speaking of Orban, according to the Chinese readout, of his BFR meeting with Xi, Orban stated that Hungary “will continue to be China’s trusted friend” and partner in the European Union and “opposes any decoupling and breakage of supply and industrial chains or the so-called ‘de-risking’ practices.” This goes directly against the European Commissions economic security strategy.More governments are bound to follow Orban’s lead.

As the conflicts ramp up as part of the US effort to maintain its hegemony, we will unfortunately never know what might have been instead had the US said yes to one of Beijing’s invitations to partner in the BRI and accepted a peaceful transition to a multipolar world.

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Posted by Elvis on 06/16/24 •
Section Bad Moon Rising • Section Revelations • Section NWO
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Monday, June 03, 2024

Great Replacement Redux 5 - The Great Immigrant Invitation

image: immigration

Global compact for migration

United Nations
2017

The global compact for migration is the first, intergovernmentally negotiated agreement, prepared under the auspices of the United Nations, to cover all dimensions of international migration in a holistic and comprehensive manner

Today, there are over 258 million migrants around the world living outside their country of birth. This figure is expected to grow for a number of reasons including population growth, increasing connectivity, trade, rising inequality, demographic imbalances and climate change. Migration provides immense opportunity and benefits for the migrants, host communities and communities of origin. However, when poorly regulated it can create significant challenges. These challenges include overwhelming social infrastructures with the unexpected arrival of large numbers of people and the deaths of migrants undertaking dangerous journeys.

In September 2016 the General Assembly decided, through the adoption of the NEW YORK DECLARATION FOR REFUGEES AND MIGRANTS, to develop a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration.

The process to develop this global compact started in April 2017. The pages in this section detail 18 months of consultation and negotiation, and provide the relevant documentation for each of the events.

On 13 July 2018 UN MEMBER STATEs FINAIZED THE TEXT for the GLOBAL COMPACT FOR SAFE , ORDERLY, AND REGULAR MIGRATION (Text AVAILABLE in all official languages).

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Posted by Elvis on 06/03/24 •
Section Revelations • Section NWO
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Saturday, June 01, 2024

Loneliness 3

“A Truer Reality Beyond Reality”: Hannah Arendt’s Warning About How Totalitarianism Takes Root

By Joanna Weiss
Politico
May 19, 2024

A growing body of research warns that the United States is experiencing a LONELINESS CRISIS. The U.S. surgeon general has cited loneliness as a PUBLIC HEALTH RISK. Researchers have found that LONELINESS MAKES PEOPLE MORE LIKELY TO BE ANGRY AND RESENTFUL, and more VULNERABLE TO EXTREMEISM.

Loneliness could represent a political threat, as well: a pathway to demagogues, mobs and destructive ideologies. That was an argument the German-born philosopher Hannah Arendt

Samantha Rose Hill is a professor at the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research and a leading interpreter of Arendt’s thinking, particularly as it relates to loneliness. She notes that THE ORIGINS OF TOTALITARIANISM became a bestseller in 2016 because it helped explain an aspect of Donald Trump’s election: how economic and social conditions create feelings of loneliness and rootlessness and lead people to seek out belonging and meaning in political movements. Today, Hill says, Arendt might have connected loneliness not just to the RISE OF TRUMP, but also the actions of groups like Moms for Liberty on the right and the fervor of identity politics on the left.

Arendt described loneliness not as a physical or emotional state but as a state of mind, Hill says. It’s an inability to question our beliefs or adjust our thinking to reflect our own experience and the experience of others - a kind of mental isolation and rigidity that one can observe, for instance, in today’s social media pile-ons and pressures for ideological conformity. “Arendt says that wherever people desire simple solutions to complex problems, totalitarianism will always be a threat,” Hill says.

We discussed Arendt, modern politics and social media over email and Zoom from Paris and London where Hill, who authored an Arendt biographyand edited a book of Arendt’s poems, has been working on a book about loneliness for Yale University Press. This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

- Arendt defines loneliness differently from the way we often think of it. Can you talk about the German word that she used, verlassenheit? Whats the meaning of that word and what did she mean by it?

Hannah Arendt doesn’t talk about feelings, in the sense that we would talk about loneliness as a feeling. She’s talking about loneliness as a way of thinking. Verlassenheit, which there is no good English translation for, literally means a sense of “abandonness.” Of feeling abandoned in the world. She says that it is “the closing of thinking.”

Loneliness, for Arendt, is the closing of the mind. That’s how she relates it to isolation: in that very literal sense of the mind being isolated, and that it does not move.

- So how, in Arendt’s thinking, would this sense of “loneliness” or “abandonness” lead to totalitarianism?

The definition of loneliness today, in the social scientific literature, is about being physically isolated from others and having few or no close meaningful relationships. This corresponds nicely with Arendts understanding of loneliness as isolated thought. When a person feels isolated, a political movement offers them a sense of belonging, purpose and meaning.

This is why totalitarian movements have to first succeed in destroying the fabric of society by which we take our bearings of being in the world with one another. Because it is only then, when there is no longer basic kindness, trust and human decency, and people feel thrown into the world to make it on their own, that they will go looking for a movement to belong to. A movement invites one to not just belong to something bigger than themselves, but to become a part of history.

- How would Arendt have looked at a phenomenon like MAGA?

Arendt did not like political movements, left or right. In Origins she argued that Stalinism was a more advanced form of Hitlerism. She placed the emphasis on the word “movement” itself in her critique. To be part of a movement is to be caught in a tide, an ideological tide, which has the effect of divorcing thinking from experience by creating an alternate reality - and that teaches people that they don’t have to think for themselves. The point of ideology is to tell people what to think - not to teach them how to think, or offer them alternative ways of thinking. Ideology demands conformity.

- Can you clarify what you mean by “alternate reality?” What would that look like in a real-life scenario?

Ideology teaches people that there is a truer reality beyond reality. Think of QAnon, Pizzagate and the many Americans who believe Donald Trump won the last presidential election. Another example that comes to mind is Trump’s inauguration. It was very clearly raining. You could see the rain. People were holding umbrellas. And yet, Trump said, “It isn’t raining.” Many people affirmed his statement, because the point of the statement wasn’t to reflect upon the experience as it was, but to assert his ideology of dominance.

The movement also gives people a prefabricated response - determined by the leader - to any political issue or question, without needing to think on their own, so they always have something to say backed by a source of authority.

- When people object to Trump or a politician like him, it seems what they’re often concerned about is authoritarianism, as opposed to totalitarianism. Whats the relationship between the two? Does totalitarianism lead to authoritarianism? Or is it the other way around?

In Arendt’s account, it would be the other way around. She distinguishes between authoritarianism, fascism, tyranny and totalitarianism. Totalitarianism, she argued, depended upon the radical atomization of the whole, the absolute elimination of all spontaneity. One lived in absolute fear all the time, even those in the party, and the aim of totalitarianism was total world domination.

Within an authoritarian system, you still have limited political freedom. There isn’t a totalizing state of fear, but there is domination: domination that aims at political control within a state, without the means of persuasion. So if we were to think of Trump trying to overturn the election results of 2020, that I think we can read as a kind of authoritarian grab.

- Are there other politicians or phenomena you see today that raise similar concerns about authoritarianism or totalitarianism?

Ron DeSantis, and the book bans in Florida and the laws that he has attempted to pass to regulate what students CAN AND CANNOT STUDY in college. And Moms for Liberty in the same vein. I think this trend in American politics emerges out of the cultural conservative movement of the 1980s, which targeted multiculturalism, liberalism traditionally defined, while raising a moral panic about communism and the left and socialism.

I don\t think that lays the groundwork in itself for totalitarianism. There’s a nice quote buried in Arendt’s correspondence from the 1970s where she says something like, “let us not jump to totalitarianism too quickly.” This is not 1933. The phrase “it can happen here,” assumes an identifiable “it.” There is no identifiable “it.” Our world today is remarkably different from the world of the mid-20th century. It has been radically reshaped by technology and trade. If and when a form of fascism emerges in America, it is not going to look the same as it did in Europe.

Q. Would Arendt be concerned about phenomena we’re seeing on the left, as well? Are there other orthodoxies of thought she would be worried about?

Those arguing against identity politics - or what I would call the tyranny of individualism - are not wrong to point out the ways in which forms of hyper-individualism destroy the common fabric of humanity. At the same time, these arguments are also fodder for MAGA politicians, and they are helping them to win elections while fueling real political violence.

At the end of the day, Im not sure that MAGA supporters are any more tribal than liberals. One of the identifying features of tribalistic thought is believing one is absolutely on the right side of history. And to believe that is to believe that the other side is absolutely wrong.

MAGA is a reflection of very real political problems: economic stagnation, loss of mobility, alienation from the Democratic and Republican parties. Arendt says that wherever people desire simple solutions to complex problems, totalitarianism will always be a threat. That’s what we’re experiencing now. We’re also experiencing the collapse of the Democratic and Republican parties as weҒve known them in our lifetimes. Historically, this is not exceptional, but politically, right now, it is destabilizing. Many people don’t feel like they can look to a party to represent their interests, and so movements are appearing in those cracks.

Q. Would you agree that people are becoming more tribal and ideological than ever before, because they’re living in these self-reinforcing filter bubbles?

I wouldn’t say the problem is bubbles. I would say its appearances. Technology has transformed the nature of appearance and being in the world so that oneҒs everyday experiences are mediated through some form of device or apparatus, which creates a baseline level of alienation.

The other side of this is a loss of privacy. Even when one is alone, they are never really alone, and this means that the space necessary for thinking is lost. And when one loses that space for thinking, one is driven further away from themselves and more likely to get carried away by the tide.

Q. The social media mob is another modern phenomenon where we see people carried away. How does that connect to Arendt’s warnings? Does a lack of thinking make people susceptible to joining an online mob?

Sometimes social media mobs are mobilized by ideological political movements. Sometimes they’re mobilized by what we might want to call an ideology. Sometimes theyre a collection of isolated individuals who find some pleasure, excitement or relief from the boredom of everyday life in collectively ganging up on someone for no particular reason.

I might argue that the phenomenon of social media mobs is a prelude to joining a political movement. There’s an interesting fact in the data on social media and loneliness: the more time someone spends on social media, the more likely they are to report feeling lonely. At the same time, the more time someone spends on social media, the more likely they are to participate in a real-life political movement.

- We recently emerged from a strange social experiment in which we experienced physical isolation at the same time political and cultural forces were leading us toward single-minded thought. Did the pandemic make our loneliness problem worse?

Maybe this is a good place to distinguish between solitude and loneliness. Solitude is the pleasurable experience of keeping company with oneself. Solitude is a retreat from the world of appearing before others. The phone is off, the computer is off, the television is off, the company is gone and one is actually alone with themselves.

The pandemic worsened an already dire mass addiction to technology. The average American spends 7 to 8 hours a day with the television on and another 5 to 6 hours a day in front of a computer screen. There is constant noise. Loneliness is very loud. People often turn on the TV or reach for the phone to avoid the voice in their head, but it is that voice that allows one to think for themselves, hold themselves accountable and make changes where changes need to be made in their lives. Listening is a vital habit for democracy.

About the author: Joanna Weiss is a writer in Boston and a contributing writer for POLITICO Magazine.

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Why Anti-LGBTQ Attacks Matter for Democracy
Attacks on LGBTQI+ people and their rights are on the rise, policymakers should pay closer attention to anti-LGBTQI+ activity as a sign of democratic backsliding and take steps to address this issue.

By Ari Shaw
Council On Foreign Relations, Diamonstein-Spielvogel Project on the Future of Democracy
October 12, 2023

Earlier this year, President Joe Biden CONVENED the second Summit for Democracy, in which global leaders took stock of the state of democracy around the world and measured progress on commitments that countries made during the first summit fifteen months prior. At the time, BIDEN REMARKED that “we are turning the tide” away from autocracy and towards “greater freedom, greater dignity, and greater democracy.” His observation was notable, in part, because it was said against a backdrop of what many indicators suggest is a global rise in authoritarianism. According to Freedom House, more than three quarters of the world’s population lives in a country that has some RESTRICTIONS ON FREEDOMS [PDF] - the highest proportion in more than a quarter-century.

Also noteworthy was the absence of any meaningful discussion of how democratic backsliding has mirrored a surge in attacks targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI+) people. Anti-LGBTQI+ rhetoric and policies have increasingly been deployed for a variety of political aims by populist leaders with illiberal tendencies, including several from countries that participated in the summit. Right-wing Italian Prime Minister Georgia Meloni, for example, CAMPAIGNED AGAINST an “LGBT lobby” and has moved to LIMIT ADOPTION RIGHTS of same-sex couples, while in the U.S. nearly five hundred anti-LGBTQI+ bills targeting issues from lifesaving healthcare to LGBTQI+ content in schools have been proposed in largely conservative state legislatures.

This pairing is hardly coincidental.

In a NEW STUDY [PDF] from the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, my colleagues and I find strong evidence that attacks on LGBTQI+ people and their rights can be a bellwether of broader democratic backsliding. Using an original Global Acceptance Index that measures public attitudes towards LGBTQI+ people and their rights across 175 countries, we find that efforts to stigmatize LGBTQI+ people can telegraph and even contribute to a more fundamental erosion of democratic norms and institutions, whether curtailing judicial review, cracking down on independent media, or other illiberal acts.

In some cases, homophobic and transphobic rhetoric are used as part of a POPULIST ELECTORAL POLICY to appeal to conservative and religious voters. In other cases, disinformation about LGBTQI+ people is used to divert attention from internal social and economic crises or entrenched corruption. The manufactured threat of so-called gender ideology has been used by conservative movements and authoritarians alike to frame LGBTQI+ and feminist advocacy as externally imposed efforts to subvert traditional family and gender norms.

Regardless of the form, the effect is often the same. Anti-LGBTQI+ attacks create a wedge that defines sexual and gender minorities as outsiders and threats to a core national identity. This fissure can then be used to justify subsequent antidemocratic behavior in the name of protecting “the nation.” Many anti-LGBTQI+ laws target essential lifelines for advocacy groups by closing LGBTQI+ community centers, limiting NGO registration, or banning LGBTQI+-related speech, thereby restricting freedoms of assembly and expression under the pretense of protecting against the supposed external threat of LGBTQI+ rights.

Take, for instance, the case of Indonesia. Following an extended period of democratization, 2016 saw a dramatic escalation in anti-LGBTQI+ attacks, including an EFFORT TO BAN LGBTQI+ student organizations, a ministerial order requiring internet service providers to BLOCK SOCIAL NETWORKS used by LGBTQI+ people, and the removal of mobile apps that included LGBTQI+ content. A “MORAL PANIC” ensued in which a number of municipalities passed regulations explicitly prohibiting “acts considered LGBT.” Meanwhile, President Joko Widodo walked back promised reforms that were intended to strengthen media independence, and he consolidated executive authority by, among other things, placing the administration of new social policies under MILITARY CONTROL.

Populist homophobia and transphobia accompanied similar antidemocratic turns in Brazil. Even before running for president, Jair Bolsonaro openly embraced anti-LGBTQI+ rhetoric, PROCLAIMING that he would rather his son die than be gay, and warning against the INCURSION of “gender ideologies” into schools. As president, Bolsonaro dismantled the professionalized bureaucracy in favor of “super ministries” overseen by his allies and actively courted political participation of the MILITARY. He appointed conservative cabinet members who STRIPPED LGBTQI+ PROTECTIONS from the ministry of Family, Women, and Human Rights, and he issued executive orders in efforts to MONITOR AND RESTRICT the activities of human rights and environmental NGOs.

The precise relationship between attacks on LGBTQI+ rights and democracy is complex, but the strong association suggests that policymakers should pay close attention to anti-LGBTQI+ activity as a signal of underlying threats to democratic institutions.

What’s more, the relationship may be working in both directions. Our study finds that countries with high levels of LGBTQI+ acceptance are more likely to have free and fair elections, strong rule of law, civil liberties protections, and minority rights. We also find that more accepting countries tend to have higher GDP per capita. In other words, it is not just that anti-LGBTQI+ attacks can presage a weakening of democracy, but stronger protections for LGBTQI+ people may help buttress against further democratic erosion by reducing political polarization and economic insecurity.

LGBTQI+ inclusion could yield both political and economic benefits, and policymakers should prioritize efforts that promote LGBTQI+ acceptance and expand human rights protections. Between 2019 and 2020, JUST 0.04 PERCENT [PDF] of global overseas development assistance went to fund LGBTQI+-specific programs and organizations. LGBTQI+ people experience violence and discrimination at disproportionately higher rates than other groups, and donor governments should increase funding to levels that match the urgency of this reality. Governments should also leverage multilateral systems to mainstream LGBTQI+ issues and help bolster the capacity of local LGBTQI+ civil society organizations to both advocate for greater inclusion and to oppose the rollback of democratic freedoms.

Early in his administration, President Biden signed a PREIDENTIAL MEMORANDUM that explicitly located the protection and promotion of LGBTQI+ rights within U.S. foreign policy objectives. While the directive was cast in terms of advancing “our most deeply held values,: sufficient resources and political will have not always followed. To help stem the tide of autocracy, we should prioritize LGBTQI+ inclusion not only because it is consistent with our values, but also because it is good policy that can strengthen the underpinnings of democracy.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 06/01/24 •
Section Revelations • Section NWO • Section Dying America
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