The year 2016 witnessed a political world order that was more and more a competition amongst plutocracy, authoritarianism and incrementalism and where the disruptive forces somehow seemed more glamourous. Democracies around the world seemed institutionally weak and filled with resentment and the progressive spirited exuberance appeared to be overtaken. The world is more complacent with the binary comforts of ‘clash of titans’ followed by cycles of questions and counter-questions. The year was burdened with unstable periods of disarrayed mobilisations and such intellectual heights and confusion, fixed the points and shaped themselves as the recurring themes of the world order. Politics at its core brings with it the assumption that such challenges can be fixed with policies but how objective it is, remains a rhetoric. After all, the assumption that there is the sustainability of the narrative of globalisation in a polarised world with different levels of distributed economics, proved to suicidal in many areas.
The global citizen today has ultimate mistrust in a politics filled with unkempt compromises, mechanisation and mediations. Partisan confusions have led to a loss of trust in common language as well. The elitist and compromised no longer trust intellectualism and reasonability. The corrupt institutions have no takers now, but ironically people have started looking for redeemers who they feel, by their sheer promise of will can change the order of politics. When there is even a leak of a difficult word, the only saviours in sight are random acts of an assertion that give a sense of power to change this world. Moreover, a culture of mistrust has blurred the partisan lines that differentiate the truth. It is not that people have moved away from reality, rather people of different viewpoints have moved far from each other. In such a case, liberty or liberalisation acts against the fabric of difference between free speech and frank speech.
The political seizures are now, not about getting back a new idealism or novel sociability, rather about searching for exemplars of positive convictions of people who can promise to gather enough power within themselves to imprint an authority on the world. But does the road lead to paradise or perdition? Whatever the intellectual might be apprehensive about, this, only time will tell, as for how misplaced or great the belief is. Such anxiety will either shock people out of complacency or if it will fill the air with fraught. Such an existential condition is not something any democracy is used to.
To understand this, we must understand why in liberal democracies, people are finding status quo irritating and by revolting they get a sense of empowerment. The framework that pulled the world order is anyway not present anymore, not in its normative sense at least. The reassuring faith in human frailty also require convictions and where we place it is a different universe in itself. This has also given rise to populism and executive power and that is challenging the basic structure of politics and constitutions. Soft authoritarianism is rising exponentially, though we saw only a glimpse of the curve in 2016. There is no word now to replace liberty, even if you hate liberals and that speaks a lot about how propaganda, non-diversity, aggression and amalgamation of power are seen as a virtue. Nationalism is no longer a civic commitment, rather a group narcism, and is a protest against the fatal globalisation. The moot question, however, is that, has social media been responsible for this? Why else would leaders want attention towards national policies on Twitter? But the ambiguity is also not unheard of, as social media even though bring, a sense of democracy and empowerment, has also been abusive and polarising in other aspects and which side the balance lies is itself showcased by the confusion over the important and the trivial. And this difference between intentions is only bound to grow and frankly, there is no rhythm in resolve.
Having read a few challenging works in recent times, one only comes to the realisation of how the global populist dims the spotlight on a democracy, and that is mainly because we were never sure what the conditions of sovereignty, in it, are. After all, identity precedes reason even during elections. This only leads to one question, is there still enough reason for hope in such despondency?