5 March 2020   Leave a comment

Freedom House is a non-partisan organization that publishes an annual report on the state of personal freedoms in the world. It is an organization that is committed to a liberal ideology that is primarily concerned with the institutions protecting representative democracy, market capitalism, and human rights. It has just published its report for 2020 and, not surprisingly, it found that individual freedoms have been increasingly constrained globally:

“Freedom House found that 2019 was the 14th consecutive year of decline in global freedom. The gap between setbacks and gains widened compared with 2018, as individuals in 64 countries experienced deterioration in their political rights and civil liberties while those in just 37 experienced improvements. The negative pattern affected all regime types, but the impact was most visible near the top and the bottom of the scale. More than half of the countries that were rated Free or Not Free in 2009 have suffered a net decline in the past decade.

“Ethnic, religious, and other minority groups have borne the brunt of government abuses in both democracies and authoritarian states. The Indian government has taken its Hindu nationalist agenda to a new level with a succession of policies that abrogate the rights of different segments of its Muslim population, threatening the democratic future of a country long seen as a potential bulwark of freedom in Asia and the world. Attacks on the rights of immigrants continue in other democratic states, contributing to a permissive international environment for further violations. China pressed ahead with one of the world’s most extreme programs of ethnic and religious persecution, and increasingly applied techniques that were first tested on minorities to the general population, and even to foreign countries. The progression illustrated how violations of minority rights erode the institutional and conventional barriers that protect freedom for all individuals in a given society.”

Many societies do not share the same emphasis on personal freedoms and even within liberal societies there are many who place a higher priority on values other than personal freedom, such as justice, equality, or social stability. The Freedom House report uses India as a revealing case study, but supporters of Prime Minister Narendra Modi would argue that India should take further steps to protect India’s identity as a Hindu nation, despite its liberal constitution. Michael Carpenter has written an essay for Foreign Affairs that looks more generally at the growth of illiberal politics in the world today.

Posted March 5, 2020 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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