6 November 2021   1 comment

Over the last few months I have had the sense that I do not really understand what’s going on in the world anymore. I have never been good at making predictions about how political developments might unfold, but I always had good reasons for being wrong. Lately, however, nothing really makes sense to me. The complete capitulation of the Republican Party in the US to a political figure with no accomplishments at all and a flawed understanding of the US Constitution remains a complete mystery to me. But on a deeper level, the collapse of traditional political parties throughout the world and the rise of new parties with no clearly articulated principles since the Great Recession of 2007-08 defies my comprehension.

The Pew Research Center provides data which explains some of my bafflement. According to its recent polls:

“As citizens around the world continue to grapple with a global pandemic and the changes it has brought to their everyday lives, many are also expressing a desire for political change. Across 17 advanced economies surveyed this spring by Pew Research Center, a median of 56% believe their political system needs major changes or needs to be completely reformed. Roughly two-thirds or more hold this view in Italy, Spain, the United States, South Korea, Greece, France, Belgium and Japan….

“But while many want change, many are also skeptical about the prospects for change. In eight of the 17 publics, roughly half or more of those polled say the political system needs major changes or a complete overhaul and say they have little or no confidence the system can be changed effectively.”

It seems that the whole idea of self-governance no longer holds sway within major polities as the following chart suggests.

An earlier Pew study indicates that in many countries, people are increasingly unable to agree upon some basic facts about society. That study found that

“In some places, this acrimony has risen to the level that people think their fellow citizens no longer disagree simply over policies, but also over basic facts. In France, the U.S., Italy, Spain and Belgium, half or more think that most people in their country disagree on basic facts more than they agree. Across most societies surveyed, those who see conflict among partisans are more likely to say people disagree on the basic facts than those who do not see such conflicts.”

The wide discrepancies about the COVID pandemic–even disagreements about whether there is indeed a pandemic–are clear indicators of how profound these disagreements are. Nature recently published an article on how researchers on COVID are treated by those who disagree with their findings:

“Some aspects of COVID-19 science have become so politicized that it is hard to mention them without attracting a storm of abuse. Epidemiologist Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz at the University of Wollongong in Australia, who has gained a following on Twitter for his detailed dissection of research papers, says that two major triggers are vaccines and the anti-parasite drug ivermectin — controversially promoted as a potential COVID-19 treatment without evidence it was effective. ‘Any time you write about vaccines — anyone in the vaccine world can tell you the same story — you get vague death threats, or even sometimes more specific death threats and endless hatred,’ he says. But he’s found the passionate defence of ivermectin surprising. ‘I think I’ve received more death threats due to ivermectin, in fact, than anything I’ve done before,’ he says. ‘It’s anonymous people e-mailing me from weird accounts saying ‘I hope you die’ or ‘if you were near me I would shoot you’.”

Under these conditions, there is no such thing as politics since citizens cannot even agree about how to disagree nor do they grant citizenship (or even humanity) to those with whom they disagree. Governments cannot even function under such conditions since many within the society do not grant legitimacy to the authority of the governments.

“Maybe,’ he said hesitantly, ‘maybe there is a beast.’
The assembly cried out savagely and Ralph stood up in amazement.
‘You, Simon? You believe in this?’
‘I don’t know,’ said Simon. ‘But . . .’
His heartbeats were choking him.
The storm broke.
‘Sit down!’
‘Shut up!’
‘Take the conch!’
‘Sod you!’
‘Shut up!’
Ralph shouted.
‘Hear him! He’s got the conch!’
‘What I mean is. Maybe . . . it’s only us.’
That was Piggy, shocked out of decorum.
‘We could be sort of . . .’
Simon became inarticulate in his effort to express mankind’s essential illness.”
― William Golding

Posted November 6, 2021 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

One response to “6 November 2021

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  1. I so enjoy your posts – thank you!


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