IN recent history, the world has seen democracy exported to some continents whose domestic or organic make-up would be suitable to another form of leadership style.

Japan has been the rare success in Asia, beginning in the 1950s. Afghanistan has not shown the same favour for democracy in the typical neoliberal institutionalist version.

In fact, the exportation of democracy using military violence points to Afghanistan as the classic failure of this theory of securitisation of democracy.

The difference between Afghanistan and Japan is that the initial intention to end the monarchy and organic culture of Japan was discarded by America after the second world war.

In Afghanistan, there appeared a deliberate intention to export foreign values into an environment with its own ancient traditions. There is nothing wrong with exporting an idea, per se, if the environment is allowed to adapt that idea to its own extent.

Recently, however, the push to globalise democracy has become less patient and less multifaceted. Militarism is now an option, in the same category as diplomacy.

What has become increasingly disconcerting is the attempt to create a global democracy that fits the theory of its origin than the local environment and consequently the will of the electorate in many a domestic milieu.

The export of democracy from the 1980s appears to have been a phased strategy beginning with trade and financial integration; secondly, political legalism based on constitutional rights of citizens; and thirdly social uniformity.

The military threat acts as a bulwark for any of these three strategies.

When democracy became the leading form of governance across the globe, trade was flaunted as the key anchor for nations to join the global economy.

This meant readjusting most domestic economic structures of the new democratic nations to suit the western capitalist model. This global economic agenda was founded on structural adjustment programmes spearheaded by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank.

Nations were willing to undergo potential debt cancellation in the 1990s to attain the benefits of international trade. Most of this debt was resultant of the oil crisis of the 1970s.  

With trade came democracy and the attendant benefits of political and economic growth. In theory, once nations became entwined in international trade, they would not compromise the benefits of trade for war.

In simpler words, money was made in peaceful environments than unstable countries. By and large, the capitalist model delivered enticing results forged to create a global economy more entwined than seen before.

Even former Soviet Socialist states were joining the international global economy. To that extent, the homogenous global economy agenda was largely a success.

The political agenda, taken in isolation, advocated for the political freedom of people across the world from tyrannical regimes. Electoral choice, freedom of the press, freedom of association and so on became emblems of democracy.

It is only now that common sense is questioning if elections alone symbolise democracy; especially when institutions of government are intolerant to divergent opinions.

It is now that people are pondering if global political uniformity is not near equivalent to dictatorship.

A simpler way of looking at this is this way: if democracy operates by way of majority electoral mandate, it means that government draws its authority from the majority voters in that domestic environment. This does not mean that government cannot import best practice policies from similar environments, especially when benefits appear tangible. This is the reason parliament exists, to domesticate such ideas. However, when the principal integrity of parliament is bypassed, those in the domestic environment become rightfully suspicious.

In that respect, importing political decisions from foreign interests, that are contrary or in contest to the organic structure of a given nation’s domestic electoral mandate, is like using majority mandate to pass the agenda of minority (foreign) interests.

A global democracy that keeps up with trends at the centre – in the west – than with the pangs adjusting political liberty to its applicable environment. To impose changes on a sovereign state that suit external partners than the electorate creates a democracy of foreign interest groups who are the minority.

The purpose of the vote, or its potency, becomes questionable and to a greater extent of little or no value at all.


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