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Weingarten: 2024, the year of democracy

Opinion+Editor+Caleb+Weingarten+discusses+why+2024+is+a+crucial+year+for+democracy+worldwide.+
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Opinion Editor Caleb Weingarten discusses why 2024 is a crucial year for democracy worldwide.

It is not an overstatement to claim that 2024 is the year of democracy. With over 2 billion people ready to vote in more than 65 countries, it is no wonder that TIME labels 2024 as a “Make-or-Break for Democracy Worldwide.”

These elections are occurring in one of the most divisive times in recent history. The war in Gaza and Ukraine both seem to have no definitive end in sight, tensions between the East and West are becoming increasingly alarming and the traditional “models” of democracy (like the U.S. and EU bloc) are plagued with internal strife, causing people around the world to question the very foundations of their respective governments. 

Generally, this questioning is a good thing. It’s obvious that a healthy democratic society is one that questions the decisions being made and whether the participants have a proper say in what occurs in the society around them. However, the reactionist populism that is growing out of such questioning (since this questioning involves renouncement and detachment, not unification of society as a whole) is a clear example of how Western liberalism is failing. In a crude sense, both the left and right can fall under Marx’s proletariat vision in that both sides feel they “have nothing to lose but their chains.” 

And what is a better example of this than the war in Gaza? Leftist liberals in the U.S. advance the idea of multiculturalism and inclusion and stress the importance of creating a world of “equality” but simultaneously remain complicit with Israel while innocent Palestinians are being slaughtered and left without vital life-sustaining resources. 

Or, what is more, when the left appears to be hypocritical, the right comes along as the “savior,” attempting to capitalize on the contradictions of the opposition—thus ushering in a new political era of uncertainty (maybe Hegel was right?). Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek pointedly expressed this idea by discussing the elections of Javier Milei in Argentina and Donald Trump in the U.S.

Milei follows Donald Trump, who declares himself the partisan of the impoverished (white) working class,” Žižek writes.  

The perversity of [Milei’s] politics is that ‘devastating the working class was actually part of the plan: now that the American middle class has gone from over 60% of us down to a mere 43% of us, Republicans are trying to harness the outrage people are feeling and then use it to tear our society apart. Out of the chaos, they believe they can rebuild a nation on the foundations of hypermasculinity, racism, religious bigotry, misogyny, homophobia, and threats of violence.'” Žižek wrote, quoting an op-ed.

These circumstances, stuck between two undesirable political oppositions, represent why 2024 is so crucial. Once again, we have the opportunity to decide how our future is structured. This isn’t to say that simply electing people changes the world, although it can, and this fact shouldn’t be underestimated. It means we must reflect, especially in the West, where “our” desires of hegemony are proving disastrous, year after year. 

This must stop. At the moment, it starts with the war in Gaza. If the West continues to support bad politics, then the West’s claim of moral superiority is rendered useless. Author Arundhati Roy shares this sentiment, claiming that Western countries must push for a peaceful and honest political solution.

“If not,” Roy writes, “then the moral architecture of Western liberalism will cease to exist. It was always hypocritical, we know. But even that provided some sort of shelter. That shelter is disappearing before our eyes.” 

So, the big question is, will democracy survive after this year? It is a question with no easy answer or solution. In many ways, we have reasons to believe that it will, but not without being significantly hampered.

Change is good, and I know I am not alone in saying that it is necessary. However, I am also unsettled by what many consider to be a solution. As the old saying goes, be careful what you wish for. 

Note: The Roy article was also sourced from the Žižek article. 

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  • C

    Carrie | Jan 31, 2024 at 5:21 pm

    I enjoyed this article. Definitely a lot to think about from a worldwide aspect. Keep it up!

    Reply
  • D

    David Jackson | Jan 30, 2024 at 8:36 pm

    Zizek’ shameless left-wing pandering fails to describe reality the way he thinks it does. Devastating the working class was part of the plan, but it how was it Trump’s or Milei’s plan when they weren’t in power while it was happening? The Machiavellian modus operandi of the political left throughout the western world in the last half century has been to exacerbate, if not create problems, then advertise their policies (which always give them more political power) as an solution to those problems. The problem with the political right is their feckless efforts to oppose this by only pointing out the left’s hypocrisy instead of any meaningful opposition. Hence the rise of Trump and Milei, guys who give a big FU to the establishment elites.

    I’d love to see what evidence this firebrand has to say either of these politicians are aiming to rebuild their nations on the foundations of racism, religious bigotry, misogyny, homophobia, and threats of violence, the sky is falling, etc. Just more hyperbolic fearmongering by someone who believes the government should have the power to control every aspect of your life in the name of “equity” crying about how anyone who disagrees is an authoritarian.

    You need to stop being influenced by neomarxists, hopelessly clinging to the most murderous ideology of the 20th century. Anyone using the phrase “hypermasculinity” to describe the impowered individual citizen, free to make their own choices and individually responsible for them, has absolutely no business being taken seriously by grown adults.

    The fallacy of “change is good” has also led far too many to calamity. Change can be good or bad. Instead of going along with change as if it’s always good in concert with the far left’s fairytale that the “moral arc of history bends towards justice” they use to justify any “change” they find politically advantageous at the time, perhaps analyzing the known facts and pondering the possible unknowns to determine if a course of action is likely to be a net benefit. Then again if leftists were capable of analyzing facts to determine tradeoffs instead of falling for emotional narratives, they wouldn’t be leftists.

    Reply
    • S

      snowflake finder | Feb 4, 2024 at 6:24 am

      I think it was obvious the author was being balanced but still putting forth an opinion. If I’m being honest you just seem angry and like to make normative judgments about people that have no basis. You don’t know anyone you make comments about and you like to go to the extremes about describing them. Really? Simply because they have an opinion you oppose? Isn’t that what you hate about the “fearmongering” left? Did you not see he was criticizing the left? It’s fascinating how you think Trump and Milei are not part of the “elites.” For all the defects that you give to the political opposition, you have no backbone to criticize your own side. Not once did he call the opposites that don’t disagree with him authoritarian, nor did the author mention equity. You throw big words in these comments and spend your evenings crying over your keyboard instead of listening. It isn’t fair for you to also characterize the “change is good” statement and bend it to whatever narrative you are trying to oppose. Since you mention fallacies, how about you try not to strawman? For example, the hypermasculinity statement. When did the author use that phrase to describe “the impowered individual citizen, free to make their own choices and individually responsible for them”? Take a breath, David. Everything will be okay. The communists aren’t at your doorstep.

      Reply
      • D

        David Jackson | Feb 7, 2024 at 6:30 pm

        “Really? Simply because they have an opinion you oppose? Isn’t that what you hate about the “fearmongering” left? Did you not see he was criticizing the left?”
        -Snowflake Finder

        The only criticism of Weingarten I wrote was stating “You need to stop being influenced by neomarxists.” The rest of my criticism was towards Zizek, which was by name and accurate given his political ideology.

        “It’s fascinating how you think Trump and Milei are not part of the “elites.”
        -Snowflake Finder

        I stated, “Hence the rise of Trump and Milei, guys who give a big FU to the establishment elites.” Define elites, because they’re certainly not part of the establishment political class of either country given how their respective governments and corporate media react to them. Care to explain how you see otherwise?

        “For all the defects that you give to the political opposition, you have no backbone to criticize your own side.”
        -Snowflake Finder

        Yeah, I literally wrote “The problem with the political right is their feckless efforts to oppose this by only pointing out the left’s hypocrisy instead of any meaningful opposition.” Apparently, you missed that as well.

        “It isn’t fair for you to also characterize the “change is good” statement and bend it to whatever narrative you are trying to oppose.”
        -Snowflake Finder

        That’s not what I did, and what does fair have to do with it? Facts of the outcomes determine if a change is good or bad, not its advertised intentions sold with emotionally manipulative fairytales.

        “Since you mention fallacies, how about you try not to strawman? For example, the hypermasculinity statement. When did the author use that phrase to describe “the empowered individual citizen, free to make their own choices and individually responsible for them”?
        -Snowflake Finder

        Again, wasn’t directed toward Weingarten. Zizek’s rhetoric, and Marxism in general, sees any personal responsibility, individual accountability, and merit-based system as “hypermasculinity”. How was is this a strawman?

        “The communists aren’t at your doorstep.”
        -Snowflake Finder

        Your average college student wouldn’t think so, given the worldview you’re taught from your leftwing professors, but that’s part of the problem. Socialism has evolved from its failed experiments in international socialist communism, and national socialist fascism, to form what a friend of mine has coined a “neo-socialist technocracy” combining the worst elements of 20th century communist and fascist ideology into a new authoritarianism for the 21st century.

        Reply