By Richard Mammah
Events in America in the past few days have understandably ignited the consciousness of the world. This is because being the self-acknowledged leader of the democratic horde in the world, there are very clear implications for the whole world from what has now come across as the revolt of the American streets.
As it were then, there are also several readings from the events, including the fact that, if not carefully managed, Uncle Sam’s country may very well be on the way to ‘formally’ losing its also self-assigned status and role as ‘the policeman of the world,’ along with all of the implications that come with it for America, its historic allies and indeed the rest of the world. And for good measure, this latter category includes struggling peoples of the world in Africa who have continued to draw inspiration and support for many years now from ‘the example of America,’ no matter how exaggerated this has in reality been. It is in this wise that critical voices, aspiring democrats, conscientious nation builders, civil rights advocates may have at the moment begun to contemplate if indeed they are losing one of their ‘defenders.’
Should this scenario pan out and become established, one fear at the moment is that, in situations where they are pushed to the world by the vexing queries of their own citizens, more and more governments will likely have very few restraints before resorting to cruel self-help and insisting on not being called to account whatsoever, like we are presently seeing anyway with the Chinese, Russians and Ugandan governments. And as Dr. Sam Amadi so cryptically put it in a related context, maybe we should presently be looking at a future of ‘unfreedom.’
Related to this would be the fact that some of the current clamour, posturing or pretensions to idealism, higher values, rule of law, democracy and liberalism in the global governance arena has taken an even more severe bashing and the world is now left in a scenario where it now has to grope for a new consensus.
In the new tenor, countries like China, Russia, North Korea and other ‘might is right’ champions would seemingly be heaving a sigh of relief that they have seemingly won this round of the human race and with fewer chances of being censured, we may have returned to the point between the crash of the League of Nations and the emergence of the UN. It’s an un-brave new world where indeed, and on its worst day, life could really be nasty, brutish and short. And for double measure, there is also the already ravaging COVID-19 conflagration, which mean-minded power mongers could also attempt to ride on and manipulate for their own infernal purposes. It’s indeed tome to really be most vigilant. And engaged.
But then, all of these belie the fact that when we actually look beyond the ongoing drama, we can also see a few other perhaps more complimentary developing points and scenarios.
One, American democracy is time-tested and power is comprehensively devolved, there is no chance of a military coup.
Two, America is more than a country, it is a nation with relatively concretized values that gives it a strong fighting chance of getting out of this bind and continuing to build.
And three, America has done well for itself in very many respects but it is clearly not perfect. It has to keep working on getting better.
This then brings us to another side of the overall poser; that of trying to explain what is happening in both political and historical terms? Granted that there may not be a military intervention as we know it, but what are the consequences on the future of democracy in America?
On this score, some hold that what has happened had indeed been long in building and that America is a civilisation in decline. If this indeed is in tandem with the verdict of history, then the antics and actions of both President Trump and his traducers are only catalyst actions in a more definite sense.
Beyond this however is how this fits into the entire logic of hyper-globalization that the world has been gripped in for several decades now. And taking it from there, a major part of the empirical challenge for America as I see it now has to do with two shifts. One, the racial. White America is losing its hold on the American demographics. You can also see what is happening in France where Macron is also calling out the troops. It is a major disruptive point and going forward it is still playing out. The artist and social commentator, Olu Oguibe recently reminded us that White America may have actually begun to lose this fight for continued demographic leverage some 155 years ago. So rivers really run deep as they say.
The second dynamic is the poor internal management of globalisation as it has to do with blue collar workers in America. The industrialist and carmaker, Gerald Ford and other entrepreneurs had boosted manufacturing, innovation and middle class numbers and their prosperity in America and it helped the country not to go communist as the opportunity for aspiration and reward was an incentive for continuing to work the system and as such help sustain it. The labour unions were tamed, made conformist and the two political parties system was a lever for keeping all focus on the democratic order. Where exceptions came McCarthy, the FBI and others sprang up in defence of the grand order. And there was also the American super power pedestal fuelled by its leading position in the arms race, the dollar standard, its role in WW2, and the post WW2 globalist institutions etc. But economically, America failed to learn from the disruptions that Japanese and Korean firms were introducing in their backyard. By entering the market with a ‘little to lose’ mindset, these economies were ‘stealing’ the same jobs that Ford and co had helped build up and which was the deeper economic and ideological sustenance of the American dream. The coming in of bigger population entrants like China and India was the last keel. American producer towns and states were now becoming T.S Elliott’s wasteland. ‘While (Political) men slept” and Washington became a cesspool of vested interest deals and new age forays, inner America was withering. It is more than the Trump persona. It is that the nation had become so worsted that it also needed a remake which Trump may have helped return the discussion to its proper frame even if he goes to jail. America, look at your 71 million voters who say a clearly discombobulated Trump makes more sense than the hypocritically-tinged ideals that the Washington establishment mimics.
And finally, I agree we really should have a long term view of historical events. The fallouts of the US polls culminating in the Capitol Hill Drama is one such incident. ‘The bad guys’ (and I hope we have identified all of them) in the script deserve little pity. But I am more interested now in the winners and their next moves. American democracy is known and said to be robust. As such it will survive several blows of the type we saw recently. But even if we discount the little matter of what democracy really means to different people, I will also counsel that we go back to history and the limits of man. Not many in Germany, Europe and North America gave Adolf Hitler a chance that he would drive the supremacist card that hard and get away with it for so long in the center of the then known world. But he did.
I am also reminded of Russia where Putin has ridden on the nostalgia for a Greater Russia to establish what some call a thriving dictatorship. Final point. CNN, Facebook, Twitter, etc. are literally getting away with ‘hounding’ an American President. That podium is arguably and conceptually the single most powerful office and personality in the world today, and this is being done right before our eyes, and with many cheering on. Of course, there are no tears for Mr. Trump as a person, but going forward, this chronicler is curious about how the new power cards holders would play. If the assembling power coalition begins to even more deftly play more cards, who would stop them then? The same podium of Office of the President of the United States? Which other alternatives are in the air? The world waits. Will it be a truly ‘brave new world?’ Or a Deja vu moment?