VOL. 21 - NO. 1
It was an unusual move for DevISSues to use a series of consecutive editions to explore the same theme – ‘the state of democracy (in various regions of the world)’. But it seems to have been the right move to make. It feels like we barely ‘blinked an eye’ and much of the world has made a move to (what many call) the populist, authoritarian right!
But where has this all come from? The processes and institutions which many of us thought of as the mainstream are now not so thoroughly democratic and inclusive. Is it that democracy is the aberration to the ‘norm’? Each of the pieces in this edition of DevISSues either informs, discusses or analyses these developments for cases drawn from Asia and Europe/the Middle East.
The case of India (as noted by Shah) did not involve a non-elected regime change such as (initially) in Brazil, yet a quite stark nationalist and sectionalist rhetoric is also challenging the foundations of pluralism in another of our largest democracies. On the other hand, disputed visions of representational legitimacy are well displayed by Ozkesen’s discussion of the clash of local concerns over a national growth rhetoric for the case of the Green Road Project in the case of Turkey.
From another perspective, the ‘when disaster meets conflict’ project highlights the varied difficulties in governance (governability and governmentality) in situations where disasters and conflict coincide. Such a project is very rich in that it lets us get inside situations of both moderate and high level conflict but also explore sectional aspects of these situations, such as from a gendered, citizenship or migratory angle.
The overall discussion by our Professor of Political Economy of Sustainable Development, Murat Arsel on this theme of a ‘global authoritarian turn’ is quite succinct and enlightening. Regime change is neither binary nor linear. We must, and in practice actually do, look beyond the two extremes of totalitarian and liberal capitalist democracy for our future as a caring, social society. But for this, three elements may be crucial – social movements must be fierce, sustained and imaginative in their visions.
And be open, non-violent and democratic in themselves (we might add!).
In addition to regular items of DevISSues, we hope you enjoy this edition!
Dr Lee Pegler, chair, DevISSues Editorial Board