Amazingly enough, the past few months have witnessed the global center stage being focused upon autocrats, wannabe autocrats and outright rightwing partisans who could break into an authoritarian fandango at the drop of a few more guard rails.
There is a certain misplaced poetry in identifying these threats to the planet, as clear and present a danger than any disasters posed by climate change. The Three Be’s and a T?
Jair Bolsonaro and the list of aspiring autocrats must include……
It is really quite interesting to see what this motley crew has been up to lately. And, by the way, “motley” is the right adjective considering that all four of them are either under investigation or fighting various charges of malfeasance, misconduct and general behavior not becoming of a national leader.
Boris Johnson was recently removed from office as prime minister of Great Britain for so many offenses even his own Conservative Party lost count. His mindless pursuit of Brexit has set his country adrift for the foreseeable future, if not forever, and his determination to dismantle so much of the infrastructure that has provided the British people with real comfort and support seems positively malign.
Nevertheless, 44 days after being out of office he decided that he would be the best successor to Liz Truss, his hapless successor. While it is not clear why he withdrew his battered hat from the ring, it is clear that his authoritarian view of himself as an “indispensable” man for the times is a sign that we probably have not seen the last of The Man Who Would Be More Than He Ever Will Be.
Meanwhile Bibi Netanyahu took time out from defending himself against various fraud and corruption charges to assert himself as the leader of Israel after the collapse of the coalition that replaced him as prime minister. And he has made it clear that if he become prime minister again he will pursue authoritarian policies both at home and abroad, all in the name of the security of Israel, wrapping himself in the flag of nationalism.
And then there is Jair Bolsonaro, currently the president of the largest democracy in the Western Hemisphere. Bolsonaro seems to be intent on getting Brazil out of the democracy column, now proclaiming that he will only accept the results of the upcoming presidential election if he is the winner. A familiar autocratic tune.
Of course, when candidates start to declare victory even before the voting starts, you know that democracy is in trouble indeed. And all the while he has been turning the Brazilian government into an employment agency for the Bolsonaro family, turning nepotism into something of an art form, and all the while using the police and military to crack down on crime – including the crime of opposing Bolsonaro and his family.
And then there is Donald Trump. What is there to say about a man that is truly ignorant of the democratic process and who does not care that he is ignorant. Trump would love to be a true tyrant and it remains to be seen when whether the so-called “guard rails” of American democracy will be enough to protect over 300 million people from a truly malevolent and violent future.
What is clear is that Trump only cares that he has power – unlimited power being his preference. And in that regard, it remains a matter of time to see if he can actually join the pantheon of great dictators and authoritarian rulers.
Clearly autocracy is on the rise around the world.
Clearly it is past time to start paying attention.