EU’s fragile democracy
Farooque Chowdhury
AN ASSOCIATED Press report datelined January 30, 2020, Brussels — ‘EU: Russia, China use “digital war” to undermine democracies’ — cites European Commission vice-president Vera Jourova as saying: Russia and China are waging a ‘digital war’ with fake news and disinformation to undermine democracy in Europe.
She said: ‘Digital war’ is a favoured method of Russia and China because ‘they see that it’s efficient, it’s cheap, […].’
Jourova, according to the AP report, leads efforts to preserve democratic principles across the bloc.
She told a conference of disinformation experts and policymakers in Brussels: Russia and China have ‘weaponised information.’
She said: ‘There are specific external actors, namely Russia and increasingly China, that are actively using disinformation and related interference tactics to undermine European democracy.’
She said: Russia and China ‘will feel comfortable doing so until we demonstrate that we will not tolerate this aggression and interference.’
She suggested: Europe must find the best way to ‘defend ourselves and our territory and use the most efficient tools to do that’, including funding and new policies.
Experts at the January 30 conference said that Russia’s aim was to sow confusion and to undermine western organisations such as the EU and NATO, while China uses more subtle methods, combined with a lot of money, to persuade decision-makers and influence policy.
The issues Vera Jourova ‘forgets’ are: (a) Are the democracies she mentioned so fragile that external interference can undermine those? (b) Then, what about the interferences the EU and its member-states make in other countries? and (c) What about defending other selves and other territories and the dignity of other people in other countries?
Fragile democracy
Democracies as a political arrangement, a political system, and a process are always under the domination of a class(es) dominating an economy and designed to serve that dominating class(es). Democracy was never class-neutral. It is not even now above class interest. The system’s actions in all spheres, beginning either from legislating process or imposition of its rule, bears the evidence. If the class(es) owning the political system cannot safeguard its system, then who to blame? It is the system’s weakness or decay within its body, which is the determining factor in the system’s failure or getting undermined. The dominating class(es) uses the system to impose its rule, and, at times, it undermines it. It depends on the equation of power within society, on the struggles that different classes carry on in the system.
Factional fights within the class(es) also undermine the system. For safeguarding self-interests, the class(es) moves from democratic position to authoritarian/autocratic position; and the shift to later position takes different forms including assuming authoritarian/despotic power by a part of the state. The part may be the executive authority of the state. Bureaucrats, persons appointed with taxpayers’ money, define and decide a lot. By the encroachment on space by the executive authority Montesquieu’s ‘separation of power’ theory, the doctrine the bourgeois theoreticians love and refer to all the time, gets lost.
Forceful acts for safeguarding of interests of the class(es) or factional fights undermines the system’s legitimacy among the taxpayers.
Sometimes, its acts expose it: the class interests it upholds; and the system’s trustworthiness shrinks.
Thus, the system undermines itself. It is a long process and it takes time to stand stark. But the process of undermining the system by the system goes on. It goes on slowly.
If external actors can undermine a system, then it will appear that the system has not been organised with sufficient power and force, the system is failing to gather its life-blood from its source or the channel for transferring vigour into the system has got snapped, it is fundamentally weak. Thus, the problem is within the system.
And, there is the interference issue.
Interference by big bourgeois democracies from Europe is an old story. The act of interference is carried out not only in countries in the global south or the global east — in Africa, in Asia, in Latin America. Countries in Europe also experience interference. What was the experience of Greece during its days of crisis, only months ago? Many have not forgotten the troika. Was not there bankers’ interference, bankers’ dictation? What happens in countries in the central and eastern Europe — the economies smaller than the big brothers?
Reports of the organisations funding and carrying on these activities carry a lot of related information — the size of funds allocated, types of activities carried on, names of organisations selected to act as conveyor belt of interference, equipment and stationery supplied, types of trainings imparted, areas covered in the trainings, tours abroad, etc.
And there are examples of interference that flagrantly violate sovereignty of countries. Venezuela is an example.
The bosses or big brothers, as they pose, define democracy, interference, electoral assistance, etc; and they do not look at their activities. They get annoyed whenever their system gets shock from reality. The bosses consider them as the sole master to define democracy and interference. They like regimes that extend the bosses wholehearted support. The bosses interfere for those friends and that is ‘cooperation’, ‘collaboration’, ‘democracy building project’.
Nevertheless, the bosses trample dignity and honour of the people of countries they interfere in and dictate. In addition, certain groups of ‘lefts’ in countries in the east and west keep either silent about to these acts of interferences, sometimes, support these acts. Lucas Koerner, editor and political analyst at Venezuelanalysis, recently discussed a part of these ‘lefts’ in his ‘How Western Left Media Helped Legitimate US Regime Change in Venezuela’ (FAIR, January 22, 2020). So, laughing at the ‘claim’ by EU bosses, ‘Russo-China-acts of undermining European democracy’ are not enough; denouncing and resisting bosses’ acts of interference are needed; denouncing the ‘left’ that turn them party to the interference by extending support or keeping silent is also needed.