Is Democracy Gradually Slipping Towards Authoritarianism?

by July 8, 2018 0 comments

Is Democracy Gradually Slipping Towards AuthoritarianismAristotle once said “Republics decline into democracies and democracies degenerate into despotism”. A saying that was said about two thousand years ago is the hot-topic in today’s time, globally, and for valid reasons. Democracy is now transforming into authoritarianism. The system is in retreat in many parts of the world. Is the wheel turning backwards? Seemingly, if the findings of a research conducted by a team of political scientists is anything to go by. The interesting part of this finding is that even the world’s most famous democracies are there in the company of the likes of Russia and Turkey. What has happened? Why democracy, the best form of the government in the absence of better alternative is gradually slipping towards authoritarianism? Why people are losing faith in democracy. Particularly the young. The aversion is so high that the millennials are open to trying something new like absolute dictatorship or government by military coup. The study by a Harvard researcher and a university of Melbourne political scientist sound alarm bells for democracy. Based on historical data on analysis of attitudes towards government the research spans various generations in North America, Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand. The findings suggest that citizens of stable democracies have got a sickening feeling about their government. It is largely among the millennials that this loss of faith in legitimacy of democracy is high. The entire set of findings point towards a crisis of faith of the young on the democratic system of governance and this is a matter of concern. The issue that needs to be discussed is this lack of trust. Has the system failed the people or it is the people at the helm who have failed the system. Difficult to resolve but one conclusion that can be drawn is that there is a considerable degree of disillusionment in the young with the model of the democratic governance that is in vogue. Powers-that-be have a tendency to usurp all power and run the show as per their whims and fancies. The representative form of government is suffering from a serious flaw. It centres around the charismatic power of the leader who thrives on his rhetoric and personality rather than commitment and values. The leader centric system that modern democracies have become makes those who get power, feel invincible and as such falter into high-handedness. This results into some kind of a leadership style that does not fall into any one of the conventional categories suggested by popular leadership theories propounded by management theorists. According to one, there were the two autocratic styles namely Exploitative Autocrat and the Benevolent Autocrat,whereas two Democratic styles were Consultative Democrat and the Participative Democrat. The modern day leadership style seems to be a different category that can be explained by a new coinage Arbitrary Democrat – one who acquires leadership through the democratic process but once in power starts behaving in arbitrarily. Thus democracy decays into Fascism. If history is any indication, both Hitler and Mussolini represent the class of Arbitrary Democrat. In the beginning Fascism shows a strong socialist inspiration and many leaders had come to Fascism from Socialist and Syndicalist movements.However, they differentiated themselves by maintaining an aggressive nationalistic position thus creating absolute statism. Will the history repeat itself? A theoretical question that needs practical answers if Democracy is to survive. Fascism and Narcissism are two sides of the same coin.

Pathak is a professor of management, writer, and an acclaimed public speaker. He can be reached at

Writer: Pramod Pathak

Courtesy: The Pioneer

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