A recent interesting article suggests that what is usually referred to as a ‘crisis of global capitalism’ might in fact be better described as a ‘crisis of global democracy’. Capitalism, by any measure, seems to be doing just fine. The problems such as widening income gaps, disappearing social safety nets, global warming etc. are the ones that can be fixed only in terms of social contracts – which really has nothing to do with capitalism and everything to do with democracy. Democratic institutions worldwide, however, haven proven rather ill-equipped to deal with those, and that even less today than in the past.
Over the last 20 or 30 years it has been held almost self-evident in the West that there is a direct link between economic success and political freedom (one of the most outspoken proponents of that line of argument has been Francis Fukuyama), i.e. that economic prosperity inevitably brings forth increasing political freedoms and that western liberal democracy in turn provides the best environment for economic growth. However, as Slavoj Žižek asks in one of his recent interviews – what if this is not true? What happens if the chinese model turns out being economically more successful than the western one? How committed we actually are to our values and principles? Enough to give up our economic, political and military hegemony? And, even if we are, would that then be of any actual importance, assuming that China would represent a global power in the order of magnitude similar to the way how the United States has dominated the world during the last few decades?
Of course, looking at the track record of the US civil liberties from 2001 onwards it is evident that this is merely a rhetoric question. But that should give us even more the reason to be worried.