The world as it presents itself today – December 16th 2016 – is one of many contradictions. The end of the Cold War in the 90s symbolized hope for world peace and a harmonized globalization process. 9/11 triggered polarization and grave distrust in world politics, even among recent allies. The Arab spring and everything else leading up to the Syrian conflict and beyond merely intensified those divergent positions that so many of our international players adhered to.
These global events in turn had direct implications on the internal affairs of individual countries. The radicalization of national politics worldwide is a fact. Fringe parties and movements, both left and right, are making more progress on domestic stages than ever before. In some countries they now have unquestionable influence on policy. In the United Kingdom we had the successful Brexit referendum, in the United States we now have Donald Trump as the President elect.
For the neutral bystander and enthusiast of international politics this would present itself as quite the spectacle. The only problem is that today, at one point, everybody will be affected in one way or the other by what is happening anywhere on earth. Because this world is globalized, there is no safe haven. There is no longer such a thing as a neutral bystander. Perhaps there now comes a time for everyone with any vestige of independent thought, to finally stand up for what he or she believes in.
Policy makers have always implemented unpopular and restrictive legislation under the guise of a “legitimate” reason. If there is none, they will be sure to come up with one. The current Polish example is a good case in point.
For over a year now the ruling party in Poland is the Law and Justice Party. It is an interesting phenomenon, as the party combines both right and left wing ideological components. Conservative in respect to morality and ethics, socialist in terms of welfare policies. An odd entity indeed. This adaptive quality has allowed them to swallow whole the entire leftist electorate. Consequently we have no typical socialist party in the Polish Parliament. The only real opposition is composed of free-market liberals.
Getting back to the topic however, in just over a year the Law and Justice Party has managed to secure: the Presidency, the majority in parliament, the entire executive branch of government, control of the state media, and just now recently – the constitutional court (we are on the verge of grave changes). The constitutionally secured check and balances which have previously discouraged any political party to implement any radical shifts in policies are now all gone. In 2017 it’s potentially complete free fall. They will now have complete power in this country.
Of course, it is too early to predict how far they will go to implement their policies. There are however, a few indications that suggest that they will not stray away from their set course: purges in the state media, the refusal to publish judgements of the Constitutional Court, prepared tax raises, reintroducing the duty to register where you live, unsuccessful (so far) attempts to further restrict abortion laws, prosecution of politicians and public servants effectively just because they were members of the opposition party (see the Amber Gold parliamentary commission, or attempts to trial Donald Tusk in the State Tribunal)…
All this paints a very bleak picture for Poland. What may worry most is the potential to interfere into the personal freedoms of Polish citizens. Already now, heightened online and offline surveillance is a fact. When you have everything in your grasp, then the only way to keep it that way is to find some common enemy that will siphon all the frustration and anger of your electorate. So at what point will people be singled out and declared enemies of the state, traitors? Perhaps the fictional “Syrian refugee” (of which there are merely dozens in Poland) will become the target, the enemy. Or the non-existing left. The Germans, the Jews, the Russians or course. Or the powerful gay lobby. Or the immoral liberals… This appears to be just a question of time.
Some would say that this is merely a Polish experience. I say otherwise. This is an evident global political paradigm shift. Global cataclysms (e.g. Middle Eastern and North African refugee crisis) have direct implications on what is happening in Europe and beyond. The strength of the Law and Justice Party stems from peoples worries and fear of what the future holds. People cling to what they deem is certain, predictable. There is no search for new, more inventive coping mechanisms.
The same is happening in Sweden with the radicalization of certain elements in the Social Democratic Party or, more notably, the the rise of the right wing Sweden Democrats. In France you have Marine Le Pen with Front National, in the UK the Conservative Party all of a sudden has attuned itself with UKIP, in Greece you have the leftist Syriza… The list goes on and on. These movements, are now encouraged to act more than ever before, and begin to take over countries one by one.
Add to this the fact that countries like Russia and China are emboldened by the lack of global leadership (previously represented by the US) and you begin to realize that some shift in world politics is about to happen. Russia’s successful campaign in the Middle East is unquestionable. China’s expansion of forward bases in the Pacific is a fact.
Yes, these are interesting times…