By Stuart Carroll

It was Bob Dylan, with all his melody and jingly jangly brilliance, that pronounced to the world that “the times they are a-changin’”. How true and apt this artistic masterpiece is to the world today. The coronavirus crisis, with all its unprecedented ramifications, has delivered changing times with no immediate and clear endpoint. It has also placed the importance of global public health under the microscope and the relative effectiveness of the UK Government’s response. Once through this crisis, there will rightly be a full autopsy of decisions made and lessons learnt. In doing so, a light must also be shone on Britain’s foreign and trade policy, not least because this uncompromising virus has accentuated just how interconnected our world is and how the future will now demand a “new normal”. Yet before that autopsy takes place, there are some key items that should be on the diagnostic list to start the process of reshaping future UK international relations. Indeed, this crippling pandemic has highlighted weaknesses and deficiencies in the UK’s relationship with the rest of the world. …

Trump withdrew U.S. funding to the WHO as he labelled them “very China-centric” and since his attacks, opinions have been split as to who is to blame. Many have been unimpressed with the manner Trump’s administration has handled the virus. That said, you don’t have to agree with Trump to acknowledge some of the WHO’s clear failings. The world would only benefit from stronger performances from the world’s health body in place of accepting its failings.

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ABC News

One of the seminal reasons for the WHO’s existence is to report early warnings on any new potential viruses. China has been a clear and obvious risk for some time now, as their industrial transformation has meant huge growth in metropolitan areas where live animals are sold to feed their growing workforce. In Guangdong alone over a billion chickens are raised each year. Factor in other exotic animals kept in close proximity to these livestock (in not always the most humane or hygienic places), and you have an increased chance of lethal diseases forming. …

President Trump was quickly identified as a part of the problem when the coronavirus emerged from China and began spreading around the world into the United States. Trump campaigned largely on an “America first” foreign policy and has been often criticised for rejecting the role that the United States of America has played in the world. Now we are in a global pandemic and he is being accused of alienating key allies, refusing to corporate globally and fighting the coronavirus alone.

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Even though the current climate shows how he has been proved right in many ways regarding China and their foreign policy, many educated people in the United States are using their personal dislike towards the president rather than acknowledging what has actually happened. …

There is no doubt that we are currently in an age of polarisation but it is still nowhere near the levels of polarisation seen in the American Civil War.

A country divided, with a man named Abraham Lincoln determined to reunite the country again. As a great leader, Lincoln is rightfully an inspirational figure but he surrounded himself with an extraordinary cabinet of men.

When Lincoln had come into power he had few friends in Washington and was largely unknown in comparison to his rivals for the Republican nomination. He made an incredible decision to include all three of his biggest rivals in his cabinet, Salmon P. Chase, William H. Seward, Edward Bates. …

What would James Madison think of Democracy today?

It seems like his fears of impassioned civilians being drawn into mob leadership has come true. The system he had created to prevent this from happening has been destroyed.

America has not been this split arguably since the Civil War with political parties and leaders now embodying the views of their most extreme members. There has been an incredible shift which the Founders wanted to elude. Presidents and senior politicians are making appeals that are based on emotion as they attempt to please crowds. This has been substantially increased with social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook being able to create new adaptations of vocal crowds. Posts that are created on passion are a lot more popular and create more noise than posts based on reason and logic. On top of this, bubbles are now being created where people surround themselves with people who have similar viewpoints. …

We are living in times that would horrify James Madison.

The founding father did so much to avoid ochlocracy but here we are today.

Thomas Jefferson had sent his good friend James Madison books on failed democracies. As Madison would be drafting the constitution, he was resolute that it would prevent America being run by demagogues and passion fuelled mobs.

Reading about ancient Athens, he saw troubles in their democracy and cited reasons for its failure. The assembly in Athens where a minimum of 6,000 citizens were required, led to passionate views that would overcome the logical Enlightened thinkers.

“In all very numerous assemblies, of whatever characters composed, passion never fails to wrest the sceptre from reason,” he argued. …

Thomas Jefferson was, quite simply, a visionary.

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A pioneer and one of the most incredible men in America’s history. I have written extensively on how much he valued separating government and religion. He was clear that religion should play no part in government and it is well known how much he was influenced by Thomas Paine. However there is a lot more to Jefferson, as he continues to be seen throughout the globe as a figurehead for people who seek independence and freedom.

Jefferson was born during the Enlightenment era (the Age of Reason), a movement that started in Europe where many academics were trying to influence society to value reason and knowledge. This had a significant impact on Jefferson who would go to own between 9,000 and 10,000 books. Right from his youth, Jefferson was obsessed with books and particularly he enjoyed natural science (Darwin & Newton) but also loved poetry from Shakespeare and Homer. …

It was 1776. America was cutting ties with Britain and were claiming their independence.

Thomas Paine was writing what would be the biggest-selling, most read and successful political literature in history which would influence the American Revolution and their Declaration of Independence.

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Paine lived an unhappy life in England, twice married with his first wife dying when he was twenty four years old and the second wife divorcing him. He met a sixty-eight year old American scientist Benjamin Franklin who would later call Paine his “adopted political son.” Franklin believed America would benefit from Paine and urged him to move there. In 1774, Paine arrived in Philadelphia and immediate liked what he saw. He saw mixed religions and ethnicities, immigrant workers who were seeking a better life compared to the harsh regimes of England. …

“Democracy is something that is only ever as good as the education” — Socrates

Overall public trust in governments are hitting historic lows. Just 18% of Americans trust the government to make the right decisions. Even worryingly, a quarter of millennials believe choosing leaders in elections is not important. With the rapid rise of authoritarian leaders across the world and the removal of democratic norms, democracy is in a vulnerable state.

The pain and destruction of the Second World War led to the creation of structures to embed nation states in international webs in order to pool resources, share sovereignty, and force politicians to adopt a broader mind-set in a multitude of ways. Since the beginning of “Third Way” democracy, it has swept into Africa, Europe, Latin America and some Asian countries. Liberal democracy became the favoured approach of government in most parts of the globe. The world has gone through incredible changes in the last 20 years. The technological advancements has had effects on the economy, society and politics in a manner no one anticipated. …

Democracy is declining at a rapid rate with countries moving towards more authoritarian ruling. A think tank called “Freedom in the World” shows that 2018 was the 13th year in a row where freedoms are decreasing around the world.

In 2018 alone, 68 countries have declined in relation to political and civil rights. “More authoritarian powers are now banning opposition groups or jailing their leaders, dispensing with term limits, and tightening the screws on any independent media that remain,” the report stated. The rise in far-right leadership is spreading across Europe with press freedom and legal protection of migrants deteriorating.

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CSJ Canada

Hungary, for example, abolished the independent judicial control on the government, Orban effectively now controls the whole of Hungary’s media. Hungary’s status has fallen from “free” to “partly free” and it is clear to see their decline in civil rights is one of the worst we have seen for a country inside the European Union. We have seen similar with changes in relation to Serbia with their President Aleksandar Vucic using extra-constitutional powers at an alarming rate as well as election irregularities. …


Sunil Sharma

Finance // Aarza Lyfe Foundation // Writer // Minimalist // Avid Reader 🌍 🌱

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