The Western system is slipping into a crisis of legitimacy - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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#15312258
Great german commentary: https://www.nachdenkseiten.de/?p=113640

Translation using DeepL:
The Western system is slipping into a crisis of legitimacy

A new president will be elected in the USA this year. With an approval rating of 39%, incumbent Biden is the most unpopular president since such polls began. But Biden is not alone. On the contrary. In none of the 20 major Western democracies does a head of government have an approval rating of more than 50% - and this is not a snapshot, but has been a consistent trend since the beginning of the 2020s. Incidentally, Olaf Scholz and Emmanuel Macron bring up the rear with 22% and 23% respectively.

There are many explanations for the majority's loss of confidence. It seems that the West can no longer keep its promises to its own people. If no head of government in the western world has the approval of the majority of the population, the system is in a crisis of legitimacy. The global picture is different, by the way - the heads of government of the West's competitors usually have excellent approval ratings, regardless of whether they are democracies or autocracies.

Olaf Scholz has managed to go down in history as Germany's most unpopular chancellor. Even Helmut Kohl and Gerhard Schröder were not as unpopular at the end of their time in office as Scholz was in the middle of his term. There are, of course, many reasons for this, many of which have to do specifically with national politics. However, the trend can be observed across the board in the entire West. Biden is even more unpopular than Ford or Nixon - which is something you have to achieve first. Macron has been more unpopular for many years than any French president before him, and against the British Rishi Sunak, even the late Margaret Thatcher and the colorless Gordon Brown were almost darlings of the population. The situation is similarly dramatic in "smaller" Western countries such as the Czech Republic, Norway, the Netherlands and Austria. The East Asian democracies of South Korea and Japan are also experiencing a very deep crisis of legitimacy. The current Japanese head of state, Fumio Kishida, even has the lowest global approval rating at 17%.

This trend has been observed for a good twenty years. Since the beginning of the 2020s, Giorgia Meloni has been the only head of government of the twenty largest Western democracies to briefly manage to receive approval for her policies from more than half of the population in polls and thus achieve over 50% approval - Italy, of all places, a fascist, one might say. In the meantime, however, her star is falling and she only has 43% approval.

The situation in the Global South is almost diametrically different. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is often criticized as an "autocrat" in the Western media, has an approval rating of 78%. His Mexican counterpart Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who is also frequently criticized by the West, has an approval rating of 63%. There are no comparable figures for Russia. If you take the data from the Levada Center, which is considered to be reputable, as a basis, the approval rate for Vladimir Putin has fluctuated between 60% and 85% over the last ten years - it was not Putin's foreign policy, which is sharply criticized in the West, but his pension reform that pushed the figure down in 2018. Since the escalation of the war in Ukraine and the invasion, the figures have risen above the 80% mark again.

Only for China is there no methodologically comparable data. However, no one seriously doubts that Xi Jinping has very high approval ratings among the Chinese despite Covid lockdowns and a losing economic momentum. However, exceptions also prove the rule for the West's competitors. South African President Ramaphosa, for example, has an approval rating of 27%, a figure that is otherwise only found in Western democracies, while Turkish President Erdogan and Brazilian President Lula da Silva also remain below the 50% mark.

Why is it that the majority of Western heads of government are rejected by their populations? As this is a global phenomenon, the national debates, which are certainly also relevant, should be ignored. However, all Western democracies also have some factors in common that are partly responsible for the trend.

The promise of economic advancement has been broken throughout the West. While ordinary people were still able to improve their own standard of living in the days of the more popular heads of state, the main concern today is to avoid slipping any further. In the second half of the last century, the western world has become more equal. The income and wealth gap tended to close. In the USA and the UK, the turnaround began in the 1980s under Reagan and Thatcher, in Germany somewhat later towards the end of the Kohl era.

Since the triumph of neoliberal policies and the increasing political influence of the financial sector, the income and wealth gap has widened to an ever more dizzying degree throughout the West. A head of government who fails to allow the majority to participate in economic development and to guarantee, if not fair opportunities for advancement, then at least far-reaching protection against economic decline, has lost his legitimacy. The population's declining approval of their respective heads of state is therefore not really surprising. The countries in which socio-economic stagnation is strongest - such as Japan, South Korea, Germany, France and the UK - also have the lowest approval ratings.

In addition, there is also a global erosion of democracy, which is accompanied by polarization. Whereas in the past people still believed in common ground and shared values despite all political differences, today division and a focus on differences reign. Disenchantment with the elite is growing in all Western countries. People do not feel included, not represented. This is the case in Japan, the Czech Republic, Germany, the UK, the USA, Spain and many other Western countries. Policies made by elites for elites are deepening the rifts instead of repairing them.

The arguments are the same everywhere - the golden age is over, we need to tighten our belts. But in none of these countries are the elites tightening their belts; on the contrary, the number of millionaires and billionaires is growing throughout the West, and excessive luxury is increasingly being met with widespread poverty. The number of millionaires and billionaires is of course also increasing in countries such as China or India, except that there - unlike in the West - the quality of life of the normal population is also rising. If everyone is better off, the population also seems to tolerate the disproportionate increase in wealth of the elite. If the socio-economic status of the broad middle class declines or is at least threatened, the tide turns.

Regardless of the respective political system, the global South naturally has the advantage that the base is lower and profits can therefore be distributed more easily in a way that is perceived as fair. A Chinese man who, thanks to his perceived good wages, can live off the meagre conditions in the countryside in a flourishing metropolis in the Pearl River Delta will naturally be satisfied with the political system and its leaders. The same applies to the Indian who is the first in his family to be able to afford a fridge and his own moped. Even if this is a horror for post-growth ideologues in the West, this is what improving the standard of living for billions of people looks like. Those who ensure this are supported. Our political debates are increasingly shaped by identity politics and have lost sight of socio-economic issues. You could aptly call them "First World Problems". Those who get lost in them also lose approval and legitimacy.

What is also remarkable when looking at the legitimacy crisis is the loss of importance of political alternatives. It doesn't matter whether a president or prime minister is right-wing, conservative, liberal, social democratic or left-wing - he is unpopular in any case and if there is a new president or prime minister from the other political camp after elections, he is also unpopular after a few weeks in office. It may be popular to focus on individuals, but it doesn't get you anywhere. An Armin Laschet or even a Friedrich Merz would be no more popular than an Olaf Scholz and if the future US president next year is likely to be Donald Trump again, he will probably not be able to surpass the low approval ratings of Joe Biden. The West is in a systemic crisis that has little to do with specific individuals or parties.

Whether the West can reverse this development is uncertain and rather unlikely. If the system can no longer fulfill its fundamental promises and approval continues to decline, an authoritarian rollback is more likely, whether under the umbrella of an eroding democracy or in the form of a new autocracy. Developments in this direction can already be observed in almost all Western countries.

This confirms to me again what I've said very often before, and what is known to english speakers as "Its the economy, stupid". Even if that statement is unprecise: its the economic situation of the individual. Telling people the economy is going great when their own personal financial situation is bad doesnt work too well. Thats a VERY popular trick in the USA which keeps using it, despite average people not participating in gains from the economy since the 1970s.

I wasnt even aware that Biden has actually good approval ratings compared to many other rulers in the west. Thought thats probably mainly because of the strong opposition of some people to Trump ?

This doesnt make much sense in absolute sense because the US population suffers probably the worst in the western systems. Problems such as bankruptcy because of medical bills are unknown in other western countries. And, as I said before, the lower 90% of the US population looks at stagnant wages after inflation since the 1970s.
#15312261
Negotiator wrote:Great german commentary: https://www.nachdenkseiten.de/?p=113640

Translation using DeepL:

This confirms to me again what I've said very often before, and what is known to english speakers as "Its the economy, stupid". Even if that statement is unprecise: its the economic situation of the individual. Telling people the economy is going great when their own personal financial situation is bad doesnt work too well. Thats a VERY popular trick in the USA which keeps using it, despite average people not participating in gains from the economy since the 1970s.

I wasnt even aware that Biden has actually good approval ratings compared to many other rulers in the west. Thought thats probably mainly because of the strong opposition of some people to Trump ?

This doesnt make much sense in absolute sense because the US population suffers probably the worst in the western systems. Problems such as bankruptcy because of medical bills are unknown in other western countries. And, as I said before, the lower 90% of the US population looks at stagnant wages after inflation since the 1970s.



This is interesting. Here in Mexico, many people have seen tangible gains for themselves and their families with recent government policies. A lot of good government policies. Pensions, youth being supported with scholarships, jobs, and stipends. A lot of jobs and growth and a lot of small businesses supported. Infrastructure and great expansion of benefits.

Mexico needs to push hard on law and order, resolving crime and cracking down on the lack of prosecuting crime. They currently have between 3 to 10 percent of crimes being prosecuted and sent to trial. 95% of Mexican-reported crimes never get resolved or get sent to trial.

It is terrible. And the reasons are many. Many detectives, cops, and investigators have super low salaries and they wind up having to pay for copies, pay for paper, pay for computers, pay for everything out of their own low salaries. No resources. A lot of corruption between criminals and police payoffs and not having people get justice. Even if there is recorded evidence of a kidnapping, rape or murder. In broad daylight. The cops doing the investigation mysteriously lose the tape, lose the evidence. Do not interview key witnesses and the prosecuting attorney does not bring charges to the guilty parties.

No convictions. People get pissed. And many of the guilty somehow also get shot in the head by angry family members. But not evidence and the case is closed. It is really bad.

if they can get it to 75% trials done and charges made, and convictions happening? It would change crime rates in Mexico.
#15312262
Negotiator wrote:Great german commentary: https://www.nachdenkseiten.de/?p=113640

Translation using DeepL:

This confirms to me again what I've said very often before, and what is known to english speakers as "Its the economy, stupid". Even if that statement is unprecise: its the economic situation of the individual. Telling people the economy is going great when their own personal financial situation is bad doesnt work too well. Thats a VERY popular trick in the USA which keeps using it, despite average people not participating in gains from the economy since the 1970s.

I wasnt even aware that Biden has actually good approval ratings compared to many other rulers in the west. Thought thats probably mainly because of the strong opposition of some people to Trump ?

This doesnt make much sense in absolute sense because the US population suffers probably the worst in the western systems. Problems such as bankruptcy because of medical bills are unknown in other western countries. And, as I said before, the lower 90% of the US population looks at stagnant wages after inflation since the 1970s.


Cool, have we collapsed yet or not? Are we weak or strong just to clarify here?

Just a curious question also, why is our popularity contests bad when we replace our leaders when election comes but Putins popularity rating done by independent pollsters with list experiments and other proper polling methods show its under 30% nowadays is it better when you don't replace him?
#15312266
Negotiator wrote:Great german commentary: https://www.nachdenkseiten.de/?p=113640

Translation using DeepL:

This confirms to me again what I've said very often before, and what is known to english speakers as "Its the economy, stupid". Even if that statement is unprecise: its the economic situation of the individual. Telling people the economy is going great when their own personal financial situation is bad doesnt work too well. Thats a VERY popular trick in the USA which keeps using it, despite average people not participating in gains from the economy since the 1970s.

I wasnt even aware that Biden has actually good approval ratings compared to many other rulers in the west. Thought thats probably mainly because of the strong opposition of some people to Trump ?

This doesnt make much sense in absolute sense because the US population suffers probably the worst in the western systems. Problems such as bankruptcy because of medical bills are unknown in other western countries. And, as I said before, the lower 90% of the US population looks at stagnant wages after inflation since the 1970s.


You cannot say there is a 'legitimacy crisis' unless you admit that there is something that can make the rulers legitimate.

What would legitimate leadership of the usa even look like?

Nobody can really define what the purpose of government is. It seems like half the people who even think about these issues are anarchists.

And even if people aren't anarchists, they are well actuated with cliche quotes like 'the best government governs the least'. Which is at least based on the assumption that anarchy is the ideal, even if it is an unreachable ideal.

So in terms of our own philosophical paradigm, the fact we have leaders at all is already a legitimacy crisis.

And equally important...we can't even say what 'we' are, who need to be led. Objectively an American is just somebody whose mother dodged ice long enough too pop a baby out. That is what defines us as citizens and as a 'people'. I cannot imagine that anyone can really be inspired by being a people who just happened to avoid immigration long enough to be given amnesty...but that is exactly what an American is. And no, it is nothing more than that. Not by law nor by our on mythos.

The 'founding myth' of this country was actually the defeat of Germany in ww2. It has nothing to do with 1776, actually. Thay was a founding myth of a different country that is long extinct...but we cling to it in a pathetic manner similar to how the 'holy Roman empire' pretended to be Roman.

No our founding myth is that we defeated Hitler...who didn't want brown people to immigrate because he thought germans were faster than Jessie owens. Of course it is all bs, but myths tend to be bs. What is unique about ours, though, is that it lacks any content. There is no positive identity. There is only negative identity. We only know what we are not, like the Dao. Specifically we know we are not Hitler, who cared about his own people.

So under these two primary circumstances, it raises the obvious question of 'how the hell COULD we have legitimate leadership?'

How do you lead a nihilist? How do you lead people who don't exist, or what to stop existing?

What would that even look like?
#15312277
paeng wrote:I think that crisis has been going on for decades, and it involves a fraction of the U.S. population controlling most of the wealth of the country, and with the two political parties working for it.

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/richest- ... 36204.html

Regular jo schmo working 60 hours a week to make ends meet doesn't have time to think about the fact that billionaires exist and to be honest he doesn't care. Wealth inequality is not the source of our legitimacy crisis. Wealth inequality could be far, far worse and if people just had a purpose for living they would be fine.
#15312284
FiveofSwords wrote:Regular jo schmo working 60 hours a week to make ends meet doesn't have time to think about the fact that billionaires exist and to be honest he doesn't care. Wealth inequality is not the source of our legitimacy crisis. Wealth inequality could be far, far worse and if people just had a purpose for living they would be fine.


Wealth inequality is an indicator of dysfunction. As was said in the beginning about a booming economy while the average adult American experiencing a crisis of struggling to pay their bills, to feed their families and pay of loans/mortgages.

Another indicator is plummeting birth rates, which has traditionally fallen in all developed countries, but are now seen in record low numbers everywhere. Sweden saw its lowest rate in 50 years in 2023 and that's despite the "relative" economic safety net given to new mother's. Having children in the US is a massive financial loss for families in general and women in particular.
#15312285
MadMonk wrote:Wealth inequality is an indicator of dysfunction. As was said in the beginning about a booming economy while the average adult American experiencing a crisis of struggling to pay their bills, to feed their families and pay of loans/mortgages.

Another indicator is plummeting birth rates, which has traditionally fallen in all developed countries, but are now seen in record low numbers everywhere. Sweden saw its lowest rate in 50 years in 2023 and that's despite the "relative" economic safety net given to new mother's. Having children in the US is a massive financial loss for families in general and women in particular.

"Americans are primarily economics-oriented. The Masculine Principle is to realize higher ideas through art, warfare, Politics. Nothing could be further from the American ideal than that. The Feminine Principle is to nourish and preserve life — that is the American ideal. Americans therefore do not delight in an "empire" that continually lays claim to their wealth and constantly demands a reduction in their standard-of-living. In its traditional isolation, America needed no armies, garrisons, subventions to foreign countries, and Great Wars. The superficial polarization of America has brought the American People economic injuries, and thus confirmed it in its isolation." -yockey
#15312291
FiveofSwords wrote:"Americans are primarily economics-oriented. The Masculine Principle is to realize higher ideas through art, warfare, Politics. Nothing could be further from the American ideal than that.

Many people thought militarism was dead in WWI. Many thought that warfare was no longer fun.



Note warfare was never really my idea of fun. The above video nicely describes the process of getting up at some unearthly hour of the morning, marching out of camp, standing all day in the sun with no proper toilet facilities and then marching back into camp, only to repeat the process the next day. But what you or I consider fun doesn't matter, it only matters that soldiers consider it fun, because at the end of the day soldiers, or the leader of soldiers get to decide how thing are run. Anyway the storm troopers of late World War I and the Japanese found ways to keep warfare fun, hence we got world war 2.

However nuclear weapons killed off warfare fun at scale. Sure we can still have localised and limited wars, but full on wars between the great powers don't work for militarism. The Liberals rediscovered militarism in 2022. They thought a war of annihilation against Putin and Russia could be fun, if we can have it on the cheap and we can get someone else to do the fighting for us.
#15312295
Rich wrote:Many people thought militarism was dead in WWI. Many thought that warfare was no longer fun.



Note warfare was never really my idea of fun. The above video nicely describes the process of getting up at some unearthly hour of the morning, marching out of camp, standing all day in the sun with no proper toilet facilities and then marching back into camp, only to repeat the process the next day. But what you or I consider fun doesn't matter, it only matters that soldiers consider it fun, because at the end of the day soldiers, or the leader of soldiers get to decide how thing are run. Anyway the storm troopers of late World War I and the Japanese found ways to keep warfare fun, hence we got world war 2.

However nuclear weapons killed off warfare fun at scale. Sure we can still have localised and limited wars, but full on wars between the great powers don't work for militarism. The Liberals rediscovered militarism in 2022. They thought a war of annihilation against Putin and Russia could be fun, if we can have it on the cheap and we can get someone else to do the fighting for us.

I do not think that having fun was ever the main point of war. In fact nothing that really matters is supposed to be 'fun'. Fun is for children and apolitical slaves.
#15312298
MadMonk wrote:
Wealth inequality is an indicator of dysfunction. As was said in the beginning about a booming economy while the average adult American experiencing a crisis of struggling to pay their bills, to feed their families and pay of loans/mortgages.

Another indicator is plummeting birth rates, which has traditionally fallen in all developed countries, but are now seen in record low numbers everywhere. Sweden saw its lowest rate in 50 years in 2023 and that's despite the "relative" economic safety net given to new mother's. Having children in the US is a massive financial loss for families in general and women in particular.



Economists usually call it income inequality. Which is a terrible name.

However, it underlies many of the intractable problems we face. Intractable, that is, until we tackle income inequality. Teddy Roosevelt and FDR showed us how to do it, now we just need to do it again.

https://www.amazon.com/Price-Inequality-Divided-Society-Endangers/dp/0393345068/ref=sr_1_1?crid=26FH835WJ1C57&dib=eyJ2IjoiMSJ9.hxumdAJcVAnR64TCTtGqFY45uUjXCDachi9020kS6ri0iUHgpxv_4QQ6Z2bIJF_CFJBO7V2zU16fg8pyxaCjBq08e5jHB0TCkmBwnlFPUVNwQiBFhmSoVHcg7hcdaoXQ43afgJQImp_fYu1VxIvDBf0Nwda3M6g-c6tbE8UKbVmjTMtyLiqigmTaWRt-O8FJVyS9UE58lEee9waatzUJLCBMHc1hDRB6yUNRXtKd6pw.7TNQZ52k6rz0Pm-2AM-PHr63w8zdIRoMYhq_kJeTvqE&dib_tag=se&keywords=the+price+of+inequality+joseph+stiglitz&qid=1713353163&sprefix=the+price+of+in%2Caps%2C111&sr=8-1
#15312302
late wrote:Economists usually call it income inequality. Which is a terrible name.

However, it underlies many of the intractable problems we face. Intractable, that is, until we tackle income inequality. Teddy Roosevelt and FDR showed us how to do it, now we just need to do it again.

https://www.amazon.com/Price-Inequality-Divided-Society-Endangers/dp/0393345068/ref=sr_1_1?crid=26FH835WJ1C57&dib=eyJ2IjoiMSJ9.hxumdAJcVAnR64TCTtGqFY45uUjXCDachi9020kS6ri0iUHgpxv_4QQ6Z2bIJF_CFJBO7V2zU16fg8pyxaCjBq08e5jHB0TCkmBwnlFPUVNwQiBFhmSoVHcg7hcdaoXQ43afgJQImp_fYu1VxIvDBf0Nwda3M6g-c6tbE8UKbVmjTMtyLiqigmTaWRt-O8FJVyS9UE58lEee9waatzUJLCBMHc1hDRB6yUNRXtKd6pw.7TNQZ52k6rz0Pm-2AM-PHr63w8zdIRoMYhq_kJeTvqE&dib_tag=se&keywords=the+price+of+inequality+joseph+stiglitz&qid=1713353163&sprefix=the+price+of+in%2Caps%2C111&sr=8-1


I find it amusing that the people who say this sort of thing always hate poor white people.
#15312445
FiveofSwords wrote:I do not think that having fun was ever the main point of war. In fact nothing that really matters is supposed to be 'fun'. Fun is for children and apolitical slaves.

Yes I was using the word fun, loosely , ironically you might even say, as a proxy for something that inspires a life style commitment. Warfare has been through many changes. The introduction of chariots, their replacement by cavalry, the development of cavalry, the introduction of gunpowder, the development of rapid fire and accurate guns, the appearance of armoured vehicles and planes. But through all this militarism, the organisation of a culture around warfare remained viable. The values or ideals of bravery, self sacrifice, strength and toughness were sustained and validated by warfare.



The above shows what real deal militarism is about. That risking one's life in combat was the only source for the highest status. The exchange of strategic nuclear weapons just doesn't provide a fully satisfying vehicle for the expression of militarism.

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