Here at Just Atonement, we actively search for good news and bright beacons that can lead us toward a better world—a Golden Age of global democracy and global justice. We know that perfection on this point is impossible in a messy world characterized by immeasurable diversity in terms of geography, ethnicity, age, gender, religion, culture, sense of purpose, sense of action, and competing versions of the good. We recognize that people, by nature, all move toward a “better world” defined by different terms. But bearing that in mind, we see democracy and freedom of thought and expression as universal paths to justice, equality, and peace.
So we try to focus on the good news and look for signs that the world is on the right track. But sometimes, in order to access the truth, we must also take a hard and difficult look at news and status reports that may be unsettling. The Economist Intelligence Unit recently released its “Democracy Report” for 2017, and while the factors that contribute to the primary conclusion are many, the conclusion is simple: the global health of democracy revealed signs of trouble during the past year.
According the report, 27 countries under review saw increases in their scores over the past year, specifically related to freedom of the press, freedom of expression, and free access to information. But 89 countries saw declines. The position of the United States has slipped into the category of “flawed democracy”, and so have several countries across Asia, news made more troubling by President Xi Jinping’s recent efforts to remove presidential term limits in China.
Among the countries at the bottom of the list, the Democratic Republic of the Congo experienced the steepest decline. As recently as last week, government security forces have launched a violent crackdown on protesters who urge president Joseph Kabila to step down following the end of his term in 2016. This past weekend, security forces have used tear gas and live ammunition to threaten protesters gathered in churches. Developments are unfolding in the DRC, as well as China, and of course threats to democracy are taking shape in the form of assaults on the media in the United States and Europe.
Please click here for a summary of the report (you can also download the related whitepaper, which requires registration with the site), and provide comments if you choose.