The New Authoritarianism: From Decaying Democracies to Technocratic Dictatorships and Beyond
by Prof. James Petras
November 28, 2011
We live in a time of dynamic, regressive, regime changes. A period in which major political transformations and the dramatic roll back of a half century of socio-economic legislation are accelerated by a prolonged and deepening economic crises and a world-wide financier led offensive.
This essay explores major ongoing regime changes that have a profound impact on governance, the class structures, economic institutions, political freedom and national sovereignty. We delineate a two-stage process of political regression.
The first stage involves the transition from a decaying democracy to an oligarchical democracy; the second stage currently unfolding in Europe involves the transition from oligarchical democracy to colonial-technocratic dictatorship.
We will identify the specific features of each regime focusing on the specific conditions and socio-economic forces behind each “transition”. We will proceed to clarify the key concepts, their operative meaning: specifically the nature and dynamics of “decaying democracies” (DD), oligarchical democracies (OD) and “colonial technocratic dictatorship” (CTD).
The second half of the essay will detail the politics of CTD, the regime which has moved furthest from the notion of a sovereign representative democracy. We will clarify the differences and similarities between traditional military-civilian and fascist dictatorships and the modern up-to-date CTD, focusing on the ideology of apolitical expertise and technocratic rule as a preliminary to an exploration of the profoundly colonial hierarchical chain of decision making.
The penultimate section will highlight the reason why the imperial ruling classes and their national collaborators have overturned the pre-existing ‘democratic’ oligarchical ruling formulas of “indirect rule” in favor of a naked power grab. The turn to direct colonial rule (a coup by any other name) was consumated by the major financial ruling classes of Europe and the US.
We will evaluate the socio-economic impact of rule by imperial appointed colonial technocrats, the reason for rule by fiat and force over the previous process of persuasion, manipulation and co-optation.
In the concluding section we will evaluate the polarization of the class struggle in a time of colonial dictatorship, in the context of hollowed out electoral institutions and radical regressive social policies. The essay will address the twin issues of struggle for political freedom and social justice in the face of fiat rule by emerging technocratic colonial rulers.
What is at stake goes beyond the current regime changes to identifying the most basic institutional configurations which will define the life chances, personal and political freedoms of future generations, for decades to come.
Decaying Democracies and the Transition to Oligarchical Democracies