Globalisation and Democratic Authoritarianism
International Relations scholars often argue that the most important consequence of globalisation is an increasing pressure on states to cooperate with each other (and thereby institutionalise their relationships) in order to achieve their various policy objectives. There is less interest in how globalisation affects the internal political environment or the character of the liberal democratic state as a mode of political association. This article argues that globalising capital hampers the traditional redistributive function of the liberal democratic state. The consequence is a more unequal society, including growing numbers who are effectively marginalised from social and political life. Two consequences follow for the practice of liberal democracy. First, the social fragmentation brought about by the state’s faltering redistributive effort undermines the representative legitimacy of the democratic process. Second, social fragmentation is coupled with the perceived threat of the reintegration of the marginalised in various forms of transnational association and acculturation, which might empower ‘anti-social’ actions such as those represented in the media as ‘anti-globalisation’ social forces. Hence the predominant attitudes of liberal-democratic political cultures are changing in terms of the relative importance attached to the human rights or freedoms of the individual. Property rights, for example, hold increasing sway over the provision of basic economic opportunities, or the assumption of innocence before the law. The result is a widespread decay of liberal democratic practices into greater authoritarianism, as liberal democracy begins to (d)evolve into a quite different form of political association.
Policy, Organisation and Society