How democracies will win against autocracies after COVID-19 era


Last post I wrote about the two possible ways of reaction to this virus crisis: cooperation versus competition and more democracy versus more autocracy. This time I will speak briefly about how democracies will win against dictatorships after COVID-19 era.

Immanuel Kant already famously argued that peace would emerge among states once they shared 3 elements: 1) representative democracy 2) adherence to international law and organizations 3) advanced commercial integration. It took long time since Kant for democracies to flourish and later to integrate and today liberal democracies are integrated in international institutions and economic areas. Today the number of democracies overcome the one of autocracies, even if there is a resurgence of autocracies since few years, similarly to one century ago. But things are going much faster now, not only for globalization and technological exponential revolution but for the togetherness of humankind that is rapidly becoming one people, with information sharing, a common language and culture, and threats that touch each and everyone of us like the biological one (or the climate change).

In the short term, just after this epochal crisis of the COVID-19, it will seem that liberal democracies will weaken, economically, politically and internationally, in particular in their regional integrations (first of all EU and NATO). But in the long term liberal democracies have the potentiality to rebirth again, first of all economically thanks to their ability for innovations and liberalizations; then politically with a democratic renaissance, thanks to the individual empowerment coming with info technology that will allow people to “control their controllers” (but we need a news social contract for this); and finally internationally as multilateralism will have a new boost, because democracies at the end of the day tend to cooperate, as Kant and a more recent book showed us. The EU has to become the new United States of Europe, with a political unity, much less bureaucracy and much more people participation, on the US model. And NATO should become an Atlantic-Mediterranean treaty association, as Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea will be more and more interconnected, because of African unity and change during this century.

The dictatorships instead will not be able to recuperate after this virus planetary crisis that will act involuntarily as a “scorched-earth” policy. Scorched-earth is a military strategy that aims to destroy anything that might be useful to the enemy when retreating from a position. This is actually what will happen: autocracies will not be able to recuperate as their development much depended until now on our Western economies (just to give a couple of examples: Russia growth depends on its gas selling to Europe and Chinese growth depends on its goods selling to the world). Not only that but dictatorships are not able to innovate (China famously copied technologies and know-how from the West) as they don’t have the diversity and openness necessary for innovation, and they will not be able to cooperate among themselves neither, as they tend to prefer bilateral than multilateral agreements, they don’t see values in cooperation, as they prefer to project their national interest regionally, and eventually globally.

Therefore in one generation, maximum 20 years, we will probably see a new world, based on new social contracts for the liberal democracies, and new international agreements, some type of world government, with cooperation against common threats, democratic and transparent values and common knowledge that will be necessary for our species survival. This will happen because of the two big changes that are happening in humankind right now: the coming together of human societies and the technological upgrade of human species. Humanity oneness is being created by the global threats that could cause the species extinction: not only climate change or epidemics but possible meteorites from the space or the eternal nuclear threat. This humanity unity coupled with the other big change AI, with biotech and infotech, will create either a global threat to our species that could become a new speciation (human upgrade) as Yuval Harari argues, or will give us the possibility not only to survive as a species but to become a multiplanetary specie, with the colonization first of all of the Moon and then of Mars, waiting to go outside the Solar System by the end of this century. The humanity interconnectedness will be used for more cooperation (by democracies) or for more conflicts (by dictatorships) as AI will be used for more individual empowerment (in democracies) or for more social control (in dictatorships).

But at the end, again democracies will win in the long term, for the reasons explained. As Prof. Bennet Munro wrote in 1927 from Foreign Affairs pages: “Democracy is a fair-weather craft. In monsoons and hurricanes it does well to scurry off. But in time the skies will clear. Then, with the rising barometer, the world will feel in better mood and order its affairs accordingly.” And as Dr MLK once said: “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice”.

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