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Über dieses Buch

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, it was assumed that liberal democracies would flourish worldwide. Instead, today authoritarian leaders are gaining power – from Trump’s US and Bolsonaro's Brazil to Orban's Hungary – while Russia and China have turned back towards their old, autocratic traditions. This book examines the origins and implications of this shift, and focusses especially on the longstanding coercion of poor people. As industrial employment, and now also many service jobs, are being replaced through technological innovations, state-subsidised, low-paid, insecure work is being enforced through regimes of benefits cuts and sanctions. Authoritarians are exploiting the divisions in the working class that this creates to stoke resentment against immigrants and poor people. The author identifies new social movements and policies (notably the Universal Basic Income) which could counter these dangers.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

Chapter 1. Introduction

Abstract
Political philosophers since Machiavelli and Hobbes have tried to refute their suggestion that authoritarianism is the default setting for modern polities. In their very different ways, Montesquieu, Jefferson, Adam Smith, Bentham, J.S. Mill, Karl Marx, J.M. Keynes and Beveridge, along with a succession of Continental political philosophers, all sought to show how freedom and democracy could establish themselves through enduring institutions. Yet today it seems that new authoritarian leaders are gaining power all over the world, while both Russia and China have turned back towards their autocratic traditions. This book examines the origins of this tendency.
Bill Jordan

Chapter 2. The New Authoritarianism

Abstract
During the Cold War, the West associated authoritarianism with Stalin’s Soviet Union. This obscured the growth of authoritarian tendencies within our own societies. The decline in all those institutions associated with industrial economies—trades unions, minimum wages, Social Insurance systems, job security—has led to the polarisation of household incomes, as a whole class of workers received poverty wages for serving the needs of the better off. The poorest people became concentrated in particular districts, with high rates of family breakdown and crime. The privatisation of the public infrastructure left residual state services with tasks of social control. The division of the working class eventually supplied a rationale for authoritarian politics in the West, to match the eclipse of liberal democracy in Russia and China.
Bill Jordan

Chapter 3. A Coercive State

Abstract
The authoritarian turn is apparent in post-communist Central Europe (Poland and Hungary), where artists and intellectuals, as well as poor people and minorities, have been harried by right-wing governments. But it has been the dominance of capital in the USA and UK which has allowed the growth of insecurity and poverty. Wage subsidies—‘tax credits’—supplied state officials with the means to enforce low-paid and insecure work, by applying sanctions (cuts) to those unwilling to increase their hours because these benefits had created ‘poverty traps’. ‘Welfare-to-work’ and ‘workfare’ are coercive systems. They have increased the stigma of poverty, and enabled the rise of authoritarianism in political culture. Even retirement pensioners in Japan have suffered; a growing proportion of prison populations are elderly men, who cannot afford the costs of social care.
Bill Jordan

Chapter 4. Mobility and Migration

Abstract
Global capitalism has relied on the mobility of capital and skilled labour to increase profits. But political crises such as the Arab Spring in the Middle East, and economic catastrophes in states such as Venezuela, along with continuing migration from the former communist countries of Eastern Europe to the West, have led to large-scale movements across national borders. Where less-skilled citizens have been unsuccessful in competing with immigrants for employment, authoritarian politicians have been able to foster resentment for their programmes (such as President Donald Trump’s ‘wall’ on the Mexican border, or his tariffs on Chinese goods).
Bill Jordan

Chapter 5. Authoritarianism and Militarism

Abstract
New Information Technologies increase the abilities of states to penetrate each others’ security systems, and hence raise anxieties about the risks to open, liberal democracies. Authoritarian politicians are able to mobilise such fears; in recent years, the rise of militant Islam has supplied an obvious focus, as when President Trump banned Muslims from entering the United States, or the Chinese regime created vast prisons for its Muslim minority. Increased support for the idea of military rule, and increased spending on armaments, are both manifestations of the links between militarism and the authoritarian turn.
Bill Jordan

Chapter 6. Inclusion and Democracy

Abstract
Ever since the work of Alexis de Tocqueville and J.S. Mill, political theorists have agreed that the active participation of citizens in local community organisations is an important defence against authoritarianism. But this implies that such organisations are inclusive, or work towards the inclusion of all citizens in society. There is now much evidence that, with the polarisation of household incomes, community activism may re-enforce social exclusion, as organisations come to reflect inequalities in wealth and opportunities. Furthermore, some such organisations have become involved in the coercive aspects of work enforcement. If this creates hostility between organised members of the community, who see poor people as threats to their security, and disadvantaged citizens who resent their roles in social control, this could further empower authoritarian movements.
Bill Jordan

Chapter 7. Credit and Debt

Abstract
The financial crash of 2008 revealed the extent of public and household debt. The liberalisation of financial markets since the 1970s allowed money to be moved very rapidly around the world, in search of short-term gains, and sparked periodic financial crises. It also led banks to give credit on an unprecedented scale to millions of families, as they borrowed from savers in the Middle and Far East to fund bubbles in stock markets in the USA and housing markets in the UK. This was in line with the policies of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, for more resources to be spent by individuals, and less by governments. It left households more vulnerable to financial crises all over the world, and to insecurity, especially among young people. Financial uncertainties fed into support for authoritarianism, as mainstream political parties were discredited by their mishandling of these crises.
Bill Jordan

Chapter 8. Towards Greater Sustainability

Abstract
Economic policies promoting growth through increased output of goods—‘productivism’—have come under increasing critique from environmentalists. The evidence of climate change has become better publicised, but is still denied by sceptics. In his presidential campaign, Donald Trump mobilised workers from traditional mining and industrial districts around such scepticism. An important part of any programme to resist authoritarianism will consist in the formation of voluntary organisations committed to sustainable development and the reduction of pollution. To this end, civil society organisations will need to be more independent of the state’s policies for social control.
Bill Jordan

Chapter 9. Freedom and Justice for All

Abstract
New directions for civil society and the environment could be enabled by a new approach to taxation and income maintenance. This would consist in the provision of unconditional Basic Incomes to all citizens of each state, enabling voluntary co-operation for the common good. Such proposals have been made since the First World War, but have now spread to all continents. One factor has been the use of this mechanism to distribute the proceeds of windfall mineral wealth in places as diverse as Alaska, Namibia and Mongolia. Other pilot experiments are taking place in Europe and the USA, and could accelerate political support for this radical proposal.
Bill Jordan

Chapter 10. Conclusions

Abstract
The authoritarian turn in politics worldwide might be a short-term response to the uncertainties of very rapid economic and social change. But it would be dangerous to assume that this is the case, since authoritarian regimes are notoriously ruthless in consolidating their power. Instead, those who oppose authoritarianism should embrace bold policies for credible alternative for a future of freedom.
Bill Jordan

Backmatter

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