This recent Guardian article makes an interesting study question for the CHT in the Civics category:
From the article:
It was 25 years ago that Fareed Zakaria warned against a new and growing threat: the rise of “illiberal democracy” around the world. Democratically elected governments were routinely flouting liberal principles, openly violating the rule of law, and depriving their citizens of basic rights and liberties.
Today, many believe that we stand on the precipice of an existential crisis. […] There is a growing consensus that American democracy itself is at risk.
[…] The problem, says David Brooks of the New York Times, is that liberals have forgotten how to defend their “liberal democratic values”. They must go back to first principles; they must remember “the canon of liberal democracy”.
The trouble is that we don’t really know what liberal democracy is.
The abuse of words to define national or global ideologies was best articulated by the book 1984 by author Eric A. Blair (whose pen name was George Orwell). Note that Big Brother is never portrayed in person in this book. (“Big Brother is a fictional character and symbol in George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.”; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Brother_(Nineteen_Eighty-Four)). Note that only Big Brother’s network of loyalists are personally portrayed in more than just a symbolic way, with specific attention to O’Brien, Winston’s main antagonist. Orwell’s main goal was to dehumanize and paint Big Brother as a vicious Sword of Damocles. Orwell emphasized government abuse of power when that same government is under human control, in whole or in collective part. Big Brother achieved this by controlling the intellect of its citizens. This was achieved by destroying older words and inventing new ones called “new-speak”.
Fareed Zakaria’s report observes that individual humans do not have the same power as a group of humans who operate under the “color of law” as official representatives of their government. ("French citizens had an unhealthy predilection for authoritarian rulers and were fatally susceptible to propaganda. New words were invented to name his pseudo-democratic regime. Some called it “democratic despotism”. Others used the terms “Bonapartism” or “Caesarism”. “[T]he masses were easy prey for demagogues and would-be dictators catering to their lowest instincts.”) So why has Liberalism allegedly failed? The answer is because humans are social animals, but governments (even those defined as liberal or democratic) are the collective efforts to regulate our society; they are built upon the precedence of our ancestral legal frameworks. A lawyer who has learned and practiced law his whole life is unlikely to be able to intelligently communicate with a particle physicist of the same quality academic devotion, even though there will be overlapping knowledge(s) of expertise. The depth, scope and meaning of each word and tacit communication between the lawyer and the physicist is thus attenuated by the loss of its comprehension. In this Youtube video, 5 professors of evolutionary biology, anthropology, and psychologies discussed the evolution of the human brain, and yet none of them could fully understand the other’s views and expertise. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCXlaOKOczk)
I note that the United States pledge of allegiance is “I pledge allegiance to the flag, and to the Republic for which it stands.” The individual taking this pledge is intended to be a human person. (“From the time of the ancient Greeks, “democracy” has meant ‘rule by the people’.”) The Republic for which the U.S. flag (symbol) stands is the union as a whole. Back in Abraham Lincoln’s day, the government’s “decorum” was the only thing the aristocratic voting endowed society actually respected and feared. These people were known as the “Republicans,” because it was inconceivable at that time that they would betray their republic over their personal interests and beliefs; after all, America was the last discovered continent where the New England Colonies (known as the Sons of Liberty) could establish a new life independent of English abuse of power and colonial rule. In the current non-bipartisan era and atmosphere, these same fundamental political and ideological problems exist. The U.S. republic has lost its civil decorum, in part because British rule is no longer a threat and because republicans have become complacent and out of touch with their democratic workforce peers. This became ever more true after the U.S. petro-dollar became the default currency. Pre-world-war II, the default currency was the English pound.
Today in 2018, all sustainable geographic locations have been claimed by one form of government ideology or another. The only new frontier still available to us is the unregulated cyberspace of the internet. We must claim an ecosphere of this cyber-space for ourselves, and in order to learn from our past, we must do so without relying on a corruptible human leader. We must make political science an academically accurate discipline by sociocybernetic means. We must prevent Big Brother (and his little cousin Facebook) from becoming the next Napoleon Bonaparte in control of 2 billion bribed hearts and undeveloped minds. A sociocybernetic cyberspace union is defined by its intellectual boundaries, not its non-existent physical borders or natural resources. It is the legal responsibility of our union to provide each of our citizens the ability to take control of and guard their fragile and influence-able human states of private minds and hearts, and we must do so with decorum and responsibly. For liberalism and democracy to be identified and deemed a successful ideology and governing framework, we must earn that honor and respect. Ultimately, we must dare to do the opposite of what John F. Kennedy asked us to do with respect to the U.S. union in the 1960’s. We must ask not what our citizens can do for their cyberspace government, but rather what their cyberspace government can do for them.