This site was Index, in Hungary. The editorial board resigning is a response of the takeover attempt from government sources.
Going forward, the largest, independent news outlet accessible to Hungarians will like be the Guardian and the New York Times.
If this was happening in an autocratic country, we’d just shrug. But this happening in an EU country, in a democracy.
The question begs itself: can a democracy with no independent, local press be considered a democracy still?
I'm not playing smart. I'm a Greek myself and our govt is mimicking Orban to a large degree. TBH I'm afraid that democracy is going down the drain for most of EU anyway. The way yellow-vests were treated in "democratic" France (hint: plastic bullets shot at demostrators' eyes) kind of convinced me on that one. As for Greece, well, yeah. You won't find anything but praise for the govt in the mass media. A few fringe ones daring the other side of events survive on readers subscriptions. All tied up in a tightly knitted nexus of political friends, family, friendly businessmen, huge debt (govt party has a massive debt on its own as most mass media also do), ever expanding police-state, religious leaders (Orthodox Christian Church) and God knows whom else.
So, anyway, all the best...
Compare it with Eastern Europe with seldom protests, maybe once in 20 years or so. And not against poverty but for justice (Slovakia), democracy (Ukraine, Serbia) or alike.
What good is freedom and democracy if it doesn't give you enough to eat?
Economic trouble is was causes totalitarianism.
It's called escape from freedom.
So of course it’s capable of changing how it’s governed - it was never a choice.
I'm from South America where the US experimented with setting up dictatorships after WWII as well, and the effects are still felt today.
Spain was an openly fascist country that made the transition into a covertly fascist one in the late 70s. It wasn't the democratic forces who forced the transition, it was the fascists who half-conceded it because they wanted a halo of legitimacy in the international stage.
Not only the country knew of the King's dealings with Saudis and other fascist dictators, they used those dealings to make a case in favor of the Monarchy. "Of course, he'll take a cut! It's the least he should get after sealing that multi-million deal!" went the general conversation (among the population, of course, the media remained silent at all times). This should give people a taste for how Spain works, and the attitude of their citizens.
Another interesting thing that nobody has mentioned in the press yet is that maintenance and servicing (staff) of most if not all of the Monarchy assets (houses, palaces, boats!) is paid by Patrimonio Nacional (National Heritage; supposedly in charge of public assets of cultural and historical relevance), not by Casa Real (Royal Household; in charge of the Monarchy expenses). I.e.: a significant part of the budget allocated to public affairs is redirected to the private affairs of the Monarchy. Then they will claim "but relatively speaking, it's not that expensive", when a significant portion of the cost is hidden behind a different institution.
Though I'm pretty amazed it isn't just common knowledge - America has a long history of fixing democracies... It takes working democracies and replaces them with military dictatorships.
“Common knowledge” of history (ancient and recent) differs vastly from country to country. In Norway, we basically just learn of USA that it’s the country that turns the tide of war whenever it enters; for which we learn of two occasions: 1st and 2nd WW; not much else.
Pardon my english.
Well, even that's not true. See: Vietnam.
Personally I think I'm quite lucky. I got a self-appointed, and rather proud Marxist as a history teacher in upper secondary school. He solemnly declared that, while this was indeed his conviction, he would not let it colour his classes. Then he went on to give us college lectures about WWI and the Russian Revolution, because he trusted us to be smart enough to understand it anyway.
I shall never forget these amazing classes, but this style of teaching didn't sit well with the, shall we say, less aware pupils in the class, who promptly wrote up a complaint against his use of difficult to understand concepts and use of academic language.
After a meeting between us, him and the principal, he declared that he was very disappointed with us, and that—despite the authors retracting the complaint—he would not continue as a teacher for our class anymore. Then he donned his motorcycle gear and rode off on his Harley. I'm telling you! You can't make this shit up! :D
The next day we got a brand new history teacher. Instead of teaching, he would merely read up passages from the pre-approved history book, in the most passive and uninspired way possible. Then he would give us the lamest of lame assignements such as, "describe who was the prime minister of Great Britain during World War II and why," and other such mindblowingly boring stuff. Meanwhile the Marxist teacher would tell us interesting tidbits about Churchill and his role in the sinking of the USS Lusitania, and fascinating stuff like "contra-factual hypothesis", and so on.
You're probably wondering how I feel about Marxism now. Well, let's just say that I think it's a failed philosophy. But the stories that extremely Marxist teacher shared with us, were so good and so captivating, that they have simply stuck with me and everyone who were lucky enough to have this true rebell as a history teacher.
Anway, if you're still not satisfied, and just want bloody good "history lessons," then I can highly recommend the podcast Blueprint for Armageddon, about WWI as told by Dan Carlin.
I’ve been reading so much english lately, that I’m losing grasp of my native norwegian. (Yet I can’t seem to get my syntax quite right.) This is frightening and also the reason I’m always trying to find norwegian books on whatever subject I’m interested in — which isn’t always easy...
I really had not heard of this; which was why I asked for a source, so that I could learn of it. The request was stupidly lazy, I admit; but I think asking (if done properly) for a source is one of the things that never should be met with disapproval.
Meanwhile, by refusing to help Greece with its debt, not only did EU increased the debt, but inadvertently legitimized the right option, by saying there will be no debt canceling (which was left position at the time).
a) a country with a record of mismanagement and debt it cannot pay back
b) a set of countries that do not have a record of mismanagement and have the ability to help out a country that is in debt
If we take your metaphor we could say the choice is:
a) do not accept the terms and starve to death
b) cut off your arm and live with rules to live by to prevent the scenario from repeating
b) a set of banks who were willingly ignorant that they were lending to a state with a history of bankruptcy over many decades, because they believed/knew that when push came to shove the EU (taxpayers) would bail them out (which they did. You realise that the Greek "bailout" was a bailout of the EU banks that lent to the Greek state).
So the optimal option would've been to leave Greece to its own devices?
Contrary to that, the agreement with the EU was negotiated by multiple democratically elected governments and confirmed in a referendum.
They had a chance to make different choices and they still do. No one is taking their democratic rights away from them.
Excuse me? Syriza reneged on the referendum result! The people spoke, and Tsipras did the opposite!
That's not true. Military junta gives you option. Serve us or be punished. Prison or death.
EU negotiators gave Greece a choice too. Agree to our demands or we destroy your economy.
Thing is, that works for Greece, since the debt was small compared to EU budget. That won't work for Italy or Spain.
And if they get debt relief, when Greece didn't, there are going to be problems.
No. The destruction was done in decades of mismanagement by successive Greek governments.
But if you think that I agree with the bailout terms you are mistaken. Quite the contrary. I think there should have been debt relief so that Greece can make a new start.
But I reject the idea that installing a dictatorship is comparable to not granting someone debt relief or not extending new loans to them.
~70 years ago.
I approved of that coup attempt. Does that responsibility for the coup can be laid at my feet?
Just so no one over-reads into this, it's important to point out that 'doing security for Trump' is essentially meaningless as Trump has frequently held stadium-sized public events and all kinds of local security contractors from off-duty police to mall cops are hired as temps to help do outer-ring security from parking lot patrol to outside line management. There's very little vetting because they have no special access to the president. The inner rings of presidential security are handled by active-duty law enforcement, then active-duty military/national guard and lastly the secret service.
I read a lengthy interview with a former special ops person that knew and occasionally worked with this guy up until recently. The guy was widely known to exaggerate his history, credentials and contacts. He tried to recruit his 'friend' to this effort but, according to the interviewed guy, anyone with half a clue avoided getting involved as the whole thing was clearly a half-assed cluster-fuck with no real support from anyone that matters. This erstwhile 'coup leader' appears to be no different than thousands of other ex-military dudes squeaking out a post-service living doing security contracting and playing at being a 'solder of fortune', except this guy was even more fringe than most. The only people that are known to have given him any real encouragement or money were some U.S.-base Venezuelan ex-pats fantasizing about over throwing the govt.
America loathing is relevant world-wide.
France is in no way behind the USA in repressing popular demonstrations.
Only Benalla, the president's personal praetorian.
Actually many of these have been empowered by some kind of internet troll movement. The emergence of such parties is eerily similar - an overwhelming majority who is peeved at some designated and vilified minority getting even minor privileges. Plus a lot of ranting against left liberalism and globalism. They conveniently forget the fact that such egalitarian viewpoints have more or less assured a stable 75 years in recent world history. Nearly a century of peace in large parts of the world - this has been a great achievement unprecedented in the last 500 years.
Unfortunately for us, I think since Internet 2.0, this trend has been exacerbated by the echo chambers which constitute most social media.
It's not a "movement". It's information warfare enabled by the fact that most information sources online don't even give lip service to the idea of separating propaganda and manipulation from honest public discussion.
The Russians are (obviously) getting very good at this, and other countries like China aren't far behind. Until companies like Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and others recognize that protecting public discussion from interference isn't optional, you can expect this to continue.
It's a monster of our own making. When politicians start courting that fringe, you get a virtuous cycle, where the fringe starts impacting policy, which emboldens and encourages more and more radicalization.
 Look at the rhetoric surrounding the AIDS epidemic, and tell me if anything has changed.
It's naïve to think that companies are unaware of this. I think they actively encourage this outrage-fest, because it increases eyeballs. We are paying a heavy social price for a flawed advertisement revenue model.
You can look up the documentary on Cambridge Analytica. The logo _most_ prominently displayed the CEO's office is that of major Indian political party. And that party is not even the top dog in this game.
WWIII has already started - but its "hearts and minds" but with Corporatocracy and with covid being the opening salvo to drive fear and socially engineered behavior into the global populous.
You cant control 7B people without first taking over their minds.... (emotions and behaviors)
@Dang prove chinese are not here
Isn't a large part of this from nuclear detente?
Recover what? You say it as if what was before communism was better than communism.
Communism was probably the best system ever to exist in Hungary up until 1989, at least it was certainly the best to last.
It wasn't democratic by any means, but to me it's weird to say "recovered from communism", as if there was something before communism to recover.
Hungary exists as an independent nation since 31 July 1921. Since then, these are the political systems that lasted any significant amount of time:
- Kingdom of Hungary: created anti-semitic laws before the nazis, waged wars of conquest against it's neighbors and collaborated with the Nazi regime, perpetrator of Holocaust
- 1944 until the end of world war: Nazi control of Hungary, perpetrator of Holocaust
- until 1989: a few years of Soviet military occupation, then Communism
- since 1989 current system
So which of the pre-communist political systems of Hungary is the one worth recovering in your opinion?
No, it absolutely does not.
You have absolutely not right to suppress other people with your ideology for anything other than a moment.
"Without it, the democracy crumbles"
This is completely false.
There is no such thing as 'peaceful' closure of public transit, it's only authoritarian, frankly.
There are exactly 0 examples of 'democracy crumbling' because protestors were not able to stop public transit and public roads.
In very certain terms - you don't have the right to close public spaces, to stop public activity with your political ideology.
It's completely illegal if 1 of you do it, it doesn't make it legal if 1000 of you do it, though you might get away with just a fine or whatever if you 'take it down' soon enough.
It's helpful to think of a cause that you don't support, or are perhaps against, even think of as 'immoral' and consider how you'd react if they shut your office down every few days.
I don't have to think about it. My office has been shutdown on multiple occasions by causes I don't agree with (we are located by federal land). In fact, it happens at least once a year. Not once have I wanted the protesters to be prevented or forced to disperse. Is it an inconvenience? Yes. But it is their right and a right that is critical to democracy.
Blocking the road to work, hospital, etc. is infringing on others.
Control of the majority by the minority is by definition not democratic.
Authoritarian regimes are the exact ones who control the majority with a small minority of the population.
I'm coming at this from a US point of view but would be interested in hearing other perspectives.
In casual use I think "democracy" is best understood to mean the more technically accurate concept of "democratic republic" and additionally that there are a core set of individual rights that are not subject to infringement by the majority via legislation. One of the primary roles of the government is to protect those individual rights.
The right to peaceful assembly, to free speech, to association, and to petition the government are all protected and foundational to what we might call "protesting" or "demonstrating".
I think "democracy" is generally used as a short-hand to refer to this bundle of ideas and not to the concept of a "direct democracy" where "majority rules" is the operating principle with no limitations.
But those rights aren't absolute and they have to be balanced with rights of others who aren't participating in the protest. If your group is no longer peaceful, or your speech is inciting violence, or your group is unlawfully impeding the free movement of others, or your actions are in fact crimes against people or property then you are no longer engaging in protected activities.
Blocking a public right-of-way without permission (like getting a parade permit, for example) is infringing on other people's rights and is not peaceful. It is not protected activity. It is dangerous and puts other people at risk. Similarly arson, vandalism, and other destruction of property is not part of the idea of "peaceful protest" and is not protected activity.
I was pointing out that "democracy" doesn't mean that "protest" is automatically lawful, which was the confused assertion of the comment I was responding to.
I'm not sure what anything I wrote has to do with government killing people in "immoral ways" or democracy having slaves or civilians being violent. That just seems to be a bunch on non-sequiturs.
I'll attempt to respond though:
Government officials can obviously act in immoral ways regardless of the political system. But that is basically just a statement that people have free will. Laws don't magically make people obey them, so we can have a discussion about what is or isn't lawful but the statement that people can be immoral is just an obvious assertion about humanity without some specific fact pattern to discuss.
A liberal democracy that upholds individual rights (which I claimed was what people mean when they use the shorthand "democracy"), can't simultaneously assert the legality of slaves. That is a contradiction. Of course reality can be full of contradictions and people and governments can fail to adhere to their own laws. Is that some surprise to you?
It is hard to know what "Why can't democratic civilians be violent" means. People have free will so of course they can be "violent" and those actions may or may not be crimes, depends on the motivation and target of the "violence".
But you can't block the highway, subway, or traffic and it has little to do with 'democracy'.
The only reason people are not cleared out sooner, is because politicians are afraid of ugly images - it's hard to physical move people with someone, somewhere getting hurt.
If there were an easy way to move people, they'd be moved.
People can picket all they want in front of Parliament or wherever, just not on the subway tracks.
And protesters tend to allow ambulances to get through, because most of them aren't monsters.
Both of those statements a very false.
On the other hand, the Hungarian opposition owning such a small minority, may even feel oppressed because of it. This is why I think it's unfortunate if this alternative media outlet is indeed being pressured into being more polite towards the sitting government. But speaking of poor resources among alternative and fringe media may also be misleading. In some respects it is no different than the alternative media in Left leaning countries, such as Sweden or Norway. Over here it is the alternative Right Wing media that are on the brink of extinction, and Left Wing supporters are constantly calling for their defunding and cancellation, even resorting to call out or boycott businesses who dare advertise with them.
This tactic certainly seems to have worked with the big tech companies. Moreover there seems to be little to no discussion in Left Wing media about the larger ongoing censorship happening in Western Europe and the USA. As such, some may even call this event welcome when compared to what is happening on giant platforms like Twitter, Google, Facebook or YouTube. However I'm unsure if fighting cancel culture with more cancel culture is a very bright idea.
In fact a true democracy only exists when a huge number of very complicated systems and institutions are working properly. You need a well-educated population with equal access to opportunities, a free, healthy, and diverse press, an independent judiciary, a healthy political landscape, etc.
Then the US isn't a democracy?
One such fact — that for the first time ever, the United States is no longer considered a “full democracy,” but rather a “flawed democracy”...
The US designation as a “flawed democracy” is really more nominal than anything, simply meaning that the country’s Democracy Index — which is based off of five categories related to governance — has fallen below eight out of 10.
Not true at all. The minute the VRA was gutted, there were bills passed in nearly every Republican state to make it harder for PoC to vote. Look at the elections in Atlanta last month for example.
Election Day problems are hardly new to Georgia, where Republican officials have overseen voting procedures that have led to hours long lines, most recently during the 2018 governor’s contest, which Brian Kemp, a Republican who at the time was secretary of state and in charge of running the election, won by 50,000 votes over Stacey Abrams. Tuesday’s primary was also a test of the state’s preparations to hold an election during the coronavirus pandemic.
Voting is a deeply felt and politically intense issue in Georgia because of its long history of disenfranchising black voters. The governor’s race was marred by accusations of voter suppression, particularly of African-American and other minority voters, which Mr. Kemp denied.
Look at Florida's attempts to re-disenfranchise felons with a 21st century poll tax.
Look at the constant gerrymandering in every state.
We don't live in a "one person, one vote" country when half of the country consistently tries to make voting as hard as possible for the other half.
I've noticed a correlation with poor opinion of the government and willingness to accept undemocratic actions. A lot of people give a cynical quip and check out.
The world will be wonderful again. The press will be free again. Maybe they'll even give him a peace prize in the first year, right before he launches several large wars and destroys several nations.
People from lesser populated regions can't trust a government based on population and people from highly populated regions can't trust a government based on equal geographic representation. Marry the two ideas to mitigate the impact of government.
Government is an institution that can never be just trusted because at the end of the day it's run by people, who may or may not have your best interests at heart.
I actually think that widespread perception that the government is corrupt increases corruption. If you think you can bribe an officer of the law, or a judge, then you might try. If an officer or judge believes that it wont' be reported or that nothing will happen because of it, they may ask for a bribe. If Republicans think Democrats are cheating in elections, then Republicans are going to cheat to even the odds.
Trust, but verify, right?
The law. Are we arguing essentialist philosophy here? The things that were seen as implicit by cynics (and observation) were made explicit. We just know all of the megadonors by name now, and monitor their relationships with various candidates (and the ways those candidates can influence the donors' businesses, for possible investment opportunities.)
When you eliminate principles in law, society becomes unmoored. If they eliminate the First Amendment, will we just say "there wasn't ever really total freedom of speech anyway. Remember cancel culture?" That's the most useless possible internet-typical reaction to catastrophe.
I suppose you haven't been looking.
Again, I ask, how are people kept from voting? If showing ID is an example, I'm sorry, that's just silly.
I also reject your framing. Unlike some other countries, the United States has a constitutional prohibition on poll taxes, called the 24th Amendment. Regardless of what sophistry SCOTUS might hold, it is empirically self-evident that requiring only forms of ID that cost money is equivalent in outcome to having a poll tax.
False. In Canada, a voter with ID can vouch for one other voter, whose name and address are recorded.
Also, you'd have a better point if voter ID laws were not combined with a well-documented campaign to make it more difficult for POC to get IDs. This is classic voter suppression - install a byzantine set of rules that unwanted demographics will have a harder time navigating.
Also, I may point out that disenfranchising eligible voters happens to be voter fraud - carried out by the state.
So USA is now a "flawed democracy" now, as its systems allowed an outsider to upset the status quo.
I wonder why people think "the wrong guy won".
According to the Economist Intelligence Unit Democracy Index there are 22 full democracies. The US is flawed democracy (rank 25)
Let's ask ourselves: what do you think is the probability a year from now that the US presidential election later this year will be contested by a significant portion of the country, regardless of the outcome?
Not like the Obama terms where much different. Just a different group of people saying "My team didn't win so I'm going to have a tantrum".
I predict the next election cycle will just be more of the same, no matter who wins.
I don't think many contested Bush in 2004, when he got a majority (not even just a plurarity) of votes. They might not have liked it, but it was a given.
Clearly in 2000 there were complaints, Gore got more votes, on top of that was the whole hanging chad fiasco.
In both 92 and 96, Clinton got the plurarity of votes, but didn't reach 50%. Most who voted, voted against him. Not as bad as not getting a majority of votes, but will lead to some resentment.
Now on top of that there's the whole "Hacking" the election, which is far more woolly, and isn't just because of Russia and Cambridge Analytica, it's also about how informed a population is, the ease of getting onto the voting register, the ease of casting a vote, etc.
Democracy is hard
Especially if that candidate is the acting president and refuses to go through the peaceful transfer of power.
And the fact it's even being discussed as a serious possibility that the current acting president would do that should raise so many alarm bells about how democratic the US really is ... it's not even funny.
That was discussed with the same seriousness by the other side with Obama stepping down. Complete load of tosh.
If the electoral college fails to elect Trump as president when it meets at the end of the year, the secret service and/or army will remove Trump and Pence from the White House at noon on Jan 20th, revoking their security clearences. That will be done by force if necessary, and the winner of the EC will take the presidency.
If the EC fails to meet before Jan 20th for whatever reason (including elections being unable to be held etc), Then at noon on Jan 20th both Trump and Pence are removed and (baring a change in the makeup of the House), Nancy Pelosi will be sworn in as President.
The idea of a military coup in a country so enamoured by its constitution is fantastical.
This is absolutely not something Obama has done and claiming the situations are similar is blind and absurd.
Removing the president by force does not help the stated case by the way.
The peaceful transfer of power is about the operation of the government transferring - the head of the army, the secret service, the finance, etc.
You might get civil unrest if some Trump supporters refuse to accept it, but unlike other countries where ballots are counted, the US does not elect a president by popular vote, instead a joint session of congress counts registered votes from 538 electors across the country. The sitting president isn't even the room. There is no question.
Nobody said the president will just remain a president if he just says so. What I originally said is that the fact this (the acting president refusing to go through peaceful transfer of power) is a serious discussion is symptomatic of a serious issue, and I maintain that, and nothing you said contradicts it. You then replied with a weird tangent about Obama.
You should note, the man has shown many times to be able to gather a crowd of hundreds of thousands of people with a few tweets, and phone calls.
It won't be a matter of a few secret service agents escorting Trump out. It will be a full on armed standoff in the white house with 40% of the country rooting for Trump.
Top that off with a raging pandemic, unprecedented economic devastation, homelessness, shutdown schools, and sophisticated digital propaganda campaigns designed to exacerbate every divisive issue and it is hard to see how US democracy survives.
If the secret service can't cope with a few protesters what is the point of them?
I'm just going to call that out as a straight-up distortion and falsehood. In it's effect, equivalent to a lie.
Show me reliable quotes of saying Obama he would "have to see" about the election results, as Trump has, and I'll be more charitable.
Otherwise I (mostly) agree with you. Bear in mind though that when Trump wanted to deploy paratroopers to cities during the first wave of protests and the riots associated with (but not really a part of) them after the murder of George Floyd, the only check and balance in our system left was our military leadership itself, which, to their credit, saw that such an order would be immoral, probably illegal, and un-American.
But literally all the other checks and balances meant to prevent a President from turning the military / law enforcement into their own personal squad of doofuses have been removed at this point.
Look at Barr and the FBI. Or the current behavior of DHS in Portland.
So I mostly agree with your prediction but certainly have my unsettled moments.
I mean the guy got the Army to have a Blackhawk helicopter go hover over and intimidate peaceful protestors like it was part of an occupying force.
Plus, let's not forget that the election could be a shitshow this year in terms of how long it takes to count the votes, voter access to polling places (because of neglect or deliberate disenfranchisement), etc.
So there could be a lot of gray areas and areas of concern unrelated to a "military coup."
It's meaningless what Trump says or does. It's what Congress, Senate, Military and (in the short term) various federal agencies like the secret service. The Federal government obey legal orders from the President. Come 12:01pm on Jan 20th, barring a valid electoral college vote being declared in a joint session of congress in Trumps favour, Trump ceases to be president, and the Federal entities start following the lawful orders of either Biden or Pelosi (assuming Biden wins the EC or the EC doesn't happen but the democrats maintain control of the House)
Of course it's entirely possible for the election to be "stole" by keeping all non-trump voters away from the polling booths, that's a far woolier version of the word "stole" though.
Also I'd like to point out that the orders to create concentration camps for immigrants which Trump issued to ICE may very well have been illegal. Federal agencies receive orders all the time from various folks and sometimes those orders are later acknowledged as illegal.
But if all the votes aren't counted yet - like what happened with the Bush/Gore election - then the Supreme Court or whomever makes these decisions could legally extend the timeline (however it happened before). Trump remains President then until it's sorted out.
And it probably would get sorted out. But my point is that there is historical precedent for a gray area of when an election is over - I mean come on, the Supreme Court had to decide when the Bush / Gore election was over, and Gore could have contested that, if he had chosen to.
So it's obviously a possibility considering how messed-up our electoral process could be this year from a combination of covid-19, neglect, and deliberate neglect. And possibly foreign sabotage though I'd put that at the bottom of the list.
> The terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January
It could not be plainer.
Supreme court can rule about the process of counting, when the joint session to verify the votes happens, when a given state has to appoint its electors etc, but can't possibly interpret this as anything other than the plain text it says.
What if on January 20 there is disagreement about who the President is?
I actually don't know how that works.
It's the distribution of benefits that accumulate within the system, and also the ease with which costs/hindrances/outright abuse can be inflicted on selected elements in the population.
The more concentrated the benefits, and the easier and more violent the restrictions and abuse, the less democracy exists.
It is teetering on the brink.
But even if we set this aside, we can certainly question if an institution like the electoral college doesn't deliberately move power from the people to the ruling group.
We can question if the extreme form of gerrymandering we practice around here doesn't remove power from the people.
We can debate Citizens United.
We can debate the existence of blatantly partisan media, and the monoculture of media owners.
We can debate a regime that has clearly abandoned ethical delineations, and that values loyalty over competence.
All of these, individually, chip away at democracy. The question is if together they've chipped away enough that we aren't one any more. (My current assessment is that we still have a small window to turn this around, but it's closing. It's open wider than in Hungary, it's less wide open than in Germany or France)
TLDR: it's pretty debatable
> The House of Representatives shall be composed of members chosen every second year by the people of the several states, and the electors in each state shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the state legislature.
Article 1, Section 2.
In the Early US, only white male land owners could vote (the upper class, aka, the aristocracy). Inasmuch, it was not what most people would consider a democracy. The lower class had no representation whatsoever.
So, when you say that a "A republic is a kind of democracy" it's actually not true, at least not for what most people would consider democracy.
It was a bit wider than that, the US was notable at the time for a highly unusual degree of land ownership. After all, there was a lot of land to steal from the native americans.
Regardless, the US was a democracy before women could vote, and it was a democracy before black people could vote, and it was a democracy before non-landowners could vote. It was a democracy in which many inhabitants didn't truly have full citizenship, but to this day there are millions and millions of people who live in the US (including many citizens!) who cannot vote, and it's still a democracy.
There are people marching through the streets chanting, "this is what democracy looks like." They don rose-tinted glasses - projecting their mob rule fantasy of popular vote and pure democracy on our explicitly democratic republic.
Words have meaning. It's not misguided pedantry.
It's sort of like how functional programming can just mean "programming with pure, mathematical style functions" or more broadly it can mean the techniques associated with functional programming like pattern matching, currying, etc.
In this case, it seems to me that the intention was to use the most broad sense of democracy.
You can have democratic (e.g. Iceland) or oligarchic republics (e.g. Ukraine), all the way to dictatorships (e.g. Russia).
Being a democracy and being a republic are completely orthogonal.
Falsehood. True democracy only exists when the voters' will is unimpeded by very complicated systems or institutions.
What you are describing is known as "managed democracy" - i.e., political system that's notionally purely democratic, but where will of the voters is surreptitiously influenced, and their voice channeled through and shaped by gatekeepers, and their consent is manufactured by unelected institutions. North Korea and USSR are examples of such.
The free, effective, and prosperous countries like USA are democratic republics rather than true democracies - for a reason.
>Falsehood. True democracy only exists when the voters' will is unimpeded by very complicated systems or institutions.
Those things are not mutually exclusive. The phrase "working properly" in this context clearly implies that the "voters' will" is being honored.
Expanding this question: can a country where the government lies to its citizens, and withholds information from the press, and actively seeks to discredit news sources critical of it be considered a democracy?
If citizens cannot be informed they cannot make rational, democratic decisions.
Whether it meant to or not the Bush Administration kicked off a lot of terrible stuff for America and for the world. I remember obsessively watching the news after 9/11 and just having a terrible sinking feeling about the road we were preparing for ourselves.
To be a bit fair to them, it's easy to imagine many other administrations, of both parties, behaving similarly, though not in such an extreme way, after 9/11.
I'd like to think that Al Gore specifically, if he was President then, would not have invaded Iraq, and, would not have passed something like the Patriot Act, but the truth is we don't know.
Plus Gore might have paid more attention the the CIA warnings about Al Qaeda.
But again - who knows. And America itself has a lot to work on, on both sides of the political aisle.
Doesn't this describe every country?
That being said, in these cases media and politicians tend to align over time, either because media help compatible politicians, or because politicians created the media landscape themselves. Oligarchies tend to be symbiotic. For those close to power, anyway; for the rest of the country it’s more like parasitism.
IIRC Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman make the argument in "Manufacturing Consent" that basically consent can be manufactured in the U.S. because of the role that business and corporations play. Which is sort of a critique of capitalism, but I also recall Chomsky talking about how it's hard to really call the U.S. capitalist considering how much of the military industrial complex and academia (especially defense-related) is government funded, and how central those things are to the U.S. econonmy.
I'm not sure of the details but my takeaway is media consent can be manufactured in a corporatist/capitalist-like system, which may also be but is not necessarily an oligarchical one.
I think that concentration of wealth in the hands of an ever-shrinking elite is a form of oligarchy.
Also the whole idea of a government / multinational divide gets a bit blurry, doesn't it, when you look at the longstanding U.S. government relationship with companies like G.E. , A&T, etc, and, I'm sure in one form or another, today with Google and Amazon.
I mean government-funded research created the tech giants.
Lastly, as much as people love to knock government, ideally it's how people organize to do stuff, and, has an accountability mechanism (elections).
I'm kind of riffing off of what you are saying but yeah. Power comes in many forms and can be abused in many forms.
It all boils down to defining the roles (on all sides) and then doing that job. It's when government, press, companies, or individuals make light of their responsibility that things fall appart.
Don’t answer the question, or call it out as a poor question.
There are many sources of news and media.
Name calling and attacks are not coming from just one side, but this doesn’t seem like an honest appraisal of how roles are being filled so much as just tribal finger pointing.
Where is the alternative or proposed solution? The person who possesses one of the biggest platforms and with the most reach in the world cannot articulate anything more substantive than complaining of persecution?
I found the exchange petty on both sides, but the media made much more of it.
This is not accurate.
The free press has the freedom to report however they want. That is the whole point of the free press.
If all you've got is two sensationalising ends and nothing in the middle, it's very difficult to tell what's going on. Worse, if you've got one broadly accurate and reliable wing opposed by a group who will intentionally exaggerate, lie, and demonise, and the public think the truth is actually somewhere in the middle, the latter group win.
What's not clear or easy is how you might go about cleaning up such a situation.
Look - I know it's hard to say this and remove the judgement from the statement, and I certainly do have my own judgement in play here, but, empirically speaking, President Donald Trump is racist. Or at the very least someone who consistently makes racist statements over time. And at that point what's the difference?
So w/regards to that I think reporters should have been saying that more, tbh. Let's review the facts:
1. Trump's comments about The Central Park 5, back in the day.
2. Trump's pivotal role in racist birther conspiracy theories about former President Obama.
3. Trump's racist language about Mexicans / Latinos, U.S. judges who happen to be Latino, his coded racist dog-whistle language about cities like Baltimore, Chicago, etc.
4. "Very fine people."
5. Every single thing he's done since the murder of George Floyd.
And I'm sure there's more.
Not true, they will likely start an other site and ask for donations, so it's up to the people to support them.
In Hungary like elsewhere people don't like to pay for news sites and in Hungary the government works hard, so that every freely available media pushes the government propaganda.
People have to realize they must pay if they want independent news sites to exist. Relying only on ad revenue is not a solid foundation.
This is how I see it as well. We, collectively, are confronted with the reality that clean information is required for a healthy civic function.
Maybe like the Broad Street Pump cholera outbreak rectified unsanitary civic water management?
I feel the opposite. We must learn to filter that news for ourselves, because you never know when the news is lying to you.
It's a different situation if the editors are owners of the site and the donations go directly to them, instead of to some rich guy who bought the site from some other rich guy.
Hasn't Fidesz controlled the country for over ten years now? Haven't they amended the constitution? Packed the courts?
This is not a topic that is at the top of my mind, so I am not an expert. But Hungary being a democratic society is news to me.
I agree that it is debatable as to whether those concerns make it an autocracy. As you say, it is not a clear cut matter. Countries walk a path towards authoritarianism, they don't flip a switch. But this news item didn't come from out of the blue. The state of Hungary is walking further down a road it set out on some years ago.
There's almost zero evidence to support the notion that Trump is an autocrat.
He's a badly performing political outsider that is about to go down in flames with one of the least successful, least effective Presidencies in US history. He's going to lose by normal democratic means, being voted out of office. His Presidency ultimately isn't going to matter much at all. In the first months Biden will unleash a wave of executive orders, mostly wiping out anything Trump did that the Democrats disliked. He's about to be thrown out of office by a candidate that can barely make it through four minute interviews, a candidate whose prep team has to keep him hidden away and tightly controlled because of obvious severe problems.
There is hardly anybody in the establishment in Washington that supports Trump at this point. There is almost nobody in the media / press that supports Trump. The press is never afraid to attack him, they do it 24/7 openly.
What autocracy? Trump is closer to a bumbling clown with no business being in politics, than an autocrat.
What did Trump do? He built a wall? No he didn't, he didn't build anything. He banned all the Muslims? No he didn't, other previous presidents similarly blocked many of those same nations for security reasons. He shut down all the illegal immigration, and deported a zillion people? No he didn't, Obama deported more people. He radically remade our immigration system? No he didn't. He abolished the ACA? No he didn't. He took control of the military industrial complex levers and launched a bunch of wars? No he didn't. So what did he do?
Trump's entire Presidency has only a few signatures to it. He cuts taxes, he was wildly divisive (he raged a lot, tweeted a lot), he conflicted with China a lot, he didn't launch any new wars, he failed over and over again to accomplish much of significance, he fought with the press a lot, and he installed a bunch of federal judges (which is going to be limited by his single term anyway). And then he was gone after a mere four years (his polls are so bad, the Democrats would all have to drop dead of Covid for Trump to win again).
So the world is upside down, everything is bad, the US is over, it's an autocratic nightmare, because of this clown that was thrown out in just four years. I call bullshit.
I cannot believe braindead Biden is a) the candidate, and b) has a very solid chance of beating Trump. The man can hardly get through a sentence. The emperor has no clothes! (https://twitter.com/brithume/status/1286130348888403976?s=20)
Yes, Trump has been a fantastic disappointment. At least he didn't start any new wars (sorry mustache man!). Some part of me cannot believe the fiscal/budgetary travesty perpetuated by the Republicans in federal office. They took Obama's deficits and tripled them. The same deficits and Fed policy they (rightly) harped on for the previous 8 years.
One thing I would say is don't put too much faith in the polls. Republican voters are notoriously unwilling to talk to pollsters. Trump will say Covid is outside of his control and you're welcome for all the welfare checks; the minute they put Biden on stage, some percentage of the electorate will realize he's actually senile. My guess is that it'll be close.
Thanks for providing this context to foreigners; I wouldn't have known any of this or been able to succinctly summarize it with some research the way you just did.
Looking at you Japan.
"The taming of Japan’s media watchdogs has attracted growing attention from overseas. On April 19, David Kaye, the U.N. special rapporteur on freedom of expression, wrapped up a weeklong fact-finding mission to Japan by expressing “deep and genuine concern” about declining media independence in Asia’s richest democracy. The following day, the Paris-based media advocacy group Reporters Without Borders lowered Japan’s place in its annual ranking of world press freedom to 72nd out of 180 nations, between Tanzania and Lesotho"
And no, this is not whataboutism. This is just a context so to understand that the above turn of events that the OP refers to is not unprecedented in other strong democracies either. Or is Japan an autocracy too?
In this specific case, I'm not certain there is a trivial answer. Having worked for a Japanese company, the unshakable hierarchy is unknown to Western culture.
Ehh... it is a "flawed democracy" in that same index, as you would expect from a country where the same party has ruled almost uninterrupted for 65 years.
Too bad some bad actors ruin or for the rest of us ( I'm not saying the EU is perfect though, just young).
I spoke to someone from Hungary and they literally said people voted for Orban because of 1 thing: keep immigrants out.
Immigrants can't vote, so they're extremely easy to use as scapegoats because they can't fight back politically. Once a government plants in their citizens that immigrants are the root of all evil, they've pretty much won: anything wrong in the country will be attributed to illegal immigrants so that the attention will be taken away from the government.
It's the same old trick of blaming a weak minority that cannot defend itself using any legal means, and frankly I find appalling that people still falls for it.
In the U.S. 90% of the news media is held by 5 conglomerates.
You get creepy stuff like this.
Makes you wonder how reliable the news media is in the U.S.
I can't even imagine how bad it is in countries where oligarchs control things.
To compare any of the major US news conglomerates to this would be a false equivalence.
Also, any comment on the centralization of media in the US that doesn't mention Facebook is outdated at this point.
The big American conglomerates are just as partisan as Sinclair , there is still some professionalism that they have not devolved to Sinclair level.
However trends in recent past point towards only downward movement simply because of economics , you make more money telling people what they want to hear.
Not anymore. Freedom House classifies Hungary as a "Transitional or Hybrid Regime".
They also control the other branches of power. They also control the attorney general who can stop any prosecution against any member of the Fidesz before it starts.
They control the media now. The whole system makes me sick. And I'm one of those people who would vote for a paty like Fidesz if it was a regular country (I'm not left wing at all).
(Do not know if it is original or some old joke: I have heard it from hungarian stand-up comedian Tibor Bödőcs - who is btw basically the only comedian left who dare (or talented enough to get away with) criticizing every side of the political spectrum here - nowadays mostly Orbán of course...)
And you should be ashamed because it's parties like Fidesz that fuck up countries like Hungary is fucked up now. It is your (and your kind's) fault.
Don't forget 444.hu. They are nowhere near as large as Index, but just as outspoken and critical of the government.
Yes but likely only for a short time. Every government has people outside of journalism that makes democracy happen.
If I can’t keep straight in my head which country is having its press shut down, we live in sad times.
In America, we don’t have press shut down, as much as it becomes “sponsored.” Someone decides to run it at a loss, or close to one.
Quality goes down, advertising goes up, and ideology seeps in.
Lots of “small town papers” are just brands managed by conglomerates.
Democracy was a 20th century construct.
- if the money comes from the state they're incentivized to speak good of the state
- if the money comes from ads they're bound to report what does not make to many waves
- if the money comes from readers, they're going to write articles for better retention / more new subscribers
I don't agree at all. There's numerous instances happening very, very frequently of the press shaping public events sometimes only by their revelation of an ongoing investigation. An informed, critical thinking population won't/can't do investigative work.
How does the population get informed about the government without the press?
We used to have that in the US because we used to have and enforce laws against media consolidation.
By the way:
> The question begs itself
Rather: This invites the question.
Begging the question is assuming the conclusion in a circular argument. 
Because the choice isn't "government money" or "no money", it's state (democratic) money or corporate (undemocratic) money! Looking at things like the murdoch empire we can see which we prefer.
This doesn't even have to be an explicit thing. You don't need to threaten people to cut their funding, they will like the system the way it is set up, because they profit from it being set up that way. You can't be independent from something if you depend on it to pay your bills.
But then the rest of your message seems to contradict that statement.
If "healthy and diverse press" is only guaranteed by single source of funding (state) then I don't see how this is diverse or healthy or independent.
A democracy has a vested interest in keeping independent newspapers afloat. Subsidies are not shocking, provided that this is impartial ans according to well-defined criteria, and that it does not become the main source of income for the media.
France has the Canard Enchaîné, which is thriving and funded only by sales and subscriptions, although it is well integrated in the political landscape. There are other examples in other countries but far too few.
Around the world there are numerous instances of Government-funded news publishers and broadcasters that have superior editorial independence than their commercial competitors. The BBC in the UK and the ABC in Australia come to mind.
Funding CAN mean editorial control if the funder deems it so, but that's equally true of commercial media as it does public broadcasters. Unless you happen to like the political bias of Rupert Murdoch, it would be hard to argue that he doesn't exert more influence over his publications than the British and Australian governments do theirs.
> In a way it’s better in the Hungarian case because things are really obvious so it may trigger people to take action for a change.
That sounds dangerously naïve. I know gloom and self-hate is de rigueur in a broad part of the French population, but going from “also, France is bad” to “actually, maybe Hungary’s better” on a piece about the death of a democracy is a bit much.
The press doesn't have to be a centralized, edited company. Citizens can report news independent and locally.
Indeed, this type of journalism is resistant to the oppression of government, and the bias of media conglomerates.
> "But democratized and independent though they may be, you do not — in my city — run into bloggers or so-called citizen journalists at City Hall, or in the courthouse hallways or at the bars and union halls where police officers gather. You do not see them consistently nurturing and then pressing sources. You do not see them holding institutions accountable on a daily basis...I'm offended to think that anyone, anywhere believes American monoliths as insulated, self-preserving, and self-justifying as police departments, school systems, legislatures, and chief executives can be held to gather facts by amateurs pursuing the task without compensation, training, or, for that matter, sufficient standing to make public officials even care who it is they're lying to or who they're withholding information from."
There are, of course, very smart and well-qualified bloggers and indie journalists, but they're relatively few and far between. The institutions of journalism matter more than most people realize, if for no other reason than people have to be paid to put in the time to do the job.
There’s a need for well funded journalistic organizations everywhere. Well funded (and independent) being the key because people have to eat.
Citizens can, but the quality and length would for the most part be short and incidental (outbreaks, viral videos, etc.)
But in-depth investigations, into corruption, into nation-wide, critical issues, will usually require dedicated staff with budgets. Can't place that on a citizen's shoulders
And to being self-sustaining, because no one pays the reporters to actually do their job and to verify their sources or be verified.
In open-source this seems to work (i.e many free contributions make up a good whole), but in journalism I'm not sure.
When I write open source, my primary information sources are right at my monitor.