Will Leviathan Democracy Blindfold The World?

President Biden triumphantly saved world democracy last week, at least according to the White House scorecard.  Biden co-hosted another Summit for Democracy, a repeat performance after the December 2021 test run.   Biden sounded like a Quaalude Savior as he recycled his “inflection point of history” cliché. But the Summit proved again that politicians are perils to freedom regardless of their prattle.

Biden promised that “we are seeing real indications that we are turning the tide” in favor of democracy around the globe. Practically no one not on Biden’s payroll agrees.  Biden’s boast was like taking a victory lap around the deck of the Titanic.

Democracy last year “declined around the world for the 17th consecutive year,” according to Freedom House. Twice as many nations are veering “toward authoritarianism” as towards democracy, according to the Economist. Most shocking: the U.S. is now categorized as a less free nation than Mongolia, Mauritius, and 56 other nations, according to Freedom House (funded by the U.S. government, so they must be trustworthy).

Team Biden believes a big problem with democracy is that politicians don’t have enough power – “Weak state capacity.” In reality, elected rulers around the globe are turning themselves into dictators who increasingly repress their citizens.   Rather than representative governments, elected regimes have turned into Leviathan Democracies far superior to the citizenry.

Consider Biden’s record in the Oval Office. Federal judges and/or the Supreme Court have struck down Biden’s eviction moratorium for deadbeat renters, his $400 billion cancellation of federal student debt, his “climate change” decree shutting down power plants, his mask mandate for airline passengers, and his edict compelling all employees of large companies and all federal employees to get Covid vaccine injections.  But all of Biden’s decrees are supposedly “pro-democracy” because he won the 2020 election.

“Democracy delivers” was a key talking point for Team Biden at the Summit.  Any increase in government handouts presumably automatically increased government legitimacy. Unfortunately, “leashing politicians” is not on the Biden Bingo Card for Saving Democracy.  The American Bar Association recently warned that “the Rule of Law is in Decline Globally” but it is “not a central focus of the U.S. Government’s approach” on democracy. A top ABA official warned: “Discussing sustainable development in the absence of rule of law, … is at best delusional and at worst dishonest.” Three-quarters of nations representing almost 85% of the world’s population recently “experienced declines in rule of law,” according to the World Justice Project.    In lieu of “government under the law,” Team Biden offers “the People Centered Justice Multistakeholder Cohort’s Declaration and Call to Action.”   Sloshing out more government handouts to activist groups who score media headlines was “close enough for government work” to the Rule of Law.

Rather than a system of informed consent, democracy is degenerating into regimes which blindfold citizens and demand unlimited submission.   At the summit, government officials made it clear that freedom of speech is a luxury that democracy can  no longer afford.  Secretary of Anthony State Blinken declared, “The misuse of technology and the spread of digital authoritarianism must end. We must stand for an affirmative, values-driven, and rights-respecting vision of democracy in the digital era.”   “Affirmative” and “values-driven” become code words to legitimize pervasive government censorship.  Blinken “proposed a ‘delicate balance’ between ‘openness and security,’ ‘protecting speech and preventing incitement,’ and ‘fostering innovation and limiting the power of Big Tech,’” as Tom Parker observed for Reclaim the Net.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas sermonized on a “Countering the Rise of Digital Authoritarianism” panel.  He was joined by YouTube CEO Neil Mohan, who could have boasted of  how Washington censors his channel.  An internal DHS document reveals plans to crack down on “inaccurate” information on “the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, racial justice, U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the nature of U.S. support to Ukraine.”  Any facts which embarrass Team Biden are automatically “inaccurate’ and ripe for suppression.  Federally-funded entities spearheaded the censorship of true information on Covid vaccine side effects to bolster Biden’s effort to inject every American.

Eight governments, including Ukraine and Poland, issued a call for more censorship on the first day of the Summit. They called for tech companies to take action “against disinformation that undermines our peace and stability” and to suppress posts that  “ weaken our support to Ukraine amid Russia’s war of aggression.”  The letter asserted that “hostile foreign powers are using [social media] to spread false narratives that contradict reporting from fact-based news outlets,” especially the endless reports on the glorious victories of the Ukrainian army.  Facebook responded by promising to ramp up its censorship, including relying on “a third-party fact-checking service to determine if posts contain false claims.”  Some “third-party fact checking services” have been government fronts.  As journalist Aaron Maté scoffed, “We are fueling a proxy war in Ukraine in order to defend freedom, such as the freedom to censor dissenting views on our proxy war in Ukraine.”

Is the “will of the people” so fragile that it can no longer survive exposure to any thoughts that officialdom disapproves?  Does winning an election automatically convert tinhorn politicians into minor deities entitled to control the thoughts of any voter? Nullifying freedom of speech converts citizens into vassals that politicians can use and abuse as they please.

Throughout the Summit proceedings, piety was thicker than hog slop at an Iowa slaughterhouse. Secretary Blinken declared on March 28, “No woman or girl should face harassment and abuse in-person or online.” The State Department’s effort on this score was propelled by its  Global Engagement Center, which previously pressured Twitter to cancel hundreds of thousands of accounts, including vast numbers of hapless Americans. That Center is leading the fight against “gendered disinformation” and whooped up a report on “the need for more research to tackle this scourge.” According to the United Nations, a prime example of this “scourge” is “Zoom Bombing.”  That atrocity occurs when uninvited people crash a Zoom meeting and make rude comments.  Is it an international human rights crisis because boneheaded Zoom organizers fail to require pass codes to attend a meeting?

As part of its Summit festivities, the Biden administration announced new crackdowns to make it “more difficult for corrupt actors to conceal their identities, assets, and criminal activities.”  Despite reform promises at the first Summit, there has been no worldwide progress.  The U.S. ranks #24 on the international corruption index – even worse than France, according to Transparency International.  And that score was calculated before the latest revelations of the Biden family pocketing vast sums from smarmy foreign companies.

  Biden boasted that his administration plans to spend more than $9 billion to support democracy worldwide by the end of next year.  But U.S. foreign aid programs obliterate the anti-corruption initiatives of the U.S. government. AnAmerican Economic Review analysis concluded that “increases in [foreign] aid are associated with contemporaneous increases in corruption,” and that “corruption is positively correlated with aid received from the United States.”  As a Brookings Institution analysis observed, “The history of U.S. assistance is littered with tales of corrupt foreign officials using aid to line their own pockets, support military buildups, and pursue vanity projects.” Torrents of U.S. helped make Afghanistan one of the most corrupt places on Earth. John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR), observed, “We need to understand how US policies and practices unintentionally aided and abetted corruption.” The U.S. has been “fighting corruption” in Ukraine since the end of the Cold War in the decades when Ukraine became one of the most corrupt nations in Europe.  Biden administration officials helped defeat a congressional proposal to create an Inspector General to audit and oversee the $100 billion the U.S. government has pledged to the government of Ukraine.

But another handout will fix that problem. The Biden administration is bankrolling foreign journalists to fight “kleptocracy” – government of thieves.  There is even an aid program entitled “Empowering the Truth Tellers.” (Julian Assange need not apply.)  The Biden administration claims to support “independent media” by effectively putting foreign journalists on the U.S. payroll.  Those journalists are “independent” because the U.S. government says so, and anyone who disagrees will be labeled an enemy of democracy. Besides, the U.S. is no role model: it ranks a pathetic #42 in the World Press Freedom Index, worse than Moldova and Guyana, according to Reporters Without Borders.

Biden is “saving” democracy” with buckets of goofy new acronyms: SHE PERSISTS   – one of the rallying cries for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, now standing for Supporting Her Empowerment: Political Engagement, Rights, Safety, and Inclusion Strategies to Succeed Investing. And then there was SHE WINS (Support Her Empowerment: Women’s Inclusion for New Security).  The Agency for International Development is whooping up PxP – Powered by the People. Did the White House believe acronyms should look like drug prescriptions? ADD stands for Advancing Digital Democracy but policymakers should have worked in an ‘H’ to reflect their cluelessness. ACRF stands for the Anti-Corruption Response Fund. They should have tweaked that one to make it ARF-ARF, to symbolize officialdom’s cravenness to the Powers That Be.

Comic relief failed to redeem the summit. The State Department wanted Americans to make short videos with the hashtag #SummitForDemocracy whooping up “What has democracy made possible in your own life?” Such as falling living standards, soaring inflation,   sporadic financial panic, and a befuddled commander-in-chief who doesn’t know if he is in Canada or China?  A search on Twitter indicates that almost all the videos made with #SummitforDemocracy hashtags were done by governments or by government-funded entities.  Biden’s democracy spiel can’t compete with cat videos.

Revealing all the levels of hypocrisy at the summit would be on par with peeling an onion. Mexico President López Obrador declared at the Summit: “Many of the great crimes against humanity have been committed in the name of God, or in the name of democracy.”  Many of the nations showcased at the Summit are dutiful U.S. allies, meaning that Washington ignores their abuses.

In his speech last Wednesday, Biden declared that “the power of these summits” is “not just to speak high-minded words.”   But even U.S. government officials feared the summit would be “inconsequential talk shop,” according to the Washington Post. Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haass scoffed, “The summit for democracy is a bad idea that won’t go away…. American democracy is hardly a model for others.”

Unfortunately, the Pentagon missed the memo on democracy. Since 2008, foreign soldiers who received training from the U.S. military “attempted at least nine coups (and succeeded in at least eight) across five West African countries,” as journalist Nick Turse reported.  The Pentagon denies responsibility for the debacles. But, as Antiwar.com reported, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) declared at a recent congressional hearing, “I think we should at least know how many countries we train the coup plotters.”

Biden concluded his spiel to the Summit: “The great strength of democracy is that it gives us all the tools we need for self-government and self-improvement.” But the tools are controlled by politicians who equate ever great submission with the triumph of the “will of the people.”
With politicians openly championing censorship, Leviathan Democracy is dropping its mask and no longer pretending to give a damn about freedom.

*** An earlier version of this piece was published by the Libertarian Institute.

James Bovard is the author of Attention Deficit Democracy, The Bush Betrayal, and Terrorism and Tyranny. His latest book is Last Rights: the Death of American Liberty. Bovard is on the USA Today Board of Contributors. He is on Twitter at @jimbovard. His website is at www.jimbovard.com