East(ern Europe) and the (Middle) East

Donors: keep out writes The Economist and then continues: Egypt and Hungary are just two fronts in an escalating war waged by authoritarian governments against groups promoting the Western vision of liberal democracy as not just regular elections but public, pluralistic debate. Recent years have seen a big rise in “philanthropic protectionism”, says Douglas Rutzen of the International Centre for Non-Profit Law (ICNL), which tracks how governments treat NGOs. Some, like Hungary, harass foreign-funded NGOs using existing tools, such as heavy-handed investigations. Others are writing new laws that serve the same purpose.

What is common in Azerbaijan, Mexico, Pakistan, Russia, Sudan, Venezuela, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Nigeria, Egypt and Hungary for that matter and to mention only a few? Members of the political leadership and the elite are simply unable to apply for and get a normal job on the market, except for the political marketplace. Their profession is being in power. Some of them probably have sincere worries for their own people, but the majority has to take care too much neither with their people’s will, nor with the borders of their playgrounds. As long as the nation state and national sovereignty is considered sacred by the international community, as long as the Western powers are not willing to risk their own citizens’ lives in real wars to protect political, social, religious, economic, etc, rights in the listed (and non-listed) countries, too much will not happen. Budgetary aid (grants, loans) and sanctions against governments are part of the game: these can ensure a balance between stability and instability in international relations. But will never lead to democratic changes within a society, unless, those in power can be convinced that they can have a much happier life outside the government, parliament, judiciary. Niebuhr’s famous thought (man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary, 1944) probably misses one point: the gradual development of (Western) democracy was not externally forced upon the governing elites; sharing power was their enlightened self-interest, it was a sort of means guaranteeing the survival of the state in the 19th and 20th centuries. If ‘someone’ has a state(like entity) today guaranteed by international legal norms and principles, and supported by foreign grants, it will not be so much interested in voluntarily providing democratic rights to those that want to have his seat.

The Economist, Foreign funding of NGOs: Donors: keep out | The Economist, 13 September, 2014. http://www.economist.com/news/international/21616969-more-and-more-autocrats-are-stifling-criticism-barring-non-governmental-organisations?fsrc=email_to_a_friend // // // //

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