"The Authoritarian Challenge to Democracy"
January 27, 2011 1:25 PM   Subscribe

On January 13, 2011 Freedom House released ts findings from the latest edition of Freedom in the World, the annual survey of global political rights and civil liberties. According to the survey’s findings, 2010 was the fifth consecutive year in which global freedom suffered a decline—the longest period of setbacks for freedom in the nearly 40-year history of the report.

Check out past Freedom in the World reports back to 2002 via the drop down menu here. More comparison of data.

Of note for North Americans, between 2010 and 2011 Mexico went from "free" to "partly free" (pdf).
posted by IvoShandor (8 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Gasp? It may seem overt/ly cynical, but I ain't surprised; power covets power. Reaction to perceived threat is a fantastic excuse to pull together a little bit more.
posted by LD Feral at 1:50 PM on January 27, 2011

The problem (if you're inclined to look at it that way) is that most people, everywhere in the world, aren't looking for freedom. What they want is a decent standard of living. Give them the ability to support themselves plus the ability to work towards a better future, and they'll endure pretty much anything else you throw at them. In the last twenty or thirty years the absolute level of global prosperity has been going up, with hundreds of millions rising out of poverty into the middle class or thereabouts, and this has dulled the taste for freedom worldwide.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:25 PM on January 27, 2011

The problem with "freedom" (i.e., political and civil liberties) is that those who have it must jealously guard them against even minor incursions by anyone, but most especially themselves. In the United States, you don't have to look hard to see it slipping. No surprise that the rest of the world has trouble being free when states that purport to be beacons of freedom don't much care for it either.
posted by Hylas at 2:31 PM on January 27, 2011

Well, with the revolutions in Tunisia and perhaps Egypt we might see an increase next year. Financial crashes tend to precipitate revolutions (I mean, given a sample size of one that I've observed, plus all the turmoil in the great depression)
posted by delmoi at 2:53 PM on January 27, 2011

Every time this report comes out, I think back to Fareed Zakaria's essay, The Rise of Illiberal Democracy.
posted by dhartung at 3:10 PM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

The longer range forecast will probably include a great deal of unrest and political disturbance as the negative effects of global warming begin to kick in, plunging millions of people back into poverty again. Massive numbers of climate refugees won't help, either. But that kind of chaos doesn't automatically translate into increased freedom, it might even lead to more authoritarianism as people turn to leaders who can feed them and provide safety. But if the developed "free" countries that are colored green on those maps can keep it together and resist any more reckless economic binging or military imperialism, maybe we can provide assistance to people struggling to survive and help recolor the maps in a big way around 2025 or so.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:12 PM on January 27, 2011

Freeeeeeedom Houuuuuuse! #doublesecretprobation
posted by ooga_booga at 5:24 PM on January 27, 2011

I wonder why they don't have a regional map of freedom for western Europe. (It is included in the whole-world map.)
posted by neushoorn at 7:15 AM on January 30, 2011

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