Surveying the State of Global Freedom

Steve Chapman

In the Coke Zero commercial, an impatient young man says, “It’s 2010. Weren’t we supposed to have time machines by now?” Human rights supporters have equal cause to ask, “Weren’t we all supposed to have democracy by now?”

In 1992, after the collapse of the Soviet empire, Francis Fukuyama wrote that “for a very large part of the world, there is now no ideology with pretensions to universality that is in a position to challenge liberal democracy, and no universal principle of legitimacy other than the sovereignty of the people.” A host of despots, however, has managed just fine without a universal principle.

The world is freer and more democratic than it was then. But advances have been stymied by dozens of repressive regimes. The human rights group Freedom House said in January that the previous four years made up “the longest continuous period of deterioration” in the nearly 40 years it has kept tabs. This year brought no evident turnaround.

That is fine with the rulers of China. Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to advance democracy and free speech, which had also earned him an 11-year prison term. The December event was the first time neither the winner nor his representative was allowed to attend since 1935, when the Nobel Committee honored a dissident in Nazi Germany…

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H/T Instapundit

Update: Via Babalu Blog, “Venezuelan students protest Chavez coup, are met by riot police and water cannons”

Venezuelan university students took to the streets hours after Hugo Chavez decided to violate the constitution and take control of the higher education system…

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