Since Donald Trump has been U.S. president, I’ve posted four times about the present, increasing fragility of our system of democracy. (For example, see “Does President Donald Trump Believe in Our Democracy?“) But it’s not happening only here. Our #1 ally, the United Kingdom, is experiencing it as well Germany and many other places. It is a new phenomenon in the 21st century, in which right-wing populism is taking over.
The last half of the 20th century was the golden age of democracy. Politico reports that one survey shows that at the end of WWII, in 1945, there were only twelve democratic nations in the world. Yet by the end of the century, there were eighty-seven democratic nations in the world. There are almost 200 nations in the world right now.
Sixty-eight year old Dr. Shawn Rosenberg is a professor at the University of California at Irvine. He has three degrees from Yale, Oxford, and Harvard. Rosenberg is one of the leaders of the International Society of Political Psychologists. This summer he delivered a paper at their annual meeting about democracy’s present decline, and he predicted democracy will not last in the following decades.
Politico reports concerning Rosenberg, “His theory is that over the next few decades, the number of large Western-style democracies around the globe will shrink, and those that remain will become shells of themselves. Taking democracy’s place, Rosenberg says, will be right-wing populist governments that offer voters simple answers to complicated questions.”
Politico continues concerning this esteemed and highly educated psychologist, “Rosenberg makes his case that human beings don’t think straight. Biases of various kinds skew our brains at the most fundamental level. . . . Our brains, says Rosenberg, are proving fatal to modern democracy. Humans just aren’t built for it. . . . When people are left to make political decisions on their own they drift toward the simple solutions right-wing populists worldwide offer: a deadly mix of xenophobia, racism and authoritarianism. . . . It’s easier to pledge allegiance to an authoritarian leader than to do the hard work of thinking for yourself demanded by democracy.”
Politico quotes Rosenberg as saying, “In sum, the majority of Americans are generally unable to understand or value democratic culture, institutions, practices or citizenship in the manner required. To the degree to which they are required to do so, they will interpret what is demanded of them in distorting and inadequate ways. As a result they will interact and communicate in ways that undermine the functioning of democratic institutions and the meaning of democratic practices and values.”
I strongly disagree. Why does Rosenberg restrict his characterization of humans being being unable to think democratically to Americans? If Rosenberg is right, democracy never would have happened in the first place. For the U.S. has been the great experiment of democracy in modern times, being described as “the shining city on a hill.” Rosenberg’s view is not only shortsighted, but short on history. If Rosenberg is right, democracy never would have happened in the first place, such as in the USA.
Rosenberg’s view of humanity is too pessimistic. Plus, at least in the U.S., voters who presently support right-wing populist politicians are less educated than people who don’t. And Americans, if not most people in the world, continue to become more educated. IMO, Rosenberg’s reasoning is surprisingly fallacious. He is predicting that a current trend will become the lasting future.
I think the West is presently is going through a phase of authoritarian populism that will not continue. Just look at how authoritarian communism has been greatly decreasing in the world during the past fifty years. In fact, it is one important reason for the increase in the number of democratic nations in the last half of the twentieth century. I think this path to democracy will continue among nations and that it has temporarily hit a bump in the road.
Even right now, look to the East. There is a developing opposition to communism. A serious protest movement is occurring in Hong Kong that could become another Tiananmen Square (1989). Plus, lesser demonstrations in several cities in Russia have been happening in protest against strongman President Vladimir Putin.
But the main reason I disagree with Mr. Rosenberg’s viewpoint–that democracy will drastically decline in the following decades and hardly last–is that a certain Bible prophecy that I’m writing about in my next book indicates this assertion is false. It is Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream that he had over 2,500 years ago and that the Prophet Daniel told him about and interpreted it for him.
The king’s dream is recorded in the book of Daniel, in its chapter 2. This greatest of all Babylonian kings of antiquity actually had forgotten the dream, and it disturbed him greatly. He went into a rage about it, demanding that his spiritual advisors (mostly the Chaldeans) tell him the dream and its meaning or he would have all of them executed. That was to include Daniel and his three friends. So, they prayed about it, and God revealed the dream to Daniel. He then told the king the dream and its interpretation. To me, it’s one of the most amazing stories in the Bible.
But most modern scholars have believed the book of Daniel was written in the second century B.C., thus after the Babylonian, Persian, and Greek empires had passed from the scene which the dream foretells about. That would make the book of Daniel a forgery. The author Daniel says he and his friends were part of the Jewish Exile of the sixth century B.C. These scholars think that is fiction.
I believe the book of Daniel is NOT a fraud and that it was indeed written by this Daniel of the Exile. Moreover, I think Jesus mostly got his view of the kingdom of God and his self-identity as “the Son of man” from this book. The main reason these scholars think this about the date of composition of the Daniel is they do not believe men of God can foretell the future. They have been strongly influenced by Porphyry and his arguments.
Porphyry (234-305) was a famous Neoplatonic philosopher of the third century A.D. He was the first to put forth the skeptical view that the book of Daniel was a forgery written during the Maccabean era of the second century B.C. Porphyry was a strong critic of Christianity. He wrote one of the most popular books in antiquity trying to disprove Christianity. His book Against the Christians (Adversus Christianos) eventually was banned by Roman Emperor Constantine the Great.
So, these scholars of the book of Daniel do not believe God prophesied about the future through his Hebrew prophets. They have really lost out. I have centered all of my adult life onBible prophesy, and it has been like discovering buried treasure for me. God has marvelously predicted the future in an amazing way, and he did so through Daniel.
If you are a person whose faith in the God of the Bible is prone to wavering, you should do yourself a favor by reading Bible prophecies and learning about them. The great Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1726/27), the man who discovered gravity, wrote more about Bible prophecy (published posthumously only in recent decades) than he did about mathematics and science combined. He constantly said that fulfilled Bible prophecy was “why I am a Christian.”
Daniel then told King Nebuchadnezzar about his dream, “you are the head of gold” (Daniel 2.38). I believe the correct interpretation of the remainder of this dream identifies empires as follows: the silver chest and arms of the statue represents the Media-Persian Empire that followed the Neo-Babylonian Empire; the bronze mid-section symbolizes the Greek Empire; the iron legs indicate the Roman Empire and its remnants. I don’t think any time gaps are intended in this image. As for the feet of toes made of mixed iron and clay, these substances that do not mix well indicate democracy in recent times. Therefore, I believe we are living during the early time period indicated by the feet of this male image.
So, the feet and toes made of iron and clay in the statue in King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream predict that democracy will continue to the end of the age. Then Daniel told the king, “As you looked on, a stone was cut out, not by human hands, and it struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and broke them in pieces. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, were all broken in pieces and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace them could be found. But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth” (Daniel 2.34-35).
After Daniel related this dream to the king, he then told the king the interpretation of each of the mentioned body parts of the dream. Concerning the latter parts he said, “As you saw the feet and toes partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, it shall be a divided kingdom; but some of the strength of iron shall be in it, as you saw the iron mixed with the clay. As the toes of the feet were part iron and part clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly brittle. . . . And in the days of those kings,” represented by the ten toes, “the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall this kingdom be left to another people. It shall crush all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever” (Daniel 2.41-42, 44).
So, the stone that falls on the feet and toes of this statue/image is the Messianic Kingdom that will instantly appear at the end of this age. Until then, this dream that came from God in heaven foretells that democracy will continue at least throughout the Mediterranean world. This Messianic Kingdom, of course, will be led by God’s promised Messiah to Israel. I believe he is Jesus of Nazareth now seated at the right hand of God in heaven. He is that “one like a son of man” depicted in Daniel 7.13-14 who, in a royal ceremony in heaven, is given the kingdom. This scene actually will happen in heaven at the time of the end of the age/world on earth. Then Jesus will leave heaven to become that stone that will fall on the feet and toes of the image. (My book Warrior from Heaven is all about this.)