As political history explains us, major stages of Western civilization are inspired by theories, ideas and philosophical and socio-economic thinkers. Moreover, they are transformed into political platforms or programs. Finally, the latter are implemented by the competition between different political parties especially by “leftist and rightist.”

To come to its shape of today, the system of democracy (representative) has passed through many development stages known as: increase, decrease, crises or stagnation. Viewing into its own essence, the Western culture in the broadest sense of the word – which determines the quality of the democratic system – generates constantly changes, movements, so it “never gets tired” or stays in a static state for a long time. Until now, modern history recognizes two theories and two failed systems: Right-wing Dictatorship and Left-wing Dictatorship with their theories which remained static until their collapse. In the meantime, Democracy as a system and its theories seem able to cope and to adapt to the challenges related to a particular society at home or abroad. And, despite some reservations expressed by different countries around the world to the values of democracy, today it is hardly possible to find out any of them which refuse to rely on its fundamentals/principles such as political pluralism and its institutions, human rights, rule of law, and market economy. The most interesting stage of this system is the liberal democracy installed mainly in the early twentieth century, with its peak after the Second World War including the globalization era where we live in today.

Phenomena and challenges

It is well known that the free individual with his thoughts and his actions, certainly in the frame of the legal system being in his service, is in the center of the democratic system. But, this individual, in fact, looks like “a consumer” of the democratic system goods.  As such, he can keep his position as receiver, rejecter or protester depending on the “quality and quantity” of these goods. Furthermore, this attitude is manifested towards elites/political establishment of the country concerned, but he generally cares a little or not at all about theories/ideas that politics are based on. Therefore, in these recent years, especially after 2008-2010 financial crisis, the political establishment remains negatively judged by the “consumer” blaming it as incompetent to face negative consequences of globalization, migration or free international trade, etc.

Those reactions are largely embraced by some other political alternatives expressing themselves against current establishment. While supporting the “anti-establishment” and trying to find out appropriate solutions, they are actually promoting their policy and programs based on existing theories/ideas. The first one was Greece, where the electorate believed in a non-traditional party, which is followed by such movements in Italy and Spain, even in the US or Brexit phenomena in the UK, as well as political positions called “anti-EU” in Poland or Hungary, etc. Furthermore, some scholars talk about “post-liberal democracy”, without giving any theoretical content and definition.

Nowadays, this phenomenon appears: there are countries/societies which have not passed through democracy stages till reaching the current liberal democracy. The latter has a tendency to amplify, even promote, its failures, so they are building their way towards democracy called authoritarian democracy. As a matter of fact, in western democratic countries, people tend to express dissatisfaction condemning traditional parties and blaming them for all problems they have to face (economic, social, migratory, rise of terrorism, education, family issues, etc.), hopping that a new unknown and unproven policy must be applied by non-traditional parties, named “independents”. There is a belief that they should be able and capable to give to the “consumer” a new offer and rescue program. Being side by side with those movements, we should add that this “new offer and rescue program” is and remains inspired by philosophical scholars born and developed decades ago which have been valued in the previous stages of the democracy. 

Poverty of ideas

As stated above, the individual “generally cares a little or not at all about theories/ideas that politics are based on”. He is interested in the goods of the political party programs. We also mentioned above that “the western culture generates changes, new ideas and movements”, the new policies and programs should potentially be built based on those new ideas and theories in response to the appropriate situations, as well as anticipating the future developments.

The evolutionary character of the western culture born since the time of Ancient Greece is vital in its essence. However, for more than a decade, this culture is suffering from a lack of new ideas and theories in the field of new policy approaches and options, effectiveness of parliamentary system, free economy the social market, protectionism policies, globalization challenges, cultural and religious conflicts or even free individual with his freedom of expression/opinion and education. 

In economic terms, this lack of new ideas and theories is the “consumer’s” most sensitive subject, for example: The current economic and financial system is set based on very old theories which stress the maximum profit for business through tight competition and bankruptcy; The trade and free movement of capital system, that have unified markets and removed barriers, bringing benefits, common developments and new technologies throughout the world, but causing economic and social damages and environmental challenges in all regions of the world. States, governments and International organizations are addressing these challenges, but their programs and politics (leftists and rightists, or independents/new movements), are still fed by theories and ideas over than 100 or 200 years earlier.  We are witnesses that the campaigns in different countries for new elections (general or precedential ones) are obviously inspired by the old basic theories such as: lowering or raising taxes, public investment and public debt, creation of jobs by increasing of consumption, the closure or opening of borders against/for migrants, the integration or disintegration, political and military alliances in bilateral or regional level (the latter reminds us the Balance of Powers policy dated around 2 centuries ago).

The poverty of new ideas is clearly proved by the latest developments in the countries mentioned above where certain policies are seeking to return to protectionism and isolationism, trying to abandon globalization, making politics to set up alliances against others which have thoroughly been valid and adequate the last century. Nowadays, they cannot be entirely re-applied as such merely because of the new circumstances requiring new policies. In this globalized world, once a policy is applied in a country, it affects directly the others in the region or in the world. This complex new situation shows us clearly the lack of adequate political alternatives due to the poverty of new ideas/theories on which these alternatives are to be built. At the level of international organizations, including first the UN, there might be the same conclusion: Except from the fact that these organizations are increasing in number due to the increase of international relations (positive development), they seem to continue to operate for decades “conservatively” under the same operational format. Many sessions and meetings do not really differ horizontally and vertically from each-other, overlapping themes they deal with. There are some on-going reforms, but they cannot be just a matter of “effective building platforms and action plans”, or reducing the number of sessions with the intention of “saving time and money”. First and foremost issue should be how to process new ideas and new theories aiming to increase their efficiency and operation functioning as real “world government.”

As a conclusion, analyzing through various aspects situations and problems in different countries, in particular those in western democracies, along with the complex international management of inter-state relations, these are precisely these new ideas and theories that will enable policies to meet these internal and external challenges of societies as well as re-orient political spectrum/their establishments to apply appropriate policies. In the international level, they have to approach the future global developments under new conditions full of new and unexpected challenges and uncertainties, hoping to “implement SDG and 2030 Agenda” for a peaceful, stable, equal, equitable and balanced world where each one acts in mutually and common beneficial.