My thoughts on Independence Day are more muted this year than they have been in the past. In the first half of my life I saw the Berlin Wall fall and I watched as democracy, trade, and greater freedom spread around the world. There was still plenty wrong, of course, especially for a libertarian, but the world was on an upswing and it seemed like the ideas that led to the economic, political and social destruction of the first half of the twentieth century were in decline. Now, following the second Great Depression, illiberalism is on the rise much as it rose following the first Great Depression. All could yet turn out well but there is no denying that the world is no longer on an upswing.
In Freedom in the World: 2016, Freedom House reports:
The world was battered by crises that fueled xenophobic sentiment in democratic countries, undermined the economies of states dependent on the sale of natural resources, and led authoritarian regimes to crack down harder on dissent….
- The number of countries showing a decline in freedom for the year—72—was the largest since the 10-year slide began. Just 43 countries made gains.
- Over the past 10 years, 105 countries have seen a net decline, and only 61 have experienced a net improvement.
- Ratings for the Middle East and North Africa region were the worst in the world in 2015, followed closely by Eurasia.
- Over the last decade, the most significant global reversals have been in freedom of expression and the rule of law.
Freedom in the World has now declined for the 10th year in a row.