There seems little doubt that Western so-called democracies are gravitating toward increasingly autocratic politics. Executive power is being exercised by secret policy formulation, to be imposed on the electorate, or on other countries, with no regard for democratic oversight.
Western states are once again flirting with fascism -- as in earlier dark periods over the past century.
Here is a recent snapshot of the disturbing trend. Britain's Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond this week openly voiced his frustration with democratic process as something that is "cumbersome" for the pursuit of foreign military objectives.
Meanwhile, America's top General Wesley Clark told US media that Washington needs the power to round up "disloyal" citizens in internment camps without due legal process.
Added to this is the condemnation also this week by France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius of a French parliamentary delegation travelling to Russia on a fact-finding visit over the Ukraine crisis.
Then we have the ongoing diktat to the Greek people of their country's financial policies, imposed by the European Union's creditors led by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
In each instance we see a sinister logic emboldened among Western states, whereby democratic mandate and legal standards are over-ridden by the ruling political class. What other way to describe this tendency but as a form of incipient fascism?
We should not be surprised by such tendency. Despite much-vaunted claims of democracy, human rights and law, Western states have always had a propensity towards fascism.
The publication of photographs last week of British Queen Elizabeth making a Nazi salute, as a young girl in 1933, along with adult members of the royal family, is a stark reminder that Britain's ruling class were earnest supporters of Adolf Hitler and his fascist regime during the 1930s. Queen Elizabeth's uncle, who became King Edward VIII, traveled to Nazi Germany in 1937 following his abdication. He was not only filmed giving Nazi salutes to the Fuhrer, the British royal also plotted treasonously with the Third Reich to form a Nazi-collaborationist regime in England.
In much the same way that the French ruling class, led by General Philippe Petain, formed the despicable Vichy regime that worked assiduously with Nazi Germany to murder and incarcerate tens of thousands of their own compatriots between 1940-44.
As for the supposedly noble American champions of democracy, Washington has a long and bloody history of sponsoring fascist regimes and their death squads throughout Latin America to make that continent "safe" for US capitalist exploitation.
Washington's penchant for despots and autocrats is manifest today in its unwavering support for the Persian Gulf Arab dictatorships and the Israeli regime. The same can be said for Britain, France and Germany, where weapons sales and oil interests prevail over popular demands for democracy, human rights and international legal justice.
For several decades after the Second World War, Western states could make a reasonable claim of practicing democracy, at least at home if not overseas. During those years, there was a semblance of electoral process and of governing policies mandated by the people. There was undoubted progress in democratic distribution of wealth and the creation of social security systems and public services in education and healthcare.
However, over the past two decades, democratic reforms in Western states have been relentlessly rolled back. This retrograde process is correlated with the vast polarization of wealth and power between an oligarchic minority and the wider population. Western "governments" are increasingly political vehicles that serve the interests of the oligarchy, while meting out economic austerity and repression on the general populace.
The upcoming presidential election in the US is a classic case in point of how electoral "choice" is determined by the financial and corporate oligarchy. Whoever wins that contest will be a servant of the ruling class.
In Britain, we see a Conservative administration composed of millionaires like Prime Minister David Cameron and his Chancellor George Osborne, which was "elected" by a minority of voters -- only 36 percent -- and bankrolled into office by City of London finance. Now Cameron's government is inflicting even more savage austerity measures that will leave millions of citizens much worse off, while enriching the bankers and the rich.
Western countries are grappling with a systemic problem -- the demise of capitalism. During the postwar decades, owing in part to the reconstruction of Europe and Asia-Pacific, the system performed relatively well, providing high levels of employment and upholding living standards.