Date: July 19, 2017

Poland, Trump, and Hungary: This is what illiberal democracy looks like

The election of Trump, the Law and Politics Party winning a majority in Poland in 2015, and Viktor Orbán’s government in Hungary; what they all have in common is not merely a right-wing bend, but a contempt for liberal democracy. So goes the narrative, which has been particularly on display since Trump’s speech in Poland, that “illiberal democracy” is threatening the underpinnings of democracy in the Western world and beyond.

Some of the more conservative-minded would say this argument is the resentment of the losers. Trump, Szydlo, and Orbán won their elections fair and square. Why should they be dismissed just because you disagree with them? “If a democracy now needs to be a tool for spreading liberalism, conservatives are by definition, not democratic,” Sumantra Maitra wrote for Quillette.

Here is the thing: the problem isn’t simply with policy preferences but with the normative structures of democracy itself. These governments are taking actions to solidify their own power, not just to advance ideological interests of the people, but to advance the personal and party-based interests of the leaders or the ruling parties in ways that strike at the legal and moral underpinnings of democracy and rule of law.

A few examples will illustrate what exactly is meant by illiberal democracy. In Poland, the ruling party is trying to enact a measure that would give them control over the composition of the judiciary. As reported by Politico Europe:

Poland’s parliament, under the leadership of the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, passed a law dissolving an independent body responsible for the nomination of judges. At the same time, PiS submitted a draft law that would force the entire Supreme Court into retirement and give the country’s justice minister the ability to decide which judges can stay in their current roles.

Currently, Poland’s federal judges are appointed by a professional panel of lawyer. The Law and Justice party attacked the judges as leftists—the party chairman called the judiciary a “stronghold of post-communists”—and it is easy to see how a panel made up of lawyers could be attacked as “elitist” and biased to be more favorable towards political liberalism than the public, due to expected leanings within the field. Perhaps there is a case to be made for having judges appointed by the president, prime minister, parliament, or some combination thereof, as is done in places like the United States and South Korea. Although there are problems with the system in the U.S., which has resulted in the politicization of judicial appointments, there is a case to be made for some level of political accountability in the process.

The problem is that the manner by which Law and Justice is planning to implement this program appears meant to give their party control over the composition of the court

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Is Yoga really harmful? Depends on what you think “Yoga” is.

Recently, the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies published an article on the negative effects of Yoga in 350 participants New York, which states that it has caused severe pain in a third of those surveyed. So after 5000 years of standard practice of Yoga across the World, why is it only now people are seemingly becoming susceptible to injury and pain?

If we go back to the birthplace of yoga, and look at some of the most influential yogis and yoginis in India, you will find many have something in common. Take for instance Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, ‘The Father of modern yoga’ who is credited into reviving hatha yoga and being the architect behind the ever popular vinyasa. Krishnamacharya was mainly known as a healer, and used yoga to restore health. Similarly, B K S Iyengar, one of Krishnamacharya’s earliest students, throughout his childhood disease riddled his frail body and turned to yoga to restore his health. Despite 2 heart attacks through his life, he still died at the ripe age of 95, and still able to do a hand stand. Iyengar was a pioneer in bringing yoga abroad and founding the yoga practice known as Iyengar Yoga.

 

See a pattern? Here’s something interesting. I myself took up yoga, as a sufferer of joint disorders and chronic pain conditions, yoga was something that helped me recognise my body alignment, that paired with weight lifting and one on one coaching has helped me incredibly, knowing my misaligned my joints are and rectifying the problem instantly as I now read my body right. If I do it wrong, I’ll most likely dislocate a joint.

 

Yoga is theoretically, supposed to heal, restore and maintain a healthy life balance, aligning and strengthening by developing your relationship between mind, body and spirit. Some of the best yoga I have experienced has been more about the connection then the physical exercise and poses. Prana Kriya was something that connected me so much and so overwhelmingly that I cried after the session was over and it was more to do with breath control than long withstanding poses. Yoga is an art that takes time precision and immense concentration and listening to fully get to achieve the full benefits of.

 

Unfortunately, that’s where it went wrong in the West.

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