John is a professor of philosophy at Fordham University (New York). He teaches and writes on topics in political philosophy including constitutional reform, democratic theory, human rights, global governance, just war theory, and related topics. He also continues to write on topics in existentialism, and moral psychology (theories of agency, free will, responsibility, self and character, motivation and autonomy); and on some topics in philosophy of religion (including religion in the public sphere, comparative religion, and mythology). He is the author of The Democracy Amendments: Constitutional Reforms to Save the United States (Anthem, 2023), which advocates 25 constitutional fixes and a new national convention to consider and propose amendments to the states. He is also author of A League of Democracies (Routledge, 2018) – a plan to meet rising threats from Russia and China – and is currently preparing new books on human rights and the universal right to democracy.
Website | LinkedIn
The Threat of Global Tyranny: The world in 2023 faces numerous deep and worsening challenges, almost all of which originate in failures of government and for-profit mass medias at national and global levels. The worst problem of all that so few people grasp the true scale and depth of most global problems. While the world may be turning a corner (slowly) towards greater reliance on green energy, the stakes of the war in Ukraine could not be higher: the fate of civic freedoms and democratic politics itself is on the line, and still the leaders of Europe refused to fight Putin directly.
More generally, democratic government faces rising challenges from tyrannical regimes, including a growing nexus of military leaders in Russia, China, Iran, Myanmar, Lebanon, parts of the Sahel, Venezuela and their mercenaries and armies of cyber-hackers. Contrary to popular portrayals, few people in western nations realize to what extent Putin is winning this existential contest for the 21st century – and how fatally this is encouraging Xi’s regime to start building a new empire in Asia.
IF NATO had admitted Ukraine in 2014 in response to the annexation of Crimea, or admitted Ukraine in late 2021 as Russian forces were massing, Putin and his new fascist allies (e.g. in Belarus) would never have been emboldened to launch total war on the Ukrainian people. Similarly, NATO failed to deter Putin when he allied with Assad in Syria to obliterate housing in Sunni sections of Syrian cities, helping Assad to kill hundreds of thousands of Syrians. And in Ukraine today, the United States has committed more than three times all EU commitments to this fight (see the Kiel Institute tracker) – for a war in Europe. French aid in particular is almost non-existent in comparison; tiny Slovenia and Finland have provided more than France.
The game of “chicken” among NATO nations could not be clearer. This spectacle signals to the Kremlin and the Chinese politburo that democratic nations will not fight them with all it really takes to counter the advance of tyranny across more and more of the planet each year. As experts from many fields now agree, what it takes is a new and much stronger global alliance of democratic nations that can amass economic and military leverage that even China’s dictators cannot match.
There is so much virtue-signalling, and so few tanks, warplanes, long-range missiles, and volunteers for the international brigade in Ukraine. Millions of people in western nations who are kept naïve by their advertisement-funded medias will applaud for Alexy Navalny at the Oscars and then forget all about Putin’s blitzkrieg the next day, secure in the illusion that their way of life is not really in any genuine danger. If another Holocaust were attempted today, the perpetrators could surely get away with it if they had the right propaganda team, client governments dependent on trade and funding from the offending totalitarian regime, and billions of distracted ordinary people around the world whose real highest priority is just to continue the consumption and leisure patterns shaped by the advertising in which they are so inundated.
The US as a Failing Nation: Meanwhile, excessive reliance on the United States to secure a global order safe for civil rights and democracy is endangered by the failing condition of the US government and media ecosystem. Numerous deep structural flaws in its constitutional design are paralyzing the US government, and thereby enabling intense political polarization. The parties and their proxy TV and internet networks profit from the emotional addiction to rage and hatred at ostensibly opposing groups. As a result, one party and its populist leaders have turned to campaigns of mass lies on scales not seen since Goebbels’ propaganda for the Third Reich.
The US is increasingly in danger of mass violence following another contested election, along with near-complete confusion among frustrated Americans who do not understand the constitutional roots of our national ills. In order to stabilize the country and enable the US to participate productively in a new global league of democratic nations, the worst flaws in the American Constitution must first be fixed. The only way left to achieve this now is through holding a new national convention to write a series of amendments that the states can ratify.
Contributions: my scholarship address such problems and their roots at two levels: