There are so many things being said in these days of political turmoil, sound bites that get repeated over and over again, until we get to the point that we believe them. I was watching the news with interest during Trump’s visit to the UK when the Secretary of State for International Trade, Liam Fox, described him as the leader of the Free World. Fox was upset that people had come out to protest at the President of the USA’s visit to England and Scotland.
As is often the case when such things are said, no one challenges what is being put forward. Since when has the president of the US become the leader of the Free World? Is there such a title and do you get elected to it or does it come with the territory? I certainly don’t recall any vote on the matter.
The use of the phrase Free World started during World War 2 when it was used to describe those countries that were fighting against the fascists. Since then it has come to mean countries that are not totalitarian but rather democratic, yet there is no firm description of which countries or in or out.
Having a Free World would suggest that there is an Unfree World or an imprisoned world as well and that being on one side is better than the other. If only it were that simple.
According to the Economist Intelligence Unit Democracy Index of 2017, only ten countries in the world get top marks for the level of their democracy. The UK and USA are not in this elite group, indeed the US ranks in the third tier of the report’s findings and is labeled under the category of ‘Flawed Democracy’. The UK Is in the second tier.
It cannot be, therefore, that the President of the USA is the leader on the basis that the country is the most democratic and so the most free. No, it is because the USA is the largest economy in the world, for now, and is looked upon to support the rest of the so-called free world against tyranny.
There is no such thing as a free world, just countries that are more free than others. There is certainly no leader, it is a title that is shamelessly used to support specific political ideals.
It would be a huge irony if the Free World, if there was one, could not vote for its leader.