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DEMOCRACY: Re; Democratic Process



Political scientist David Crow says: Churchill reportedly said "Democracy is the worst form of government, with the exception of all others."
(There are variants on the quote; see
"Winston Churchill Wrote" for a discussion and other quotes on democracy.)

Whether democracy can travel or not is the most important question with which comparative scholars grapple. It seems clear that the U.S.'s particular combination of democracy and capitalism isn't exportable because, as George Soros pointed out recently, our success depends upon our unique status as the world's preeminent economic power--a status that, by definition, other countries can't acquire.

On the other hand, I think that Fukuyama may have been onto something in The End of History (despite the book's evidently flawed conclusion) that democracy responds best to all humans' fundamental longing for liberty and recognition. Democracy is compatible with a wide variety of institutional arrangements, including some we may not have seen yet. These two ideas lead me to believe that we may continue to see an expansion of democracy in one form or another, even in cultures held to be inherently anti-democratic--though each "wave" of democratization has been followed by a reflux.

Finally, if democracy is to be exported, will that be done so via example (so-called "demonstration effects") or at the end of a gun barrel?"

Ronald Hilton - 09.05.03


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