Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Democracy rules?

Robert Kaplan's got a brilliant commentary in the Washington Post about the need for us in the West to stop thinking democracy is the cat's pyjamas. In most parts of the world where democracy has no historical basis, the challenges are much different than over here in these parts.

A few snippets:

America basically inherited its institutions from the Anglo-Saxon tradition and thus its experience over 230 years has been about limiting despotic power rather than creating power from scratch. Because order is something we've taken for granted, anarchy is not something we've feared. But in many parts of the world, the experience has been the opposite, and so is the challenge: how to create legitimate, functioning institutions in utterly barren landscapes. . .

. . .For the average person who just wants to walk the streets without being brutalized or blown up by criminal gangs, a despotic state that can protect him is more moral and far more useful than a democratic one that cannot.

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