Friday, March 24, 2006

The Problem with Freedom's March

Is excellently laid out in this blog post. Democracy alone is not adequate. Without the laws and institutions it needs democracy is nothing more but majority power, and if the majority decides that a member of the society should die then that is what happens if majority rule is all we go by.

And that is why democracy can't be exported and handed out wrapped in a pretty bow. That's why Russia has trouble with democracy, right now, too. Learning to run a democracy takes years of practice and nothing much will come out of it until the necessary laws and institutions are not only in place but acknowledged to be in place by most of the citizens. Even then democracy means nothing unless the citizens are willing it to work.

Read the histories of democracies. They almost all had a bloody beginning and then a long stage when democracy meant that only some people could vote. Slowly, very slowly, the concept of democracy has been stretched and reworked to cover previously disfranchised groups such as women and racial minorities, and this stretching has coincided with reworkings of the laws and institutions that are necessary for democracy. We can't just take a cookie cutter and punch out democracies in the Middle East. It doesn't work.