Thesis: Democracy is not always the best path for every country as shown by: the prerequisites for democracy, countries that have been weakened by democracy, and other successful alternative forms of government. Counter Arg #1



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Thesis: Democracy is not always the best path for every country as shown by: the prerequisites for democracy, countries that have been weakened by democracy, and other successful alternative forms of government. Counter Arg #1: In order for a country to sustain a democracy, it does not need to develop socially and economically before hand. Democracy results in wealth, education, and employment. It is because countries remain autocratic that they are unable to develop, development cannot happen without democracy. Poor democracies fare better than poor autocracies; “Poor democracies out perform authoritarian countries because their institutions enable power to be shared and because they encourage openness and adaptability…democracies present an enormously powerful set of institutions that propel development.”- Joseph T. Siegle. India is a democratic success story, despite its lack of development. India hasn’t followed any of the development prerequisites of democracy, and has still bee able to transition into a working democratic government. India does not have a dominant middle class, is ethnically divided, and is not economically developed. Democracy brings economic prosperity, $6 000 per capita income is touted as good for democratic transition. However, the reality is that only sixteen autocratic countries have increased their per capital income level above $2 000 since 1960. Arg #1: In order for democracies to thrive, several development prerequisites have to be met and they are; community solidarity, unity, literacy, freedom of the individual, a middle class, and justice and equilibrium of power. Community solidarity means the country must have a degree of unity. Nigeria, and other less developed countries are not unified. Nigeria is divided into thirty-six different states, has over 250 different languages, and hundreds of ethnic groups. Ethnic ties dominate politics in Nigeria, and there have been six coups since it became democratic. Approximately fifty percent of Nigerians are Muslim, forty percent are Christian, and ten percent have indigenous beliefs. Twelve of the thirty-six states are under Islamic law, called Sharia. This mainly Christian-Islamic conflict has divided Nigeria, especially over implementing Sharia law, which the Christians strongly oppose. Literacy is another important component for democracy. A literacy survey conducted by the International Adult Literacy Survey in 2000 found that literacy is an important factor contributing to participation in civic society. Countries with high literacy rates, such as Sweden have fifty percent more adult voluntary participation in community affairs. According to the survey high literacy rates and participation in civic society “fosters democratic values”. Many lesser-developed countries have low literacy rates, and therefore they lack citizen participation. Higher literacy rates are also related to more female political participation. Individual rights need to be recognized over collective rights. Developing countries lack the religious, social and political recognition of individual rights. John Locke, the nineteenth century philosopher, stated: “For, when any number of men have, by the consent of every individual, made a community, they have thereby made that community one body, with a power to act as one body, which is only by the will and determination of the majority.” Recognizing the value of the rights of the individual in a community is important because then each person has a vote and the majority rules. This is essential for a democracy. Niebuhr suggests that non-European cultures lack the two pre-requisites for democracy and questions if it can succeed; “…the course of Western democracy serves to raise questions about the presence or absence in non-European cultures of two resources of individual freedom. They may lack both the original religio-cultural foundations…and the later bourgeois social and political affirmation of the individually.” Justice and equilibrium of power, means that power has to be transferred from the military to the government. “…The result of this subordination of military power to civil authority was to eliminate the military oligarchy as an important part of the power structure in free societies. This is an aspect of the democratic power structure in the West, which many of the new nations are unable to match, since many of them owe their existence to wars of liberation, and their domestic affairs are characterized by frequent internal rebellions. The relative effectiveness of the middle class and the military in the West in replacing the old feudalism with a new power structure has created a great chasm of historical contingency between the West and the new nations in this respect”-Niebuhr. Aristotle stated that a modern democracy could only survive if there was a large middle class. He believed that in societies without a large middle class, the government would either be an oligarchy or mob rule. Authoritarian China’s economic growth is greater than democratic India’s because of improvements made in improving social conditions. Comparing India with China according in the CIA World Fact Book, China’s infant mortality rates, life expectancy, population below the poverty line, and total literacy rats are double of that in India. China, infant mortality rate for the total population 25.28/1000 births (2004 est.), in India it’s 57.92/1000 births (2004 est.); China’s life expectancy at birth for the total population is 71.96 years, whereas India’s is 63.99 years; China has a 90.9% (2000 est.) literacy rate, while India has 59.5% (2003 est.); and lastly China has 10% (2001 est.) of it’s population living below the poverty line, and India has 25% of it’s population under the poverty line. Counter Arg #2: Democratic governments strengthen countries. Poor democracies are better at avoiding catastrophes than autocracies. Joseph T. Siegle states that since 1960 poor autocracies have experienced falling GDP’s by about ten percent annually, this occurs less often in poor democracies. Seventy percent of autocracies have had their GDP fall ten percent at least once since 1980. Whereas, in poor democracies only five out of eighty GDP fallings over the last 40 years have occurred in democracies. AIDS in Uganda and SARS in China are examples; “…it was the active public-education campaign undertaken by the Ugandan government…in the 1990s that dramatically reduced the transmission of HIV/aids in that country. Uganda was once the world leader in percentage of adult population infected, at roughly 30 percent, but by 2003, that rate had declined to 7 percent. By contrast, attempts to suppress information during the SARS epidemic in China allowed the disease to spread before the public became aware and concerted action could be taken. Once the epidemic was acknowledged, distrust of the government led many Chinese in infected areas to violate the government’s quarantine.” The democratic peace theory states that democratic countries never go to war with one another. R.J. Rummel, a political philosopher added to this theory that democracies are less likely to have internal violence. Arg #2: Democracy has weakened countries. Democracy does not equal peace as shown by democratic America and Britain fighting wars with democratic Germany. As well as, Britain fought the United States in 1776 and 1812 and revolutionary France in 1793 and 1795. In 1848 the United States fought Mexico. In the American Civil War, North and South shared a democratic history, also the Boer and Spanish-American Wars, and especially World War I. Even with democracy, South Africa is extremely violent and has not progressed economically. According to the Kroll Associates security firm, democratic South Africa, is one of the most violent countries in the world. The murder rate is six times higher than in the United States, and five times higher than in Russia. Every policeman needs approximately ten security guards. The currency is declining, and South Africa has become a major player in the international drug trade. Unemployment rates are as high as 33 percent, and jobs will not be created unless there is more foreign investment. South Africa needs to impose strict policing, but democracies do not allow this. Democracy can further fracture a country, especially when one of the main prerequisites of democracy, unity is absent. Former Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, does not believe in democracy because of tribalism, religion, and regionalism. : “I happen to be one of those people who do not believe in multi-party democracy. In fact, I am totally opposed to it as far as Africa today is concerned…If one forms a multi-party system in Uganda, a party cannot win elections unless it finds a way of dividing the 94 % of the electorate [that consists of peasants], and this is where the main problem comes up: tribalism, religion, or regionalism becomes the basis for intense partisanship.” The American failure to install democracy in Haiti is an example of democracy weakening a country. In 1994 22,000 American soldiers were dispatched to restore democracy. Approximately five percent of eligible Haitian voters participated in the first election, this is an extremely low number, which suggests that democracy made no improvements in Haiti because it is still very unstable. Three quarters of Haitians (from a total population of 8.3 million) live in absolute poverty, and unemployment is also high. Haiti is susceptible to famines, and the counsel for Human Rights Watch noted: “Haiti continues to be very discouraging.” Counter Arg #3: Installing democracy is a long and difficult process with, setbacks but in the end, is better than life under an autocracy. Some statistics show that democracies do a better job of avoiding humanitarian emergencies; “the 87 largest refugee crises over the past 20 years originated in autocracies, and 80 percent of all internally displaced persons in 2003 were living under authoritarian regimes, even though such systems represented only a third of all states.” The Nobel laureate and political economist, Amartya Sen once observed that no democracy with a free press has ever experienced a major famine. Arg #3: There are other successful alternative forms of government. Singapore, most successful non-democratic country, Singapore is an example of a non-democratic country that has prospered economically and socially. Lee Kuan Yew’s progressive neo-authoritarianism, has developed Singapore into becoming the most advanced country in the World Economic Forum’s ranking of the top fifty three countries in economic competitiveness. Singapore also holds the number one spot on the United Nations’ Human Development Index, for increasing it’s per capita wealth equal to that of Canada’s. Before Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore was one of the poorest countries in the world. It is true that lately Singapore has become more democratic. However, it’s economic and social development successes can be attributed to Lee Kuan Yew’s autocracy. “Doesn’t liberation from filth and privation count as a human right?” Pakistan, semi-autocratic government of Quershi provided economic and political stability. The army backed him, and without the restrictions of a democratic system he was able to improve economic and political stability. Authortarian China has been able to improve it’s living standard


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