Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Universal Democracy?

Larry Diamond writes a long essay in the current Policy Review. He says:

This is the most ambitious effort to foster deliberate political change since European colonial rule drew to a close in the early post-World War ii era. Can it succeed? Since Iraq lacks virtually all of the classic favorable conditions, to ask whether it can soon become a democracy is to ask, really, whether any country can become a democracy. Which is to ask as well, can every country become a democracy?

My answer here is a cautiously optimistic one. The current moment is in many respects without historical precedent. Much is made of the unparalleled gap between the military and economic power of the United States and that of any conceivable combination of competitors or adversaries. But no less unique are these additional facts:


• This breathtaking preponderance of power is held by a liberal democracy.


• The next most powerful global actor is a loose union of countries that are also all liberal democracies.


• The majority of states in the world are already democracies of one sort or another.


• There is no model of governance with any broad normative appeal or legitimacy in the world other than democracy.


• There is growing international legal and moral momentum toward the recognition of democracy as a basic human right of all peoples.


• States and international organizations are intruding on sovereignty in ever more numerous and audacious ways in order to promote democracy and freedom.

A different version (and longer, with statistical tables, etc.)may be found here. (in pdf format)

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