Examines the influence of democracy on politics, business and economics, law, culture, and religion in different regions of the world; explores the dark side of the democratic process and its sometimes negative impact; and reflects on the future of world democracy. Reprint. 50,000 first printing.
Fareed Zakaria was named editor of Newsweek International in October 2000, overseeing all Newsweek's editions abroad. The magazine reaches an audience of 24 million worldwide. He writes a regular column for Newsweek, which also appears in Newsweek International and fortnightly in the Washington Post. He also hosts an international affairs program, Fareed Zakaria GPS, which airs Sundays worldwide on CNN.
Zakaria was the managing editor of Foreign Affairs, the widely-circulated journal of international politics and economics. He is the author of several books, including The Future of Freedom, which was a New York Times bestseller and has been translated into 20 languages. His new book, The Post American World, was published in May 2008 and became an instant best-seller.
Zakaria has won several awards for his columns and cover-essays, in particular for his October 2001 Newsweek cover story, "Why They Hate Us." In 1999, he was named "one of the 21 most important people of the 21st Century" by Esquire magazine. In 2007, he was named one of the 100 leading public intellectuals in the world by Foreign Policy and Prospect magazines. He has received honorary degrees from many universities. He serves on the board of Yale University, The Council on Foreign Relations, The Trilateral Commission, and Shakespeare and Company.
He received a B.A. from Yale and a Ph.D. in political science from Harvard. He lives in New York City with his wife, son and two daughters.
Zakaria points out that there is a difference between democracy and constitutional liberalism that Western people take for granted because we assume that they are one and the same. While democracy refers to government elected by the majority of its people, constitutional liberalism refers to the rule of law, separation of powers, instituional check and balances, and most importantly individual rights.
The History of Human Liberty:
The basic gist is the decentralization of power in favor of human liberty for the masses. This occurred first in Rome in creating the rule of law, then the split between the powers of church and state in which Constantine left Rome and the Pope behind. Next comes the rights of nobles versus the monarch which is best exemplified in the Magna Carta. Next comes the Protestant Reformation and the rejection of a formal clergy in favor of personal biblical interpretation. Finally, the role of the yeoman class in England which later morphed into the middle class that had to have their property rights protected by law. Thus establishing the rule of law as an important aspect for liberty and capitalism.
Also another thesis that is interesting in his first chapter is that constitutional liberalism and capitalism are prerequisites for a "Western-type democracy". That is you cannot have a true democracy without a middle class and the rule of law. This can be seen in the dictatorship that beset third world countries though their leaders are democratically elected (ie: Venanzuela). Also in the Palestinian territories, Hamas was elected into power democratically but their government is not recognized by Israel or the US.
Growing pains of the Constitutional Liberal Democracy:
One thing that he points out again is how constitutional liberalism is sometimes at odds with Democracy. He states conservative ultra-nationalistic elements in society occasionally use fear tactics and divisive politics as a means to get democratically elected. The target audience of these movements are the working class people and work on the assumption that there are enemies from without and from within. Once elected, they spend on defense and limit civil liberties, freedoms, anti-immigration, and separation of powers. He states this is how Hitler took power in Germany and to a certain extent one can see this today in the tea party movement. One can also state that W's politics was of this nature although he was decidedly pro-immigration.
Another thing that Zakaria points out the importance of constitutional liberal democracy is that it has a m.c. independent of the state. This was the issue with continental Europe pre-WWII the m.c. class was dependent on the state and its bureaucracy for its wealth instead of being purely independent of it.
As with Thomas Friedman's thesis, Zakaria also points out that natural resource rich states are the least democratic (oil-rich countries of the middle east) because the state does not depend on its population for its wealth. He states that taxation and representation go hand in hand. That is, the richer its population (capitalism) the healthier the states coffers are and also since the state needs its population wealth to thrive then it needs to be responsive to its needs and demands (democracy). It is interesting to note, that he states the greatest predictor of whether or not a countries democracy will survive and thrive is its GDP per capita. The higher the GDP per capita of a country, the more it thrives as a constitutional liberal democracy.
The good news is this means that there is hope for Communist China since they are more or less ruled by the rule of law as well as they are becoming more and more capitalistic. My personal view is once the majority of people in China become middle class, they will become a "western democracy".
The bigger question for the US is what does it do once China becomes a fully-democratic country mirroring the US and its true potential of its country is realized. In terms of the policies of today and America's future in competing with other countries, who is right? Should the US strengthen its m.c. by cutting taxes and allowing businesses to grow in the here and now (Republican view point) or should the U.S. invest in its future through research/development/education and updating its infrastructure so that future m.c. people can take full advantage of the resources available to them (Obama Democrats)? What does either one of these growth strategies for m.c. mean to the US deficit? Is Cheney right in saying that Reagan administration proved that deficit does not matter? Or will deficit become important because the world will no longer lend us money because we will default on our debts and if so how will that impact American government and that of its people?
The rise of Illiberal Democracy:
Zakaria states that a solid middle class and solid democratic institutions such as one that observes the law blindly as well as political parties need to precede democracy in order for it to become a "western-style democracy". Without these two important pillars democacy descends into popular autocratic regimes (original French Revolution, Russia, Venezuela of the worlds) that cater to sectarian demagoguary for its power base.
Zakaria favors China's model of slow reform that liberalizes the economy first in order to have a growing middle class and then establishment of laws and the institution of the rule of law next to protect the rights of the middle class rather than a straight jump to democracy. So, he favors liberal autocrats (enlightened autocrats) to illiberal democracies because consitutional liberalism ensures that democracy becomes permanent whereas illiberal democracies lead to dictatorship or oligarch rule.
Bush's experiment in Democracy in Iraq brings this seeming abstraction into reality. The question remains does removing Saddam Hussein from power usher "a democratic oasis" in the middle east? True enough, Hussein was not a liberal autocrat that is he was in power to enrich himself only. So removing him at the head of the country would be a good first step but does Iraq have strong democratic institutions? No. Does it have a strong middle class indepedent of the state? According to Zakaria there is a significant middle class but whether or not it is independent of the state is another matter. It does have large reserve of natural resource, oil, so the state could survive without taxation and as a result without representation by the people it governs. He prefers to place the oil revenues into a int'l trust instead of transfering it to Iraqi control so the money will be spent on building a strong educated middle class instead of it going towards the heads of state and his crony oligarchs.
He states that the trend in illiberal society with multi-ethnic divisions with newly acquired democracy is for the majority to trample on the minority in its worst case scenario via ethnic cleansing or if sectarian violence.
The question remains, will Iraq be the exception to the rule in which democracy will usher a new reign of constitutional liberalism or did we just place Iraq in a possible quagmire of secterian civil war and/or exchange one autocrat for another autocrat? So the real question is will this democracy last?
Dysfunctional Middle Eastern governments:
Zakaria rejects the notion that Islam is inherently incompatible with western democracy. He cites the predominant Islamic countries of Turkey, Pakistan, Indonesia, and Bagledesh as rejection of notion that Islam and democracy are incompatible.
He states what happened in the middle east is a special case instead of the rule of the trend toward democracy. In fact, he cites Nassar as the first western leader in that his government advocated Arab pan-nationalism, secular rule, and socialism that was invogue in European countries at the time. The problem was that Nassar and other middle eastern rulers became dictators instead of strengthening democratic institutions. This combine with the socialistic aspect of their regime created both political and economic stagnation. Because of this stagnation, opposition groups propped up all over the place and these groups began rejecting Western-style government. In response, these dictators began repressing all opposition groups against them except the Islamic religion. So the only place Angry Arabs could express themselves was through Islamic institution thus gave birth of Islamist as a political movement as well as a religion.
Combine this with the fact that most Arab states get their revenue from oil and not from taxation, thus there has been no pressure to liberalize their economy to retain control of the government. Without these liberalization measure, you do not a have a middle class plus you get angry young unemployed men. And as we said earlier the only place these mad males can vent is through Islamic fundamentalism.
Since the state just spends on itself because it owes nothing to its citizenry, the social services are being taken cared of by these Islamic fundamentalist groups giving them popularity in their general population. Because these religious leaders are more popular than the state, the state supports these organizations in the hope of gaining legitimacy in the eyes of its people (ie: prevent a revolution). So in Saudi Arabia this takes the shape of the royal family funding the madrasas that produces terrorists mind set so antagonistic to the west. So the irony of all this, is Americans are indirectly financing terrorist groups by buying oil from OPEC countries. Also since the state fails it citizenry continuously, they deflect personal criticism in favor of allowing angry masses to vent their frustration on demonizing the West and Israel. For the state, this allows them to stay in power and keep petro dollars in their leaders pockets instead of providing for their people.
If this is the case, I am really for energy independence from the middle east as a national security imperative. By not buying oil from the middle east, this will force them to liberalize their economies that will create thriving middle class. Even if China and other Asian countries pick up the slack of oil purchasing at least the middle east anger will be directed at Asian countries instead of us. Also, we can support the Israeli/Palestinian peace process as well as demand that the Saudi's not fund these madrhasas.
Too much Democracy @ Home? - The best chapter yet!!! Zakaria points to the general public discontent of today is due to the democratization of political process in which public leaders have to be full time politicians to survive in public life. He points to the seventies as the seminal moment in which public discontent with government began. He states that opening up Congress to see how one votes has led to special interest groups and lobbyist to target these Congress people in elections that vote against their specific interest.
Although this accountability on the surface seems good, it makes these public leaders always consider politics for the vocal minority in their votes instead what is best for the country or constitiuents as a whole. The advent of special interest and lobbyist industry has the effect in Washington of making it an impossibility to shrink government programs (Republican position) or shift priorities to the strategic long-term needs of the country ( Obama Democratic positon), one only needs to look at past efforts of Reagan, Gingrich, and the two Bushes to see this as true, in their collective administration government spending has grown not shrunk even though they collectively railed against big government. So the effect of democratization of politcs by transparency in the previous close session of Congress allows for the undue influence of special interest groups and lobbyist that allows politics of the minority to rule over policy instead of Congress deciding what is best for the country. This particularly apparent in the Byzantine tax code in which politicians use for their favorite special interest.Thus, are congressional politicians simply playing politics when they vote or are the votes really what they think is best for the country?
Also, Zakaria points to the advent of primaries as to the reason US politics has become so polarized. He cites people who vote in the primaries are people who are interested on extreme conservative or liberal issues not issues that concerns America as a whole. Although as a whole I think this is a better way in selecting candidates rather than old party bosses and their political machines, it does give a reason to why politics have had a polarizing trend.
Another democratization folly is the California referendum that has caused their government to be a non-entity. That total democracy has created the state legislature and governor as a joke.
As well as the well-intensioned campaign finance reform that has diffused the financing of political campaigns to PAC's with lack of transparency of who is giving and gave people who can fundraise the real power in politics today instead of the old party bosses.
Public leaders of today also respond to polls a lot more than they once did, I think due to the incesant non-stop news cycle in which every move they make gets scrutanized by the opposition media. It remains to be seen whether doing the right thing ( long-term strategic interest) in today's political climate can trump what is popular (Obama). At the risk of looking undemocratic and if Obama wants to change the tone in Washington, he should target the news media and lobbyist/special interest so Congress can actually function for the people instead of incesantly playing politics to appease the general public.
Loss of Authority in society:
Democratization of Finance: Since the 1958 when Bank of America began catering to the middle class by issuing credit cards to main street America, the world of finance is now catered to main street USA instead of old institutions and the very wealthy. This trend continued through 70's via money-market funds when people began to realize that they were losing money in savings account due to hyperinflation of the day. Further democratization of finance continued through Congressional action of creating 401k's and IRA accounts as well as the discount brokerage firms that allowed anyone to be his own stock broker. Further democratization of finance was through the creation of Milken's junk-bonds which allowed promising small firms without an establish credit history to issue bonds to raise capital to expand, in return these bonds sell for high interest rates to the buyer. There have been a few companies that started out in junk bond status and have prospered such as CNN and MCI.
But of course as any action or trend, there has been some unintended consequences to government deregulation and democratization of finance. The biggest one of course is the default mortgage swaps that led to almost a second depression as well as the dubious mixing of commercial and investment banking that has allowed the banks to bundle peoples capital and pursue risky investments with it. Another unintended consequence is the mixing of investment research departments with the branch of company that sells them causing a conflict of interest that leads to a doubtful objectivity in its research.
Democratization of Religion: Evangelical churches have replaced mainstream protestant churches because these churches are populist and highly responsive to its congregants instead of rigid orthodoxy or the clergy. Apparently Falwell used the business model to create the mega church with modern consumer amenities thus marrying religion and capitalism. With the advent of Roe vs Wade, the moral majority was created which became the vehicle for social conservatism, thus softening the ideological divide between the different religions and coming to a shared consensus on key social issues. The democratization of religion of course mirrors America's continues search for spirituality which has deemphasize the role of religious authority in favor of personal conscience.
Democratization of Culture: Zakaria laments pop-culture in striving for popularity instead of quality of the cultural artifact. Pop-culture simply mirrors societies baser instinct to sell their goods.
Democratization of Society: The problem with democratization of society as Zakaria sees it is democratization leads to increase commercialization that makes businessmen of all professional. The increase commercialization in every aspect of our lives leads to increase competition in the race to the top which in turn leads to increase individuality at the expense of shared responsibility for society. He states that there was a time when professional adhered to rule of honor in their profession to not only make money but do what is right for society instead of "commercializing their services". He laments the effects of this commercializations, in accountants fudging the numbers to please their clients(Arthur Andersen and Enron), to trial lawyers who engage in frivolous lawsuits in order to become millionaires, to even doctors who do questionable procedures to increase there bottom line.
Although the intense competition did lead to increase meritocracy (democracy) in regards to talent instead of name, family, or race, it also has led us into an intensely individualistic culture and askews responsibility for society. Apparently, there was a time when people actually wanted to take care of society so government did not have to. The irony between the battle of government vs. individualistic capitalism is they feed off each other, that is when government becomes huge, people feel they are not responsible for society so they concentrate on themselves but since they obsessively concentrate on themselves they need government to take over more and more of civil society.
I think the best scenario would be for individual capitalist to take a more active role in society so government does not have to. One is beginning to see this in Gates Foundation as well as Zuckerbergs $250 million revamping of NJ school system. I really truly believe that governments role is to be a catalyst to empower citizens to participate in creating their civil society instead of running it.
So what to do about trying to have good long-term strategic policy without unnecessary special-interest interference by an organized vocal minority that seems to be the bane of American democracy. Zakaria favors setting up special non-partisan commission to do most of the long-term strategic policy making and Congress just votes on the findings to decrease the influence of special interest groups and short-term politics in policy creation. Obama is actually trying to do this with Medicare cost-cutting commission that Congress can simply override with votes if they find the measures to be too draconian.
کتاب سعی میکنه بگه چطور دموکراسی که همه این سالها مساوی با آزادی در نظر گرفته شده، گاهی سد راه آزادی میشه. چه وقتی که تو کشورهایی که زمینه مساعدی برای تشکیل دموکراسی ندارند پیاده میشه و استبداد اکثریت رو شکل میده، مثل ایران. و چه وقتی که این روند افراطی دموکراتیزه کردن همه نهادهای قدرت تو دموکراسیهای لیبرالی مثل آمریکا باعث هرج و مرج و تحمیل هزینههای اقتصادی و اجتماعی مختلف به کشور میشه. نویسنده میخواد بگه لیبرالیزه کردن حکومت به دموکراتیزه کردناش تقدم داره. نشون میده که خیلی حکومتهای غیر دموکرات که حاکمینشون به سمت لیبرالیزه کردن حکومت رفتند و بعد آرام آرام روند دموکراسی شدن رو طی کردند در نهایت تبدیل شدند به دموکراسیهای لیبرالی با ثبات و قدرتمند، مثل نمونههای شرق آسیا. و بر عکس، حکومتهایی که به زور خارجی دموکراسی رو وارد کردند خیلی زود به ورطه دیکتاتوری افتادند. بعد سعی میکنه نشون بده دموکراسی کنترل نشده تو یه لیبرال دموکراسی موفق مثل امریکا چطور میتونه ضررهای هنگفت اقتصادی و اجتماعی به بار بیاره. زکریا معتقده باید بخشهایی از قدرت رو غیر دموکراتیک نگه داشت و از فشار مردم و لابیها و چانهزنیها دور کرد، در عین حال که باید به دولت و نمایندگان مردم پاسخگو باشند و فعالیت شفاف داشته باشند. و معتقده که باید هر چه بیشتر به سمت دموکراسی غیرمستقیم و پارلمانی برگشت و از دموکراسی مستقیم رفراندومها و نظرسنجیها فاصله گرفت. در کل جذابترین کتابی بود که تو این یکی دو سال خوندم. هم از جهت اطلاعات تاریخی که میده، هم از جهت تحلیلهایی که میکنه. نکته اینه که کتاب ده سال پیش منتشر شده و خیلی هشدارهایی که میده رو وقتی با وقایع این چند سال تطبیق میدی میبینی هشدارهای به جایی بوده. مثلا وقتی از حفظ حکومت مبارک در مصر دفاع میکنه اما هشدار میده که باید اجازه داده بشه که گروههای اسلامگرا مثل اخوان المسلمین از فضای تبلیغی صرف خارج بشن و وارد جریانات سیاسی کشور بشن تا مردم بتونن نگاه واقعبینانهتری بهشون داشته باشن. تو فصلی که راجع به کشورهای اسلامی حرف میزنه، یه سری دلایل رو میگه برای توضیح اینکه چرا این کشورها سختتر به سمت لیبرال دموکراسی حرکت میکنن، که یه بخش جالباش بحث منابع انرژیه و اینکه دولت از فروش منابع انرژی ثروتمنده و نیازی به ثروت مردم نداره و مردم یه جورایی وامدار دولتاند. و یه موضوع مهم بحث عرفی نشدن اسلام برای مردمه - بخاطر ذات اسلام که اصولن مثل کلیسا هیچ وقت سلسله مراتب مشخص و ثابتی نداشته بعد از فروپاشی سیستم خلیفهگری- که زمینه قدرت گرفتن حکومتهای دینی رو فراهم میکنه. و اینجا میاد از ایران به عنوان تنها استثنای این قاعده اسم میاره و میگه سازمانی که بعد از انقلاب برای روحانیت در ایران ایجاد شد، خیلی شبیه به سازمان کلیسا در اعصار گذشتهست و با این روندی که در این سالها طی شده، ایران در آینده ناچار به سمت یه دموکراسی سکولار میره و مردم برای همیشه به اسلام سیاسی پشت میکنن. همونطور که جامعه مسیحی این کار رو کرد. درمان مسیحی برای بیماری مسیحی ایران شیعی.
Dân chủ chưa hẳn đã tự do, và Tự do có thể tồn tại trong một đất nước kém dân chủ. Nền dân chủ xuất phát từ đâu, và vì sao phát triển không đồng đều ở các châu lục? Liệu nền chính trị Hoa Kỳ (một nền dân chủ rất được ngưỡng mộ hiện nay) có thực sự hiệu quả? Liệu sự dân chủ thái quá (ví dụ như các cuộc trưng cầu dân ý) có làm mất tự do? Đó là một phần những câu hỏi mà cuốn "Tương lai của tự do" tìm cách trả lời.
Được xuất bản năm 2003, và được dịch ra hơn 20 ngôn ngữ, "Tương lai của tự do" được xem là một cuốn sách kinh điển hiện đại về đề tài Tự do - Dân chủ, một đề tài dương như chiếm được sự quan tâm của hầu hết người dân Việt Nam có quan tâm đến chính trị, những người vẫn hàng ngày nhìn thấy sự bế tắc và không khí ngột ngạt của nền chính trị nước nhà.
Được khởi đầu bằng một cuộc truy nguyên về lịch sử xa xôi của loài người, và cố gắng tìm ra đâu là xuất phát điểm của tinh thần dân chủ, "Tương lai của tự do" đã tạo nên sự khác biệt rất thuyết phục so với hầu hết những cuốn sách được viết ra và bàn luận về tự do, với những khái niệm, phạm trù, định nghĩa, diễn giải và đề xuất giải pháp rất khô khan và có phần "tháp ngà" của những cuốn sách hàn lâm thuộc dòng này mà ta thường thấy. Người đọc sẽ tìm thấy những luận giải rất thú vị trong sách về lịch sử, kinh tế, xã hội...để thấy được nền tự do của loài người không phải ngẫu nhiên xuất hiện khi chủ nghĩa tư bản hình thành, mà nó đã có từ lâu, thật bất ngờ, từ cuộc "ly hôn" của nhà nước và tôn giáo: Cuộc dời đô từ La Mã sang Constantinople của Constantine.
Những chương tiếp theo, bằng cách phân tích rất sắc xảo của một nhà báo lành nghề, Fareed Zakaria đưa người đọc đến những câu hỏi mà có lẽ ai quan tâm đến đề tài này cũng thấy, nhưng không phải ai cũng có thể trả lời: Vì sao nền dân chủ thực sự hoạt động hiệu quả ở những quốc gia như Tây Âu và Hoa Kỳ, nhưng rất kém hiệu quả ở những nước vùng Trung Đông, Nam Mỹ và Đông Âu? Nếu câu trả lời nằm ở việc dân chủ là sự đảm bảo cho thịnh vượng và phát triển kinh tế, thì đâu là câu trả lời thỏa đáng cho Singapore, Hàn Quốc, Hồng Kong...? (Một cái nháy mắt đến cuốn sách "Tại sao các quốc gia thất bại" đã được xuất bản ở VN). Câu trả lời của Fareed Zakaria dường như thuyết phục hơn, khi ông cho rằng các quốc gia nên cải cách kinh tế trước, và đạt được một mức độ thịnh vượng nhất định và tạo ra được một tầng lớp trung lưu đa số, thì mới tiến hành cải cách chính trị theo hướng dân chủ. (Các số liệu thống kê ở nhiều quốc gia mà cuốn sách cung cấp, chứng minh rất thuyết phục cho luận điểm này). Tất nhiên, không có một bài thuốc nào công hiệu cho mọi bệnh tình ở các quốc gia, và tác giả cũng thừa nhận như vậy, nhưng "xét từ góc độ lịch sử, chỉ có đúng một câu trả lời hay nhất cho câu hỏi này, đó là sự thịnh vượng về kinh tế".
Cuốn sách còn cung cấp rất nhiều những phân tích sâu sát liên quan đến chính trị vùng Trung Đông, và Hoa Kỳ, để cho thấy vì sao mặc dù rất nhiều quốc gia tuy giàu có và ôn hòa, vẫn gặp rất nhiều khó khăn khi tiến hành dân chủ hóa, và vì sao một nền dân chủ mạnh như Hoa Kỳ lại ngày càng đưa ra những quyết sách kém tự do đi. Nền tự do của thế giới trong thế kỷ XXI sẽ đi về đâu, và đâu là con đường tốt nhất cho Việt Nam, đó là câu hỏi mà mỗi người đọc sẽ phải tự suy ngẫm và tìm câu trả lời cho chính mình.
Một cuốn sách rất thú vị và xuất sắc giới thiệu cùng bạn đọc.
Too often with books that address contemporary politics, a favorable review is dependent on the reviewer endorsing the same argument as the author. I will start by saying that I reject and/or have major qualms with many of the arguments that the author puts forward. That said, I think Fareed Zakaria's The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad, published in 2003, raises questions that we cannot afford to ignore given the recent upsurge in authoritarian populism and alt-right violence in the United States and elsewhere. While the book, written in the immediate wake of 9/11, devotes many more pages to the future of democracy in the Middle East and East Asia, it does devote several chapters specifically to the United States and offers a theoretical approach to the rise of illiberal democracy that strives for universal applicability.
Zakaria begins the book by drawing a clear line between democracy and constitutional liberalism. The former he defines simply as a government in which officials are elected by the adult populace in largely free and fair elections. Liberal constitutionalism, he states, refers to a political system marked not only by free and fair elections, but one which is defined by the rule of law and the protection of certain basic freedoms, such as freedom of speech, assembly, religion, etc. This bundle of freedoms, he argues, has nothing to do with democracy. A democracy can include protection of those freedoms, in which case it is a liberal democracy. If it does not safeguard those freedoms or operate according to the rule of law, it becomes an illiberal democracy. As noted earlier, the vast majority of the book focuses on why liberal democracy has failed to take root in other parts of the world, that is, why newly created liberal democracies devolve first into illiberal democracies and then dictatorships. He claims that democracy requires a strong middle class, a strong civil society, and a system of governmental checks and balances that not only keeps elites in check but also imposes restrictions on democratization. The latter may seem surprising too many Americans, who assume more democracy is always good. But as he notes, civil rights' gains in the 1950s/ 1960s came first through the courts in the United States -- the least democratic of institutions--not through Congress.
He also claims that reforms introduced in the United States in the 1970s and 1980s that were intended to make government more transparent had unintended negative consequences. For example, he argues that the so-called Sunshine laws that aimed to make Congress more answerable to the public, actually made Congress more vulnerable to influence by special interest groups. Because negotiations no longer took place behind closed doors, senators and members of the House found it more difficult to ignore special interest groups who controlled the purse strings for their reelection campaigns. Similarly, he argues that the introduction of party primaries undermined the authority of political parties and contributed to polarized politics and legislative deadlock. Once the party no longer chose candidates, it lost substantial power over those candidates. Moreover, since the people in both parties who vote in primaries tend to be more activist-oriented, the candidates that they choose tend to lean more toward the far right or far left. As a result, the introduction of more democracy actually resulted in candidates who were less representative of the US populace as a whole. It also made these same candidates more beholden to fund-raising entities to win elections. The result of these developments has been that parties take on the positions of whoever is at the head of the ticket, rather than the candidate taking on the positions of the party. One need to look no further than the current crisis in the Republican Party, during and post-Trump, to see that there is a grain of truth in this analysis. However, I could not help asking myself is the solution to this problem actually less democracy or more? In other words, is the answer in fact returning to a closed-door system of selecting candidates? Instead, might the correction to this issue be finding ways to ensure that more Americans vote in primaries, so that the candidates chosen would then represent more closely the position of most Americans, rather than that of a minority? This is not to say that more democratization is always the answer, just that we need to be careful that we do not do a knee-jerk reaction in the other direction.
I also was surprised after spending multiple chapters explaining why the success of liberal democracy is intrinsically linked to the presence of a strong middle class (minimum average income) in other parts of the world, the author did not spend more time addressing the erosion of the middle class in this country as a threat to democracy's survival. The gap between the haves and have nots in this country as been expanding exponentially since the 1980s. How does the growth of this gap affect the future of democracy in this country? And what will happen, if as Zakaria suggests is necessary, we were to reduce social security benefits? Would not the very middle class that he defines as essential for liberal democracy be crippled if we reduce the social safety net even further? As for other countries, such as South Korea, where the author seems to think the country followed the right approach, that is economic reform first, then political reform, the author largely glosses over the years of human rights abuses that cost the lives of many South Koreans
Beyond the political sphere, Zakaria also makes some thought-provoking points about how democratization has reshaped nonpolitical institutions such as cultural and religious institutions. For example, democratization of culture has had some potentially unsavory consequences for libraries and museums, which rather than trying to shape public tastes, now simply mirror consumer interests and tastes. This change can be seen in that many libraries now use the word "customers" or "users" rather than "patrons." This change in nomenclature has been accompanied by libraries stocking more romances, westerns, and mysteries and many fewer difficult reads. The problem with this strategy is that libraries are no longer serving as the "poor man's university" as increasingly the expectation is that libraries should be run using a business model -- give the customer what he/she wants.
Ultimately the book boils down to one question: Does less equal more when it comes to preserving democracy in the twenty-first century? And if so, how do we restore the delicate balance between democratization and a system of checks and balances without allowing the pendulum to swing too far back in the other direction? While the author’s concerns about popular democracy and about the tyranny of the majority certainly are not unfounded, his failure to address systematically how the corruption of elites can be checked is a major flaw in his analysis? After all, the reforms of which he is so critical did not occur in a vacuum; at least in the United States, they were the product of blatant abuses of power by elites that the current system of checks and balances failed to prevent (the political boss system of the nineteenth and early twentieth century, Watergate, Vietnam, etc.).
So although I would argue Zakaria’s analysis suffers from major flaws, it is a read that is sure to spark discussion no matter where the reader is on the political spectrum.
یادم میاد اولین بار که با مفهوم دموکراسی آشنا شدم تعصب عجیبی روش پیدا کرده بودم و راه حل برون رفت از وضعیت جوامعی مثل خودمون فقط و فقط در برقراری دموکراسی میدونستم شاید هنوز هم خیلی ها همین فکرو دارن اگهشما هم جزو این دسته این کتاب رو بخونین. کتاب در سال ۲۰۰۳ نوشته شده توسط فرید زکریا ژورنالیست مسلمان هندی امریکای مجله تایم نیوزویک و .. و ادعایی داره : اینکه دموکراسی (انتخابات آزاد و عادلانه ) در جوامعی که هنوز زیرساختهای دموکراتیک و بیشتر از اون لیبرالیسم (حاکمیت قانون جدایی قوای حکومتی صیانت از آزادیهای اساسی بیان ، اجتماعات ، دین و مالکیت ) رو ندارند منجر به ظهور اقتدارگرایی و پوپولیسم میشه . در واقع زکریا از مفهومی به اسم دموکراسی غیرلیبرال برای اولین بار نام میبره و میگه دموکراسی لزوما همیشه همراه با لیبرالیسم نبوده و حتی گاهی این دو در تضاد با هم بودند . این کتاب در ستایش دموکراسی لیبرال یا قانون سالاره ۱-در فصل ۱ (تاریخچه آزادی انسان) میگه آزادی قرنها پیش از دموکراسی به وجود امد و این آزادی بود که منجر به دموکراسی شد... « برای بقای حاکمیت قانون نیت خوب حاکمان کافی نیست چون هردو عوض میشوند (هم نیات و هم حاکمان) بلکه جامعه نیازمند نهادهاییست که قدرتشان مستقل از دولت باشد و غرب این نیروی همسنگ متعادل کننده را در کلیسای کاتولیک یافت» جغرافیای خاص اروپا ، نخبگان زمیندار، اصلاح دینی در قرن هفدهم ، مقامات محلی روشنفکر در قرن ۱۸ ام ،و بلخره سرمایه داری که طبقه ای مستقل از صاحبان کسب و کار خلق کرد که دین زیادی به دولت ندارند و امروز نیروی غالب در هر جامعه پیشرفته در جهان هستند ... همه اینها باعث شد که تمام کشورهای غربی در تاریخی سهیم باشند که علیرغم تمام اختلافات جزئی در ساختن یک سنت لیبرالی قانون سالار نقش اساسی داشته باشد بعد میگه که مشابه همین اتفاق برای شرق اسیا افتاد یعنی ابتدا سرمایه داری بعد حاکمیت قانون و بعد دموکراسی... «همانطور که جووانی سارتوری در مورد مسیر گذر از لیبرالیسم قانون سالار به دموکراسی میگوید این مسیر را نمیتوان برعکس پیمود !» ۲- راه پر پیچ و خم : ثروت (ناشی از کارافرینی و نه باد اورده ) باعث دوام دموکراسی میشود چون بخش های کلیدی جامعه مهمتر از همه موسسات تجاری و بورژوازی قدرتی مستقل از دولت پیدا کنند و دوم اینکه در فرایند چانه زنی و مذاکره با این عناصر از چپاولگری و بوالهوسی دولت کاسته میشود و دولت بیشتر به سمت قانون گرایی و پاسخ گویی به نیازهای جامعه حرکت میکند ۳- این فصل شامل مثالهای تاریخی دموکراسی غیر لیبرالی مثل روسیه کشورهای اسیای میانه هند و... ۴- فصل ۴ یعنی استثنای اسلامی که جزو جذابترین فصلهاست که در اون راجع به ایران هم حرف میزند ... اینکه حکام عرب خاورمیانه اقتدارگرا فاسد و سرکوبگر هستند اما آنها هنوز هم لیبرالتر متساهلتر و تکثرگرا تر از جانشینان احتمالیشان هستند برگزاری انتخابات در بسیاری از کشورهای عربی سیاستمدارانی را بر سر کار خواهد اورد که مدافع دیدگاه های نزدیکتر به اسامه بن لادن هستند تا عبدالله پادشاه لیبرال اردن ! مثالهایی از مصر پاکستان کویت که «اسلام به تفسیر مردم از آن » منجر به استفاده تندرو ها از اون برای مقابله با دولتهای بی کفایت شده است و اینجاست که میگه البته ایران استثناست و شاید مدل خاص حکومتش باعث شکل گیری سیر تاریخی مشابه غرب جهت شکل گیری دموکراسی بشود ... ۵- زیاده از یک چیز خوب : در یک کلام اینکه دموکراتیزاسیون افراطی سیاست باعث افول احزاب سیاسی شده که بیشتر تحت تاثیر مردم هستند تا جهت دهنده به مردم ۶- مرگ اقتدار : به همان ترتیب دموکراتیزاسیون تجارت/حقوق/پزشکی/مذهب /رسانه موجب پیشرو نبودن و دنباله رو بودن تمام این نهادها شده و مثالهای خیلی خوبی از افت و ناکارآمدی هرکدوم از این نهاد ها میزنه در اخر حرف کتاب اینه : راه حل ، اصلاحات سیاسی و اقتصادی است با حرکت به سمت سرمایه داری برای ایجاد یک دولت محدود و یک طبقه متوسط واقعی ! چرا که اصلاحات اقتصادی یعنی شروعی برای حاکمیت قانون. چون سرمایه داری محتاج قرارداد است .گشودگی به روی دنیا دسترسی به اطلاعات و شاید از همه مهمتر گسترش یک طبقه صاحب کسب و کار! در خاورمیانه امروز بسیارند کسانی که یکسره در رویاهای سیاسی غرق شده اند و انگشت شمارند کسانی که به طرح های عملی علاقه نشان دهند ...
Fareed Zakaria has never been on my “A-list” of intellectuals worthy of respect. In his many television appearances he has always struck me as a bit of a windbag.
After reading his 2003 book The Future of Freedom, I may have to rethink the matter. It’s a good, thought-provoking book.
Here is his book’s essential point: democracy and freedom are not twins delivered at the same birth. He trots out examples of authoritarian rule creating the order, domestic tranquility and—--most important, he theorizes---the economic progress essential for the gradual introduction of democracy to a people content enough to accept it.
Conversely, he cites both frequent examples of tyranny-by-democracy and frequent failure of democracy because insufficient economic prosperity had been laid down as a stable foundation.
He brings it home to the USA with this diagnosis: The root cause of current political dysfunction in Washington, he contends, is reform after reform that introduced more democracy to the process. For example, a shift from political conventions to primary elections and new “sunshine laws” that bared to the public every vote on every bill exposed our senators and congressional representatives to the wrath of special interest groups.
He writes, “What we need in politics today is not more democracy, but less.” He argues for greater delegation to unelected bodies like the Federal Reserve, institutions that he thinks will act in the public interest without interference from well-funded political action committees and corporations. He points to the Supreme Court as being similarly insulated.
A bit naïve, I think, but an interesting starting point for a discussion.
It is a book worth reading again every five years or so as a reminder of both the fragility of “liberal democracy” (a term he uses a lot to describe democracies with liberty) and the universal and historical struggle for a government that actually works for its people.
None of the facts or points in this book are especially new or shocking, but what is unusual and nice is seeing them all organized in the same place. What Zakaria sets out to do (and in my opinion, succeeds at) is to examine countries with institutionalized freedoms, and what political and economic conditions guarantee them, historically and at the present time. Shocker: Democracy is not automatically the answer. When doesn't it work and why, and why do Americans have so little faith in democracy today? All of those things are examined (and some of what he proposes for the US can be surprising: Less government transparency! More career politicians! What?! Well, yes. You'll see). He looks as well at the role religion plays in governments' success or failure. Definitely worth reading, as it sets up another way to look at where governments succeed and fail, and therefore what our foreign policy priorities should be.
Leaders in [Third World] countries have argued that they need the authority to break down feudalism, split entrenched coalitions, override vested interests, and bring order to chaotic societies. There is some truth to this concern, but it confuses legitimate government with one that is all-powerful....The key test of a government's legitimacy is tax collection, because it requires not vast police forces but rather voluntary compliance with laws. No government has a large enough police force to coerce people to pay their taxes. Yet Third World governments have abysmally low tax-collection rates. This is because they--and their policies--lack legitimacy.
Like a graduate course on freedom and democracy, this book teaches you, challenges your knowledge, opens your eyes and mind, but does not give you a ready-made opinion ― it invites you to elaborate your own.
And just like a graduate course, the book gets really boring sometimes; it focuses too much on meaningless details or quickly skips through important information. But what's trivial for some is primordial for others, and not all students (/readers) have the same background knowledge on the subject.
According to the copy I've borrowed from my local library, this book was published in about 2003, 2004. 8 or 9 years later, this book could still be about the problems that the world and America face today. In this stunning, against-the-current book, Mr. Zakaria makes a compelling case that many of the problems we face today is not because of too little democracy, but too much democracy. Though written far in advance of the Arab Spring, Mr. Zakaria points how Islamic populism, when left unchecked, can produce some rather frightening results. He also writes about the history of liberalism, the idea of limited government powers through checks & balances through written constitution and the Rule of Law, and how it has produced better, more stable, and freer societies than pure democracies. He even points out how liberal authoritarian societies (countries that have no democracy, but a strong rule of law, i.e. China) have done far better economically than modern democracies. But his best case for more liberty and less democracy is his analysis of America, where he notes how badly government has done when legislative and political processes have been opened up to the public, like when Congressional committees began to have open rather than closed meetings. His on the spot analysis of California's experiment with direct democracy is enlightening and, for a native Californian, depressing. His ultimate call for a reinstitution of checks and balances in our government and the curbing of (some) of the public's input in the political process is something that all Americans of every political stripe should consider as they head to the polls this November.
This book is excellent, and I strongly recommend it to everyone. Its thesis is that there's a significant difference between freedom (constitutional liberalism) and democracy and that if wielded poorly, democracy can be the foil of freedom. There is so much more to this book, though. Almost every page gave me something important to ponder. It could function as a starter guide to democracy.
Frequently when I read, I feel like the same thing could have been said in a much shorter more tightly edited text, but this time, I felt quite the opposite. This book is very tight and won't waste any of your time. In fact, I wanted to read more about some of the issues he raised at the end of the book. I'm eager to read another Zakaria book next, The Post-American World.
In writing The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad, Fareed Zakaria hopes to show the reader that true freedom requires more than elections in which all citizens of a country participate; it also requires what Mr. Zakaria calls constitutional liberalism. Constitutional liberalism is marked by existence of a “bundle of freedoms”, which includes rule of the law, a separation of powers, and the protection of basic liberties of speech, assembly, religion, and property. Constitutional liberalism protects individual autonomy and guards against coercion, while democracy alone is a means of selecting government. Mr. Zakaria points to America as the greatest example to lead to recovery of the “constitutional tradition”. However, he feels that even in America constitutional liberalism is on a downslide. In the first half of his book, Zakaria spends a good deal of time describing the elements that predict successful democratization of a country. He contends that “democracy is flourishing, liberty is not” because democracy has “paved the way” for dictatorships in many countries. One of the major reasons for this trend according to Zakaria is that it is possible to have too much of a good thing: democracy. In other words, to have policy informed too greatly by the popular majority will result in decreased liberalism.
Zakaria is very Machiavellian in his thinking in the sense that he believes that it is unwise for a leader (or government) to seek or accept too much advice from too many sources. He contends that the authority of a number of social institutions, including religion and the elite has been weakened. The elite are weakened by the fact that business now prevents them from providing service to the public. This has led to public distrust of the elite as merely self-interested. Religion has declined as a source of authority in that it is seen less as a guiding authority and now as more of an individual experience. Media is weakened in its authority by the need to provide for the taste of the masses to turn a profit, rather than being dedicated to higher ideals. For Zakaria, populism and profit have dealt a death blow to authority in America. These are what he refers to as the “consequences of capitalism”. He believes that the fact that Congress is more open to lobbyists and special interests has made it nearly impossible to reduce federal spending and also prevents the funding of new government programs.
To my surprise, I actually find myself agreeing with him when he says, “in the name of democracy, we have created a new layer of enormously powerful elites”. I believe that the “average” citizen should be able to have their opinions heard and considered and I certainly don’t feel that policy should be sold to the highest bidder. However, this is exactly what Zakaria describes. It is all about marketing and spin these days. Look at how well corporations do at selling Americans products they don’t need. I am not naïve enough to believe that they won’t try to sell me ideas that I don’t need as well.
Zakaria proposes delegation, and while avoiding use of the word, what sounds to me like privatization as the solution to the decline in constitutional liberalism. He calls on the elite of this nation to return to a historical sense of responsibility and civic obligation to strengthen and preserve freedom. In the Afterword, titled The 51st State he applies his theories to the ongoing situation in Iraq and concludes that America has before it a long and difficult task in assisting the people in maintaining a democratic and liberal country.
This book is a difficult read for the student taking their first college-level course in government. The material is dense and would be more readily understood by an individual already schooled in national and international politics. An entire course could be centered on this text itself.
I've always been impressed with Zakaria whenever he's on TV as a commentator/pundit - this book only confirmed what a deep thinker he is. His basic premise is that democracy in and of itself is not sufficient to promote "freedom & liberty" - but that it must be paired with constitutional liberalism (in the classic sense of the word). He shows how many countries that have some elements of constitutional liberalism, but not direct election democracy are better off than countries that lack those elements but have democractic elections. In other words, he is saying that giving people the right to vote isn't enough and in fact, it can promote unhealthy populism that is actually harmful to a government and its country. The book also contains an Afterword that has allowed him to update it based on what has happened in Iraq over the last several years. While this is insightful, I think a whole new edition of the book would be even better. Definitely a must read for anyone interested in world politics.
This is an extremely interesting book about the theory, history, and evolution of democracy all over world. Zakaria talks about what is required for democracy, why it doesnt always work, and how a country can become too democratic. Most interestingly he goes into our own contries failures in "spreading democracy" and what historical facts US administrators could have learned from. Furthermore he discusses detail of our own democracy and how it is a shadow of what it once was.
Zakaria makes the distinction between liberty and democracy, noting that "Democracy is flourishing; liberty is not." If a country holds competitive, multiparty elections, we call it “democratic.” Constitutional liberalism, on the other hand, is not about the procedures for selecting government but, rather, government’s goals. It emphasizes individual liberty. It is constitutional because it places the rule of law at the center of politics, placing checks on the power of government, equality under the law, impartial courts and tribunals, and the separation of church and state.
Americans have a lower regard for their political system than ever before. The political system has never been as dysfunctional. Perpetual campaigning and pandering, money-raising, special interests, and lobbying - most acute in America - have all discredited the system in people’s eyes and voter turnouts are shockingly low. Zakaria blames it on politicians working too hard to follow the pulse of the people through polls. Perhaps losing strong and independent political parties, churches, businesses, private associations, and professional elites which would temper public passions, educate citizens, guide democracy, and thereby secure liberty.
Chapter 1 - "A Brief History of Human Liberty"
Liberty came to the West centuries before democracy.
The author reviews the development of liberty over time. He notes that Greek liberty meant that every male citizen had the right to participate in the governance of the community, but individuals had no particular rights against the authority of the community. Zakaria sees the start of liberty in the Roman Catholic Church. Although it did not stand for tolerance of thought, it was independent of temporal authority and willing to challenge it.
Zakaria examines the broadly-held idea that the success of a country is due to the nature or culture of the people. A review of how countries have changed over time makes it clear that the effectiveness of the government is the key.
Liberty has preceded democracy in most countries. Notably, many of the African countries that introduced democracy have degenerated into dictatorships. The author notes that while East Asia is still rife with corruption, nepotism, and voter fraud, that was also true in Western democracies in the recent past. Every single country in the Third World that emerged from colonial rule since the Second World War with a population of at least one million and with a continuous democratic experience is a former British colony that featured limited constitutional liberalism and capitalism.
Chapter 2 - "The Twisted Path"
Seymour Martin argued that as countries develop economically, their societies also developed the strengths and skills to sustain liberal democratic governance. When countries become democratic at low levels of development, their democracy usually dies. It has been shown that when the per capita income rises to $6000 (year 2000 USD), democracies become resilient. Below $3000 they are unlikely to survive. Historically, most countries that have transitioned to democracy had achieved per capita incomes of $6000. Wealth allows key segments of society - most important, private businesses and the broader bourgeoisie - to gain power independent of the state.
The development of liberty requires that the country's income must be earned. Wealth from natural resources hinders both political modernization and economic growth because the country does then not have to create a framework of laws and institutions that generate national wealth.
Chapter 3 - "The Twisted Path"
Zakaria examines the histories of various countries to determine how their paths to liberalism and democracy have interacted. He looks at the two largest countries that are not liberal democracies - China and Russia - and considers where they may go in the future. Although most Latin American countries have elections, various human rights issues are preventing them from becoming liberal democracies. With the exception of South Africa and Botswana, Africa countries are poor prospects: "... it does suggest that what Africa needs more urgently than democracy is good governance."
Democracy has its problems. Over the past decade, elected governments claiming to represent the people have steadily encroached on the powers and rights of other elements in society. Governments that usurp powers do not end up producing well-run, stable countries. In many developing countries, the experience of democracy over the past few decades has been one in which majorities have eroded separations of power, undermined human rights, and corrupted long-standing traditions of tolerance and fairness.
While Kant suggested that democracies are more pacific than other states, in fact they are more warlike, going to war more often and with greater intensity than most other states. In democratizing states, not grounded in constitutional liberalism, diverse groups with incompatible interests gain access to power and press their demands, often leading to war and conflict.
Chapter 4 - "The Islamic Exception"
While freedom has been gaining around the world, the Middle Eastern countries are an exception and have actually regressed in the past twenty years (written in 2007).
Zakaria looks at Islam and shows that it is less hostile to democracy and liberalism than many have argued. He also rejects the idea that there are characteristics of the Arab mind or culture - such as patriarchy or romanticism - that conflict with liberalism. He posits that the problem is excess wealth from natural resources and external sources, the easy money resulting in little economic or political modernization. The breeding grounds of terror have been places that have seen the greatest influx of wealth over the last thirty years.
In the East, people associate the failure of their governments with the failure of secularism and of the Western path. The Arab world is disillusioned with the West when it should be disillusioned with its own leaders. Islamic fundamentalism has taken hold. Fundamentalist thinkers pronounce judgment as to whether people are “good Muslims”, terrifying the Muslim world. Zakaria notes that Christianity had to modernize to adapt to the more liberal world, and similarly the key in the East is not religious reform, but political and economic reform.
Chapter 5 - "Too Much of a Good Thing"
In spite of a rise in per capita income of 50 percent since the 1970's, Americans have lost faith in government with satisfaction falling from 70 to 30 percent. Zakaria posits that democratization of politics is the reason. He believes that Washington today is organized around the pursuit of public opinion, not only trying to constantly monitor the opinion of the people but also guess what people might think tomorrow.
American President James Madison, author of the Constitution, did not really regard America as a democracy. Rather, America was better termed a republic in which the citizenry delegates the task of governing to its representatives.
From an institution dominated by 20 or so powerful leaders, the U.S. Congress has evolved into a collection of 535 independent political entrepreneurs who run the system with their individual interests uppermost. Lobbyists have become Washington’s greatest growth industry. Reducing federal spending or ending programs has become a hopeless cause. Spending real money on new problems or opportunities in America has become close to impossible, causing people lose faith in its ability to solve new problems.
Madison realized that “the mischiefs of faction” would be a problem, but that the factions would cancel each other out. However, rather than cancel, they have accumulated. Understanding factions gives insight into American positions. While it would be strategic to push Cuba along on the road to liberal democracy by opening it up to the world of commerce, Anti-Castro Cuban Americans have dominated the issue.
Even more direct democracy has been introduced through the use of propositions that are voted on by the general electorate. These have been used heavily in California, reducing the government to anarchy. The legislature has control over only 15 percent of the budget, the rest being assigned through propositions. Successful propositions require large expenditures to gather signatures and advertise, making the success of propositions a matter of well-organized and well-funded interest groups. Referendums and initiatives have accelerated the process of taking power away from politicians and giving it to “the people,” but always through an ever-growing class of professional consultants, lobbyists, pollsters, and activists.
Chapter 6 - "The Death of Authority"
Zakaria looks at the various areas of society that have been transformed by increasing democratization. Capitalism was transformed into democratic capitalism. The stock market was transformed from an elite cartel into a business catering to a much broader base.
American Christianity - particularly Protestantism - has become doctrinally pluralistic and highly attentive to the beliefs, desires, and wishes of its people. Having lost its religious core, has become largely a political phenomenon. Evangelical Christianity made itself populist and democratic, in clear contradiction of its founding ideals, in large part because it was the only way to avoid the fate of the mainstream churches. Susan Friend Harding writes that Pentecostal evangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker "... promised their partners material abundance and well-being but they were refining a gospel of infinite forgiveness, a folk theology that seemed almost to sanction sinning by guaranteeing God’s perpetual forgiveness in advance.”
Zakaria notes that in the past, private elites and associations have always performed public tasks. Professionals in America have always had a special status, promoting the general interests of society. Lawyers, doctors, accountants, brokers and others were to place their clients interests ahead of the pursuit of revenue. This has largely changed, with the pursuit of partisan interests now being the norm. The decline of the press is noted.
Conclusion - "The Way Out"
Zakaria starts his concluding chapter by going back to U.S. President Madison who recognized that “special interests” were ultimately a form of free speech, and knew that there was no simple way to ban them. Madison ultimately placed his greatest hope in the structure of American government itself where issues were delegated to the government made up of a elected body of citizens that would be able to refine public views and act in the best interests of the country.
The author concludes that "What we need in politics today is not more democracy but less." He uses as examples those agencies of the U.S. government, such as the Federal Reserve, that are concerned largely with a policy’s social, economic, and legal merits. In contrast, the policy-making at the White House is dominated by short-term political and electoral considerations.
He notes the effect of politicking on the tax code where it is estimated that special interests amount to $550 billion of fore-gone revenue. In the economic realm, decision-making should be distanced from day-to-day politics.
Democracy can only succeed if removed from the day-to-day politicking. "Whether in Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, Chile, Indonesia, or even China, governments that were able to make shrewd choices for the long term were rewarded with strong economic growth and rising levels of literacy, life expectancy, and education."
Democracy is in danger of becoming a system, open and accessible in theory, but ruled in reality by organized or rich or fanatical minorities, protecting themselves for the present and sacrificing the future.
Zakaria notes that the Greek democracies that are held in high esteem only lasted a hundred years before collapsing into tyranny or chaos — frequently both.
"Modern democracies will face difficult new challenges - fighting terrorism, adjusting to globalization, adapting to an aging society - and they will have to make their system work much better than it currently does. That means making democratic decision-making effective, reintegrating constitutional liberalism into the practice of democracy, rebuilding broken political institutions and civic associations."
Afterword - 2007
Zakaria addresses the positioning of the U.S. with respect to democracy. America positions itself as the moral arbiter of the world, pronouncing on the virtues of all other regimes. However, he sees "the chasm between rhetoric and reality" striking. In spite of U.S. military action around the world, Freedom House reports that liberty is receding around the world.
The author feels that basic problem confronting the developing world today is not an absence of democracy but an absence of governance. He notes that after the invasion of Iraq, there was no plan to build the institutions of a democratic state. Instead, Washington disbanded the Iraqi Army, fired 50,000 bureaucrats, and shut down the government-owned enterprises that employed most Iraqis. In effect, the United States dismantled the Iraqi state, creating a deep security vacuum, administrative chaos, and soaring unemployment.
The danger of American idealism has always been that satisfied by the virtues of their grand goals, American policy makers lose sight of the practical realities on the ground.
Many countries that are not liberal democracies are often strange mixtures of freedom and unfreedom. Neither Russia nor China are free, but they are not the totalitarian tyrannies of old. China has been able to make long-term investments in the future. If it can avoid the history of many autocracies of moving toward arrogance and corruption, "it will be seen by many countries around the world as a viable model for modernization, one that rivals the American-centric model that speaks of democracy and economic freedom as intertwined."
The problem for many countries is not the will for democracy but the capacity to build and sustain a stable, effective, and decent government. Countries such as Pakistan have been democratic with elections, but have been unable to establish effective governments. Zakaria returns to Madison: "... you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.” Order and then liberty.
Zakaria si presenta come uno di quegli autori che vede nel costituzionalismo liberale (e non nella democrazia) la culla e l'argine del nostro attuale sistema delle libertà. Non tratta quindi la democrazia come un feticcio. Attraverso una disamina storica viene chiarito come l'enorme problema del populismo e dell'elezione di leader non democratici e/o apertamente razzisti è già stato ampiamente vissuto per la prima volta con la democratizzazione dei paesi occidentali, attraverso l'estensione del suffragio universale a cavallo tra la fine dell'800 e i primi del '900. Illuminante l'esempio dell'ex sindaco razzista di Vienna Karl Lueger, che poi ispirò Hitler.
L'argomento principale del libro è quello della frattura che si pone tra libertà e democrazia, per cui con l'avanzare di quest'ultima il liberalismo si ritrova sotto l'assedio della politica di massa e delle sue insidie populiste. In particolare, mano a mano che la democrazia si espandeva, il programma moderato e liberale che rivendicava diritti civili, il libero mercato e il costituzionalismo, perse vigore dinanzi al potere di fascinazione che avevano sulle masse il comunismo, la religione e il nazionalismo in genere. Questo processo fu il frutto anche di una deliberata strategia di alcuni politici conservatori, come Benjamin Disraeli nel Regno Unito e Otto Von Bismarck nel Regno di Prussia, per contenere il potere dei liberali attraverso il voto delle masse guadagnato con la retorica populista.
Tornando al mondo attuale si può facilmente riconoscere che gli autocrati di molti paesi arabi (Giordania, Marocco, Kuwait, ecc..) sono più liberali dei loro stessi popoli. In questo casi la democrazia può rappresentare un rischio più che un'opportunità. Di conseguenza, per Zakaria, l'occidente deve riconoscere che i paesi del medioriente non hanno bisogno in primis della democrazia, ma del liberalismo costituzionale. Cioè di quel sistema di diritti e libertà che può essere la culla di quel progresso economico e sociale in grado di ospitare poi una democrazia compiuta e durevole nel tempo. Ponendo la questione sul livello di progresso sociale, in base ad alcuni studi empirici, si può dimostrare che 3000-6000 dollari è la fascia di reddito per capita che garantirebbe un passaggio ad una democrazia stabile. In questo discorso Zakaria inserisci la ben nota maledizione dei paesi ricchi di risorse naturali: paesi ricchi di materie prime (Venezuela, Russia, Arabia Saudita, ecc..) non hanno bisogno né di tassare, né di fornire grandi servizi alla popolazione. La classe politica non ha la necessità di far crescere l'economia (e quindi il gettito fiscale) per poter trarre il suo sostentamento, bastano i proventi delle materie prime. La conseguenza è che le istituzioni politiche e la società rimangono sottosviluppate.
Nella seconda parte del libro il discorso si estende alla società civile, dimostrando come la democratizzazione abbia profondamente modificato (se non corrotto) mondi come quelli della religione (attraverso i predicatori mediatici), dei libri, dell'arte e dei professionisti in genere (avvocati, banchieri, ecc..) Negli ultimi cento anni le istituzioni democratiche hanno subito un processo di graduale screditamento presso l'opinione pubblica, con il paradosso che, mentre i politici e tutti i corpi elettivi perdevano quote significative di fiducia tra la popolazione, ne acquistavano invece sempre più i corpi non elettivi della società: forze armate, corte costituzionale, magistratura, ecc.. Lo stesso processo è capitato alla classe dirigente. Non c'è più una classe dirigente, quella di oggi non si sente tale e anzi tende ad immedesimarsi come facente ancora parte della classe borghese, con il rischio concreto che così facendo la società tende a privarli del peso delle loro responsabilità verso la società stessa; si perde un meccanismo di controllo verso il loro potere, che oggi aumenta in modo smisurato. Dalla classe dirigente di oggi ci aspettiamo poco e non veniamo delusi mai.
In conclusione il libro ha un grande realismo politico, non è un libro contro la democrazia ma ha il pregio (e il coraggio) di descriverne chiaramente i limiti.
A tremendously thought-provoking and relevant book that was in a way ahead of the political curve we are now in the midst of. The subtitle about illiberal democracy really brings home the argument: We have seen a wave of democratization in the late 20th century, but it has not necessarily made our politics, economics, and societies that much better. Shedding orthodoxies of the left and right, Zakaria outlines the rise of illiberal democracies in places as varied as India, Russia (still a semi-democracy in 2003), Indonesia, Malaysia, Venezuela, and elsewhere. He defines these as states that have instituted key aspects of democracy (elections, parliaments, campaigns, usually constitutions) without liberalism, classically defined (civil society, strong constitutional traditions, norms like the loyal opposition, cultural resistance to strongman or ethno-centric appeals, religious tolerance, freedom of speech and the press, the rule of law, independent courts, the separation of powers, etc). He is also skeptical of countries that rush into democracy without liberal institutions or a certain amount of wealth. He cites extensive political science research that shows that democracies are vastly more likely to succeed once they hit around 8-10,000 dollars in GDP per capita. The main reason is that the key demographic for the survival of democracy and a strong civil society that can balance and hold accountable the power of gov't is the middle class. It is educated, solid enough in its socio-economic standing to resist blatant economic populism, usually more political moderate, and it wants accountable government in exchange for taxation.
Democracy without liberalism or a baseline level of wealth can quickly become a hollow shell, as Zakaria shows with illustrations from countries around the world. Leaders rely on patronage politics rather than taxation (which, of course, requires a certain level of legitimacy), intimidate the press, scapegoat minorities, and try to undermine weak constitutions and legislatures. Instead of rushing countries into democracy, Zakaria recommends that we take a more kindly view of liberal authoritarians like those of Taiwan, South Korea, Turkey under Ataturk, Indonesia under Suharto, or even Spain. These leaders were not nice guys, but they opened their societies economically, allowing for the building of private enterprises and a rising middle class that then pressed for more political openness. By the time that pressure led to the phasing in of democracy, the countries had the strong liberal institutions needed as the grounding of that democracy. This is not a guaranteed process: authoritarians are just as likely to ruin their countries in the interest of enriching themselves or enacting utopian dreams. However, we should not necessarily see immediate democratization of countries that aren't ready as the solution: following this route will most likely bring you to state collapse (see Sub-Saharan African states) or illiberal democracies like India.
I expected Zakaria's argument about American politics to be about the rise of illiberalism at home, but I think that development was not as apparent in 2003 as it is now. Instead, he focuses on hyper-democratization at home and the weakening of elite institutions. This is one of the great ironies of modern US politics: Americans routinely show the most respect for the institutions of the state (the military, the Supreme Court) that are least accountable to direct democratic control while detesting those that are most connected to democratic control (Congress, and to a lesser extent, the presidency). At the same time, Americans regularly complain that Washington is out of touch with their experiences, needs, and viewpoints and they demand more control over politics.
Zakaria's lesson here: be careful what you wish for. He surveys the dramatic democratization of American politics that occurred in the 20th century, starting in the Progressive Era: the referendum, the popular primary, the opening of campaign donation laws, the weakening of party structures to the benefit of popular control, the rise of polling, others that I'm forgetting. This shift has had several important and detrimental effects. One is that politicians are ever more obsessed with day to day polling, causing them to "lead" with their ears to the ground rather than by considering broader factors. Zakaria calls for a return of the Burkean ethos of delegated authority in which representatives exercise judgement in the best interests, but not the beck and call, of their constituents. Second, and more pernicious, is that the opening of politics to greater outside influence in the name of democracy has not benefitted the people but led to the rise of special interests in politics. Think of it this way: as politics is opened to outside influence, who is most likely to seize that advantage: the organized, the motivated, and the well-funded. In other words, efforts at democratization opened the door for interest groups, lobbyists, a new and out of control version of patronage politics that have hollowed out the parties and empowered groups like the Koch brothers, enabling them both paralyze and radicalize our politics. It's no wonder that ordinary Americans are fed up with American politics; what they need to realize is that more democratic control is not necessarily the answer. In fact, it's part of the problem (note: Zakaria sees the weakening of elite institutions in American politics as part of a broader weakening of the American elite, or at least its transformation from defenders of the public interest to a self-interested kleptocracy. He puts in more subtly than this, but I'd still like to hear thoughts about this cultural shift)
One can't help when listening to this book but see the dramatic connections to the wave of illiberal democracy sweeping the entire world right now. There are factors that he couldn't quite anticipate that now shape our politics: backlash to globalization, immigration, terrorism and Islamophobia, the new wave of illiberal leftism on campuses. However, he does point to many factors that help define the era of illiberal democracy: over-democratization of politics, the rise of populism, the resurgence of ethane-centric nationalism, the dominance of outside money in politics, the hollowing out of institutions like political parties. In sum, this book is great as a study of history, politics, and culture as well as a "how did we get here" read. It is provocative but balanced, firmly rooted in evidence, not too long, and continually relevant.
Democracy has many forms and the illiberal democracy may not be the ideal one in people's mind. Zakaria pointed out that the illiberal democracy would be harmful to the people and may even be worse than authoritarianism. Statistics showed that rich democratic countries would last longer. Religious, generally Islamic countries, would suppress the freedom of other religions which are not recognized by the current regime. Voting only counts if people actually cast votes and the candidates they vote for may not be the representatives of the party. Also in countries where Americanized democracy is replicated without the full extent e.g. without separation of powers, the elected presidents may not deliver their promises to the people but instead abusing political powers to infiltrate business, influence military and affect country's equilibrium. Eventually democracy may eventually become authoritarianism with electron being a formality rather than the crucial means of achieve democratic liberty. Democracy is like fire as a great aid to cook meat but can also burn down houses. People should confront the "dark side" of democracy and reflect on how to preserve the the freedom in the future.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Zakaria takes the reader through thorough and un-emotional analysis of the Liberalism, Constitutional Liberalism and Democracy around the world and most particularly in the USA. He commands that over last decades we experience erosion of responsibility so closely associated with democracy and liberalism during many previous centuries.
At some point he argues that we may have a bit too much democracy and I am afraid that since the end of the Cold War, our celebration of democracy has been too superficial. We put emphasis on its plebiscite aspect with the exclusion of all others.
So now, when, for example, someone criticizes Donald Trump who utters words that no president candidate has ever said, he often hears in reply: "Well, Trump got 14 million votes and defeated the other 12 candidates." This is what the problem of excess democracy is - when it transforms into a system justifying even illiberal and unconstitutional activities. This is a problem of our time, regardless of whether it takes place in Russia, Turkey, Hungary, Poland, the United States, and many other countries.
Fareed Zakaria's 2003 book, 'The Future of Freedom' explains a nuanced point that is often missed even today - that democracy and liberal ideals do not go hand-in-hand. In other words, that you can have illiberal democracies. This is a prescient book in many ways, as it extrapolates on the tyranny of elite and corporate interests, media conglomerates, and populism. Zakaria weaves a fine thread throughout various areas of political intrigue from culture and law, to institutions and economics.
I am glad I read this book. Although the examples and evidence are dated in several areas, it remains a highly relevant critique of democracy that doesn't appeal to authoritarianism but rather delegation, virtue, and specific democratic limitations.
Over a decade after publication, Zakaria's assertions resonate. He argues that the past century has been marked by an over-regulation of capitalism and under-regulation of democracy, resulting in dangerous implications within our own borders and the globally. His solution is "delegation" in order to legitimise institutions and protect constitutional liberalism and ensure safe democracy as the "last best hope" for modern civilisation.
Huh. So Zakaria's point is that, in this Internet age, we've gone too far with disintermediation, specifically with our government. One can have too much direct democracy--witness California, says Fareed, and I'm not inclined to argue. This book challenged my thinking, made me cranky, and in the end its conclusions are quite strong. Hmmmmm. . .. let's intermediate!
After reading that in the view of the author we live in the postnationalist time, abandoned this book without regret. True, it is fairly old, but this gaffe says everything I have to know about Zakaria's foresight and imagination. A glorified Thomas Friedman in my view (whom he approvingly quotes), and not by much.
While dated (the edition I read was published in 2007) Zakaria’s book is an excellent introduction to the virtues and pitfalls to democracy. Much has changed on the world scene since he wrote it, but it is still a provocative work whose insights will be badly needed in a post pandemic world.
Zakaria says this isn’t an historical work, but I list it on that bookshelf because it has some valuable historical overviews. Additionally, the book at this writing is thirteen years old, and much of what was then current is now securely lodged in history. It seems the Iraq war was fifty years ago given our current struggles with potential economic collapse and worldwide disease.
Gerçi kitap biraz eski ama oldukça iyi tespitleri vardır. Demokrasi ve özgürlüğün aslında farklı şeyler olduğunu ve günümüz demokrasisinin aslında kapitalist demokrasi anlamına geldiğini öğrenmiş oluyoruz. Yazar bir liberal olarak fazla tarafgir davranmamış. Politika ve demokrasinin sorunlarını öğrenmek isteyenlerin okumasını tavsiye ederim.
62% democracy rate, quantity over quality, Rome limited govt and rule of law, Catholic Church cracked the code for individual liberty, European geography vs Asian and African early development, strict restrictive Reformation roots vs liberal Protestantism, 30 year war ended at Westphalia, 1688 British rev strengthened and 1789 French disintegrated, capitalism destroyed feudalism and previous hierarchical structures, rev when raise taxes w/o consent of governed, explosion of entrepreneurial power, whole society melted into middle class, born equal and equality under law, full vote 20’s US 30’s GB, eastern Europe and Iran difficult transition ripe per capita, Chile strong families religious values determination, govt must control governed and itself, unfair elections in south 50’s Chicago 60’s, British colonialism left behind system of law and capitalism, French colonies in Africa lead to tyranny, nazis gained 44% vote, democracy over $6K per capita survive, money does not produce liberty must be earned growth, easy money means undeveloped politically, educated masses to progress, even some trust fund kids turn out well, without full property rights democracy growth slow, Yeltsin on tank then Putin, china economic first Russia political first, Russian products value detraction, more presidential edicts less liberty, tyranny of majority per Madison and Tocqueville, Islam countries first with women leaders-Indonesia Pakistan India, people against US if support to oppressive regimes as in past at Chile Mexico So Korea, politics in US good intentions gone haywire with too much media attention skewed by special interests who were thought to compete for funds originally, 80% specials and minorities and 20% politicians, CA accountability diminished with initiatives wherein politicians control only 15% similar in CT,finance changes cc inv funds, religion Graham softened vs Cook, make us proud is outdated, lawyers used to state damn fool and should stop, Tocqueville tyranny of majority, politics by minority interest groups, acctg by contingent fees vs hourly, perhaps police self, was 3 network media monopoly of news, schools use to train to be good and useful maybe virtues too, achievement vs character, Titanic men saved women and children vs movie, 20th century reg of capitalism and dereg of democracy creating more govt, Nixon called price controls Keynesian, what respected is not political or democratic as fed reserve and military, perhaps wto eu brac, maybe less is more, do consumption flat tax, fear of democracy killing self, 20’s disenchantment with depression spurred socialism communism eugenics, need those with power to lead morally, best last hope for people, make democracy safe for world.
This book distilled down the elements of different types of governments and explained them in such a way as it challenged me to think about and consider government, how it works, how it is implemented, and how it can evolve overtime. It gave me much to contemplate in my ongoing quest to be a more informed and educated voter and participant in our country’s political processes. One cannot do that without educating oneself on how things have been and are, as well as all sides and perspectives of issues. It’s good to step outside my comfort zone and challenge my perceptions and current knowledge. Education is never finished but a lifelong pursuit.
Introduction: the democratic age Liberty and Democracy are not always the same. Democracy - the shift of power downward. It has gone from a way of government to a way of life. Illiberal democracy vs constitutional liberalism Democracy is flourishing; liberty is not.
chapter 1: a brief history of human liberty *Consequence of capitalism as a cause of democracy Reject the argument that "culture as destiny" Capitalism and the rule law first, then democracy.
chapter 2: the twisted path examples of authoritative government (WWII germany) the more well-to-do a nation, the greater its chances to sustain democracy Money that is earned produces liberty (e.g. oil-producing does not count) When a government taxes people it has to provide benefits in return, which brings liberty and representation ( a reciprocal bargain between taxation and representation) the next wave (countries that may be democratic next) A discussion on China
chapter 3: illiberal democracy China is reforming its economics before its politics, whereas Russia did the reverse. First abuse of the democratic system: elected autocrats Second one : tyranny of the majority Democracy is simply not viable in an environment of intense ethnic preferences. DemocratizING states went to war significantly more often than either stable autocracies or liberal democracies.
chapter 4: the Islamic exception (not particularly understand) The Arab world today is trapped between autocratic states and illiberal societies, neither of them fertile ground for liberal democracy. The arab mind
chapter 4: too much of a good thing (not understand because of a lack of understanding of the US political structure)
chapter 5: the death of authority Examples in daily lives In the old days, there are elites with morality Deregulation --> more competitive --> less moral
conclusion: the way out delegating democracy the organizations that are respected / highly-rated by people are the ones that do not allow the participation of public
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
The premise of the book is that democracy and freedom are not the same thing. Zakaria believs that too much direct democracy is bad. He believes that the indirect republican form of democracy is the best form of governance that leads to more freedom than direct democracy does.
I agree with the author that freedom and democracy are not the same thing. Minority rights can be trampled by direct democracy where people make the laws. Just witness the results Proposition 8 in California. A few polls have even shown that many United States citizens think that The Bill of Rights is too radical. Conversely, a republican democracy is better able to protect minority rights and give freedom to more people. The Civil Rights Act in the 60s probably never would have passed under a direct democracy.
I part with the author most importantly is his sometimes praise of dictatorships where the author contends that there is more freedom than in what he calls so-called democracy. He points out that under the Indonesian dictator Suharto, Indonesia was economically richer and more secular than the democracy that replaced it. Is this true? Ask the hundreds of thousands killed by Suharto's armed forces from 1965-1966. Then ask what the people of East Timor thought. The Indonesians invasion of East Timor killed around 200,000 people in East Timor out of a population of about 700,000. I think Zakaria should not be praising a mass murderer.
I found the book interesting and thought provoking. It made me think about democracy and freedom and had many interesting and important observations about the state of freedom in the world. But be forewarned, the author does not necessarily understand and/or take into account all issues of freedom and human rights. For his approval of a mass-murderer I give this book only one star.
فرید زکریا از آنجایی که تحصیل کرده علوم سیاسی است و همینطور ژرونالیست به همین خاطر توانسته پیوند خوبی بین کار تحقیقی و آکادمیک و ژورنالیستی برقرار سازد. کتاب دارای 6فصل است که همینطور که از عنوان فرعی آن پیداست به بررسی تقدم لیبرالیسمِ قانون سالار بر دموکراسی میپردازد. زکریا معتقد است اگر زیرساختهای دموکراسی (شامل جامعه مدنی، مطبوعات آزاد، قوه قضایی�� مستقل و اقتصاد بازار) فراهم نشود این دموکراسی درنهایت به اقتدارگرایی خواهد انجامید و برای این ادعای خود مثالهایی را هم از حکومتهای دموکراسی غیرلیبرال میاورد. فصل 4 کتاب به بررسی خاورمیانه و کشورهای اسلامی میپردازد و همین نکته را تاکید میکند. پیش بینی او درست از آب درآمد و دربهار عربی سال 2011 شاهد این نکته بودیم که از دل دموکراسیِ بدون بسترسازی شده حکومتهای اقتدارگرا دوباره برسرکار آمدند و روز از نو روزی از نو. از ایران نیز نام میبرد و چشم انداز خوبی را برایش متصور میشود. فصلهای بعدی به طور خاص برروی جامعه آمریکا متمرکز است و میشود گفت به نقد جامعه تجاری و مصرفی آمریکا میپرداز که این را خلاف ارزشهای آمریکا میداند. همینطور اینکه روند فعلی دموکراسی را در بلندمدت به ضرر دموکراسی میداند و نسبت به پیامدهای آن هشدار میدهد. او این روند را نتیجه زیاد از حد دموکراتیزه شدن و زیاد از حد اکتفا کردن به آرای مردم میداند. به عبارتی میتوان گفت دوفصل پایانی کتاب سندی است بر اثبات برتری دموکراسی جفرسونی بر دموکراسی جکسونی. در آخر خواندن این کتاب در عصر ظهور ترامپها و هم فکرانش در اروپا به شدت توصیه میشود.