Democratization Skepticism on the Right I

Conservative arguments against a foreign policy of promoting democracy are becoming more common. Here’s the start of one from Lawrence Auster in The American Thinker

Now that the democratization of Iraq has led to a constitution based on the totalitarian sharia law, perhaps President Bush and his advisors can better understand the truth enunciated by Norman Davies in his 1996 book, Europe, A History:

Hitler’s democratic triumph exposed the true nature of democracy. Democracy has few values of its own: it is as good, or bad, as the principles of the people who operate it. In the hands of liberal and tolerant people, it will produce a liberal and tolerant government; in the hands of cannibals, a government of cannibals. In Germany of 1933-4 it produced a Nazi government because the prevailing culture of Germany�s voters did not give priority to the exclusion of gangsters.

Twenty years ago, or even ten years ago when Davies’ book was published, a significant number of thinking Americans would have granted the evident validity of these observations. A democratic government, in the sense of a government chosen by popular election and therefore reflecting the concerns and values of a particular people, will also naturally reflect the moral and cultural character of that people.

The underlying premise here is that “the prevailing culture” of Germany led to the rise of Nazism in the 1930s. But, by the 1950s, Germany was well on its way to becoming a social democracy. Unless Auster is arguing that Germany is a prime candidate to revert to totalitarianism now, doesn’t the Auster/Davies example lead to the conclusion that an occupying power can substantially liberalize the underlying culture of another country in just a generation or two?

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Thomas Jackson
Thomas Jackson
16 years ago

If so then why has all of Africa collapsed into despotism? Elections in Africa are described as, one man, one vote, one time.
We wouldn’t expect a rubber plant to thrive in Alaska while should we expect democracy to do well in societies that have none of the prequisites for such a form of government.
Good arguement though.

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