Democracy sometimes may be worse than autocracy


Democracy has become a favored form of government in Western parlance. And autocracy has become a dirty word.  Yet, history does not support such a comprehensive judgment.  Just to mention, in broad-brush terms,  a few possible exceptions:

Germany’s  democratic Weimar Republic performed so badly as to open the gates to Hitler’s Third Reich.  Kaiser Wilhelm’s autocracy performed much better during the early years of the twentieth century.

British autocratic rule over Hong Kong offers one of the finest examples of governance in the history of mankind.

Singapore’s long-lived one-party autocracy continuously positions Singapore second in the index of economic freedom.

The Allende democratic majority in Chile brought the nation to economic ruin. It took a  General Pinochet dictatorship to promote Chile from third to second world status.

The Chavez democratic majority in Venezuela has brought the holder the world’s largest oil reserves to economic ruin.

British economic performance under limited democracy 1689-1884 arguably was far superior to British performance under an expanded suffrage following the passage of the Third Reform Act in 1884.

Readers will easily identify other exceptions to current political correctness on this issue.

Readers may care to think about the implications of such ‘evidence’ for the future of  those Middle Eastern countries that move from secular dictatorship to Islamic ‘democracy’.

With respect to Egypt, the ‘democratic’ rule of Mohamed (Moriarty) Morsi quickly springs to mind!

 

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2 Responses to “Democracy sometimes may be worse than autocracy”

  1. Sanjeev Sabhlok Says:

    Democracy unconstrained by strong and unmoving constitutional protections will always underperform a rules based autocracy. The problem is not democracy but an assumption that it is license for redistribution.

  2. Olivier Braun Says:

    Dear Prof. Rowley,

    I certainly agree with the general idea of your post, and as you said in your conclusion, I have others exemple in my mind as well. Democratic governance is not Good governance, and it is to be feared that the “democratic” part can too easely destroy the “liberal” part in our classical liberal democracies.
    Nevertheless, when you wrote “Germany’s democratic Weimar Republic performed so badly as to open the gates to Hitler’s Third Reich. Kaiser Wilhelm’s autocracy performed much better during the early years of the twentieth century”, I think you don’t push the parallel far enough, for the Kaiser’s rule opened the gate to the first wold war. But the seeds of both were planted in the 19th century rise of illiberalism.

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