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Lecture 11

Political Science 1G06 2012 Lecture 11a overhead non-democratic states.doc

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Political Science
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Todd Alway

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Political Science 1G06 2012 Lecture 11a Non-Democratic political systems - In their 2011 analysis, Freedom House classified 115 of 193 countries as electoral democracies - 59% of the total - Meaning that 41% of the total are not democratic - So, if we only focus on Liberal Democracies, o We are missing out on a very large piece of the world’s political puzzle - We avoid asking a number of political questions - Like: How is it possible to construct a stable political system where the majority of the population is formally excluded from the political process? - Consider: Are authoritarian regimes sustained just by the imposition of force? o Or do they use specific strategies to produce legitimacy within the state in which they operate? - Note: In exploring the justifications for authoritarianism I am not attempting to justify these justifications - Rather, there are two purposes I am aiming at: - 1. To understand non-democratic states on their own terms o Why are non-democratic ideologies so attractive to such a large number of people? - 2. To the extent that non-liberal democracies often justify themselves as being more democratic than liberal democracy - Can we identify limitations to our own system of government? - Can we improve liberal democracy in practice to make it more just and egalitarian? Definition: - Liberal Democracies – at least two things are present - 1. The majority can vote - 2. There are freely contested elections - Non-Liberal-Democratic Political systems – where both of the above factors are not present - For reasons of simplicity we will call these political systems authoritarian (although some may be totalitarian) - Why do authoritarian regimes form in some locations but not in others? - 1. One possibility: Economic Causes? - For many Liberal economists o Wealth and the distribution of wealth are the key factors explaining the existence of authoritarian political systems - In countries that are materially poor and in which there is a great polarity in wealth, authoritarian governments are more likely - Liberal solution: Free Markets - Free markets will create a middle class - This class will seek to extend its economic power into the political realm - It will mobilize politically to protect that wealth from arbitrary expropriation - However, wealth alone does not appear to be a sufficient explanation for autocracy or democracy - Nor are free markets (in and of themselves) a sufficient solution to the problem of authoritarianism - Why do large populations voluntarily support authoritarian political systems when there are clear democratic alternatives? - How is legitimacy manufactured (see Mayer for an elaboration of this list) - 1. Consequentialist Justification - Authoritarian government is a means to an ends rather than a legitimate end in and of itself - If a society wants to achieve a certain goal (like economic development), Liberal Democracy may not be the best route (according to this justification) - 2. Principled Justification - Some authoritarian regimes justify themselves as being superior political systems in and of themselves o Despite the claims of liberal democra
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