Global Peace And Human Security Are Not Hopeless

June 24, 2009

[First published February 17, 2005.] Yes, There is Hope. Great Hope

With all the mass murder by thug dictators in such countries as North Korea, Burma, Sudan, Congo, Iran, and the like, with terrorists murdering people wholesale, and with the apparent inability to stop or prevent most of it, the post-World War II exclamation, “Never Again,” seems hopeless. Such is the feeling I get from reading news items on the latest democide (murder by government) and murder bombing, and some of the email I receive. And, I must admit, I have contributed to this pessimism with my country-by-county, year-by-year estimates of the world’s democide. Clearly, as I’ve pointed out, a slow motion nuclear war has taken place, with my conservative estimate of 262,000,000 murdered by governments in the 20th Century.

And it continues into this century.

But, it is not hopeless. We are not faced, nor are our children faced with such democide in perpetuity. We do have the ability to turn “Never Again” into reality for all.

We should recognize some facts. One is that democracies by far have had the least domestic democide, and now with their extensive liberalization, have virtually none. Therefore, democratization (not just electoral democracies, but liberal democratization in terms of civil liberties and political rights) provides the long run hope for the elimination of democide. Second, that the world is progressively becoming more democratic, with from 22 democracies in 1950 to something like 121 democracies today (about 89 of them liberal democracies), gives substance to this hope. A third is that democracies don’t make war on each other, and the more democratic government, the less its foreign and domestic violence, AND DEMOCIDE. And fourth, the democratic peace and the fostering of democracies worldwide is now the core organizing principle of American foreign policy.

Already, the growth in the number of democracies has decreased the amount of international war and violence (see my, “Democracies Increase and Ipso Facto, World Violence Declines,” “Democracies Up, Violence Down Again, Media Still Blind”). And this will continue. Eventually, at some point in the future, virtually the whole world will be democratic. Then, perhaps, in the presence of the world’s major presidents, and prime ministers, the President of the Global Alliance of Democracies can uncover a statue of Irene, the Greek Goddess of peace, in Geneva, with these words on its base:

“Now, Never Again”


Link of Note

”Ending Slavery” (2/12/05) By Thomas Sowell

To me the most staggering thing about the long history of slavery — which has encompassed the entire world and every race in it — is that nowhere before the 18th century was there any serious question raised about whether slavery was right or wrong. In the late 18th century, that question arose in Western civilization, but nowhere else.

It seems so obvious today that, as Lincoln said, if slavery is not wrong, then nothing is wrong. But no country anywhere believed that three centuries ago.

Many pessimists feel about ending democide as humanists in the 16th and 17th centuries felt about ending slavery. It always has been and always will be. Moreover, while we now see democide as horrible, a black mark on humanity, and what must be stopped, like slavery, this is only a modern view. Historically, democide has been accepted as an inevitable aspect of war, and a necessity of governance.

Sowell’s article is a good reminder of how we once viewed slavery, and how what we once thought was as natural to society as a division of labor, was virtually eliminated in a century.


Democracies Up, Violence Down Again, Media Still Blind

June 2, 2009

[First published May 30, 2005] In his May 28, 2005, op-ed piece, “Give Peace a Chance,” in The New York Times (link here), John Tierney points out:

The new edition of “Peace and Conflict,” a biennial global survey being published next week by the University of Maryland, shows that the number and intensity of wars and armed conflicts have fallen once again, continuing a steady 15-year decline that has halved the amount of organized violence around the world.

Tierney is at a loss to explain this and first looks to an economist for an explanation, which is the there is less and less to gain economically from war. And then says:

Of course, wars are also fought for noneconomic reasons, but those, too, seem to be diminishing. The end of the cold war left the superpowers’ proxy armies without patrons, and the spread of democracy made nations less bellicose. (Democracies almost never fight each other.) Mr. Easterbrook calculates that the amount of military spending per capita has declined by a third worldwide since 1985. [Easterbook here]

He has pulled aside the shade and looked out the window, but since this is the only mention of the democratic peace in the whole article, he seems unsure, if not doubting, what he has seen. Again, I will provide some of the compelling evidence in a series of charts.

The following two charts show the rapid increase in democracies and liberal democracies since 1900.

The following chart plots the overall non-freedomness of the international system per year. This is the average rating of nations per year in their degree of freedom (the higher the rating, the less freedom).

The above are based on data from Freedom House (link here)

Now, lets look at the changes in regime type, as plotted by the “Peace and Conflict” study Tierney wrote his op-ed about (link here). See below.

The anocracies are akin to partially free, authoritarian, nations. Note that in these charts around 1990 is the critical year when the number of democracies spurt up and autocracies, those lest democratic, dive down in numbers. Now, lets see what happens to violence since 1946.

All forms of violence are headed down, and the crucial years are between 1985 and 1990, which is just the time when after a continual increase (see the first three charts), the number of democracies jump up. The way to understand this is that in the late 1980s, democracies achieved a critical mass in the international system, a tipping point for violence. Decades ago I predicted this point would be reached eventually, and now it has.

The last two charts taken together well substantiate President Bush’s Forward Strategy of Freedom, that it, foster freedom to foster peace. Do you think this might have something to do with the media largely ignoring the democratic peace in action, as shown here?


Link of Note

(Spring 2004) By John Mueller

He says:

It seems to me, though, that the most reliable restraints on violent behavior—both by individuals and by states—stem from human nature. For the most part, following the Rodney King prescription, we all—or almost all—actually do really want just to get along. There certainly is a quota of jerks out there, but most people most of the time are inclined to avoid conflict— certainly violent conflict. Their key goal is to live in peace and security, and they do this in part by adopting a live-and-let-live philosophy and by sharpening their skills from a very early age for determining whom to trust and befriend.7 By and large, their instincts predispose them not to belligerence or aggressiveness or even to stand and fight, but rather to flee conflict by removing themselves from threatening situations and moving from neighborhoods that are, or seem, dangerous. What is remarkable about most societies is how small in number, indeed how little in evidence, are the police forces required to maintain acceptable order. . . .

Thus, international war has declined remarkably since 1945 even while
international anarchy continues, effectively, to flourish: no one, surely, would confuse the United Nations or other international bodies with a Hobbesian
Leviathan.

Experience suggests, then, that alarm about international “anarchy” is much
overstressed. Regulation is not normally required, and “anarchy” could become a desirable state.

So, the decrease in violence is due to human nature and learning about violence — it is a natural result of the anarchic international system.

Not only has the democratic peace brought a greater peace to nations, but it has also enabled all kinds of theories explaining this peace to flourish.


Democratic Peace
Books/articles/statistics


The Democratic Peace

March 5, 2009

[First published October 21, 2005] In spite of the violence in Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, Angola, and elsewhere, there is a cause for much optimism. World violence has been in sharp decline for over five years, and the march of democratization continues with about 119 [as of 2008] democracies now existing, and 8 [as of 2008] of them liberal democracies. In almost every country where elites have been persuaded of the value of socialism there is now talk of multiparty systems, democracy, and the free market. Even in the classical authoritarian systems, such as those in the Middle East, voices are heard for a free press, legislative power, and political parties.

Obviously, we are riding a democratic wave. The technology of the mass media has brought us all closer together (and who can forget watching the elections in Afghanistan and then Iraq) and in its universal availability and content it has carried implicitly the message of democracy and freedom. And freedom and the rule of law itself has become the most universally accepted political idea and human right, even enshrined in the UN Human Rights Convention

The components of this idea are clear in broad brush although the details, as always, are subject to academic dispute. These are political rights, such as to compete and choose one’s candidates for political power, equal and secret ballot, and freedom to organize and protest against office holders; and for liberal democracies, civil rights, such as freedom of religion, organization, and speech. Often we collectively refer to these rights by the term Rule of Law, a basic constitutional order that protects these rights and that lies above the whims of government, groups, and individuals.

But in our enthusiasm for the global movement toward democracy, we should ask ourselves why we support it. A century and more ago the answer would have been almost automatic, as it was for the writers of the American Constitution. It is a natural law, an inalienable right, and a self-evident principle that people should be free. But natural law is no longer intellectually popular and indeed the idea is now so strange that journalists cannot understand the references to it by conservative nominees to the American Supreme Court. They classify it along with such sayings as, “God wills it.”

A currently more respectable justification for democracy is that freedom is a fundamental human value and desire. People want to live their own lives, pursue their own interests as free from the meddling of others as possible. If such intrusion is necessary, they want to play a role in determining the who, what, and when of it. And since this is what people universally want it is what they should have. Although the non sequitur in this argument is glaring–one cannot derive a “should” from a “want” or “desire” alone–it at least can be made respectable by reference to the Social Contract Theory of justice. That is, if we argue that a just social system is one whose fundamental principles people would universally choose if they were blind to their selfish interests (if they had no knowledge of where they would end up in that system–rich or poor, tall or fat, black or white), then persuasive is the argument that people would choose as their first principle freedom under the Rule of Law.

But this approach to justifying democracy has been unsatisfactory to many. We live in a utilitarian age and it is hardly strange that the major justification for democracy should be in terms of its consequences. Particularly, that where people are free under law that is fair and equally applied to all, they are most happy. Of course, this utilitarian justification itself is subject to question. What is happiness? Although people prefer happiness to sadness, grief, and pain, do they really know what will make them happy?

The democrat argues that we really do not know what makes people happy in general and that this is something that only they can decide for themselves, and if for some issues it must be determined generally, as with regard to pollution or public education, it should be through publicly elected representatives under law. And the democratic individualist has argued further with their democratic socialist friends that the free market is a necessary mechanism through which individuals have the greatest choice as to what will make them happy, both in the relative diversity and cheapness of goods and in the creation and dissemination of wealth.

This utilitarian argument for democracy is what has now won the battle for the minds of men. Democracy, it is widely believed, assures the happiness of the greatest number because it provides freedom and wealth (through economic development). There is much to quibble about this, as can be seen in the arguments between various political parties, and I do not intend to get into these debates. But leaving these details aside, I think that we can accept this as the general argument of the American, Soviet, or Chinese democrat (even those who favor social democracy no longer mean full-scale socialism but now mean a free market qualified by government welfare, safety nets, regulation, and limited government ownership of basic services and production, such as in the public health sector).

But those who make this utilitarian argument for democracy have missed perhaps the strongest possible justification. Democracy preserves human life. In theory and fact, the more democratic two states, the less deadly violence between them; and if they are both democratic, lethal violence is precluded altogether. That is, democratic states do not make war on each other. Moreover, the less democratic two states, the more probable war between them. And also, the less democratic a state, the more likely will occur internal warfare.

This is not all. Perhaps least surprising is that the less democratic a government, the more likely that it will murder its own citizens in cold blood, independent of any foreign or domestic war.

Now, war is not the most deadly form of violence. Indeed, I have found that while about 37,000,000 people have been killed in battle in all foreign and domestic wars in the last century, government democide (genocide and mass murder) have killed about 175 million, most by far by totalitarian governments. There is no case of democratic governments murdering en masse their own citizens.

The point is this. If a utilitarian justification for democracy is to be given, then in addition to the happiness that follows from freedom and the from wealth produced by the free market, democracy preserves and extends human life. It does this through the life extending benefits of the market (as in food production). But most important, it does this through the reduction of deadly violence. Democracy is the successful institutionalization of the forces, culture, and techniques of non-violence.

This is also what we should be shouting from the roof tops. This is also what should be the substance of our utilitarian justification for democracy. Yes, freedom. Yes, development. Yes, happiness. But yes, also life for those saved from murder by their own governments and death from war.

Nothing is certain about the future, but this is true of all predictions based on past events, natural or social. Within this limitation think about this. By fact and theory, we appear to have within the power of democracy the opportunity to end war, genocide, and mass murder, and minimize revolutionary and civil violence. And the epochal movement of our times is toward universal democracy.

It is true that a few political leaders such as President George Bush and practitioners have already pointed out that democracies do not make war on each other. But this has not been a general understanding; virtually no journalists mention this in their analyses of democracy and contemporary trends. I have yet to hear or read about an expert, academic or otherwise, mentioning this in a media interview. Why is this?

First, until recent decades there has been an historic erosion of the tenets of classical liberalism and its faith in democracy and the free market. The pacific nature of democracy is a matter of insight and knowledge gained and lost among liberals. So long ago as 1795, in his virtually now forgotten Perpetual Peace, Immanuel Kant systematically articulated the positive role of republicanism in eliminating war. He proposed that constitutional republics should be established to assure universal peace. The essential idea was this: the more freedom people have to govern their own lives, the more government power is limited constitutionally, the more leaders are responsible through free elections to their people, then the more restrained the leaders will be in making war.

Through the writings of Kant, de Montesquieu, Thomas Paine, Jeremy Bentham, and John Stuart Mill, among others, it became an article of classical liberal faith in the 18th and 19th centuries that “Government on the old system,” as Paine wrote, “is an assumption of power, for the aggrandizement of itself; on the new [republican form of government as just established in the United States], a delegation of power for the common benefit of society. The former supports itself by keeping up a system of war; the latter promotes a system of peace, as the true means of enriching a nation.”

These liberals believed that there was a natural harmony of interests among nations, and that free trade would facilitate this harmony and promote peace. Most important, they were convinced that monarchical aristocracies had a stake in war. In contemporary terms, it was a game they played with the lives of the common folk. Empower the common people to make such decisions through their representatives, and they would generally oppose war.

In the 18th Century, classical liberals wrote about democracy and peace in the abstract, by hypothesis. Reason, the instrument for uncovering natural law, was their guide. Now we have the longer historical record, empirical research, and social theory to show that indeed, their reason and intuition were not misplaced.

Nonetheless, by the middle of the 20th century, this insight became almost completely ignored or forgotten. There are several reasons for this. First and foremost, the classical liberal view itself fell into disrepute among intellectuals and scholars. Essentially, classical liberals believed that the government that governs least governs best. Adam Smith’s An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations was their economic bible. And in current terms, they preached democratic capitalism. But beginning in the 19th century capitalism came under increasing attack by socialists. First, the socialist agreed with the classical liberal that the people had to be empowered, and that this would bring peace. But what the socialist saw when the liberal creed was enacted into law, especially in Britain, was that the bellicose aristocracies were replaced by bellicose capitalists. Democracies and their attendant free market appeared to foster exploitation, inequality, poverty, and to enable a very few to rule over the many. Most important here, capitalism was seen not just to promote, but to require colonialism and imperialism, and thereby war.

But what was to be done? Here the socialists divided essentially into the democratic socialists, state socialists, and Marxists. The democratic socialists argued that true democracy means that both the political and economic aspects of their lives must be under the people’s control, and this is done through a representative government and government ownership, control, and management of the economy. Elected representatives, who would oversee economic planners and managers, and above all be responsive to popular majorities, would thus replace the capitalist. With the aristocratic and capitalist interests in war thus eliminated, with the peace oriented worker and peasant democratically empowered, peace would be assured.

The state socialists, however, would simply replace representative institutions with some form of socialist dictatorship. This would assure the best implementation and progress of socialist egalitarianism, without interference by the bourgeoisie and other self-serving interests. Moreover, the people cannot be trusted to know their own interests, for they are easily blinded by pro-capitalist propaganda and manipulation. Burma today is an example of state socialism in practice.

While agreeing on much of the socialist analysis of capitalism, the Marxists added a deterministic, dialectical theory of history, a class analysis of societies, an economic theory of capitalism, and the necessity of the impoverishment of the worker and the inevitability of a communist revolution. However, the Marxists disagreed with the socialists on the ends. Never far from the anarchists, the Marxists, especially the Marxist-Leninists of our century, looked at the socialist state that would come into being with the overthrow of capitalism as nothing more than an intermediary dictatorship of the proletariat through which the transition to the final stage of communism would be prepared. And stripped of its feudal or capitalist exploiters, and thus its agents of war, communism would mean enlightened cooperation among all people as each works according to his ability and receives according to his need. The state then would wither away, and the masses would live in true, everlasting peace and freedom.

Regardless of the brand of socialism from which the critique of capitalism ensued, the protracted 19th century socialist assault on capitalism had a profound effect on liberalism and especially the theory of war and peace. Falling into disrepute, its program seen as utopian or special pleading for capitalists, pure classical liberalism mutated among western intellectuals into a reform or welfare liberalism that is hardly different today from the programs and views of the early socialists. And this modern liberalism, or “liberalism” as it is now called, has been heavily influenced by the socialist view of war; and became widely influential in scholarly research on international relations, and thus war and peace. It must be recognized that such research was largely the preserve of the social sciences, and an overwhelming number of social scientists were by the mid-20th century modern liberals or socialists in their outlook.

But what happened to the idea that individual freedom promotes nonviolence? With the protracted socialist attack on the classical liberal’s fundamental belief in capitalism, coupled with the apparent excesses of capitalism, such as sweat shops, robber barons, monopolies, depressions, and political corruption, classical liberalism eventually lost the heart and minds of Western intellectuals. And with this defeat went its fundamental truth about democracy promoting peace. Interestingly, in the last decade there has been a resurgence of classical liberalism. Former President Ronald Reagan and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher exemplify this, and their often-expressed views on the positive role of free institutions for peace are straight out of classical liberalism. This renewal, however, has yet to have much influence on the media, professionals, or social scientists.

This is not to say that most democrats view capitalist political-economic systems as the cause of war, as asserted by hard-line socialists. Many who think and write about these matters generally view capitalism as one cause among several. They have moved to a middle position: both capitalism and socialism can be a source of peace or war, depending on the circumstances. In either case, neither is a general factor in war.

Now, capitalism and democracy is not the same thing. Democratic socialist systems exist, as in Sweden and Denmark, as do authoritarian capitalist systems like Chile, and Taiwan, or South Korea of a decade ago. Why then has the peace-making effects of democratic freedoms been tossed out with capitalism? As mentioned, these freedoms were part of an ideology emphasizing capitalism–as the ideology retreated, so did its belief in the positive role of freedom in peace. But there are other factors at work here that are at least as important.

One of these factors causing many to reject democracy’s peacefulness is a misreading of history. It was believed that democracies not only do go to war, but they can be very aggressive. Americans could easily note their American-Indian Wars, Mexican-American and Spanish American wars, and of course the Civil War And even if one argues that the United States was dragged into both World Wars, there are the invasions of Grenada, Panama, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Then, of course, there is Great Britain, which between 1850 and 1941 fought twenty wars, more than any other state. France, also a democracy for most of this period, fought the next most at eighteen. The United States fought seven. These three nations alone fought 63 percent of all the wars during these ninety-two years. Of course, Britain did not become a true democracy until 1884 with the extension of the franchise to agricultural workers, but she was afterwards still involved in numerous European and colonial wars. The historical record of democracies thus appeared no better than that of other regimes; and the classical liberal belief in the peacefulness of democracies seemed nothing more than bad theory or misplaced faith.

But all other types of regimes seemed equally bellicose. The supposed peacefulness of socialist systems was belied by the aggressiveness of its two major totalitarian variants, that of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany; and other types of regimes, whether authoritarian dictatorships like Japan before World War II, or absolute monarchies like czarist Russia before World War I, appeared no less warlike. The verdict was and largely still is an easy one–all types of political, or politico-economic, systems make war; none is especially pacific. Clearly articulated in Kenneth Waltz’s widely read Man, the State and War, this critique is today the consensus view of American academics and intellectuals. Among students of international relations, it is the major alternative belief to that of the inherent bellicosity of capitalist systems.

How could it be missed that democracies do not make war on each other and are generally more peaceful? For one there has been an unfortunate tendency to focus on the many wars of a few democracies while ignoring the many wars of many nondemocracies. Moreover, to the disadvantage of democracies, there is an inclination to treat all wars equally, such that the American invasion of Grenada, the Falklands War, and World War II, are each counted as one war.

Still, how could it be missed that democracies do not make war on each other? The problem is that many who write and speak about these issues do not ordinarily think dyadically. They think of nations as developed or undeveloped, strong or weak, democratic or undemocratic, large or small, belligerent or not. That is, they think monadically.

Like so much in life, this is a matter of perspective. A shift in focus to bilateral relations shows that when two nations are stable democracies, no wars occur between them. Even going back to the classical Greek democracies, the democratic guilds and principalities of the Middle Ages, the democratic Swiss forest states, or the democratic city-states of Italy, there was no full-scale war between those that were democratic in institutions and spirit; nor has research by political scientists uncovered any wars between stable democracies in the 19th or 20th centuries. And this still holds true today, even though the number of democratic states has grown to at least 117, 88 of them liberal democracies, or about 44 percent of the world’s population.

Just consider that in a world where contiguous nations often use violence to settle their differences or at least have armed borders between them, the United States and Canada have had for generations a long, completely unarmed border. Even in Europe, the historical cauldron of war, once all Western European nations became democratic they no longer have armed against each other. Indeed, the expectation of war among them became zero. That all this should be missed shows how powerfully misleading an improper historical perspective or model can be.

There is one more factor at work in the rejection of the classical liberal view of democracy and peace. Beginning with the First World War and accelerated by the second, there has been a strong antipathy among intellectuals to any hint of nationalism. Nationalism was seen by many non-socialists as a fundamental cause of war, or at least of the total national mobilization for war and ensuing total violence. Internationalism, rising above one’s nation, seeing humanity and its transcending interest as a whole, and furthering world government, became their intellectual ideal. Social scientists have almost universally shared this view. In fact, one of the attractions of socialism for many was its inherent internationalism, its rejection of the nation and patriotism as values.

Internationalists generally have refused to accept that any one nation is really better than another. After all, cultures and values are relative; one nation’s virtues are another’s evils. Best we treat all nations equally to better resolve conflicts among them. As Professor Hans Morgenthau pointed out in his popular and influential international relations text, Politics Among Nations, both the United States and Soviet Union should be condemned for the Cold War; it is their evangelistic, crusading belief in their own values that made the East-West conflict so difficult to resolve.

This two-partyism can be seen easily in reading the peace oriented literature. There is no victim or aggressor, no right or wrong nation, but only two parties to a conflict (when this two-partyism did break down, it was usually in terms of American, or Western “imperialist, aggression”). Consequently, to accept that the freedoms espoused by the United States and its democratic allies lead to peace, and that the totalitarian socialism that was fostered by the Soviet Union and China lead to violence and war, is to take sides. It is to be nationalistic. And this for many internationalists was ipso facto wrong.

There is another psychological force toward two-partyism that should not be underestimated. The statement that democracy fosters peace seems not only nationalistic, but also inherently ideological. After all, freedom was one of the flags in the “ideological Cold War.” No matter that this was an observational and historical statement. To accept it appeared not only to take sides; but what is worse, to be a right wing, cold warrior.

Finally, the peace that the classical liberals had in mind involved not only the absence of war between nations, but also harmonious international relations. They, like our contemporaries, had no conception of the degree to which governments could and would massacre their own people. After all, presumably, mankind had progressed since the bloody Albigensian Crusade in France, Inquisition in Spain, and witch hunts throughout Europe.

Today, we can extend the idea of peace through democracy to cover freedom from government genocide and mass murder. But to do so requires overcoming incredible mass ignorance even about the megamurders for which authoritarian and totalitarian governments have been responsible. Of course, everyone knows about the Nazi genocide. And most consider the near 6,000,000 Jews murdered as a monstrous crime against humanity by Hitler and his Nazi gang of racists. Few know that they also murdered in cold blood an additional near 14,000,000 Poles, Gypsies, Byelorussians, Ukrainians, Russians, Yugoslavs, Czechs, Frenchmen, and others. Few outside of the Soviet Union know about Stalin’s horrors, that he killed people by the tens of millions (I calculate about 43,000,000). Even fewer realize that under the communist regime in China more tens of millions were killed (as shown in Table 1). And virtually no one except Armenians seems to remember the Armenian genocide by Turkey, the Pakistan genocide and mass murder; except Bengalis; and the Japanese atrocities during the Sino-Japanese and Pacific Wars, except the Chinese and Koreans. And now, virtually no one remembers anymore the mass murder of about 10 million Chinese by their Nationalist regime. It is understandable, then, that the global magnitude of murder by governments in this century is almost universally unknown, that it might exceed an absolutely incredible 150,944,000 men, women, and children killed, or more than four times all this century’s battle deaths in all its domestic and international wars. Of course, it must then be unknown that virtually no democratic citizens are among this utterly fantastic number.

Is it any wonder, then, that in this time of democracy’s victory there has been little gleeful shouting about one terribly important value of democracy–the victory of democracy over violent political death, over war, revolution, genocide, and mass murder.

==================

sent to http://tymelytopics.com/
How can we justify democracy, aside from the standard philosophical argument that freedom is a natural right and democracy is the best way of assuring that? Not widely known are the utilitarian and empirical arguments for democratic freedom: democracies don’t war against each other, they have the least foreign and domestic violence, they don’t murder their own citizens, the don’t have famines, and they enrich their people. Related article (here.


When Democracy Endures

January 29, 2009


click me^–>

[First published August 31, 2005] Research by Adam Przeworski and Fernando Limongi has shown the importance of economic development and growth in the survival of democracies. In the study, “What Makes Democracies Endure,” they did a second analysis, now with Michael Alvarez and Josà Antonio Cheibub, in which they studied other conditions that enhance the survival of democracy. I need not extensively quote from this article, since it is in the Journal of Democracy (7.1, 1996) available online.

The basis of this study is:

135 countries observed annually between 1950 or the year of independence or the first year when economic data are available (“entry” year) and 1990 or the last year for which data are available (“exit” year), for a total of 4,318 country-years. We found 224 regimes, of which 101 were democracies and 123 dictatorships, observing 40 transitions to dictatorship and 50 to democracy. Among democratic regimes, there were 50 parliamentary systems, 46 presidential systems, and 8 mixed systems.

Their conclusion:

If a country, any randomly selected country, is to have a democratic regime next year, what conditions should be present in that country and around the world this year? The answer is: democracy, affluence, growth with moderate inflation, declining inequality, a favorable international climate, and parliamentary institutions.

I can’t resist mentioning a few gems:

It may seem tautological to say that a country should have a democratic regime this year in order to have a democracy next year. We do so in order to dispel the myth, prevalent in certain intellectual and political circles (particularly in the United States) since the late 1950s, that the route to democracy is a circuitous one. The claim is that 1) dictatorships are better at generating economic development in poor countries, and that 2) once countries have developed, their dictatorial regimes will give way to democracy. To get to democracy, then, one had to support, or at least tolerate, dictatorships.
Both of the above propositions, however, are false.

. . . . An overthrow of democracy at any time during the past history of a country shortens the life expectancy of any democratic regime in that country. To the extent that political learning does occur, then, it seems that the lessons learned by antidemocratic forces from the past subversion of democracy are more effective than the traditions that can be relied on by democrats.

. . . . the survival of democracies does depend on their institutional systems. Parliamentary regimes last longer, much longer, than presidential ones. Majority-producing electoral institutions are conducive to the survival of presidential systems: presidential systems facing legislative deadlock are particularly brittle. Both systems are vulnerable to bad economic performance, but presidential democracies are less likely to survive even when the economy grows than are parliamentary systems when the economy declines. The evidence that parliamentary democracy survives longer and under a broader spectrum of conditions than presidential democracy thus seems incontrovertible.

. . . . For a variety of reasons, however, this is not an optimistic conclusion. Poverty is a trap. Few countries with annual per-capita income below $1,000 develop under any regime: their average rate of growth is less than 1 percent a year; many experience prolonged economic decline. When poor countries stagnate, whatever democracies happen to spring up tend to die quickly. Poverty breeds poverty and dictatorship.
Institutional choice offers a partial escape from this trap: parliamentary systems in the poorest countries, while still very fragile, are almost twice as likely to survive as presidential democracies, and four times as likely when they grow economically. Yet since it appears that poor countries are more likely to choose presidentialism, little solace is offered by the possibility of institutional engineering.

. . . . In sum, the secret of democratic durability seems to lie in economic development–not, as the theory dominant in the 1960s had it, under dictatorship, but under democracy based on parliamentary institutions.

What about Afghanistan and Iraq’s democratic institutions? Afghanistan has a Presidential system of direct election (Constitution here). The President is elected, “by receiving more than 50% of the votes cast through free, general, secret, and direct voting.” The National Assembly consists of two houses. In the House of Representatives, members represent regions by direct election, their number proportional to a region’s population. For the Senate, however, 2/3rds are elected or appointed from provincial councils, and 1/3rd are appointed by the President (50% must be women).

As to the draft Iraq Constitution (here), it creates a parliamentary system. Its legislature consists of two houses, one of which is a Council of Representatives (Parliament) to be elected by a nation-wide direct, secret ballot. A second house is a Council of Union, which will include representatives of provinces and regions. The President of the Republic is to be determined by a 2/3rds majority of the Council of Representatives.

So, in light of the above research of Adam Przeworski and colleagues, the constitutions of Afghanistan and Iraq are positive for the success of their democracies. Although Afghanistan has created a presidential system, it provides in its two houses and regional councils a means for many interests to be represented in the government and, if a significant segment of the population, to make their interests respected. Similarly, with the proposed Iraqi parliamentary system, and even more so. Clearly, small parties will have to be invited to form a collation with the larger parties in order to achieve the 2/3rds necessary to elect a president. As I noted yesterday, although both are at that low level of national income which makes the success of democracy a serious question, both promise rapid development. This, along with their democratic institutions, make their democratic suvival more than a hope.

Link of Note

“Democracy, Cappitalism and Development” By Khandakar Elahi and Constantine P Danopoulos (2004)

ABSTRACT

In social science, a passionate debate continues about the expected effect of democracy on development. Many authors believe that democracy dampens development. This paper discredits this view by clarifying the debate’s critical conceptions- democracy, capitalism and development. In the non-communist state, private individuals inspire economic development, because they own the major portion of the nation=s resources. Since individuals are selfish by nature, they ordinarily improve their economic welfare if they enjoy ‘fair freedoms’ meaning that the social environment of fair freedom is the key to economic development in the non-communist state. Capitalism guarantees this environment, which suggests that the desirable functioning of capitalism is the clue to economic development. Democracy is the only system of governance that can guarantee long run peaceful functioning of the capitalist economy. Thus, a nation cannot remain poor if she is governed according to the principles of democracy.

This study, along with the two of Adam Przeworski and colleagues, suggest that there will be continued rapid growth of democracies among poor nations, and that democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq will survive as long as we continue to secure them against insurrection and terrorists.

When will the world be least 90 percent democratic? Between 2022 and 2076.

See the last question on the page.


Alliance of democracies—Swedish version

January 24, 2009

[First published January 9, 2006] I’ve included below an article I had written for a Swiss newspaper Dagens Nyheter (thanks to Mathias Sundin for submitting it), but which was rejected. So, I submitted it to myself and decided to accept it for my blog. I’m pleased to publish it for me.


Eliminating Genocide and War
Through an Alliance of Democracies

There are many complex considerations and theoretical issues to the problem of war and democide. There are the questions of general and immediate causation, and of aggravating and inhibiting conditions. There are the practical questions of how to gather timely intelligence about them and inform decision makers about what is known, how to influence the political process through which intervention against democide is decided, and how to give democide and war elsewhere the required prominence in the complex of perceived interests. And with regard to intervening to stop democide, there are the questions concerning the national mix of the necessary troops, their weapons, and the rules of engagement.

Many of the answers to these questions will fall into place if we recognize three facts and one practical necessity that cuts through the jumble of questions and problems involved. The one fact is that democracies by far have had the least domestic democide, and now with their extensive liberalization, have virtually none. Therefore, democratization (not just electoral democracies, but liberal democratization in terms of civil and political rights and liberties) provides the long run hope for the elimination of democide.

The second fact is that democracies don’t make war on each other and that the more democratic two governments, the less the likelihood of violence between them. Not only is democracy a solution to democide, therefore, but globalizing democracy is also a solution to war. That the world is progressively becoming more democratic, with from 22 democracies in 1950 to something like 119 democracies today (about 89 of them liberal democracies comprising about 2.8 billion people) out of 192 nations, makes it increasingly likely that in the long run the twin horrors of democide and war will be eliminated from human society.

The final fact is that democratization is central to the national interest of all these democracies. A fundamental national interest of a democracy is peace—the avoidance of war—and international trade and prosperity. What is the best way overall to avoid war and promote prosperity in the long run? Through the promotion of democratization. Democracies not only don’t make war on each other, democracy is an engine of wealth and prosperity. And no democracy has ever had a famine.

And the practical necessity is this. We must recognize that the United Nations is inadequate to the task of humanitarian intervention to stop democide, the promotion of democracy, dealing with HYPERLINK “http://freedomspeace.blogspot.com/2004/12/on-thugsvilleoops-undealing-with.html”global threats, protecting and advancing HYPERLINK “http://freedomspeace.blogspot.com/2005/02/un-united-thugs-and-human-rights.html”human rights, and it has failed in doing that for which it was chartered, HYPERLINK “http://freedomspeace.blogspot.com/2005/03/un-united-thugs-and-humanitys-hope.html”peacekeeping. Finally, it treats Israel with such HYPERLINK “http://freedomspeace.blogspot.com/2005/03/uns-united-thugs-shameful-antisemitism.html”prejudice and hostility, that were it a corporation in a democracy, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan Kofi Annan and his underlings would be now have gone to jail for systematic, hateful discrimination.

How to explain this travesty on our initial hopes for the UN? Simple. The United Nations has become a corrupt weapon and a shield for the world’s thug regimes. And the HYPERLINK “http://freedomspeace.blogspot.com/2005/03/kofi-annans-fatally-flawed-fix.html”ambitious UN reforms proposed in March 2005 by Kofi Annan did not deal with this fundamental problem. In Annan’s invocation of freedom, human rights, democracy, and human security, in his call for UN members to support these moral causes, he deserves credit. As to his suggested reforms, such as of the Security Council and Human Rights Commission, I could point to organizational, and process problems, but this would ignore the most fundamental problem of all. It is a fatal fault that Annan refuses, quite understandably, to mention; and the solution was impossible for him to suggest as it was for the 2005 world summit that met in September 2005 to consider Annan’s reforms.

If a family of skunks lives underneath a house, no amount of remodeling of the upstairs will eliminate the stench. Likewise, no amount of remodeling of the UN will change the fact that its membership consists of about 103 partly free and non-free nations, many of which are pure and simple thugdoms (Syria, Sudan, Iran, N. Korea, China, Burma, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Cuba, Vietnam, Laos, etc). They will act together to trash, alter to their advantage, or use the reforms Annan recommends to attack free countries, as has been seen in the recent world summit. Their membership is the fatal flaw. And the related and impossible solution would be to kick them all out.

What to do about it?

I don’t suggest withdrawing from the UN. It has too many useful functions and specialized agencies, such as the Food and Agricultural Organization, World Health Organization, International Monetary Fund, and the Universal Postal Union. The General Assembly and Security Council serve as a forum for contact and communication between adversaries or enemies. When there is general agreement on conflicts, interventions, peacekeeping, refugees, humanitarian aid, sanctions, criminal tribunals, human rights, and so on, the UN saves lives and promotes human welfare and security. Nonetheless, it is clear to me from the UN’s overall record that with the millions dying from war, democide (about 6,000 a month in Darfur, Sudan alone), famine (millions in North Korea), and poverty, the good of the organization is still much too limited by its thug regimes. Understanding all this, two things should be done.

Since democratic societies create among themselves a zone of peace, there should be an intergovernmental organization of all democracies outside of the UN to deal with issues about which the UN cannot or will not act, but particularly to further the promotion of peace, human security, human rights, and democracy — an Alliance of Democracies. Given what I have pointed out about the UN’s problems, the need for such an alliance is obvious. It would not compete with the UN where that body could act to promote democratic values. But, where it could not, particularly because of the opposition of the thug regimes, then the Alliance would serve a most useful cause.

This is now in the works. Democratic activists, practitioners, academics, policy makers, and funders, have come together to cooperate to promote democracy. They call this a World Movement for Democracy (WMD). It has its own website, publications, regular online Democracy News, courses, a steering committee, secretariat, and periodic assemblies. Its first and organizing Assembly was held in India in 1999; its second in Brazil in 2000 involved democrats from 93 countries, and a third meeting in Durbin, south Africa in 2004 involved 600 participants from 120 countries. The stated purpose of the organization is “to strengthen democracy where it is weak, to reform and invigorate democracy even where it is longstanding, and to bolster pro-democracy groups in countries that have not yet entered a process of democratic transition.”

There also is the new Community of Democracies (COD). Foreign ministers and representatives of 106 democratic governments met in Warsaw, Poland, in 2000 and concluded with the “Final Warsaw Declaration: Toward a Community of Democracies”. This expressed their unified “commitment to promote, strengthen and preserve democracy.”

And then there was a meeting in Warsaw of a non-governmental first World Forum on Democracy. “It included 300 democratic activists, current and former political leaders, academics, and nongovernmental organization representatives from 85 countries. Its purpose was to discuss and advance “democratic governance and values throughout the world.” President Clinton’s Secretary of State Albright addressed the forum, and pointed out that, “We need a true democratic community; defined not by what we are against, but by what we are for; enshrined by leaders from every point on the compass; and strengthened by the full participation of civil society.” Its second meeting was held in Seoul in 2003, and a third Ministerial meeting was held in April in Santiago, Chile, to which American Secretary Rice led the American delegation. The Community of Democracies (COD) is Alliance of Democracies yet in its infancy. Now the democracies should strengthen its organization and functions, and better focus its efforts on a forward strategy of freedom (to borrow President Bush’s phrase).

But, all this is outside of the UN. What goes on in the UN cannot and should not be ignored. The democracies must act together on vital UN issues. The COD recognized this, and mandated the creation of a UN Democracy Caucus. Its convening group was Chile, Czech Republic, India, Mali, Mexico, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, South Africa, and the United States. The caucus has a website. But, it still is only a consultative and collaborative group among democracies, and is not like a political party — a Freedom Party. Such the caucus should become, with a program of democratization, peace making, and peace keeping, all overseen by a chairman, whip, and all that. After all, the UN is a world government with a legislature, executive, administration, and judiciary, and well suited to organized politics.

Much progress toward democracy is being made, and increasingly democratic leaders are recognizing that democracy is not only the in the national interest, but also crucial to them. In this, there is the greatest hope of eliminating war, and with it the democide that has become widely recognized as deadlier than war and the world’s worst evil.


The World Movement for Democracy

January 21, 2009

[First published January 17, 2006] In answer to all those who believe that, with the apparent exception of President Bush “using war to spread democracy,” nothing is being done to do so nonviolently. This is wrong, and leads to an unfortunate pessimism about the future. There is much reason for hope, and I hope that this post helps show why.

There is an official multinational and unofficial effort of nongovernmental organizations to secure and further democratic freedom. Most of their activity is unknown, simply because they are ignored by the major media. But, members of the freedomist network, which includes this democratic peace blog, should know of them as an extension of our effort, although they don’t know of us.

Democratic activists, practitioners, academics, policy makers, and funders, have come together to cooperate in the organized international promotion of democratic freedom. They call this a World Movement for Democracy (WMD). It has it’s own website, publications, regular online <A HREF="http://www.wmd.org/democracynews.html"Democracy News(see link below), courses, a steering committee, secretariat, and periodic assemblies. Its first and organizing Assembly was held in India in 1999; its second in Brazil in 2000 involved democrats from 93 countries, and more meetings have and will be held. The stated purpose of the organization is “to strengthen democracy where it is weak, to reform and invigorate democracy even where it is longstanding, and to bolster pro-democracy groups in countries that have not yet entered a process of democratic transition.” You can replace “democracy” with “freedom” in the above without loss of meaning, for what is usually meant is not only an electoral democracy, but one the also secures its citizens civil and political rights and liberties.

There also is the new <A HREF="http://www.state.gov/www/global/human_rights/democracy/cdi_official.html"Community of Democracies (COD) . Foreign ministers and representatives of 106 democratic governments met in Warsaw, Poland, in 2000 and concluded with the Warsaw Declaration. This expressed their unified “commitment to promote, strengthen and preserve democracy.”

Moreover, there was a meeting in Warsaw of a non-governmental first <A HREF= "http://www.batory.org.pl/english/events/wfd/""World Forum on Democracy." It included 300 democratic activists, current and former political leaders, academics, and nongovernmental organization representatives from 85 countries. Its purpose was to discuss and advance “democratic governance and values throughout the world.” Clinton’s Secretary of State Albright addressed the forum, and pointed out that, “We need a true democratic community; defined not by what we are against, but by what we are for; enshrined by leaders from every point on the compass; and strengthened by the full participation of civil society.”

The COD is an Alliance of Democracies yet in its infancy. Now the democracies should strengthen its organization and functions, and better focus its efforts on a forward strategy of freedom (to borrow President Bush’s phrase). It already has taken action to mandate the creation of a UN Democracy Caucus. The caucus convening group was Chile, Czech Republic, India, Mali, Mexico, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, South Africa, and the United States, and the caucus now has a website.

Cheers, freedom networkians. These much needed organizational reforms and developments are well underway. If you are astounded that you didn’t know about this, you should be. In all the articles I’ve read on UN reform in the major media, not one to my memory mentioned the COD or the democratic caucus.


Links of Note

Democracy News (March 2005) An Electronic Newsletter of the World Movement for Democracy

RJR: You’ve got to see this newspaper (available by free email subscription) to see how useful it is as a dynamic signpost and useful source on global pro-democracy activities.

“The State of Human rights in Ten Asian Nations — 2005″ PDF. A Report of the Asian Human Rights Commission, Hong Kong (yes, Hong Kong):

On the occasion of International Human Rights Day, December 10, 2005, the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has produced the following series of reports, in order to present the state of human rights in the following ten Asian countries: Thailand, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Burma, the Philippines, Cambodia, South Korea and Indonesia.

RJR: Any guess as to why China and N. Korea are omitted?

“My Lai Hero Hugh Thompson Jr. Dies at 62″:

Hugh Thompson Jr., a former Army helicopter pilot honored for rescuing Vietnamese civilians from his fellow GIs during the My Lai massacre, died early Friday. He was 62.

RJR: There are heroes and heroes, and Thomson is at the top of my list. This hero intervened with his fellow soldiers to stop their killing of My Lai Vietnamese villagers. He saved many lives. If you don’t know what courage this took, you must not have been in the military.

“Robbing the Congo. Part II: unspeakable richness”
You may remember my estimate of the colonial democide since 1900 because of new information on King Leopold’s wholly owned (that is, it was HIS) Congo Free State. This blog post provides a good summary of Leopold systematic mass murder of the natives and rape of the Congo’s resources for . . . . money.

“The Prejudice Map: According to Google, people in the world are known for …”. Fascinating, but misnamed. Views on national character are not necessarily prejudicial, but often reflect actual national character in the experience of tourists, visitors, and diplomats. Is there any doubt that Italians are passionate people who gesture a lot, while Germans really love their beer and are obsessive rule followers.

“Russia, China want talks not sanctions on Iran”:

Russia and China made clear on Tuesday they did not favor U.N. sanctions to induce Iran to scale back its nuclear program, and Tehran urged the European Union to return to the negotiating table.

RJR: As you know, both Russia and China have a veto on the Security Council. But the idea is to go on record as trying through the UN to do something about Iran’s forthcoming nukes. That having been covered for the go-to-the-UN-crowd, the only next step is . . . .


Why Freedom?

January 18, 2009

[First published February 2, 2006] In his State of the Union speech, President Bush said:

Dictatorships shelter terrorists, and feed resentment and radicalism, and seek weapons of mass destruction. Democracies replace resentment with hope, respect the rights of their citizens and their neighbors, and join the fight against terror. Every step toward freedom in the world makes our country safer — so we will act boldly in freedom’s cause.

Far from being a hopeless dream, the advance of freedom is the great story of our time. In 1945, there were about two-dozen lonely democracies in the world. Today, there are 122. And we’re writing a new chapter in the story of self-government — with women lining up to vote in Afghanistan, and millions of Iraqis marking their liberty with purple ink, and men and women from Lebanon to Egypt debating the rights of individuals and the necessity of freedom. At the start of 2006, more than half the people of our world live in democratic nations. And we do not forget the other half — in places like Syria and Burma, Zimbabwe, North Korea, and Iran — because the demands of justice, and the peace of this world, require their freedom, as well.

In the past too many have identified power with greatness, thugs with statesmen, and propaganda with results; they have let moral and cultural relativism silence our outrage, while conceding the moral high ground to the utopian dreamers; they have refused to recognize evil as evil; and they have ignored the catastrophic human cost of such confusions, and the natural and moral right to freedom. This cannot be said of Bush, who well recognizes why people should be free.

In the world today, billions of human beings are still subject to impoverishment, exposure, starvation, disease, torture, rape, beatings, forced labor, genocide, mass murder, executions, deportations, political violence, and war. These billions live in fear for their lives, and for those of their loved ones. They have no human rights, no liberties. These people are only pieces on a playing board for the armed thugs and gangs that oppress their nations, raping them, looting them, exploiting them, and murdering them. We hide the identity of the gangs—we sanctify them—with the benign concept of “government,” as in the “government” of Khmer Rouge Cambodia, Stalin’s Soviet Union, or Hitler’s Germany.

The gangs that control these so-called governments oppress whole nations under cover of international law. They are like a gang that captures a group of hikers and then does with them what it wills, robbing all, torturing and murdering some because gang members don’t like them or they are “disobedient,” and raping others. Nonetheless, the thugs that rule nations “govern” by the right of sovereignty: the community of nations explicitly grants them the right by international law to govern a nation when they show that they effectively control the national government, and this right carries with it the promise that other nations will not intervene in their internal affairs.

International law now recognizes that if these gangs go to extremes, such as massive ethnic cleansing or genocide, then the international community has a countervailing right to stop them. However, this area of international law is still developing, and in the current examples of Cuba, Burma, Iran, North Korea, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Syria, among others, the thugs still largely have their way with their victims. This is unconscionable. The people of these countries, and all people everywhere have the right to freedom of speech, religion, organization, and a fair trial, among other rights, and one overarching right to be free subsumes all these civil and political rights. This right overrules sovereignty, which is granted according to tradition based on a system of international treaties, not natural law. Freedom, by contrast, is not something others grant. It is a right due every human being.

For too many intellectuals, however, it is not enough to point out that a people have a right to be free. They will counter by arguing that freedom is desirable, but first people must be made equal, given food to eat, work, and health care. Freedom must be limited as a means to good ends, such as the public welfare, prosperity, peace, ethnic unity, or national honor. Sometimes the intellectuals who go about creating such justifications for denying people their freedom are so persuasive that even reasonable people will accept their convoluted arguments. Need I mention the works of Marx and Lenin, for example, who provided “scientific” excuses for the tyranny of such thugs as Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot?

To many compassionate people, such intellectuals, arguing that freedom must be sacrificed for a better life, have had the best of the argument and the moral high ground. These intellectuals have tried to show that freedom empowers greed, barbaric competition, inefficiency, inequality, the debasement of morals, the weakening of ethnic or racial identity, and so on.

To be defensive about freedom in the face of such justifications is morally wrong-headed. No moral code or civil law allows that a gang leader and his followers can murder, torture, and repress some at will as long as the thugs provide others with a good life. But even were it accepted that under the cover of government authority, a ruler can murder and repress his people so long as it promotes human betterment, the burden of proof is on those who argue that therefore those people will be better off

There is no such proof. Quite the opposite: in the twentieth century, we have had the most costly and extensive tests of such arguments, involving billions of people. The Nazis, Italian fascists under Mussolini, Japanese militarists, and Chinese Nationalists under Chiang Kai-shek have tested fascist promises of a better life. Likewise, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot have tested the utopian promises of communism, to mention the most prominent communist experiments; and Burma, Iraq, and Syria, among others, also have tested state socialism. All these vast social experiments have failed, utterly and miserably, and they have done so at the vast human cost that has included global social upheaval, the displacement of millions, the impoverishment of billions, and the death of tens of millions from famine, extreme internal violence, and the most destructive wars—not to mention the many hundreds of millions murdered outright.

These social experiments have involved the mass murder of 262,000,000 Russians, Chinese, Cambodians, Poles, North Koreans, Cubans, Vietnamese, and others, such that were their souls to comprise a land of the dead it would be among the world’s top three in population

In sharp contrast, there are the arguments for freedom. Not only is a right certified in international law (e.g., the various human rights multinational conventions), but a supreme moral good in itself. The very fact of a people’s freedom creates a better life for all.

Free people create a wealthy and prosperous society

When people are free to go about their own business, they put their ingenuity and creativity in the service of all. They search for ways to satisfy the needs, desires, and wants of others. The true utopia lies not in some state-sponsored tyranny, but the free market in goods, ideas, and services, whose operating principle is that success depends on satisfying others. Moreover, it is not by chance that:

No democratically free people have suffered from mass famine

It is extraordinary, how little known this is. There are plenty of hunger projects and plans to increase food aid for the starving millions, all of which is good enough in the short run. A starving person will die before the people can kick out their rulers or make them reform their policies. Yet simply feeding the starving today is not enough. They also have to be fed tomorrow and every day thereafter. However, free these people from their rulers’ commands over their farming, and soon they will be able to feed themselves and others as well. There is an adage that applies to this: “Give a starving person a fish to eat and you feed him only for one day; teach him how to fish, and he feeds himself forever.” Yet teaching is no good alone, if people are not free to apply their new knowledge—yes, teach them how to fish, but also promote the freedom they need to do so

Surprisingly, the incredible economic productivity and wealth produced by a free people and their freedom from famines are not the only moral goods of freedom, nor, perhaps, even the most important moral goods. When people are free, they comprise a spontaneous society the characteristics of which strongly inhibit society-wide political violence. Freedom greatly reduces the possibility of revolutions, civil war, rebellions, guerrilla warfare, coups, violent riots, and the like. Most of the violence within nations occurs where thugs rule with absolute power. There is a continuum here:

The more power the rulers have, and the less free their people, the more internal violence these people will suffer

Surely that which protects people against internal violence, that which so saves human lives, is a moral good. And this is freedom

Then there is mass democide, the most destructive means of ending human lives of any form of violence. Except in the case of the Nazi Holocaust of European Jews, few people know how murderous the dictators of this world have been, and could be. Virtually unknown are the shocking tens of millions murdered by Stalin and Mao, and the other millions wiped out by Pol Pot, Ho Chi Minh, Kim Il-sung, and their kind. Just omitting foreigners, who are most often murdered during a war, such thugs murdered about 161,000,000 of their own people from 1900 to 1987. Adding foreigners and including the whole twentieth century raises the toll they have killed to nearly the incredible aforementioned 262,000,000.

Even now, in the twenty-first century, these mass murders still go on in Burma, Sudan, North Korea, and the Congo (DR), just to mention the most glaring examples.

What is true about freedom and internal violence is also so for this mass democide:

The more freedom a people have, the less likely their rulers will murder them. The more power the thugs have, the more likely they are to murder their people

Could there be a greater moral good than to end or minimize such mass murder? This is what freedom does and for this it is, emphatically, a moral good.

There is still more to say about freedom’s value. While we now know that the world’s ruling thugs generally kill several times more of their subjects than do wars, it is war on which moralists and pacifists generally focus their hatred, and devote their resources to ending or moderating. This singular concentration is understandable, given the horror and human costs, and the vital political significance of war. Yet, it should be clear by now that war is a symptom of freedom’s denial, and that freedom is the cure. First:

Democratically free people do not make war on each other

Why? The diverse groups, cross-national bonds, social links, and shared values of democratic peoples sew them together; and shared liberal values dispose them toward peaceful negotiation and compromise with each other. It is as though the people of democratic nations were one society

This truth that democracies do not make war on each other provides a solution for eliminating war from the world: globalize democratic freedom

Second:

The less free the people within any two nations are, the bloodier and more destructive the wars between them; the greater their freedom, the less likely such wars become

And third:

The more freedom the people of a nation have, the less bloody and destructive their wars.

What this means is that we do not have to wait for all, or almost all nations to become liberal democracies to reduce the severity of war. As we promote freedom, as the people of more and more nations gain greater human rights and political liberties, as those people without any freedom become partly free, we will decrease the bloodiness of the world’s wars. In short: Increasing freedom in the world decreases the death toll of its wars. Surely, whatever reduces and then finally ends the scourge of war in our history, without causing a greater evil, must be a moral good. And this is freedom

In conclusion, then, we have wondrous human freedom as a moral force for the good, as President Bush well recognizes. Freedom produces social justice, creates wealth and prosperity, minimizes violence, saves human lives, and is a solution to war. In two words, it creates human security. Moreover, and most important:

People should not be free only because it is good for them. They should be free because it is their right as human beings.

In opposition to freedom is power, its antagonist. While freedom is a right, the power to govern is a privilege granted by a people to those they elect and hold responsible for its use. Too often, however, thugs seize control of a people with their guns and use them to make their power total and absolute. Where freedom produces wealth and prosperity, such absolute power causes impoverishment and famine. Where freedom minimizes internal violence, eliminates genocide and mass murder, and solves the problem of war, such absolute power unleashes internal violence, murders millions, and produces the bloodiest wars. In short, power kills; absolute power kills absolutely.

Now, to summarize, why freedom?

Because it is every person’s right. It is a moral good—it promotes wealth and prosperity, social justice, and nonviolence, and preserves human life. And it enables all other moral goods.


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