Tag Archives: democracy

How to Build a Democracy


It is the height of hubris to claim that one knows how to build a democracy from scratch. The U.S. has learned this from its attempts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and countless other countries. But there are a few common themes that can help. One lesson is that it has to come from within, not imposed by foreign countries. Another is that new institutions have to evolve out of old ones, and have to suit local conditions and cultures.

Over at the Daily Caller, I trace out two other themes that emerging democracies should keep in mind: simpler is better, and rely on negative rights, not positive rights. Here’s a taste:

The Arab Spring is over a year old now. It’s too early to tell if that movement will bring liberal democracy to countries that badly need it. But if it does succeed, it will be right in line with a decades-long global trend. According to Freedom House, 41 percent of the world’s countries in 1989 were democracies. By 2011, 60 percent were democracies.

There are still a few monarchies here and there, and plenty of dictatorships. Cuba and North Korea are even keeping the last dying embers of communism alight. But more and more, democracy is seen as the way to go.

This is a wonderful development. But not all democracies succeed. Without the proper institutions, democracy can be very temporary, as Russia has found out.

Read the whole thing here.

Federal Regulations and You: Partners in Democracy!

This new video from Reason.tv is great.

Iranian Dissident Wins 2010 Friedman Prize

Akbar Ganji, who spent six years in prison for writing articles critical of the Iranian government, is the winner of the 2010 Milton Friedman Prize. You can read more about Ganji’s story here. May his dream of a free, liberal, and democratic Iran come true.

The Durants on Democracy

Will and Ariel Durant are two of my favorite writers. Perceptive, pithy, and always eloquent, they only rose in my esteem when they described democracy as merely “a count of noses after a contest of words.” (The Age of Napoleon, p. 286)

Couldn’t have said it better myself.