Monday, November 28, 2005

Commonwealth Don on Democracy

A storm has been whipped up regarding a speech made by Don McKinnon, Secretary General of the Commonwealth, regarding a speech he made in Malta regarding democracy at the recent CHOGM meeting.

""Many people are beginning to ask whether building a democracy is really the road to prosperity," he said in his address.

"Does democracy put food on our tables, clothe our children, put roofs over our heads, or give us a future."

Trade was not just an engine for economic growth, but was the most potent weapon to combat poverty, he told Commonwealth leaders. "

Aaron Bhatnagar makes the good point that

"If I recall my lectures correctly, Buchanan said that the building of democratic institutions was a prerequisite for successful democracy. Quite often, this process is best done slowly, guaranteeing stability as the regime makes its transition from despotic to democratic state."

I see two ways of looking at this that I don’t think are fundamentally in contradiction but leave me on both sides of the argument.

1) I don’t like anything that could be used to support a despot like Mugabe or to justify moving away from democracy in general so in that sense I might oppose him


2) I accept that
A) Aaron is right - a slow movement towards democracy will result in more robust democracy
B) I would go further to say that in theory a non democracy could do everything a democracy does and more (the problem of course is that the vast majority don’t certainly not at the moment).

So I think what he said might be against the commonwealth's and Most of our general objectives based on 1 but not untrue considering 2.


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