Lessons From Lost Democracies

25. septembra, 2003


David Glenn

Raksts Vašingtonas izdevumā "The Chronicle of Higher Education", 26.09.2003.Raksts - recenzija par jaunu grāmatu Nancy Bermeo "Ordinary People in Extraordinary Times: The Citizenry and the Breakdown of Democracy"

The collapse of elected governments may have something to teach us about nation-building

Despite the chaos and conflict of the past eight months in Iraq, many ordinary Iraqis share the Bush administration’s publicly stated goal: Build an authentic democracy amid the clamorous ruin of their nation.

In doing so, the natural impulse might be to turn to the millions of words written during the past decade by political scientists who have analyzed the newborn democracies in South Korea, South Africa, and the former Soviet bloc. But perhaps the most important lessons for Iraq and other nation-building projects may be found not in the birth of nascent democracies, but in their collapse.

A new study of the 20th century’s most disastrous “democratic breakdowns” probes questions that seem vital to the endeavor to build a democratic Iraq: Under what circumstances can small bands of violent extremists destroy popular faith in democratic institutions? When and how do militaries seize control of the state apparatus? How do political leaders’ unwarranted fears, wishful thinking, and other perceptual errors lead to the downfall of democracy?

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