[WS:] All I am saying is that it depends on historical circumstances and that it is outcomes not how these governments come to power that counts. For example, the government of Portugal that came to power in 1974 was a result of a military coup, but it instituted policies that moved the country toward democracy than the elected chatterbox on the Potomac ever did. Bhutan is a constitutional monarchy, but arguably more democratic than the elected government of, say, Indonesia.
The key to understanding my argument, which somehow many on this list have problems getting, is the concept of a "strong state" meaning state administration capable of resisting and overcoming pressures from special interest groups (particularly the wealthy) in acting for public benefit (i.e. policies that benefit society as a whole rather than specific pressure groups or even individuals.) It is totally independent from the repressive capacities of the state - but how it uses them, under what circumstances, and against whom makes all the difference. Benito Juarez's government repression directed against the arch-reactionary Catholic church in Mexico was "authoritarian" but also had a democratizing effect. Ditto for the Kuomintang government "repressing" the landed oligarchy of Taiwan, not to mention Castro government "repressing" Cuban oligarchs cum US mafiosi.
Again, it is the specific circumstance that matters, not the general properties. The devil in the details, as they say in the vernacular.
On Fri, Sep 25, 2009 at 8:50 AM, Matthias Wasser <matthias.wasser at gmail.com>wrote:
> On Fri, Sep 25, 2009 at 7:56 AM, Wojtek S <wsoko52 at gmail.com> wrote:
> > Matthias: Are you using "democracy" here in the sense that you personally
> > defined it
> > upthread, or in the sense that most people use it?
> > [WS:] So what exactly is that sense, and how do you know that most people
> > use it? Most people where, in the US, EU, worldwide? Please do tell.
> > PS. Lijphart (one of the source I quoted) comes up with a good
> > definition of democracy - but that definition is not exactly what "most
> > people" use. In fact he argues that the US concept of democracy is very
> > much different from that in Europe. I may add that "most people" in the
> > use the term "democracy" in the same way they use "god" - something that
> > evokes good feelings and is on "our side" but otherwise devoid of any
> > specific meaning.
> > Wojtek
> I phrased that poorly. I meant whether you were using "democracy" to refer
> to governmental form (parliaments, elections, &c.) or:
> "[WS:] I think we have very different concepts of "democracy." To me,
> matters is not conception, but execution. That is, it does not matter how
> the government comes to power, but how well it provides for individual and
> collective needs of the great majority of the population. That means that
> hereditary monarchy can conceivably be more democratic than an elected
> If it's the latter (i.e. Liphardt's "most people" definition) all you're
> saying is that people tend to fare better under efficient and consistent
> administrators than incompetent and corrupt ones, which while not precisely
> a tautology does seem rather trivial.