Thursday, February 3, 2011

"Post Mubarak- The stability-democracy dilemma" (My 'letter to the editor')

Hosni Mubarak-2009 file photo
"The situation in Egypt poses the larger dilemma of stability versus democracy. There are few democracies in the Arab world. Lebanon is perhaps an exception but even the Lebanese political system is a kind of sectarian democracy. Post-Mubarak Egypt may move towards temporary democracy but it would be at the cost of stability."
The Arab crisis is spreading from Pakistan to Palestine ; we dont need the tutelary democracies of the kind we have in Pakisthan. Such democracies will lead to development of multiple-power centres and radicalisation of Islam can be used as a tool, in such a situation , to garner popular support. Populism in an Islamic democracy can be a potential breeding ground for fundementalism.
Well, Larry Diamond, the noted theorist on democracy, has an interesting take on this.......

'Diamond argues that Arab states do not have democracies for a number of  reasons.  Firsttly , and perhaps most importantly it is due to oil revenue, that most Arab states do not tax it's citizens, thus eliminating the idea that the state is accountable to it's people--but the other way around.  Diamond notes that out of the top 23 countries that claim oil and gas as their top export revenue, precisely zero are democracies.  The U.S.  contributes to authoritarianism in the Arab world by donating billions of dollars to Arab states, thus eliminating the need to tax individuals.  Also, Diamond writes, authoritarian Arab states deflect citizen anger towards their own regimes and state ran media by allowing protest of the Israeli oppression of Palestinians, symbolically representing the Arab people as a whole. Will this pattern of authoritarianism change?  Diamond claims that only three factors could change the situation.  First, the region needs a respectable role model.  Second, the U.S. needs to use their influence and push for change.  Third, a massive and sustained decline in world oil prices. '
Courtesy: Journal of Democracy Volume 21, Number 1 January 2010