Illiberal Democracy

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Erin Voss
POS 2041
10-18-2011

Fareed Zakaria: The Rise of Illiberal Democracy

Fareed Zakaria’s The Rise of Illiberal Democracy seeks to elucidate the reader on the rise of democracy around the world as well as the distinguishable difference between illiberal and liberal democracies as he sees them. Zakaria also describes how he believes democracy and liberalism joined together in synchronization to form what is our government today. Democracy is infamous for being arduous to define. Specifically speaking democracy has the tendency of being indicative of a government in which the people have a fair and equal say in the “procedures for selecting government“, but not necessarily afforded the protection of what we as Americans view as inalienable rights as defined in our constitution. This definition however is just one of a plethora of definitions dependent upon whom you are speaking with.

Nearly forty years ago North America and Western Europe, as well as a few other countries, were the only countries considered to be democratic, liberally democratic to be exact. Liberalism is an individuals right to independence, freedom from persuasion from peers, churches, the government itself, or any other source. Liberal democracy is the combination of political liberties (democracy) with that of constitutional liberties (liberalism), the latter half not nearly as present in the modern day democratic country. Constitutional liberties calls for the assured protection of the rights of every individual like those of speech, religion and property, just to name a few. Albeit that 118 out of 193 countries at the time of this paper were credited with being democratic, most were considered to be of an illiberal democratic nature.

Illiberalism is essentially the ignoring or deliberate stripping of the constitutional liberties, such as restrictions on speech, clothing, and religion. Concentration of power is not present in a liberal democracy as it is in an illiberal one, therefore the act of going to war is usually a more lengthy thought out process than that in the illiberal democracies. The leaders in the liberal democracies must also answer to those that votes for them and are usually more inclined to seek out other opportunities to resolve what ever the matter at hand may be. Illiberal democracies try to make it so that everyone has the same ideals so decisions like those to go to war are simplistic in nature. This mindset can cause a government to perform genocide to ensure that anyone who is “different”, whether it be in religion, ethnicity, racial backgrounds, and so on, are systematically destroyed to preserve their views. In having a liberal autocracy, a country is more likely to end up in a liberal democracy. An individuals rights tend to be more important than their actual representation in the government. Establishing these rights and freedoms makes it easier to eventually elect to select a procedure for the representation of these rights, thus creating a liberal democracy.

Zakaria makes it explicit how liberalism and democracy go hand in hand in the formation of our government. I feel that he is correct in this conclusion. Prior to the writing of the constitution a primary concern was having the same type of rule in the land as the one they had left. When they arrived in America the hope was for more freedom for each individual, or liberalism. This happened to also be happening at the same time that America was in need of the formation of a unifying government as they had finally declared themselves a free country. So the formation of a government surrounding the ideals of the people were formed and so our constitution was born. This is seen in the Constitution when they describe the breakdown of the government establishing the three branches, their election processes, and ways to impeach them should they not be able to uphold their positions faithfully. Liberalism is seen in the amendments where they...
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