Liberal Democracy vs. Autocracy

Topics: Democracy, Guinea, Liberal democracy Pages: 9 (3091 words) Published: October 10, 2011
Though the pervasiveness of liberalism and democracy is readily apparent throughout those states that recognize the socioeconomic benefits stimulated by these ideals, there remains still a myriad of complex governing systems that seem to shirk the possibilities of this apotheosized ideology in favor of highly variable authoritarian manifestations. Yet this is not simply a case where one ideology may be chosen based on the particular needs and relative cultural norms of one society versus another with the two forms existing in global harmony; rather it is the case that liberal democracy generally remains significantly more stable, incites less violence, and promotes economic progress in far greater frequencies than the various blends of autocracy. It would seem then, that liberal democracy is the superior ideological foundation for successful, prosperous, and stable governance—an argument asserted quite controversially by Francis Fukuyama, qualified and advocated by Fareed Zakaria, and rooted as a central concern of this paper. However, this paper is not to be cast upon the painfully mounting stack of virtually inapplicable and redundant analyses of democratic versus authoritarian institutions by withered, aloof academics far removed from current developments in international affairs. Rather, it endeavors to proffer a unique perspective demonstrating liberal autocracy as a possible deviation from Fukuyama’s conception of the “end of history,” through the use of concrete and theoretical observations of recent political instability and military coups in Guinea with particular attention to its ideological limbo resultant from its suspension between the desire for liberalism and its susceptibility to autocratic command. On the “End of History”

Before embarking upon the daunting task of systematically dissecting Guinean politics, it is necessary first to briefly discuss the arguments set forth by Fukuyama and Zakaria in order to later respond to them. Most scrutinizing readers of Fukuyama’s article “The End of History” recognized that the certainty that liberal democracy is to be the inevitable omnipresent ideology in the future of world governance depends on whether there are “viable alternatives to liberal democracy visible in the world today” (Fukuyama 1993; xxi). But Fukuyama delves deeper than this singular question in the book spurned by his article, affirming the above question but also emphasizing the “goodness of liberal democracy” being that it is the best ideal beyond which government cannot progress any further (1993; 287). This is because the values inherent in liberal democracy—specifically liberty and equality—satisfy the innate human desire for “recognition,” a philosophical term referring to man’s need to retain dignity and seek equality and self-worth (1993; xvi-xvii). This logic plainly begs the question: Is liberal democracy truly the only form of governance that has the capability to satisfy man’s need for so-called “recognition?”

Zakaria goes on to proclaim that democracy “represents the “last best hope” for people around the world,” a clear parallel to Fukuyama, but quantifies the spread of democracy through noting the potentiality for illiberal democracy which is, in essence, pseudo-democracy in that it masks an authoritarian regime with usually rigged elections and opposition repression and fails to establish legitimate political institutions (Zakaria 2007; 89-118). He propones the institution of “rule-of-law” and capitalism before worrying about elections by reason that they are troublesome and misleading especially in the absence of constitutional liberalism (2007; 55). Through this, Zakaria establishes that liberal autocracy might be the necessary sojourn on the way to liberal democracy through gradualism. A Short History of Military Coups in Guinea

Upon gaining independence from France in 1958, Guinea installed the idealistic leader whom had spearheaded the anti-Franco movement, Sekou...
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