What We Know About Modernization, an Analysis

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  • Topic: Democracy, Democratization, Liberal democracy
  • Pages : 5 (1579 words )
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  • Published : December 14, 2010
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"The strong do what they have to do and the weak accept what they have to accept." -Thucydides

In the modern-day United States, we live in a culture of self-expression, prosperity, and freedom. But these ideas of universal entitlement and inalienable humans rights have become so ingrained in our society, that we often forget that the rest of the world doesn't necessarily think the same way. The development of our social values and beliefs was a process, and we cannot force them onto any other group of people and assume that the "gift of democracy" will bring them everlasting peace and prosperity. Democracy is the result of a complex and often lengthy process of modernization, and just as Gandhi references in the previously stated quote, democracy requires a change in the people themselves. Gandhi was not the only person to recognize this prerequisite for the development of a successful democracy. What Gandhi calls "a change of heart" is also referred to as a "change in a society's beliefs and values," by Ronald Inglehart and Christian Welzel in their Foreign Affairs article "How Development Leads to Democracy: What We Know About Modernization." Inglehart and Welzel recognize the fact that democratic institutions are not easily established. This is evident when one looks at U.S. involvement in Iraq and the Middle East. Even the embargo on Cuba demonstrates how difficult it can be for the United States to achieve its desire of democratic reform. However ardent this desire may be, and however logical it may seem to us, a society may not be receptive or even capable of maintaining democracy unless certain social and cultural conditions exist. This is the core of Inglehart and Welzel's ideas on the subject of modernization. They claim that economic development and modernization push those conditions in the right direction and make democracy increasingly likely. This concept is a liberal point of view. It can be supported by peace studies, democratic peace theory, the implications of positive peace, structural violence, and the "cobweb" theory of internationalism and globalization. One of the first points made by Inglehart and Welzel is that "in the long run, modernization brings democracy." In today's world, a defining characteristic of modernization is internationalization. As we continue to modernize and internationalize, the system becomes increasingly complex. Peace has become the vital sign of our international system as we become progressively bound together by the "cobwebs" of economics, technology, and common problems. Because of these interdependencies, peace is critical for the survival of life as we know it, and war is no longer viewed as healthy or normal. And, if peace is what we want, democratic peace seems to support the logical progression of all societies to democratic solutions. There is strong empirical evidence to support the generalization that democracies almost never fight wars against each other, and no major historical event disputes it. As we move toward an interwoven global community, it is easy to see why democratic governments become advantageous and more likely. Democracy not only serves our own self-interest, but benefits everyone as a whole. Positive peace refers to broad social and economic issues in the same way as Inglehart and Welzel do when they examine modernization. Under positive peace, not only do state armies cease-fire, but they stop fighting and reverse the economic exploitation and political oppression that cause the social conflicts that lead to war. It is transformational. Democracy requires this same sort of transformation. It is more of a constructive idea, but this identity change is required before successful democracy or modernization (or positive peace) can be achieved. Another factor to examine is the stagnant effect structural violence has on the process of modernization. Inglehart and Welzel wrote, "Fifty years...
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