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Is democracy a luxury?

A very good article from today's New York Times, "In Failed States, Can Democracy Come Too Soon?," suggests that the answer is, Yes. The reasoning it offers is, essentially, Democracy is expensive. It requires resources that many poorer nations simply cannot afford.

It makes sense. Democracy, though a freedom, is still a sort of luxury — a hungry man sure isn't going to worry about it more than food.

It surprised me, though, that the article doesn't even touch on what is often painted as the foundation of a healthy democracy in the West: education. And I confess I don't see how a populace that has only known oppression, or even just been wholly excluded from the workings of governance, could possibly understand enough about politics to make intelligent decisions come election time.

Democracy isn't inherently valuable to a country. It's only when a country's people are prepared to govern themselves, and when they can afford to, that it can be successful.

February 23, 2002 1:21 PM

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