The economist and philosopher Amartya Sen wrote that famines do not take place in true democracies. If democracy is in worldwide retreat, famines could make a gruesome comeback, The FT’s David Pilling writes:
South Sudan is a case in point. The world’s newest country won independence in 2011. Since then it has descended into civil war as a gangster elite fights over diminishing oil revenue. That changed the country, in the phrase of Alex de Waal, executive director of the World Peace Foundation, into the only thing worse than a kleptocracy — a bankrupt kleptocracy. The elite has turned on itself and extorted its people, sending them into the wilderness where there is insufficient food to survive.
“In the terrible history of famines in the world, no substantial famine has ever occurred in any independent and democratic country with a relatively free press,” Sen wrote for the National Endowment for Democracy’s Journal of Democracy.