Making the case: Democracy as pathway to prosperity


Voices from the developing world can build the case that democracy is the best pathway from poverty to prosperity, an Atlantic Council forum heard this week (above).

Credit: ACUS

Democracy is the best way to deliver for its citizens due to mechanisms built into the concept of democratic capitalism, said Damon Wilson, President and CEO of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). But to be effective there’s got to be accountability, transparency, a feedback loop from citizens and consumers, he added. Such self-correcting mechanisms generate incentives to correct mistakes and a relentless pressure to to reform and be responsive.

In an age of populist demagoguery, “illiberal democracy”, personalized autocracy and China’s institutionalized despotism, will democratic capitalism — the marriage of liberal democracy and market capitalism — endure? the FT’s Martin Wolf asks.

So what is to be done? he writes in his new book, The Crisis of Democratic Capitalism’:

  • First, strengthen co-operation among democracies and democratic values, including by undertaking a renewal of failing systems.
  • Second, avoid what the political scientist Graham Allison has called the “Thucydides Trap” — the tendency for mutual suspicion between rising and established powers to generate conflict.
  • Third, promote mutually beneficial interdependence.
  • Finally, co-operate on shared objectives. An obvious first step is to open an intense dialogue with China on the ways forward for managed relations.

Next Thursday, February 2nd at 6:00 PM EST join NED partner CIPE for a face-to-face discussion with Stanford University’s Francis Fukuyama about his latest book, “Liberalism and Its Disenchanted: How To Defend and Safeguard Our Liberal Democracies”.

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