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Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy At Home And Abroad Hardcover – Mar 25 2003

4.2 out of 5 stars 76 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: WW Norton (March 25 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393047644
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393047646
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 2.5 x 24.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 431 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 76 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #436,498 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Democracy is not inherently good, Zakaria (From Wealth to Power) tells us in his thought-provoking and timely second book. It works in some situations and not others, and needs strong limits to function properly. The editor of Newsweek International and former managing editor of Foreign Affairs takes us on a tour of democracy's deficiencies, beginning with the reminder that in 1933 Germans elected the Nazis. While most Western governments are both democratic and liberal-i.e., characterized by the rule of law, a separation of powers, and the protection of basic rights-the two don't necessarily go hand in hand. Zakaria praises countries like Singapore, Chile and Mexico for liberalizing their economies first and then their political systems, and compares them to other Third World countries "that proclaimed themselves democracies immediately after their independence, while they were poor and unstable, [but] became dictatorships within a decade." But Zakaria contends that something has also gone wrong with democracy in America, which has descended into "a simple-minded populism that values popularity and openness." The solution, Zakaria says, is more appointed bodies, like the World Trade Organization and the U.S. Supreme Court, which are effective precisely because they are insulated from political pressures. Zakaria provides a much-needed intellectual framework for many current foreign policy dilemmas, arguing that the United States should support a liberalizing dictator like Pakistan's Pervez Musharraf, be wary of an elected "thug" like Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and take care to remake Afghanistan and Iraq into societies that are not merely democratic but free.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Newsweek International's editor exposes the down side of democracy, i.e., the assumption that what's popular is right.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Fareed Zakaria (born in India, Harvard PhD, Editor of Foreign Affairs, Editor of Newsweek's International Edition) examines Liberal Democracy in his recent book, The Future of Freedom. His main themes:
1. "Liberal Democracy" must be both Liberal and Democratic, Liberal in that it protects its citizens from abuse by the government and Democratic in the sense that it is responsible to its citizens.
2. "More Democratic" is not necessarily better than "Reasonably Democratic". Socrates was forced to drink hemlock by Athenian Democracy. The Reign of Terror in Revolutionary France sent thousands to the guillotine via very Democratic National Assembly. Hitler was democratically elected. None of these examples were Liberal.
3. Emerging/developing nations have demonstrated a propensity to form stable democratic governments only when their per capita GDP exceeds a threshold of $3000 - 6000. Instituting democracy at lower levels of per capita GDP has usually resulted in unstable governments that end up being illiberal, undemocratic and economically stagnant. I interpret this phenomenon as an example of Maslow's hierarchy of needs: People are unlikely to have the time, energy, or motivation to be active participants in a democratic process if their primary concerns are hunger, safety or other lower level needs.
4. Liberal Autocracies are not entirely bad. Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, and Chile are all examples of Liberal Autocracies that have or are evolving into Liberal Democracies.
5. In mature Liberal Democracies, more democracy may also be a bad thing. The US has become more democratic in many ways (direct election of senators, nominating primaries, open congressional hearings).
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Format: Hardcover
I throughly enjoyed Mr. Z.'s book. He took some dense information and made it into amazyingly light reading. Plus, I think Mr. Z.'s comments about the Middle East, like T. Friedman's are always excellent.
I say 'intellectual slight of hand' came into play regarding Mr. Z.'s take on Reform within Islam and his claim that, ". . . U.S., Canada, and Europe have large Muslim communities. . . (wherein) Islam is adapting to modern life without a grand Reformation" Pg. 150.
Islam needs to Reform. 9/11 points to the need for moderate Islam to reclaim 'true Islam' from the minority, i.e., fundamentalists. No matter how one slices the issue, moderate Islamists are failing by not being as forceful as Islamic fundamentalists, in reclaiming Islam's heart, soul and intellect.
Secondly, Islam is not adapting to modern life. The U.N. Middle Eastern Report or some such, for 2002 or 2003, indicates the failure of Islamic countries to adapt to modernity. "In The Shadow of The Prophet" also notes, quite well, the failure of Islam to accept modernity.
Lastly, Mr. Z., thinly makes his point writing that Islam is adapting to modernity, citing the develop of Islam within the U.S., Canada and Europe. Islamic development is needed in the Middle East, i.e., Syria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, to name a few countries. When Middle Eastern countries, themselves, can be cited as examples of Islamic modernity, Mr. Z. will have made his point.
Otherwise, Mr. Z., writes an excellent book. Very inciteful, literally it seems as if Mr. Z., is speaking to the reader, as he does to the viewer on, 'This Week' on ABC. I strongly endorse this book as a must read, for those interested in political science.
Respectfully,
I. Webster/Detroit, Michigan
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Format: Audio Cassette
Mr. Zakaria's thesis is that we live in a democratic age, but we'd be better off with less democracy, not more. "By this," he means, not that we should "embrace strongmen and dictators but rather we should ask why certain institutions -- the Federal Reserve and the Supreme Court -- function so well and why others -- such as legislatures -- function poorly." The thesis is intended not just for the United States, but on a global scale; Singapore would not, arguably, be where it is had it been captured by special interests, as too often happens in democracies. Zakaria, following Richard Holbrooke, is concerned about the proliferation of illiberal democracies -- that is, governments in which the majority rule, thus satisfying democracy's procedural requirement, but which produce substantive outcomes at odds with Constitutional democracy -- protection of minority rights, property, due process and the like.
This is a wide-ranging book. In its sweep he offers a quick survey of the evolution of liberty in the West, and a discussion of Islam and liberty which addresses the way Islam has evolved outside the Middle East, where, he correctly notes, most of its believers reside. In the end, he lands almost precisely where James Madison started; that is, he views with disdain direct democracy and opts for a Republican form of government for the U.S.
The problem with this book is not its thesis, which is as sound today as when Madison first articulated it. The real challenge is in attempting to achieve Zakaria's aim in a world that places a premium on transparency, the flow of information and individual empowerment. It's not clear that citizens will today easily tolerate the level of delegation that Zakaria proposes.
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