Discussed at the House of Literati
Democracy at the service of the superior
14 Feb 2012 17:02
Jafar Kheirkhahan, translator of 'Economic origins of dictatorship and democracy' says democracy is often formed when the superior has cost a lot on subverting the inferior. In fact, democracy is a way of serving the benefits of the superior in the society.
IBNA: During the session held last evening (Monday, February 13) at the House of Literati with the presence of Jafar Kheirkhahan, Maziar Salehi and Vahid Sabbaqi, Kheirkhahan first introduced Daron Acemoglu as winner of the economical John Clarke Award and a promising candidate for the economical Nobel Prize.
"Acemoglu and James Robinson, the other author of the book have focused on four countries of Argentina, England, South Africa and Singapore in order to examine their hypotheses and by comparing the economical systems of the countries they try to find an answer for the question why some countries have a stable system of democracy and some others do not," he added.
"While democracy enjoys some degrees of stability in some countries, it moves towards dictatorship in some other countries. All newly formed democratic systems are not to last long and some of them gradually shift to dictatorship," Kheirkhahan explained.
The result of Acemoglu's investigations shows that in order to solve economical problems we should first pay attention to political institutions of a society. There are various groups in a given society each demanding opposite sets of requests and each policy a system takes to the benefit of one group would inevitably harm the other group. The authors of 'Economic origins of dictatorship and democracy' have divided social citizens to two groups of the superior (high class) and the poor inferior (low class), while they also leave the room for the so-called middle-class. The superior usually take control of the social power and dictatorship is a means of preserving their benefits, whereas democracy is to cover a wider range of social groups.
However, he added, the middle class or the poor manifest their discontent through riots, shirking social duties or even revolutions. Under such conditions, the superior usually admit certain advantages to the poor – like subsides, decreasing taxes, subversion and democracy – in order to keep them quiet.
"Common citizens sometimes do not give in to the advantages as they find them unreal with no guarantee for their realization! The superior should then accept a democratic system as it is the only way to assure lower classes of the realization of promises. And in most cases democracy is formed when subversion costs are too much for the superior, otherwise the most practical solution for the superior would be the coup!"
Authors of the book find England of having the most stable democratic system. Democratization started in England in the 19th century and has never failed to date. On the other hand, Argentina has often moved towards democracy but could not keep it for a long time and it led to dictatorship with one after the other coups. Singapore, another example, has a non-democratic royal system that is maintained via limited subversions and the people do not demand democracy as they are given a relative degree of social equality, while the South African apartheid regime is introduced as absolute dictatorship.