Sunday, January 22, 2017

Is war a necessary predicate to participative democracy?

Hat tip to Tyler Cowen regarding a new book that has an intriguing hypothesis. The book is Forged Through Fire: War, Peace, and the Democratic Bargain by John Ferejohn and Frances McCall Rosenbluth.
If the modern democratic republic is a product of wars that required both manpower and money for success, it is time to take stock of what happens to democracy once the forces that brought it into being are no longer present. Understanding war’s role in the creation of the modern democratic republic can help us recognize democracy’s exposed flanks. If the role of the masses in protecting the nation-state diminishes, will the cross-class coalition between political inclusiveness and property hold?

…a second question is what is to become of the swaths of the world that were off the warpath in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries when the European state was formed? Continued and intense warfare forged democracies with full enfranchisement and protected property rights in the Goldilocks zone: in countries that had already developed administrative capacity as monarchies, and where wars were horrendous but manageable with full mobilization…

The bad news is that in today’s world, war has stopped functioning as a democratizing force.
Adding it to the the always lengthening list of books to read.

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