Why Arab Democracy Will Fail

Youth, history, income, and complexity.

The auguries of political science strongly predict that the Arab Spring rebellions will succumb to new autocrats in the near term. Sparked by a 2010 uprising in Tunisia, the Arab Spring revolutions toppled autocratic regimes not only in Tunisia but in Egypt, Yemen, and (with outside military assistance) Libya, while civil war broke out in Syria.

So why the gloom over the hopes for a wave of Arab democratization? Because, broadly speaking, data on the arcs of post–World War II revolutions suggests that their chances of successfully transitioning from autocracy to democracy are less than 50/50.

That dispiriting appraisal is based on a new data set, compiled by the UCLA political scientist Barbara Geddes and her colleagues, that provides transition information for the 280 autocratic regimes (in 110 countries with a population of more than a million) in existence from 1946 to 2010. More than half of the time, one autocrat has been followed by another. The odds of transitioning from autocracy to democracy are even worse for personalist dictatorships and one-party states, although military dictatorships make the transition about two-thirds of the time. A personalist dictator is a ruler who basically runs the state as a family business. As it happens, all of the regimes in which Arab Spring revolutions were successful were more or less personalist dictatorships: Muammar Qaddafi in Libya, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia, Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, Ali Abdullah Saleh in Yemen, and Bashar Hafez al-Assad in Syria.

Besides the dismal record of revolutions of gone bad, four other social and political characteristics help stake the deck against these Arab states: youth, past democratic history, income, and complexity.

Youth: The George Mason University political scientist Jack Goldstone argues that the low median age of these countries' populations lessens the probability that they will successfully negotiate a transition to democracy. That would follow the pattern spotted by the Stuttgart University researcher Hannes Weber, who in a 2011 study in the journal Democratization looked at data from 110 countries between 1972 and 2009. “Democratic countries with proportionally large male youth cohorts are more likely to become dictatorships than societies with a smaller share of young men,” he writes.

Why? One hint might be found in an intriguing 2012 study, “On Demographic and Democratic Transitions,” by the London School of Economics population researcher Tim Dyson. Dyson contends that it is no accident that the shift toward lower fertility rates coincided with the rise of democracy in Western Europe. Falling fertility signals that people are gaining more control over their lives. “As the structure of a society becomes increasingly composed of adult men and women, autocratic political structures are likely to be increasingly challenged and replaced by more democratic ones,” Dyson argues. The median ages of Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria, and Yemen are 30, 25, 25, 22, and 18 years, respectively. For comparison, the median age of the European Union is 41 years and the United States’ is 37 years. 

History: The fact that none of the Arab regimes have had much past experience with democracy also suggests that their revolutions are probably doomed to devolve into autocracy, at least in the short run. Goldstone maintains that former communist states in central Europe and the Baltics had smoother transitions to democratic regimes than did those of Central Asia and the Balkans because they had some involvement with democratic institutions before the Iron Curtain fell.

How big has the Arab democratic deficit been? The Polity IV Index measures countries on a scale in which -10 indicates total autocracy and +10 signals full democracy. In 2011, the Dubai Economic Council macroeconomist Ibrahim Elbadawi and his colleagues reported that the Arab countries entered the 1960s with an average polity index score of -5.3—and by 2003 that score had fallen to a -5.5.  In other words, while much of the world was democratizing at the end of the last century, Arab countries as a whole had become more authoritarian.

Income: A 2006 study by the Columbia University political scientist David Epstein and his colleagues found that political regimes have a greater propensity to become and remain democratic as per capita incomes increase.

Back in 2000, the New York University political scientist Adam Przeworski and his colleagues claimed to have identified an income threshold above which no democratic country had ever reverted to autocracy: About $6,000 per capita GDP ($,8,100 today). “Democracies never die in wealthy countries,” they asserted.  According to the World Bank, the current per capita GDPs of Yemen, Syria, Egypt, and Tunisia, are $1,500, $3,300, $3,200, and $4,200 respectively. Given Libya’s continuing political chaos, the Bank doesn’t estimate its per capita GDP, but other sources report that it has fallen by about half to $6,000. None of the Arab Spring countries are now above the democratic consolidation threshold.

Complexity: It is harder to build democratic institutions than it is for a strongman and his thugs to impose his rule on a country. In their 2012 study, “Complexity and the Limits of Revolution: What Will Happen to the Arab Spring?,” the New England Complex Systems Institute researchers Alexander Gard-Murray and Yaneer Bar-Yam analyzed data tracking regime changes in the 10 years following revolutionary events in countries around the world during the period between 1945 and 2000. They find, “In these events higher levels of disruptive violence result in greater incidence of autocratic outcomes.” The revolutions in Yemen, Libya, and Syria were or are all notably violent.

The uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia were relatively peaceful, but the ousting of President Mohamed Morsi by Egypt’s army in July and a recent spate of assassinations in Tunisia dim the prospects of near-term democratic consolidation in both countries. As a consequence of their analysis, the two researchers infer that the “new governments are danger of facing increasingly insurmountable challenges and reverting to autocracy.”

Why? Revolutions often flatten the state’s institutions leaving little for the victors to use for governance. When post-revolutionary social, political, and economic turmoil causes hope for better lives to falter, weary populaces often look for a “man on horseback” to rescue them and restore order. Democratic institutions must take into account a wider range of social, political, and economic interests and are thus much more complex than autocracies.

In contrast to the Arab Spring countries, the two complexity researchers agree with Goldstone and observe that the relatively peaceful revolts against the Communist regimes in Eastern Europe left intact most of the governance apparatus of those states. These institutions were then successfully adapted, with the guidance of the European Union, to democratic norms.

Why hasn’t the Arab Spring spread to other Arab autocracies? Aren’t the Arab monarchies personalist regimes too? Goldstone argues that monarchies tend to have “a reservoir of nationalist, ethnic, or religious legitimacy due to their traditional leadership role.” In addition, Arab monarchs can deflect popular protests by blaming prime ministers or even offering a bit of power sharing. Goldstone also points out the oil-rich monarchies in Oman, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait had the money to buy off their restive populations. For example, Saudi King Abdullah showered $37 billion in house-building and job creation schemes on his 18 million subjects. Similarly, Murbarak and Qaddafi tried to bribe support by promising to boost the salaries of government employees. But handing out wads of cash to bureaucrats was not enough to save those upstarts.

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  • anon||

    “Democracies never die in wealthy countries,” they asserted.

    Hah!

  • UnCivilServant||

    Democracy is already dead, anyone who doesn't see that is willfully blind.

  • jese012||

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  • Goldwin Smith||

    Was Weimar Germany considered not wealthy?

  • UnCivilServant||

    Well, the hyperinflation sort of erased that.

  • John||

    Democracy is not a Republic and no guarantee of good or just government. If you have no rule of law, no institutions anyone respects and a sectarian society, Democracy will be nothing but a vehicle for the majority to kill and oppress disfavored minorities.

  • anon||

    So... America in about six months?

  • anon||

    Bah, who am I kidding. We've already been there for a while.

  • Almanian!||

    I know - but that was a good one! HAHAHAHAHA! Friday Funneez!

  • ||

    Let's be kind: America has been very very good at avoiding ethnic and political violence when one side loses an election.

  • UnCivilServant||

    It's simply due to the lack of difference between one side and the other.

  • Gorilla tactics||

    That's true, as liberals stir up racial hostility BEFORE the elections are held

  • JohnD||

    But based on a lot of comments I read and hear, that may change.

  • Wesley Mouch||

    It's only because liberals are afraid of guns.

  • Rhino||

    Apparently, with what's about to happen in Syria and what Obama has done across the middle east, Liberals may be afraid of guns, but they love rockets and bombs.

  • tarran||

    Democracy is not a Republic and no guarantee of good or just government. If you have no rule of law, no institutions anyone respects and a sectarian society, Democracy will be nothing but a vehicle for the majority to kill and oppress disfavored minorities.

    ^^^^^THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • np||

    Agree with what you say, but I'd also add that a Republic is also no guarantee of good or just government. Lots of countries around the world are Republics and they're equally just as bad.

  • setTHEline||

    Yes, lots of countries around the world are called republics. That doesn't mean they function as a republic. Example: USA.

  • ||

    If only someone would teach them to value liberty and a republican form of government over democracy.

  • Almanian!||

    Yeah, also? FUCK THE MIDDLE EAST. Not a big history of democracy or freedumz there. What on Earth™ would give anyone the idea it would emerge from the sand suddenly, because...Spring! ?

    The derp is strong here.

  • Hyperion||

    Because, The Fluffpostians said it would happen, right along with the ongoing Obamian era of enlightenment and free healthcare and rainbow colored ponies for everyone.

  • ThatSkepticGuy||

    And it would have worked, too, if it weren't for those meddling Jews and their Coptic Christan dog!

    /aljazeera

  • NeonCat||

    Those Arabs should be ashamed at how they've let Obama down.

  • sarcasmic||

    Then there's the fact that Islam and democracy mix like oil and water.

    Islam is much more than a religion as Christians understand religion. It's a way of life that includes governance. The more serious the people of a nation are about their Islamic religion, the more likely anything resembling democracy will quickly crumble into a theological dictatorship. Because democracy is mob rule.

  • Almanian!||

    It's a way of life that includes governance.

    So leftist progs are essentially Muslims under a different religion. I think the shoe fits...

  • Inigo M.||

    Interesting observation. I've often wondered why leftist progs will always jump to defend Muslims, when there is so much there to offend...women made to wear veils and be subservient to men, honor killings, the stoning of gays, etc.

  • Wizard4169||

    True-believing progtards tend to be self-loathing sad sacks. The guilt they feel over their "privileged" lives leads them to despise the society that produced them. This in turn causes them to embrace anyone and anything defined as opposing their "bourgeois" society, no matter how loathsome that opposition might be.

    How else could they rail against the (rabidly overblown) threat of "Christian theocracy" at home, while embracing very real theocrats abroad? How else could self-proclaimed "liberals" and "humanists" sing the praises of deeply illiberal and repressive regimes?

  • tarran||

    The major problem with Islam is that it contains commandments directly from God that lay out a judicial system and snippets of a legal code. Even worse, the judicial system and legal code that Allah commanded are not particularly good ones.

    Islamic political institutions are incredibly corrosive to peace, prosperity and justice. And since abandoning them requires one to become a heretic or an apostate, both crimes punishable by death, it dooms any devout society to turmoil and poverty.

  • Inigo M.||

    True, but in the Middle Ages, Christianity operated in a similar fashion. With the church and state closely related, questioning political institutions could get you branded as a heretic and burned at the stake.

    I've often believed that what the Muslim world needs is their own version of an Enlightenment. I'm not saying they need to abandon their religion, but they just need to get past unquestioning and unthinking obedience to religious leaders.

  • Redmanfms||

    True, but in the Middle Ages, Christianity operated in a similar fashion. With the church and state closely related, questioning political institutions could get you branded as a heretic and burned at the stake.

    The difference being that the core document of Christianity didn't provide much in the way of support for the Church's usurpation of governance. Once education allowed Christians en masse to learn what their Holy Book truly said without being filtered first by a Papal representative, the Reformation took root.

    The exact opposite has happened with Muslims. As they become educated on their faith they tend to become more radical rather than moderate.

    I've often believed that what the Muslim world needs is their own version of an Enlightenment. I'm not saying they need to abandon their religion, but they just need to get past unquestioning and unthinking obedience to religious leaders.

    The problems lie in the Koran and hadith. A Reformation or "enlightenment" is essentially impossible without rejecting significant portions of what it means to be a Muslim.

  • hotsy totsy||

    The Reformation was the counter Enlightenment. If anything it held democratic republicanism back.

  • hotsy totsy||

    The Reformation was the counter Enlightenment. If anything it held democratic republicanism back.

  • Marshall Gill||

    And yet, Ron did not use the word "Islam" once. It is almost as though Ron has no clue about the connection between the Reformation and Human Liberty.

    Talk about your cognitive dissonance.

  • mtrueman||

    "Islamism is nearly indistinguishable from Communism"

    I think those who live in the middle east have a lot less trouble distinguishing Islamism from communism than you do. Islamism from Iran to Egypt attracts large numbers of conservative voters, including many small businessmen. Communists get very few votes in these elections.

    Neither communism nor Islamism are liberal ideologies. They do share that. You may feel that illiberal ideologies are all identical, but most of us are able to see a little clearer than that.

  • Redmanfms||

    You may feel that illiberal ideologies are all identical, but most of us are able to see a little clearer than that.

    I could post links that will allow you to read for yourself how closely related Islam and Communism are when it comes to governance and economic organization, but really, why bother? You'll only refuse to read them.

    The "clarity" of your worldview is somewhat suspect too, given your incoherent tautological ramblings on this site.

  • mtrueman||

    You seriously have trouble distinguishing between Islamism and Communism? Save yourself the bother of posting your links. You probably should read them yourself.

  • Redmanfms||

    Islam is much more than a religion as Christians understand religion.

    Bertrand Russell wrote pretty extensively on this.

    On a socio-potlitical level, Islamism is nearly indistinguishable from Communism.

  • JohnD||

    The fact is that Arabs are basically savages and are unable to build a Democracy or a Democratic Republic. If it wasn't for the US, England and Germany developing oil production in the middle east, those fools would still be riding camels and living in tents.

  • mtrueman||

    "Islam and democracy mix like oil and water."

    It wasn't the forces of Islam that overthrew the government of Egypt. In the few free and fair elections that have been held in the region, Islamists have come out rather well. In Iraq it was a senior cleric who insisted on democratic elections over the plans of the American occupiers. Palestine, Iran, Lebanon and Egypt are other examples where Islamists have done well under democratic elections. This is not to say that these Islamic regimes are Liberal regimes that the Western powers would approve of. Different nations, different mobs.

  • some guy||

    I'd like to see one of these countries go the route of Democracy/Republic but with a requirement for super-majorities rather than simple majorities for elections and legislation. "If 75% don't agree on something then nothing happens" would be a great way to start out.

  • anon||

    Theoretically, that's how our Senate was supposed to work.

    But when you give people power to DO SOMETHING, this is what you get.

  • some guy||

    Nah. The Senate was always a majority rule Chamber. They imposed the 60-votes to end debate rule on themselves. If anything the Senate is worse than simple-majority rule because 51 Senators can easily represent much less than 50% of the population.

  • some guy||

    Just looked it up. 80% of the US population lives in 24 states. 50% lives in about 9 states. Thank god the other 41 have so far been unable to form an alliance.

  • Harvard||

    Makes one appreciate the
    Electoral College all the more.

  • anon||

    Weird, I have gotten confused with passing a treaty somehow, which still requires a 2/3 vote.

  • some guy||

    Okay, yeah, that's one example. But most Senate decisions are simple majority.

  • Gorilla tactics||

    personally i think we should scrap democracy all together.

  • some guy||

    The problem is what to replace it with.

  • bmp1701||

    Dictatorial rule by the recreated brain of H.L. Mencken? It's about time for leadership by a brain in a jar.

  • Irish||

    Except that Mencken, along with an awful lot of smart people of his generation, was in favor of sterilization of criminals.

    I love Mencken about 95% of the time, but even he had ideas that I wouldn't want to see implemented.

  • Wizard4169||

    I, for one, welcome our en-jarred overlords.

  • setTHEline||

    A republic maybe?

  • Bobarian||

    Absolutely!

    From here on in, I'm in charge.

    God-Emperor of DOOM!

  • JohnD||

    We don't have a democracy.

  • ||

    Supermajorities are an interesting way to go, as they would require much more agreement on a subject. But even with that, the politicians would work to undermine it as soon as possible. Just get a supermajority to agree that supermajorities are too much to get anything done and you're back to 50% (or worse). Just look at the calls to ban filibusters and 60% votes in Congress the instant it gets in someone's way.

  • anon||

    Yup, that's pretty much what our senate did.

  • some guy||

    I agree. I'd like to see what happens when you wipe the slate clean and start over with "super-majorities for everything" written emphatically into the law of the land. I think you're guaranteed at least a generation before anyone changes it (because the people who wrote it in would be in power for about that long). Ultimately the idea would also have to be ingrained in the ideals of a majority of the population for it to have any staying power.

    Does anyone know if there is a name for the branch of Democracy that requires super-majorities?

  • sarcasmic||

    Heinleinian Bicameral Legislature?

    In one of his books he proposed a two house system where one house needs a supermajority to pass legislation, while the other's sole power was repeal which it could do with only a one third minority.

    The reasoning was that if legislation can't get two thirds support then probably isn't that good, and if a third hate it it probably sucks.

  • ||

    "You call this a bicameral legislature?"

    (falls over drunk)

    It's annoying when there isn't a clip of a classic Simpsons quote to be found anywhere.

  • some guy||

    Is that the one where he uses a US flag to fend off the Capitol Police?

  • some guy||

    I like that even better. Giving a group the sole power of repeal would be a great way to constructively use the irresistable urge to DO SOMETHING.

  • Marshall Gill||

    As their only power would be to repeal laws, they would simply have to use it. The beauty of the idea is that if they repealed a law everyone favored, the legislature could simply pass it into law again. One can imagine how rarely this would ever happen.

  • Supergenius||

    Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit) has promoted an amendment to create a third house who's only power would be to repeal laws. It seems like altering the system to incentivize congressmen to repeal laws rather than create them is a good idea.

  • Paul.||

    Two wolves and a sheep walk into a restaurant...

  • Invisible Finger||

    California rolled back their super-majority rules for budgeting, correct?

  • sarcasmic||

    If anything I would think requiring a super-majority before spending money obtained through coercion makes sense. I mean, if you're going to lock people up in a cage if they don't pay in, you better be in full agreement on how it is to be spent.

  • Paul.||

    The odds of transitioning from autocracy to democracy are even worse for personalist dictatorships and one-party states,

    Great, so I'm doomed, too.

  • Almanian!||

    My condolences :*(

  • Paul.||

    help stake the deck against

    These kinds of errors never happened when Tim Cavanaugh was editing.

  • Almanian!||

    DON'T TALK ABOUT LU...

  • Almanian!||

    DON'T TALK ABOUT LU...

  • anon||

    Shit, I thought it was 3 already.

  • Almanian!||

    I was 1 minute late for JINX!

  • Almanian!||

    Huh. Is it 3:00 or are the skwirlz just getting started early?

    ANYWAY....

    Never mind.

  • Tak Kak||

    Wasn't the median U.S. age quite young when it revolted though?

  • BakedPenguin||

    Every nation's median age was much lower when the US revolted.

  • Paul.||

    History: The fact that none of the Arab regimes have had much past experience with democracy also suggests that their revolutions are probably doomed to devolve into autocracy,

    I still contend that Islamic peoples are the least likely to embrace democracy. This could be argued to be true with all heavily theocratic regions, but Islam, in my opinion, is especially unlikely.

    My interpretation of Islam is that it doesn't need democracy. The teachings of Islam already have everything you need to run a society. The rules are already set down. That's what the clerics do: Interpret the Islamic law. Muhammed was the legislator, the Clerics are the robed judges. The law is written, it's done. Muhammed isn't writing any more laws, and it's blasphemy to even suggest it.

  • UnCivilServant||

    So the islamic take on the allocation of the electromagnetic spectrum for radio communications was?

  • Swiss Servator - past LTC(ret)||

    Whomever can get the highest cleric to pronounce their slice of it to be the will of Allah.

  • Paul.||

    Ed Zachary.

  • Paul.||

    So the islamic take on the allocation of the electromagnetic spectrum for radio communications was?

    Not in the Quran, so we don't need a vote on it.

  • sarcasmic||

    Back in high school, back before you'd get on an FBI watch list for checking out a dozen book on Islam from the library, I did a research project on the Islamic religion.

    What you say is correct. Islam has no use for government because it is government.

  • tarran||

    Muhammed isn't writing any more laws,

    Actually, Mohammed didn't write the laws; God dictated the laws to him... in Arabic.

    That's why the Quran isn't supposed to be translated; it alters the word of God which is perfect and thus must not be altered.

    Cults of Personality For The Loss!

  • Paul.||

    Actually, Mohammed didn't write the laws; God dictated the laws to him... in Arabic.

    Yes, I know, I literally meant he wrote the laws. Perhaps I should have stated he took dictation.

    Muhammed was a stenographer. There's a death sentence in my future I'm sure.

  • anon||

    LITERALLY

  • ThatSkepticGuy||

    "Actually, Mohammed didn't write the laws; God dictated the laws to him... in Arabic."

    Yeah, and George Lucas had the Star Wars prequels all planned out since the end of Jedi.

  • hotsy totsy||

    My prediction is that no country can become democratic without freedom of religion and freedom of the press. And most Islamic countries are utterly opposed to freedom of religion. No one who is Muslim is ever allowed to convert to another religion.

    Democracy worked in Japan because after World War II, freedom of religion was imposed on them. Counterintuitive to say freedom was imposed, but it worked.

  • Swiss Servator - past LTC(ret)||

    "Reason Science Correspondent Ronald Bailey applies evidence and insights from political science..."

    HAHAHAHAHA. I quit right there...or was that supposed to be humor?

  • ThatSkepticGuy||

    Yeah, "insights from political science" typically begin and end with, "find the nearest white capitalist male and blame it all on him".

  • Gorilla tactics||

    see also: Liberal Arts

  • Jordan||

    OT: I would not put this past Ingsoc:

    "It appears that the UK government is now seeking to create an appearance that the Guardian and Washington Post's disclosures are harmful, and they are doing so by intentionally leaking harmful information to The Independent and attributing it to others.
  • LynchPin1477||

    It would be interesting to know what the success rate is in transitioning to republics, where democracy is seen as a tool rather than an end in itself.

  • Goldwin Smith||

    Russia, Germany, France, China, Iran, Iraq, Spain, Portugal, Romania, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Libya, Egypt...um yeah.

  • Hyperion||

    Why Arab Democracy Will Fail

    You think? What ever clued you in to that? Could it have been a hardline Islamists winning the popular vote after Morsi was removed?

    Or maybe it was the military coup?

    No?

    How about the civil war and climbing death tolls?

    Me thinks they need 2 Egypts. One can be the Islamic state. The other, the democratic military dictatorship. And they all lived happily ever after.

  • Goldwin Smith||

    Gee who saw this coming back during Arab Spring? And didn't reason dismiss those claims? Looking more like 1848 every day. And we all know what that resulted in...

  • ThatSkepticGuy||

    I don't remember any such articles, but if there were I'd bet anything they were written by Dalmia.

  • Goldwin Smith||

  • Goldwin Smith||

  • Goldwin Smith||

  • Paul.||

    . Goldstone also points out the oil-rich monarchies in Oman, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait had the money to buy off their restive populations.

    That's a facsimile of what we're doing here. As Western Democracies demand more top-down control as they enter a certain maturity, they increasingly buy off their populations with cradle-to-grave welfare systems. Buyoffs which range from tax credits, to health benefits to early zero-contribution pension payments.

  • Inigo M.||

    The difference is that countries with lots of oil revenues plus relatively small populations can more or less pull that off - at least for now. But Western democracies have all managed to go bankrupt trying.

  • OldMexican||

    The fact that none of the Arab regimes have had much past experience with democracy also suggests that their revolutions are probably doomed to devolve into autocracy


    It is not like the REST of the societies had much past experience with democracy, either - only the past 250 years or so, more or less; and the American experiment towards Democracy (replacing the Constitutional Republic which Americans could not keep, despite Franklin's stern warning) is also quickly degrading towards the cult of Barry the Beautiful...

  • Goldwin Smith||

    The title is wrong. Shouldn't it be more like "Arab Democracy has already Failed"? Doesn't look like it has succeeded in Egypt and Libya. And I doubt it will succeed in Syria no matter the result.

    This articles title wouldn't have been appropriate during the actual Arab Spring then now.

  • Hyperion||

    Arab Democracy has already Failed

    Depending on who you ask.

    It worked at first. The majority of the people voted with the Muslim brotherhood.

    That was democracy.

    It was all downhill after that.

  • Inigo M.||

    And didn't the majority of people in Germany actually elect the Nazi Party in the 1930s?

    Both examples just illustrate the problem of tyranny of the majority.

  • Redmanfms||

    And didn't the majority of people in Germany actually elect the Nazi Party in the 1930s?

    No.

    The Nazi Party gained the largest plurality, but they were far from majority.

  • mtrueman||

    Remember reading somewhere that the most pro nazi group of people in Germany at election time were the medical profession. A majority of doctors voted for the nazis.

  • Redmanfms||

    Remember reading somewhere that the most pro nazi group of people in Germany at election time were the medical profession. A majority of doctors voted for the nazis.

    Ok. So?

  • mtrueman||

    To me at least, a little counterintuitive is all.

  • Ann N||

    it means obamacare will be a success, since doctors supported the eventually victorious candidate.

  • Goldwin Smith||

    The Nazi Party gained the largest plurality, but they were far from majority.

    In the July 1932 elections the Nazis and the Communists did gain a majority of the votes. Including the DNVP vote shows that a majority of German voters supported openly anti-Democratic parties by the time Hitler took over.

  • mtrueman||

    You might find Gunther Grass' autobiography Peeling the Onioninteresting. As a young boy he served in the Waffen SS. He recounts some of the political arguments that raged in the soldiers' barracks. He says that the Nazis and Communists always sided with each other against Social Democrats like himself.

  • Redmanfms||

    In the July 1932 elections the Nazis and the Communists did gain a majority of the votes.

    That's much like saying the Democrats and Republicans gained a majority of votes.

    The Nazis and Communists were bitter political rivals. It was the Communist Party's success that lead to the coalition on the "right" supporting the Nazis and Hitler's bid for Chancellor.

    That said, my original statement stands, The Nazi Party gained the largest plurality, but they were far from majority.

    Including the DNVP vote shows that a majority of German voters supported openly anti-Democratic parties by the time Hitler took over.

    Relevance? This still does not relate to the majority of the German people electing the Nazi Party in the 1930s.

    Also, the Communists aren't anti-democratic, at least in theory.

  • mtrueman||

    "Doesn't look like it has succeeded in Egypt and Libya"

    That's a good thing. During the initial uprising, I knew the students, workers, street people who were battling the cops in the streets were making a terrible error when they called for democracy. It was clear the Islamists would gain the most from their success.

    I think the turmoil in Egypt is far frrom over, and I hope something positive can emerge from it. It won't come from aping the ideas of America or Europe.

  • William of Purple||

    I've been informed that democracy that the first step in the revolution by the working class is to raise the proletariat to the position of the ruling class, to establish democracy.

  • Caleb Turberville||

    With all the talk about the strict code of governance laid out by the Koran, I was wondering if anyone could tell me what the Christian take on governance ought to be, going strictly by Biblical scripture?

    I seem to recall quotes by Jesus like "My kingdom is not of this world." But at the same time, when I was a kid, I remember hearing in church the scripture from Proverbs, "Righteousness exalts a nation, but a sin is a reproach to any nation."

    Given that Proverbs is Old Testament, and the verse is probably taken out of context anyway, I suppose the correct Christian doctrine is more in line with the first quote from Jesus. However, a lot of religious social conservatives I grew up around would always use the verse from Proverbs to justify government intervention in matters of spirituality.

  • anon||

    I was wondering if anyone could tell me what the Christian take on governance ought to be, going strictly by Biblical scripture?

    Less faggy.

  • Paul.||

    It has always seemed to me that religious conservatives in this country bounce back and forth between the Old and New Testaments. When religious conservatives want a law, the tend to go Old Testament.

    Not much of an answer to your question, but the Old Testament is slightly more detailed (like the Koran) on the daily details of life-- how to resolve disputes about livestock and what not, unlike the New Testament. But my general feel and anecdotal experience is the Old Test. can't hold a menorah to the Koran in the detail laid down about the rules of daily life.

  • Caleb Turberville||

    Yeah. I agree with you on the tendency for Christian to bounce back in forth between the Old and New Testaments to justify certain positions. The New Testament certainly has its codifications for everyday life, but there does seem to be an abandonment on concerns with regards to government. But, in my experience, if you speak to a social conservative Christian about the proper place for government in the enforcement of spiritual matters, then their perspective switches to a hardline Old Testament perspective.

  • Doctor Whom||

    A literal reading of the NT, especially but not exclusively Romans 13:1-7, says that Christians are to submit to secular authority, whatever it happens to be. Of course, Christians are not well known for letting a literal reading of the NT get in the way of what they want Christianity to be.

  • Caleb Turberville||

    Yeah, you submit to the secular authority, and trust the Church to deal in matters of spirituality.

    You know, the more I think about it, the more I kinda like Christianity (pre-Romanization after Constantine).

  • ant1sthenes||

    Though that said, only up until it conflicts with being faithful to their religion, otherwise there wouldn't be any martyrs.

  • Inigo M.||

    "However, a lot of religious social conservatives I grew up around would always use the verse from Proverbs to justify government intervention in matters of spirituality."

    That's a HUGE problem with them in general...They ignore the actual teachings of Jesus. Even the big anti-gay push is based on a single line from an Old Testament passage. And meanwhile, in his society, Jesus was a magnet for the marginalized and all the social misfits of the time. And the guys who felt the most threatened by Jesus and took him down were the social conservatives of that society. Ironic, isn't it?

  • John Galt||

    "Why Arab Democracy Will Fail"

    And why would any democracy succeed? The majority of any peoples are, always have been and in all likelihood always will be idiots. Democracies always fail.

    Personally, I'm not comfortable with the tyranny of a majority. Is there some reason that suffering by the unpredictable idiocy majority is better than suffering by the whims of a few,or even a single individual?

    Arrgh!! It's like democracy is some kind of holy grail instead of the failed form of governance it is.

  • Sidd Finch||

    Arab societies are tribal and most want to kill apostates. We don't need silly poly sci papers to figure out why Western democracy ain't working there.

  • mtrueman||

    "We don't need silly poly sci papers"

    But you do. Egypt is not really a tribal society, particularly where it counts, in the major cities. Tribal factors had little part in the recent turmoil.

  • Sidd Finch||

    suggests that their chances of successfully transitioning from autocracy to democracy are less than 50/50.

    That dispiriting appraisal

    It's only dispiriting if you've managed to never notice who wins elections over there.

  • Jackand Ace||

    You still throwing that 150 MPH fastball?

  • Sidd Finch||

    I've returned to practicing the art of the French horn.

  • Dan||

    Democracy won't work because they don't really want democracy. They want autocratic government, they just want their guy in charge of it.

    None of these so called revolutions were born out of a desire for freedom or civil rights or any other such things. They were born out of a desire to install radical islamic leadership to replace regimes that were too willing to deal with and tolerate people who weren't islamic.

  • ant1sthenes||

    Unfortunately, the number of people with that mindset is growing in the U.S. too. I wouldn't be shocked to see a president removed by the military in my lifetime.

  • Paul.||

    I wouldn't be shocked to see a president removed by the military in my lifetime.

    It can't happen soon enough.

  • mtrueman||

    "None of these so called revolutions were born out of a desire for freedom or civil rights or any other such things."

    I think you are wrong there. And I don't think they sprang from a desire for radical Islam. In fact those who did most of the heavy lifting during the Arab Spring were not Islamists, but rather liberals, students, workers and street people who were demanding freedom and rights. I don't know where you got your idea. Has it been put forward in these pages?

  • Dan||

    I got my idea from the fact that none of the revolutions have produced anything other than the installation of radical islamic leaders and general anarchy.

    Your idea is nothing but regurgitation of the google campaign that set it all in motion.

  • mtrueman||

    I assume by 'radical Islam' you mean a regime that is antagonistic to US interests. Opposed to regular Islam that is comfortable with the US. If that's the case, then you have to have another look at the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Tunisia. Neither of these upheavals has produced anything like the anti-US regime in Iraq. The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt had such a regard for the US that they couldn't even bring themselves to break the treaty with Israel and the US to favour their religious soulmates in Gaza.

    If you are judging Egyptians desires and motives by the outcomes, you have to take this into consideration. I think we can judge their desires by what they were calling for when they hit the streets. I don't remember any calls for the installation of radical Islam, or general anarchy. As I mentioned earlier, I remember pretty garden variety calls for rights and freedoms and condemnations of a brutal police state. If you have special insight into the desires of Egyptians, I invite you to flesh them out a little more.

  • GregMax||

    Thriving economies that provide opportunity for most of the citizens is the true guarantee of freedom. When resources are scarce people compete and it doesn't matter what the system of representation is called . . . people competing for scarce resources sucks in any situation.
    But let's spread democracy while we kill our own economy burning our productivity at both ends.

  • dbobway||

    No need to read this. Just observe the history of this region since the "Middle Ages" . It hasn't accepted a democratic government yet. There have been millions of lives lost trying to implement that and Christianity! Fuckin' give it UP! Cheez!

  • Sevo||

    dbobway| 8.23.13 @ 10:08PM |#
    "No need to read this. Just observe the history of this region since the "Middle Ages" . It hasn't accepted a democratic government yet. There have been millions of lives lost trying to implement that and Christianity!"

    Xianity?! WIH do you think substituting a magic man colored green compared to one colored pink would accomplish?
    Screw a new religion; lose 'em all and we'll be better off.

  • Redmanfms||

    Xianity?! WIH do you think substituting a magic man colored green compared to one colored pink would accomplish?

    It's like you don't even read the statement. You just see a mention of a religion and retard takes over.

  • Alan||

    Just because the Arab Spring was never likely to fully succeed, doesn't mean it failed. Our history in the West is not much different. It would be a miracle if the Arab Spring managed to establish a lasting free society and government in one blow.

    But has progress been made? I think so.

  • Anders||

    Cite examples and sources.

  • Dan||

    Our revolution resulted in the establishment of the most successful form of representative government in human history that has been in place and making our country the foundation of the entire world for two hundred years and running.

    How exactly are these movements similar? Exactly what progress has been made in any of these places?

    You're right about one thing. They aren't really failures, they just didn't have the objectives a lot of dumb people thought they did.

  • Anders||

    Love the data points but it's mainly about culture, tribalism, and yes ISLAM.

  • Anti_Govt_Rebel||

    Another factor not discussed in the article, that surely has an effect on the success or failure of Arab democracy movements, is the involvement of the US government. When these revolts happen as in Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria, Syria, etc, the US is usually either supporting the dictator being overthrown, or overtly takes sides with one of the opposition groups.
    The mere presence of a powerful foreign government, or interest in the local instability by a powerful foreign government usually is a kiss of death to the revolutionary movement or attempts at self-rule. The moment any party in the country accepts money or help from outside, is an indicator of the failure of that movement.

  • The Last American Hero||

    Like when France helped the US break away from England, for example.

  • randdy||

    upto I saw the check saying $7450, I didnt believe that...my... brothers friend was like realey bringing in money parttime online.. there sisters roommate has been doing this for under 23 months and resantly repayed the mortgage on their place and bourt themselves a BMW. this is where I went www.jazz77.com

  • crufus||

    Democracy or something like it has only really started to take hold in Mexico, Central America, and South America in the last 50 years or less. Considering that they have been independent from Spain for 100 to 150 years, democracy didn't catch on quickly. Functioning democracy in France, Germany, Italy, and the rest of Europe is fairly recent, and there are plenty of countries, like Russia, still making the transition.

    I don’t see why we should expect countries that are barely past being parts of various foreign empires will become functioning democracies in a short time. The limited role that the US might have to play is trying to get the various countries to play nice together, but there doesn’t seem to be any way to force democracy on anyone.

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