04 December 2015

What Does A Democracy Starter Kit Look Like?

In the longer run, if the world community wants less developed countries to have more palatable political systems, it needs to develop models that are capable of functioning serviceably in those countries for prolonged periods of time with the human capital that is available in those countries.
From my previous post.

What outcomes would we expect from a model that fit this criteria?

* The political system is stable and secure enough to successfully fend off perils such as coups, civil wars, drift into oppressive authoritarian regimes, autarky, grossly incompetent management of policy and the public sector, and inconclusive succession.

* The political system is operated predominantly by citizens of the country, although not necessarily without any role for outside expertise or guidance.

* The political system can manage policy and the public sector in a manner whose functionality is at least "par for the course" for countries at comparable stages of economic development over a wide range of policy domains, and ideally, is better than average.  Further, the country is capable of weathering every kind of crisis it is likely to encounter over a two or three generation long formative period and at least a couple instances of peaceful top leadership succession.

* The political system operates in a manner that makes reasonable attempts to honor human and civil rights of individuals and is generally successful in doing so, even if sometimes it fails in the attempt in ways that aren't absolutely catastrophic or genocidal.

* The political system implements policies that are not consistently wildly unpopular, and provides people who disagree with the policies that it implements some means short of violence to express their disagreement and to have constructive means by which they can express their concerns.

* The political system comes to be viewed as legitimate in fairly short order by the overwhelmingly majority of the population.

* The political system compares favorably to political systems that are now successful in their first half century or so.

* The political system is easily understood and adopted in countries that have no history of using this political system or any other kind of Western style democratic or legal system before in its history, where the pool of well educated people by Western standards makes up a quite small proportion of the population, where there are some significant ethnic divisions within the population, and where per capita GDP is low.

* The political system has a viable means of financing its public sector.

If a political system meets these criteria, it is my opinion that pretty much any other criteria for it drawn from practice in modern Western style democracies ought to be abandoned.  In particular, Western standards of democracy, the universal franchise, and modern Western style legal decision making should be dispensed with.

Also, I suspect that developing a core of adequately educated and socialized legal/governmental functionaries, even if it is small, whose talents are leveraged appropriately, is critical to the system's success.  Utilization of pre-existing, pre-colonial institutions whenever possible is likely to be key to this necessary leveraging arrangement.

For example, a typical legal system in a country under this model might reserve many disputes for resolution by local tribal chiefs, village elders, aristocrats, elected justices of the peace or local councils, or the like, while reserving a carefully chosen set of questions where greater expertise is necessary to make tolerably correct decisions for members of the talented and well socialized core leadership group of the country, or even in rare cases for outside experts along the line of the judicial department of the British Privy Council which had final appellate review over the decisions of the highest colonial courts.

No comments: