Pin It
Favorite

Book Review 

by Ted S. McGregor, Jr.
When you try to understand the state of the world, it can feel a bit like looking at individual puzzle pieces. Read The Future of Freedom (W.W. Norton) and you'll be able to finally put them all together. You might have seen its author, Fareed Zakaria, on the endless hours of punditry surrounding the recent war in Iraq. He was the Indian guy who, refreshingly, didn't have an ax to grind -- he was also the guy nobody could shout down because he's just on a completely different intellectual level than what passes for analysis these days.


Zakaria's unstated premise seems to be that freedom and democracy are good, but if the United States is intent on exporting its own brand of freedom, it had better clean up its act. Along the way, Zakaria challenges all kinds of conventional wisdom -- the World Trade Organization is good; Iran is a better candidate for democracy than Iraq; we should be more worried about Russia than China; 9/11 was not about poverty; dictators are sometimes useful in the transition to a free society; and the United States has too much democracy.


Economics is the key to freedom, he argues, even offering an explanation for Hitler that rests on money, not culture. But it's not always that simple, as in the Middle East today. He argues that special consideration needs to be taken in helping those nations make the transition. "In general, a five-year period of transition, political reform, and institutional development should precede national multiparty elections," Zakaria writes. "In a country with strong regional, ethnic, or religious divisions -- like Iraq -- this is crucial."


But the rest of the book is about the demise of America's political system. Today, he says lobbyists, ballot initiatives, an elite class without responsibility and too much transparency have turned the U.S. into a kind of hyper-democracy, in which the founders' fears of the tyranny of the majority are fast becoming the norm. As a vision of where America could be headed, he singles out California, where, as in Washington state, initiatives have wreaked havoc. "Having thoroughly emasculated their elected leaders, Californians are shocked that they do so little about the state's problems," Zakaria concludes, adding later that "the American people believe that they have no real control over government. What they do not realize is that the politicians have no control, either."


His solution is a return to the nation's roots as expressed in the founders' vision -- a delegation of democracy. "In the founders' views," Zakaria writes, "representative, republican democracy provided the right balance of popular control and deliberative decision-making."





Publication date: 05/15/03

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • Recall and Response
  • Recall and Response

    The attempt to remove Spokane Mayor David Condon from office may be a long shot, but he isn't taking any chances
    • Aug 25, 2016
  • Shades of Black Lives
  • Shades of Black Lives

    A Spokane County detective's Facebook post about Black Lives Matter sparks debate among local law enforcement
    • Aug 25, 2016
  • Fires Hit Home
  • Fires Hit Home

    Tens of thousands of acres burn around Spokane on Sunday and Monday; plus, DOJ weighs in on concerns over bail system
    • Aug 25, 2016
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue
Bodies Human: Anatomy in Motion

Bodies Human: Anatomy in Motion @ Mobius Science Center

Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through Dec. 31

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by n/a

  • Iron Upgrade
  • Iron Upgrade

    The new one is smart and funny and action-packed, and it’s bigger and better and sleeker. And Downey does it again, this time ramping up Stark’s arrogant wisecracking, telling anyone who’ll listen (mostly women) that, via the creation of his powerful Iron Man suit, he’s brought years of uninterrupted peace to the world.
    • May 12, 2010
  • Seeing Gay
  • Seeing Gay

    A festival showing GLBT from all angles
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • Get Out the Vote
  • Get Out the Vote

    With all the uncertainty in the world these days, hot wings and cold beer are two things we can get behind
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • 'Unreasonable Threat to Life and Property'

    Spokane's rental housing has problems, but landlord and tenant groups are split on a solution
    • Aug 11, 2016
  • 'End of Story'

    Condon administration aims to close the controversial Frank Straub chapter — but last week's scathing report has irrevocably changed the narrative
    • Aug 4, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

Briefs


election 2016


green zone


marijuana


trail mix


Readers also liked…

  • The First Seahawk
  • The First Seahawk

    Publisher's Note
    • Jan 28, 2015
  • Crime and Community
  • Crime and Community

    There's more to this neighborhood than theft, drugs and break-ins: There are people determined to stamp them out
    • Apr 14, 2016

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation