Missing the Point

Gaurav responds to a couple of my posts on democracy. He misses the point in both.

He claims that my argument that democracy provides stability for the rulers is incorrect, and cites the examples of Bhutto and Allende. Both were democratically elected and both were deposed and killed. These are puzzling counterexamples. It should have been clear from my posts that I do not classify a country as democratic just because it manages to elect its leaders in free elections once in a while. There is a great deal of truth in the statement that for a country to be  considered democratic, the test is not its first election, but the second.  To hold one election is easy. To hold the second one requires a significant amount of “infrastructure” in terms of cultural acceptance of orderly transition of power, a free press, a neutral military, etc. The coups that deposed Bhutto and Allende tell us that their countries were not democratic – by definition.

I am not indulging in circular reasoning here. I am not saying: “A democratic country cannot have a coup. If a country has huad a coup, it is not democratic. Therefore, my point that a democratic country provides stability for its rulers is true by definition” What I am saying is that it is possible to classify a country as democratic or not based on its underlying “infrastructure”, of which the ability to hold the first election is only one. The existence of the infrastructure will make a coup highly unlikely. That infrastructure exists in India, and therefore a coup is unlikely.

But that by itself does not ensure good government in India. The infrastructure of democracy in India has ensured a stable government, but not a responsive one.

It so happens that Gaurav agrees with me on these points. I know, because he makes the same points in the same post. I am just puzzled as to why he thinks that I disagree with him.

The same holds true for the other post he comments on. I am curious to learn in what way this post  “…confuses specific structure of state with underlying social dynamics.” I agree with Gaurav that the road to democracy is a tortuous one and goes through many social and cultural changes. In fact, I believe that the example of  the BJP legislators electing their leader is in itself a result of a cultural change. I don’t know why Gaurav thinks that I believe otherwise.

2 thoughts on “Missing the Point

  1. No, no, no, it is all big confusion 🙂

    I didn’t mean that you disagree with my arguments, rather what I meant was that a reading of your posts one (may have) got the impression that just by imposing democratic governments (as US is doing in Iraq), one may achieve the stability, whereas stability depends on underlying social dynamics, after all strictly speaking even Britain is constitutional monarchy and it is working Ok too. This is what I meant that system of governance must be tested by result and not theory, after all by definition there is no assassination or coup clause in monarchy.

    Basically my point was that we should concentrate on getting the dynamics right, democracy will follow.

    PS. You are allowed to blog even now 🙂

  2. Er, not really relevant to this particular post, but have you stopped blogging or something? I’ve been a frequent visitor here, and notice that haven’t posted for a while now!!

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