Reaction Paper Week 6.
By: Denisa Isaku.
The following paper
will be a reaction paper to the texts: The sequencing “fallacy” by Mansfield,
Edward D., and Snyder, Jack L., The “sequencing” fallacy by Thomas Carothers,
and State Building and Democratization in Sub-Saharan Africa by Michael Bratton
and Eric C. C. Chang. Along with these authors, I will discuss democracy and
why transition to democracy isn’t always a easy thing, by taking the example of
Transition to democracy
is always easier said than done. A country that has had a history of communism
might not be as willing to transition into democracy because of their past.
With that being said, there have been several countries with that past that
have transitioned into democracy fairly easily. Violence, which is believed to
be a factor or transition, has been inexistent during that period for countries
like Brazil, Chile, Hungary, Poland, South Korea and Taiwan.
In fact, the countries
that already had an idea of what democracy was were less likely to be violent. Such
was the case of Great Britain, who already had preexisting strength of its
legal systems etc. The authors Berman and Carothers, who we will discuss later
on, were doubtful that this system would actually work.
But the truth is that
once a system of what democracy is and what it will be has been learned by the
citizens, they can abide to it and democracy can truly start its work on the country. Even though the price of democratization is
high, it is the countries that have to pay for it and if they are willing to
teach everyone democracy, they will get to pay for it without violence.
Thomas Carothers on the
other hand, has more critiques on his work the “sequencing” fallacy. He argues
that in the 1990s, there was the belief that democracy wasn’t going to take
place, so scholars started coming out with depressing and negative articles.
In a way, this can be
somewhat true. In some countries that weren’t properly prepared for democracy,
the outcomes were far from good, like having illiberal leaders or extremists in
power. So if you want a well functioning state, chances are that you are going
to have to give them the basics of democracy beforehand.
There is also the
belief that economic development can lead to rule-of-law reform, but this
theory can be debunked if we look at the cases of China and Vietnam. They are
both countries with economic development but they haven’t followed any
rule-of-law. So even if you push towards this agenda, it might not always work
The idea that I, and
the author, are both trying to pinpoint is that rule-of-law and autocracy
shouldn’t really mix. We can take the examples of Egypt and Russia to prove
this point. America intervened in Egypt to settle rule-of-law but it failed,
whereas Putin said he was going to follow the rule-of-law before his election
but he never did once he was selected.
One of the things I
pointed out in the beginning of this reaction paper was that it is hard to
transition to democracy if you’ve had a past. And for democracy to start
progressing in this country, you need to give it time, and let said country get
used to this new concept before dropping it on them. You cannot be like the
Bush administration that pushed Arab countries to hold elections and only got
This is another thing
that cannot be done, a country cannot be forced to vote if they don’t want to. There
are other factors to take note. For example: A country is more willing to
transition if it has economic development. Countries that are not homogenous
will have a harder time making the transition and also their historic past, as
I mentioned before, will make it harder.
In order to have a
well-functioning democratic state we first need to have a well functioning
country. To see how a country can level up to democratization, we’re going to
discuss Sub-Saharan Africa alongside Michael Bratton and Eric C. C. Chang in
their work “State Building and Democratization in Sub-Saharan Africa: Forwards,
Backwards or Together?”
Is democracy plausible
in Sub-Saharan Africa? We’re going to find this out by analyzing the political
structure of it and political regimes of it as well. For a proper transition,
it is suggested that first, an ideology of what democracy is to be put into the
people, which should be followed by the actual installment of democracy.
Although it sounds
easy, a lot of African states have not had the luck that European countries
have had with the inclusion of civil societies, so it is understandable if
democracy is not omnipresent, but even in the places where it is, it’s not
“proper” democracy. Some countries have sham elections, others have internal
problems, and there are territories that are not administrated.
From different surveys
that have been made in this area of Africa, a lot of people have shown immense
trust of authoritative figure like law enforcement. They believe that law
enforcement has done a great job protecting the people from crime and violence.
The opposite however, can be found in Nigeria, where people believe the police
to be trust. Regardless of that, they still believe that they should be obeyed.
Belief of an action can
be stronger than the action itself. We could take for example, the belief that
Africans are corrupt, when surveys tell us that they are not as corrupt as they
believe to be. And this corruption is usually in the form of bribes to
So, is this
pre-knowledge of democracy really working? In 2004, Gambia, Eritrea,
Mauritania, Swaziland, and
Togo had not taken any
measures to reform democracy. Africans consider that enforcement of a rule-of-law is the single most important thing
in a democratization state, which works well for the Africans that believe in
their law enforcers. People also tend to distrust the institutions of political
representation, not letting much space for democratization to swim in.
So, as a conclusion,
what can be done? It is always wise to take some baby steps when you’re moving
into a democracy especially with a country that has a totalitarian or communist
past. Learn from that past, and also from the beliefs of the locals to continue
onto your path of a non- violent transition towards a successful democracy.
Mansfield, Edward D.,
Snyder, Jack L.
Journal of Democracy,
Volume 18, Number 3, July 2007, pp. 5-10 (Article)
FALLACY – Thomas Carothers
Journal of Democracy,
Volume 18, Number 1, January 2007, pp. 12-27
State Building and
Forwards, Backwards, or
Eric C. C. Chang