Democracy No Magic Potion Against Terrorism

© AFP 2022 / Valery HACHEA photo taken on July 15, 2016 shows a police barricade set up at the site in Nice where a gunman smashed a truck into a crowd of revellers celebrating Bastille Day, killing at least 84 people.
A photo taken on July 15, 2016 shows a police barricade set up at the site in Nice where a gunman smashed a truck into a crowd of revellers celebrating Bastille Day, killing at least 84 people. - Sputnik International
Today, the world woke up to yet another dreadful terrorist attack. This time it happened in Nice, on French national day. Wherever terror attacks may happen, such atrocities do instill a sense of helplessness. How is the world to meet terrorism, an enemy which does not distinguish between combatants and civilians, adults and children?

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For the most part of the modern world, the answer stands clear and undisputed: democracy, liberal values, international organizations and common sense above religious dogmatism. But how exactly does one proceed from dictatorship to democracy?

One of the most common theories explaining the departure from authoritarianism towards democracy was designed by political scientists Ronald Inglehart and Christian Welzel, who after studying the world's countries found out that democracies both tend to be richer and share liberal values such as tolerance and civil societies, the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet pointed out.

According to their theory, detailed in the report "Modernization, Cultural Change and Democracy," citizens in poor countries are more concerned with covering their basic needs and have therefore less confidence in abstract values such as freedom and democracy. The richer a country becomes, the more time, money, skills and technology the population has access to. Extra resources make life-affirming projects possible, which make freedom more desired, worthwhile and appreciated. With a large proportion of the population craving freedom (and material goods), a regime change towards more liberties is expected to occur automatically.

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In other words, economic development over time will cause the population to develop a vested interest in freedom, which automatically results in a regime change, once the distance between reality and the people's expectations becomes too far.

Although this theory seems plausible, as long as one remains content with studying Western examples, where economic growth and democratization went hand in hand, some prominent abnormalities are likely to shake its very foundation. Singapore is one of the richest countries in the world, but remains under authoritarian control. Even South Korea retains many authoritarian features, despite its undoubtedly democratic facade.

Furthermore, some regions, such as Asia and the Middle East, seem to be particularly "resistant" to Western-style democracy. Some countries, like Saudi Arabia or United Arab Emirates, somehow fail to embrace egalitarianism and people's rule despite their fabulous wealth, whereas others, like Iraq, were force-fed on democracy by the United States and its minions and therefore failed to fully appreciate its benefits by reason of the civil war it incurred.

Another delusion is linking terrorism with despotism and repression. As the recent examples in both Mid-Eastern "democracies" and Western democracies clearly demonstrate, there is simply no ready-made solution to terrorism. Be it a libertarian state or a totalitarian rule, all are equally vulnerable against terrorists.

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