I ran into an article about China’s recent space walk that inexplicably transitioned into a blundering attack on the idea of democracy.
Great idea. Poor execution.
First, I want to address the logical blunder made by the author of that article, then we can take a look at the relationship between success and democracy. Attacking an idea based on the failure of one or two implementations of the idea is (to put it gently) short-sighted. In this case, an example might help more than anything. So let’s pretend it is 1902 and talk about the superiority of the sparrow in comparison to the human. The sparrow could fly much higher, farther, and longer than any human. A few years later, the dreams of the bird-brained Wright Brothers, became reality and a crazy idea was no longer crazy.
If the Wrights and others had decided that the idea of flying was impossible based on all the prior attempts, they would never have built a working airplane. Of course this is not a perfect example, but think for a minute about how many great ideas fail because of poor execution. The same idea implemented by 100 different people will yield 100 different results. An idea can still be great without being successful in every application.
If we decide that democracy is a failure based on a few bad days on Wall Street, we will miss out on all the great things that come with democracy. The author of that article also missed the fact that all economies go through cycles regardless of the structure of the government. China is on an upswing (for now). The US is headed down (for now). When the direction of the markets change will that all of the sudden mean that democracy is a good idea again? So the argument is completely ridiculous, but it still made me stop for a second and think.
Will democracy really solve all of China’s problems?
Is democracy good for any country? Let’s look at economics first, since I love economics and this article claims that is an important indicator of the nation’s health. So, China start opening up its markets and starts adopting free market ideas (the economic equivalent to political democracy) and as a result has phenomenal growth. America gradually became a manged economy over 20+ years and eventually crashed under weight of socialist policy.
Sounds like the argument against democracy turned into a counter-argument for democracy.
Democracy is good for the economy, but what about human rights, personal security, health, happiness, and hundreds of other measures of success? There is a high correlation between democratic nations and nations that are successful in these other areas, but statistical correlation is not the same as a cause and effect relationship. Is it possible that some other cause leads a nation toward democracy and all of these other areas of success?