вторник, 25 мая 2021 г.

Why Democracy Matters: Lessons from History

I live in Russia, and many people around me call themselves opponents of democracy. Their logic is simple—they believe they live well enough now without democracy. I will demonstrate the flaws in this reasoning.

Currently, there are quite prosperous monarchical countries such as Jordan, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates. However, these modern monarchies are very different from ancient monarchies characterized by Eastern despotism. In today's world, monarchies neighboring democracies must maintain relatively good governance, or they risk being overthrown. In civilizations unfamiliar with democracy, the oppression of the lower classes by the upper classes was really severe.

When an authoritarian state, such as a monarchy, borders a democratic country, its authorities fear revolution and thus cannot exploit the population excessively. They understand that if their citizens live worse than those in neighboring democracy, a revolution may occur, leading to a shift towards democratic governance. In this way, democracies exert an "ennobling" effect on neighboring authoritarian regimes. Despite this influence, these authoritarian countries often pose a military threat to democracies.

For instance, ancient Macedonia was more civilized than ancient Persia, even though both were monarchies. This difference can be attributed to Macedonia's proximity to Greece and the democratic traditions of the latter.

Another historical example is Germany in the first half of the 20th century. Although Germany was an authoritarian state neighboring democratic France and England, the latter countries exerted an "ennobling" influence on it. Due to the English and French revolutions, 20th-century Germany did not have serfdom or other remnants of the Middle Ages. Nevertheless, Germany still posed a military threat to England and France.

Similarly, the medieval confrontation between Muscovy and the Novgorod Republic illustrates my point. While the Novgorod Republic existed, peasants in both Novgorod and Muscovy were relatively free. However, after Moscow conquered Novgorod, the gradual enslavement of peasants began, reaching its peak under Peter the Great.

If democracy is discredited worldwide, the world risks regressing into a new Middle Ages, which is a deeply concerning prospect. This scenario becomes more likely if Russia defeats Ukraine in the current conflict.