From the archives: Bhagwati on Markets and Democracy

Jagdish Bhagwati

This one is hauled from the archives from Aug 2013. Bhagwati on Democracy and Markets. In that post I quote Bhagwati’s three broad lessons that arise from his typology of countries into a democracy-market space. Continue reading “From the archives: Bhagwati on Markets and Democracy”

Democracy is Bloodier than Monarchy or Aristocracy

John Adams (1735 -1826) was an American Founding Father, and the second president of the United States (1797 -1801). Read the wiki page on Adams.

One marvels at all the natural wealth that the US has — immense land area, minerals, rivers, forests. You name it, the US has it all. But all that natural wealth pales in comparison to the wealth it had in the character of its founders. They were extraordinarily learned, wise, thoughtful and prudent. Given this sort of advantage, it is not at all surprising that the US became the richest and the most successful nation in the world.

The leaders that a nation gets is ultimately a random draw. The US was extraordinarily lucky. It would have drawn a Stalin, or a Lenin, or a Mao, or a Gandhi, or a Nehru. Had the US been unlucky like Russia, China or India, no amount of natural wealth would have saved the US from perdition. The US was born lucky. Continue reading “Democracy is Bloodier than Monarchy or Aristocracy”

Democracy and the Economics of Politics

Lord Acton“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men . . .”

The truth of Lord Acton’s observation gets confirmed with sickening regularity. Here I explore that point in the context of democracy. Why do democracies, particularly those with powerful governments, tend to elect bad people? What’s the analytical relationship between power, politics, money and corruption? Continue reading “Democracy and the Economics of Politics”

Democracy in America

If you thought that I was about to quote Alexis de Toqueville, you were wrong. I quote H. L. Mencken. “As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

Voter Turnout and Identity

Scientific American Mind (dated Jan 10th) has a piece titled, “Voter Turnout Is Tied to Sense of Identity.” Unfortunately it is behind a subscription wall and therefore unavailable to me. But the short summary (reproduced here below the fold) is sufficient for us to get the general idea.
Continue reading “Voter Turnout and Identity”

On Identity Politics, Personality Cults, and Democracy in India

Who you are determines what you do. That’s not the most incisive of observations but one’s identity is inextricably mixed up with what motivates one. Consequently identity does have predictive and explanatory power regarding the behavior of people. Naturally political parties – who must understand crowd psychology to be successful – understand that. Particularly in India, identity based politics has been refined to an impossible degree.
Continue reading “On Identity Politics, Personality Cults, and Democracy in India”

Yes, India is a Democracy

But that’s too generic a description. Besides being too general a description, democracy is hardly a comprehensive description of the Indian government. Surely, the democracy found in say Switzerland is quite different from what’s in India. We need better descriptors of Indian governance. Here’s a partial list, offered in the hope that you will add your own favorite.
Continue reading “Yes, India is a Democracy”