Dictatorships of Virtue? States, NGOs, and the Imposition of Democratic Values. (Democracy)

By Hayden, Robert | Harvard International Review, Summer 2002 | Go to article overview

Dictatorships of Virtue? States, NGOs, and the Imposition of Democratic Values. (Democracy)


Hayden, Robert, Harvard International Review


With the Cold War now an almost fond memory of a good cause won, democracy should be secure in the world. Almost no political ideology opposes it. Even states in what US President George Bush dubbed the "axis of evil" call themselves republics, leaving those few polities claiming to be emirates almost as quaint as the Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms of the Himalayas, if better endowed with money. Recent wars have been waged "out of respect for human rights" (as Vaclav Havel justified NATO'S attacks on Yugoslavia) and to liberate women from oppression (as Bush partially justified US attacks on Afghanistan). Protection of minorities is seen as so important that access to international organizations or to International Monetary Fund aid may be denied to countries that do not sufficiently safeguard human rights.

Yet, events since the famous victory provide opportunities to confront basic issues of democracy, sovereignty, and political accountability as well as the relationships of governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to these issues. Furthermore, this new perspective allows a re-evaluation of perceptions of social events in which these issues have been confronted with some less than pleasant realities, such as in post-socialist Europe, for example.

This article casts a skeptical eye on some of the common assumptions underlying these issues and questions what usually goes without saying because it is taken as self-evident. The basic arguments are that, first, far from weakening under globalization, major states are growing stronger. Second, NGOs tend to support strong states rather than "civil society" and also help officials avoid accountability for their actions. Furthermore, international insistence on multiculturalism may obstruct the development of democracy in weak states in the name of human rights, thus denying many peoples the right to live under governments that derive their power from the consent of the governed. Examples are drawn from the Balkans, useful because most US citizens regard interventions there as in the pursuit of democratic ideals. Yet arrogations of power are easiest when the cause is said to be justice.

Privatized States, Statified NGOs

In 1996, a dissident judge in Serbia argued that his country had suffered the worst possible transition from state socialism: the privatization of the state and the statification of the economy. He was certainly right for Serbia, and also for much of the rest of Eastern Europe. As Janine Wedel has shown in her work Collision and Collusion: The Strange Case of Western Aid to Eastern Europe, 1989-98, the "privatization" of much of Russia and Eastem Europe often meant the expropriation of massive resources by local state officials, sometimes supported by Western government-sponsored "advisors." Note that this was not a matter of globalization or the weakening of the state; the existence of state structures was the main precondition for the expropriation through privatization.

At the same time that many states have been privatized in Eastern Europe, some traditionally non- or even anti-state actors in the United States and Western Europe have been co-opted by, or have themselves co-opted, other states--or both in some cases. This phenomenon is most apparent in the realm of human rights. Organizations founded to criticize states' use of force have become proponents of the massive application of force by stronger states against weaker ones, since that is what "humanitarian intervention" means, at least when coupled with the realist limitation that it should be done "where we can do it," meaning without suffering losses or risking retaliation. Some human rights organizations are both explicit and triumphant about their change of role from persuasion to prosecution. A 2000 Human Rights Watch (HRW) World Report explicitly describes this shift in strategy: "Until now . …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Dictatorships of Virtue? States, NGOs, and the Imposition of Democratic Values. (Democracy)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.