Magazine article The American Conservative

Freedom Fighters

Magazine article The American Conservative

Freedom Fighters

Article excerpt

Last month the venerable think tank Freedom House put out its annual report, quantifying that freedom around the world is indeed on the march. Unfortunately, it is heading in the wrong direction. The specifics are in the news most days: slippage away from democracy in Russia and many of the former Soviet Asian regions, increased repression in Egypt, civil war in the Palestinian territories, crackdown in Pakistan, chaos in Kenya.

There is no question that democracy is a better political system than others, that civil liberties are a vital social achievement. But there is an extensive historical and political-science literature focused on why different human societies are the way they are, why political freedom has been a relatively small part of mankind's historical experience, what the sociological preconditions for democracy are, how the superficial trappings of democracy can exist without genuine political freedom. Perhaps the main global trend is indeed toward greater freedom, rule of law, civil liberties, and democracy. …

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