the provision of the conditions of agency still entails ensuring minimal protection for life. Democracy is an uncomfortable political destination, for in its modern pluralist form, it sets us free; and with freedom comes anxiety and even agony. As our contributors have shown, the road to that uncomfortable destination—democratization—is often hard, long and uncertain. Is this preoccupation with freedom and its attendant anxieties only a luxury that prosperous societies can afford? Is it, indeed, a reflection of the hegemony of a particular ‘Western’ value system (Parekh 1992)? We think not. The history of the post-war world has shown us that poverty, corruption and economic inefficiency have too often flourished because societies had too little democracy, not because they had too much. For the impoverished of the Third World or of the former Marxist autocracies democratic government is not a luxury to be postponed until material comfort arrives; it is a pre-condition (but, sadly, not a guarantee) of economic progress. Our recent history has also shown that whatever existential agonies attend the exercise of democratic freedom they are as nothing to the more prosaic agonies imposed by the brutal alternatives to democratic government.