The Rise of Universal Liberal Values? Essay

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The Rise of Universal Liberal Values?

Democracy is one thing, and constitutional liberalism quite another. In the inexorable march of modernity, Fareed Zakaria argues in The Rise of Illiberal Democracy, the message of constitutional liberalism has gotten lost in the clamor for democracy. This is problematic because, without a strong foundation of pluralism and constitutional liberalism, the apparatus of democracy can easily be hijacked by forces that hardly espouse the liberal values that have, in the Western mind, become transparently conflated with democracy. The fact that liberal constitutional democracy has become the unmarked case for Western pundits serves and most likely will continue to serve, Zakaria points out, as a
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It is just this arrangement that Zakaria finds problematic. There is a fundamental tension between democracy and constitutional liberalism: democracy is about the accumulation of power, while constitutional liberalism takes up the limits to that accumulated power (140). Democracy without constitutional liberalism lacks the protections for the people that make it an agreeable form of government by Western standards. It is precisely this type of government which Zakaria sees gaining ground around the world, in such politically problem-plagued places as Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and the former USSR (134,138). Where there is evidence that constitutional liberalism may eventually provide for stable democracy as well, there is no indication that the reverse is true (138). Countries with emergent illiberal democracies elect leaders that then proceed to ignore the rights of the people and the governmental framework within which they are supposed to operate, in effect consolidating and absconding with the power given them by the people (138), clearly not an ideal situation.

Zakaria finds fault with the society of states for tolerating this behavior. He correctly points out that democracy has become "part of the fashionable attire of modernity" (153). These
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