Saturday, October 19, 2013

To the Editor:

As is always the case with work by Francis Fukuyama, his essay "Democracy and the Quality of the State," sparkles with creative intellect.  However, his primary conclusion is not supported by his evidence.

The evidence shows that if a nation develops a democracy before it develops a bureaucratic state, such a state can be developed only with difficulty.  The evidence also shows that if a nation develops a bureaucratic state before it develops a true democracy, such a democracy can be developed only with difficulty.  Thus, Germany and Japan, with long traditions of bureaucracy, currently are democratic only because such form of government was forcibly imposed on them by the United States and its allies after humanity's most cataclysmic war.  However, while Fukuyama stresses the problems of premature democratization, he arbitrarily considers the problems of premature bureaucratization to be "a different question."

Moreover, from the long perspective of history, democracy and bureaucracy developed in the United States relatively simultaneously-with the era surrounding the Civil War marking the beginning of both.  Fukuyama's attempt to portray Jacksonian Democracy as a form of clientism is not convincing, because, among other reasons, Andrew Jackson was the only president in U.S. history to completely pay off the federal debt.

Richard Joffe, PhD, Harvard 1984, "History of American Civilization"

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