Joshua's Reviews > The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad

The Future of Freedom by Fareed Zakaria
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's review
Oct 23, 2007

liked it
bookshelves: americanforeignpolicy, america
Recommended for: small d democrats
Read in October, 2007

The book has an interesting idea at the beginning -- that "democracy" is more than just elections, and that forcing developing countries to have elections doesn't make them free if minority rights, freedom of speech etc., are not also protected. Free elections can take place only after a country has a functioning capitalist economy that will lead to these freedoms. Sort of like Karl Marx's idea, except that they have disagreements about what happens after that.

That's the first 100 pages or so. Unfortunately, instead of developing that idea fully, Zakaria spends the rest of the book exploring several other unsatisfying directions. The part about the Islamic world says nothing particularly new. By the end his argument -- that capitalism should be regulated less and democracy should be further restricted -- seems to be undermined by the examples he gives. He also credits his ideas that certain parts of government should be insulated from public opinion with being much more radical than they really are.

As an aside, I found it incredibly amusing that he said there are only a few serious newspapers and magazines left in the United States. He mentions only two magazines -- the New Yorker, and one other. Then he has a footnote saying that Newsweek, where he works, is also pretty good, as though he were embarrassed to say that out loud.

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