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The Third Wave by Samuel Huntington - Book Report/Review Example

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Samuel Huntington analyzes in his well written and influential book The Third Wave, the period between 1974 and 1990 when nearly thirty five countries opted to become democracies. He refers to the general tendency of the period towards democracy as the "third wave'…
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The Third Wave by Samuel Huntington
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"The Third Wave by Samuel Huntington"

Download file to see previous pages Huntington quotes some of the theories that have been advanced as the cause of democratization. Among them, he quotes, "A high overall level of economic growth, a market economy, economic development and social modernization, a strong middle class, high levels of literacy and education, Protestantism, low levels of civil violence, traditions of toleration and compromise," and having experience of being a part of the British empire (Huntington p. 57) He says that although in the past , tradition, devine right of the kings and social difference made authoritarian rule seem justified, in the present, with the literate and informed populations, these old traditional reasons for authoritarianism are no longer valid.(Huntington p.46)
Beginning with Portugal, the third wave soon encompassed such far flung countries as Brazil, Greece and many Asian and Latin American countries. Huntington defines the meaning of democratic method as "that institutional arrangement for arriving at political decisions in which individuals acquire power to decide by means of a competitive struggle for people's vote".(Huntington p. 6)
Examining the difference between order and anarchy, Huntington says "The distinction between order and anarchy is more fundamental than the distinction between democracy and dictatorship. Yet that distinction is crucial for several reasons." He goes on to give the reasons.
"1).Political democracy is closely associated w...
4) The future of democracy in the world is of special importance to Americans." (Huntington , p 28)
. Huntington says democratization involves "1)the end of the authoritarian regime, 2) the installation of a democratic regime, and 3) the consolidation of the democratic regime."(Huntington p.30) He discusses the different ways of consolidating the new democratic regimes of the third wave. He enumerates some conditions which favour the consolidation of the new democracies. According to him , an earlier experience of democratization of the country, even if it had failed, a high level of economic development of the country, a political environment favourable for democratization, early timing of the transition, and former experience of a peaceful transition are the conditions which favour the consolidation of the new democratic regimes. He says that non-democratic regimes have more chances of being replaced by other authoritarian regimes. The overthrowing of a dictatorship does not ensure installation of a democratic regime.
Another question Huntington tries to address is why thirty countries democratized during the third wave but a hundred other countries did not. Among the countries which did not overthrow their authoritarian regimes, the countries with one party systems are prominent. China and Vietnam belong to this category. Some countries which had powerful military regimes did not democratize. Burma and Indonesia are prominent among these countries. The third category of countries which did not democratize in the third wave had personal dictatorship. He cites Cuba and Iraq in this category. Huntington says, "The nature of the authoritarian regime consequently cannot explain why some regimes transited to ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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