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R.J. Rummel on A Forward Strategy Of Freedom
Democratic Peace | October 26, 2007 | R.J. Rummel

Posted on 11/01/2007 9:53:59 AM PDT by Tolik

On A Forward Strategy Of Freedom

Quote of our time:

Now, to support democratic aspirations, we must be serious about the universal appeal of certain basic rights. When given a truly free choice, human beings will choose liberty over oppression; the right to own property over random search and seizure. Human beings will choose the natural right to life over the constant fear of death. And human beings will choose to be ruled by the consent of the governed, not by the coercion of the state; by the rule of law, not the whim of rulers. These principles should be the source of justice in every society and the basis for peace between all states.

To support democratic aspirations, we must also promote democratic institutions that function transparently and accountably. We must help all young democracies to protect minority rights, to enforce the rule of law, and to build the foundations of good governance, from a thriving economy and a vibrant civil society, to a free media and opportunities for learning and for health for their people.

To support the democratic aspirations, we must recognize that liberty still faces opponents in our world. Some will never support the free choices of their citizens because they stand to lose arbitrary powers and unjust privileges. Others know that the ideology of hatred they espouse can only thrive in a political culture of oppression and poverty and hopelessness. In a world where evil is still very real, democratic principles must be backed with power in all its forms: political, and economic, and cultural, and moral, and yes, sometimes, military. Any champion of democracy who promotes principle without power can make no real difference in the lives of oppressed people.

There are those who falsely characterize the support of democracy as "exporting" democracy, as if democracy were somehow a product that only America manufactures. These critics say that we are arrogantly imposing our principles on an unwilling people. But it is the very height of arrogance to believe that political liberty and democratic aspirations and freedom of speech and rights for women somehow belong only to us. All people deserve these rights and they choose them freely. It is not liberty and democracy that must be imposed. It is tyranny and silence that are forced upon people at gunpoint.

--Secretary Condoleezza Rice, Princeton University, September 30, 2005 -

I could not have said it better, nor differently.

[A reader] asked some interesting questions in commenting on "On A Forward Strategy Of Freedom"

 In answering him, I will apply my definition of democracy (my full treatment is here:

Note that there is a great deal of variation in the definition and application of "democracy" among those doing research on the democratic peace. One of the strengths of this theory is that even when defining democracy differently they consistently find that democracies do not (or very rarely) make war on each other, and they have the least internal and foreign violence.

Now, to answer his questions:

1. When do countries became democracies (from partial to universal suffrage)?

They become democracies when they have an extensive non-class suffrage, a secret ballot, and regularly scheduled and competitive elections (nominees may select themselves, or be selected by an out of power group). However, one election a democracy does not make. It requires a second open and competitive election to establish the existence of a democracy. Otherwise, one can have a one election one-time one party or person rule. Thus, the democratic election of Hamas in the Palestinian Authority does yet make it a democracy.

Those countries having more than one democratic election are called electoral or procedural democracies. They become liberal democracies when they also observe human rights--the freedoms of speech, religion, association, and the rule of law. Thus, Turkey is an electoral democracy, but not a liberal one since such freedoms are compromised, if not restricted.

2. When did the U.S. become a democracy?.

In the beginning, slaves and women could not vote, and some states had property requirements to vote (soon removed), but the franchise was otherwise extended to all regardless of wealth or poverty or region. In this sense, the franchise was sufficiently extended to call the new country a democracy.

The new sovereign nation's first election in 1789 elected George Washington as President, instead of John Adams. The second democratic election in 1792 elected Washington again over Adams. Both elections were democratic and competitive, and therefore technically, the country became a democracy in 1792.

3. What was the state of democracy then?

There were no liberal democracies then. France 1790-1795 was an electoral democracy, as were some Swiss Cantons. So, in 1792 there were three electoral democracies.

4. When the US achieved universal suffrage, what was the state of universal suffrage in the world?

The U.S. achieved universal suffrage when Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution became law in 1920. At that time, there were 17 electoral democracies with a universal or near universal franchise, if one includes Ireland and Czechoslovakia, which just turned democratic in 1920. Of them, 12 were liberal democracies.

5. Can you recommend a publication about the history of democracy?

I suggest John Dunn's Democracy: A History. It is nicely philosophical while being historically adept, even though ignorant of the democratic peace. For an historical treatment of the democratic peace, Spencer Weart's Never At War is unequalled.

The Fallacy Of Hitler's Election

For those who in arguing against the democratic peace continue to assert the fallacy that Hitler was elected Chancellor in 1933, see the blog here. It quotes the headline from the Boston Evening Globe (Jan. 30, 1933) "ADOLPH HITLER APPOINTED CHANCELLOR OF GERMANY."

Appointed! Not elected. He lost badly in the two national elections in which he ran. But, the above news article says, "… in granting him the ambition of his political lifetime, President von Hindenberg surrounded him with a Cabinet of Conservatives." He and other top leaders believed Hitler then could be controlled.

He finessed them when his National Socialist (NAZI) Party subsequently won through violence and intimidation a near majority in the Reichstadt, and then through more threats and violence got the Reichstadt to vote Hitler the right to rule by decree. The rest is history, to coin a phrase.

If you never heard about R.J. Rummel and his main thesis that "Democracy is a method of nonviolence: democracies do not make war on each other, do not murder their own citizens, have minimal internal and foreign violence, and have no famines, are the least corrupt, and an engine of development and wealth. In short, democracy is a solution to war, genocide and mass murder, and human insecurity" - not a perfection, of course, but the best we've got.

Democratic Peace - Freedom's Peace Blog

The Democratic Peace

Democratic Peace Q&A

Freedom's Principles

Democratic Peace Bibliography

It is true that democratic freedom is an engine of national and individual wealth and prosperity. Hardly known, however, is that freedom also saves millions of lives from famine, disease, war, collective violence, and democide (genocide and mass murder). That is, the more freedom, the greater the human security and the less the violence. Conversely, the more power governments have, the more human insecurity and violence. In short: to our realization that power impoverishes we must also add that power kills.

Through theoretical analysis, historical case studies, empirical data, and quantitative analyses, this web site shows that:

  • Freedom is a basic human right recognized by the United Nations and international treaties, and is the heart of social justice.
  • Freedom is an engine of economic and human development, and scientific and technological advancement.
  • Freedom ameliorates the problem of mass poverty.
  • Free people do not suffer from and never have had famines, and by theory, should not. Freedom is therefore a solution to hunger and famine.
  • Free people have the least internal violence, turmoil, and political instability.
  • Free people have virtually no government genocide and mass murder, and for good theoretical reasons. Freedom is therefore a solution to genocide and mass murder; the only practical means of making sure that "Never again!"
  • Free people do not make war on each other, and the greater the freedom within two nations, the less violence between them.
  • Freedom is a method of nonviolence--the most peaceful nations are those whose people are free.
The purpose of this web site, then, is to make as widely available as possible the theories, work, results, and data that empirically and historically, quantitatively and qualitatively, support these conclusions about freedom. This is to invite their use, replication, and critical evaluation, and thereby to advance our knowledge of and confidence in freedom--in liberal democracy. It is to foster freedom.



TOPICS: Editorial; Philosophy; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: democracy; democraticpeace; freedom; rjrummel

1 posted on 11/01/2007 9:54:01 AM PDT by Tolik
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To: Lando Lincoln; neverdem; quidnunc; .cnI redruM; Valin; King Prout; SJackson; dennisw; ...

Nailed It!

This ping list is not author-specific for articles I'd like to share. Some for the perfect moral clarity, some for provocative thoughts; or simply interesting articles I'd hate to miss myself. (I don't have to agree with the author all 100% to feel the need to share an article.) I will try not to abuse the ping list and not to annoy you too much, but on some days there is more of the good stuff that is worthy of attention. You can see the list of articles I pinged to lately  on  my page.
You are welcome in or out, just freepmail me (and note which PING list you are talking about). Besides this one, I keep 2 separate PING lists for my favorite authors Victor Davis Hanson and Orson Scott Card.  

2 posted on 11/01/2007 9:54:57 AM PDT by Tolik
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To: Tolik

Rummel rocks!

3 posted on 11/01/2007 9:55:36 AM PDT by Names Ash Housewares
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To: Tolik
Mr. Rummel (I believe it's Professor Rummel) wrote the book "Death by Government". It documents in agonizing detail the murder of 300 million souls by governments over the course of history, with the vast majority of those murders being committed in the last century by "Progressive" (heard that term before?) governments.

It's quoted frequently on DU and at DailyKos as an object lesson on the evils of socialism. Do I need the /sarc tag here?

4 posted on 11/01/2007 11:21:49 AM PDT by Hardastarboard ( is an internet hate site.)
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To: Tolik
And human beings will choose to be ruled by the consent of the governed, not by the coercion of the state; by the rule of law, not the whim of rulers.

Not always. There are those perfectly comfortable in their chains as long as they may see their neighbors in them as well.

That aside, I'd suggest that "suffrage" and "democracy" are two entirely separate issues. In Athens, for example, democracy was nearly complete and suffrage extremely limited - if you weren't an armor-owning male you didn't vote. "Universal" suffrage conforms to certain Enlightenment ideals concerning the universality of human rights but the notion that suffrage deserves the same status as life, liberty, and property is still quite debatable.

Nevertheless, suffrage does allow the society conferring it to conform to certain commonly-held standards of justice, specifically that if one is taxed one ought to have a share in directing how that money is spent. So much is fairly easy. Less easy is the notion that if one is subject to the law one ought to have a share in making it. That sounds fine but in application proves problematic - a child, for example, must obey laws he or she has no real voice in making.

The upshot is that the universality of suffrage provides only an indirect measure of how "democratic" a society actually is. IMHO, of course.

5 posted on 11/01/2007 11:55:21 AM PDT by Billthedrill
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To: Hardastarboard
Professor Rummel also coined the phrased 'democide'.


6 posted on 11/01/2007 4:00:14 PM PDT by Lurker ( Comparing moderate islam to extremist islam is like comparing smallpox to ebola.)
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To: Lurker

Which is what, as you very well know, L Man, the Dems will do to us if they ever get absolute power.

7 posted on 11/02/2007 3:53:53 AM PDT by Hardastarboard ( is an internet hate site.)
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