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Why does the Western world think democracy is a magical, catch all solution?

There seems to be this sort of prevalent attitude in the Western world that democracy is something of a catch all solution for all the world's political problems.

Now, lets just get this out of the way. This isn't some pro-autocracy/democracy is bad argument, I believe the system has many benefits. I'm not for one second disputing all the good its done in many countries. What I am claiming, is that there are situations where its not the right answer.

Take for example the recent revolution and election in Egypt. Dictator toppled, Muslim Brotherhood elected democratically, uses democratic tools to get rid of democracy, toppled by military. If it wasn't for the military, chances are Egypt would have been going down the road to being a theocracy right now.
The same happens whenever a country with a long standing tradition of politically active religious groups with a wide voting base. Any democratic election will lead to democracy being canceled in short order.

While I dislike using it as an example, it also can't be ignored that Hitler originally rose to power democratically. The same is true for many other dictators, of both religious and secular leanings. That's what happens when a democratic tradition simply isn't there.

Any transition to democracy, needs to be done carefully, and with the bare minimum force of arms. Its not something that can be rammed down people's throats, and there are simply situations where the political climate doesn't allow it work.

I'm trying to get some insight as to why the western world doesn't see that?


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  • Sep 6 2013: Part of it is a hold over from the Cold War. Two major powers emerged one labeling itself as democratic and the other as communist. The veracity of these labels is questionable, but they divided up the world into who allied with which power but part of this was labeling oneself democratic or communist and embracing aspects of this label. This period of history is largely over but these ideas still hold power.

    The other part is the notion of where does government draw legitimacy. For example, ancient kings claimed they had a divine right to rule and were raised above normal men. Democracy is in some ways a reaction to this. It says that we are all essential equal and the only valid place to draw legitimacy to rule is from the people who will be ruled. So every non-democratic country is an illegitimate use of power to oppress the people by basic definition. The only stable government is one that derives the right to rule from legitimate means and not by force.

    So while I see your point that democracies can self-destruct and fail, the chief way to institute a democracy is by instituting a democracy to teach the people, "hey, you are what makes a government legitimate". If you voted you added legitimacy to the government. If not, is a non-democratic government really legitimate?

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