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The Paradox of “Warlord” Democracy: A Theoretical Investigation

  • WANTCHEKON LEONARD (a1)
Abstract

Political theorists from Machiavelli to Huntington have denied the possibility of popular government arising out of the chaos of civil war, instead prescribing an intermediate stage of one-man rule by a Prince, Leviathan, or a military dictator. Based on recent empirical evidence of post-civil war democratization in El Salvador, Mozambique, and elsewhere, I show that democracy can arise directly from anarchy. Predatory warring factions choose the citizenry and democratic procedures over a Leviathan when (1) their economic interests depend on productive investment by the citizens, (2) citizens' political preferences ensure that power allocation will be less biased under democracy than under a Leviathan, and (3) there is an external agency (e.g., the United Nations) that mediates and supervises joint disarmament and state-building. Ultimately, I discuss the implications of this argument for the basic intuitions of classical political theory and contemporary social theory regarding democratization and authoritarianism.

Copyright
Corresponding author
Associate Professor, Department of Politics and Economics, New York University, 726 Broadway, New York, NY 10003-1567 (leonard.wantchekon@nyu.edu).
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American Political Science Review
  • ISSN: 0003-0554
  • EISSN: 1537-5943
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