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5 December 2013
“There is no connection between democracy and development.”
Observation by Meles Zenawi (1955-2012), Prime Minister of Ethiopia from 1995 to 2012. Ethiopia is in the news today because new research shows that, after a decade of spectacular economic growth, the country is spawning millionaires at a faster rate than any other country in Africa.
However, the benefits of this growth are unevenly distributed, it hardly needs saying, with the majority of the country’s population of 87 million still struggling to make ends meet. Human rights group regularly slam the government as being authoritarian and there is only one opposition member of parliament. Amnesty International has just issued an appeal for international solidarity with Ethiopian journalist Eskinder Nega, who is serving an 18-year sentence in Kaliti jail, an Ethiopian gulag, for championing freedom of speech.
So the above remark by Meles Zenawi looks well-founded.
However, it is hardly a surprise. The myth that economic development brings democracy in its wake has long been exploded.
Take Chile, for example, where the economic upswing that followed the 1973 putsch by General Augusto Pinochet (1915-2006) was accompanied by the brutal repression of his opponents.
And what about the locomotive of today’s global economy?
China has experienced stellar economic growth for the past three decades. It is no less a dictatorship for that.
You might perhaps care to view some of our earlier posts. For instance:
1. Why? or How? That is the question (3 Jan 2012)
2. Partitocracy v. Democracy (20 July 2012)
3. The shoddiest possible goods at the highest possible prices (2 Feb 2012)
4. Capitalism in practice (4 July 2012)
5.Ladder (21 June 2012)
6. A tale of two cities (1) (6 June 2012)
7. A tale of two cities (2) (7 June 2012)
8. Where’s the beef? Ontology and tinned meat (31 Jan 2012)
Every so often we shall change this sample of previously published posts.