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The forbidden attraction of the enlightened despot
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political Science.
2013 (English)In: Statsvetenskaplig Tidskrift, ISSN 0039-0747, Vol. 115, no 4, p. 403-426Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In the political rhetoric of the West democracy is a prominent goal in development policies. However many of the countries receiving most development aid are far from democratic. We ask here why it is the case that the West time and again supports and underpins autocratic leaders and regimes in the developing world. One hypothesis is that there is a strong mechanism of wishful thinking at work. Western leaders seem to look for what they judge to be “enlightened” leaders in third world countries, perhaps having the “enlightened despots” of their own history in mind, having produced, if not democracy, at least order and development. The focus in the mainstream development discourse – such as the Millennium Goals – on “output” as a measure of development, with no mention of gains in democracy and human rights, is another possible explanation. Examining views expressed by Western leaders and academics on two autocratic leaders, Paul Kagame of Rwanda and the late Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia, it is shown that they indeed are projected as “enlightened”, and that their democratic deficit is mostly excused, when they are perceived to deliver on other developmental goals.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Lund, 2013. Vol. 115, no 4, p. 403-426
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalisation Studies)
Research subject
Social Sciences, Political Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-31625OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-31625DiVA, id: diva2:690666
Available from: 2014-01-24 Created: 2014-01-24 Last updated: 2018-01-11Bibliographically approved

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Uddhammar, Emil

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Citation style
  • apa
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  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf