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The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad (Revised Edition) Paperback – October 17, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 301 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Revised Edition edition (October 17, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393331520
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393331523
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (174 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,598 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Democracy is not inherently good, Zakaria (From Wealth to Power) tells us in his thought-provoking and timely second book. It works in some situations and not others, and needs strong limits to function properly. The editor of Newsweek International and former managing editor of Foreign Affairs takes us on a tour of democracy's deficiencies, beginning with the reminder that in 1933 Germans elected the Nazis. While most Western governments are both democratic and liberal-i.e., characterized by the rule of law, a separation of powers, and the protection of basic rights-the two don't necessarily go hand in hand. Zakaria praises countries like Singapore, Chile and Mexico for liberalizing their economies first and then their political systems, and compares them to other Third World countries "that proclaimed themselves democracies immediately after their independence, while they were poor and unstable, [but] became dictatorships within a decade." But Zakaria contends that something has also gone wrong with democracy in America, which has descended into "a simple-minded populism that values popularity and openness." The solution, Zakaria says, is more appointed bodies, like the World Trade Organization and the U.S. Supreme Court, which are effective precisely because they are insulated from political pressures. Zakaria provides a much-needed intellectual framework for many current foreign policy dilemmas, arguing that the United States should support a liberalizing dictator like Pakistan's Pervez Musharraf, be wary of an elected "thug" like Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and take care to remake Afghanistan and Iraq into societies that are not merely democratic but free.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

Newsweek International's editor exposes the down side of democracy, i.e., the assumption that what's popular is right.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Fareed Zakaria is the editor of Newsweek International and writes a weekly column on international affairs and hosts "Fareed Zakaria GPS" for CNN. He the author of the New York Times bestsellers "The Future of Freedom" and "The Post-American World." Zakaria lives in New York City.

Customer Reviews

This is a very interesting book.
Gaetan Lion
Without these organizations and practices, a country will spiral into disaster even though it may be considered a democracy because the country will be illiberal.
Bhavin Trivedi
The book is excellent reading for anyone willing to consider that freedom and democracy are not really the same thing.
J. Bishoff

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

154 of 166 people found the following review helpful By "schrockn" on April 13, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I only became of Dr. Zakaria recently, when I read a piece he wrote called "The Arrogant Empire," a incisive piece on the hubristic and messianic foreign policy of the Bush Administration. After a little research I quickly discovered that Dr. Zakaria is some kind of foreign-policy wunderkind, who became an editor of the presitigious magazine Foreign Affairs at the age of twenty-eight. This book clearly demonstrates that his precipitious climb to the top of the intelletual heap of America is certainly well-deserved.
This book is a remarkable guide to the major challenges, both foreign and domestic, that face America in the twenty-first century. The thesis of this book is essentially that too much democratization and decentralization, two notions that are often hailed as universally good, can be disasterous. This argument is not new, as Dr. Zakaria readily admits. What is new is the contextualization of these problems to the modern world.
The author brilliantly analyzes both foreign and domestic policy through the prism of what he calls "Illiberal Democracy." The analysis is both lucid and cogent, and it is remarkable how much insight exists on every page. Dr. Zakaria is a polymath with prodigious analytical ability, and, as a result, both knowledge and sagacity ooze off the page.
The book ranges from topic to topic, yet still remains coherent. Dr. Zakaria ranges from topics such as Islamic Fundamentalism, to the decline of Congressional presitige on the national political stage, to the virtual disintigration of good governence in the state of California. Despite his reputation as a foreign policy maven, his analysis of domestic affairs is also brilliant:
"The deregulation of democracy has gone too far ...
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123 of 134 people found the following review helpful By Gautner on April 4, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
America has been fortunate in the last fifty years to have had brilliant authors plotting both the possible and plausible courses of her foreign policy. There are few seminal works though - ones that somehow palpably alter the structures within which everything we consider must necessarily be examined. After Sir Winston's Churchill's warnings of an Iron Curtain descending across Europe, we were given the equally prophetic George F. Kennan who wrote his famous article in Foreign Affairs. As the decades clicked by and liberal democracy seemed to progress unchecked, Francis Fukuyama presented his "The End of History and the Last Man." Another decade sped by, and as globalization and interdependence became the focus for international theory academics, pundits, and practitioners alike, Samuel P. Huntington alerted the world to another problem in his "The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order" (again first printed in Foreign Affairs). More recently we've been given Robert Kagan's "Of Paradise and Power," which, while it certainly puts the trans-Atlantic relationship in perspective for us, the world remains a bit hazy. This is especially true if one considers that neither Huntington nor Fukuyama has been unequivocally disproved; and hence, the world seems all the more complex.
Hence, Fareed Zakaria arrives on the doorstep of our minds, and like those before him, offers his book as a substitute for a crystal ball. Indeed, Dr. Zakaria has received favorable reviews by Huntington, which accurately note that this is a study that hasn't been articulated since Aristotle and Tocqueville. The major premise is this: unregulated democracy undermines liberty and the rule of law. There are a plethora of parallels to be drawn from this domestically (e.g.
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141 of 156 people found the following review helpful By a reader on April 7, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Along with Tom Friedman, Zakaria is one of the country's top foreign affairs columnists. Unlike Friedman's "Longitudes and Attitudes," however, this book isn't just a rehash of old columns. It's a fascinating look at the past, present, and future of democracy, here in the States and all over the world. The book is essential reading, for example, for anybody interested in the Bush administration's attempt to "democratize" Iraq. Basically, Zakaria argues that although we take the concept of "liberal democracy" for granted, in fact the two components of it have not always gone together. "Constitutional liberalism" is responsible for a lot of the good things we like (rule of law, protection of human rights, etc.), but it hasn't always been associated with democracy. Democracy, meanwhile--rule by a popular majority--isn't always or necessarily connnected to liberalism. With these ideas in mind, the author covers an incredible amount of ground, both historically and geographically. And he writes amazingly well, so every page is not just filled with interesting information, but is also lively and fun. This is that rare kind of "big" book, in other words, that people not only talk about, but enjoy reading. If you liked Fukuyama, Huntington, Bernard Lewis, and stuff like that, you'll just love Zakaria...
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By jmk444 on April 14, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Fareed Zakaria dismantles the view that democracy, in and of itself, is a cure-all for mankind's social ills. In fact, he reserves some high praise for countries like Chile and Singapore, which liberalized their economies first and their political systems later.
Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman worked closely with Chile in liberalizing their economy in the seventies and eighties and Friedman claimed the experience changed his mind about the priority of political freedom in relation to economic liberty, saying he came away realizing that economic freedom was the foundation of all other liberties.
Zakaria is not hesitant to suggest that democracy isn't applicable to every culture, an idea that is highly controversial within the borders of the United States, but that's part of what makes this book so compelling, especially for those interested in the possible dynamics involved in our current attempt to "democratize" Iraq.
Even more controversial is Fareed Zakaria's critique of the current "descent of democracy" in America. In Zakaria's view, American democracy has morphed into "a simple-minded populism" that too often values style over substance.
A lot of readers approach such public policy analyses with trepidation, but Fareed Zakaria is incredibly readable! He makes what so many people regard as "policy wonk stuff," accessible to laymen and professionals alike.
The "The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad" is not just a riveting read, it's a book that couldn't be more timely.
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