A photo of Tim, from a costume party
I’m reading this new Kaplan book, so forgive me if the blog reads like a disjointed review. He speaks very highly of the Omani sultan (dictator in its non pejorative sense). However, he asks, “what happens if – or when – power shifts to a less vigorous or enlightened one? Then such extreme centralization can signal disaster… Nondemocratic countries like Oman often evince efficiency when things are going well, but when problems arise in such systems the population, especially if it is young, can become quite restive.” That is, democracy is not always better in the short run. To serve specific ends, despots are often in order. To quote:
“What would America’s position in the Middle East be without the likes of the monarchs of Oman, Jordan, and Morocco, not to mention other nondemocratic rulers who nonetheless fight anti-Western extremists?
Americans believe, because of their own generally happy history, in a “unity of goodness”, that all good things flow from the same source, such as democracy, economic development, or social reform. But Oman shows that something Americans believe is a bad thing – absolute monarchy – can produce good results.”
But democracy – or some non sex based system – is probably better in the long-run. Few dictators seem to plan on ever dying, but they do. Then what? History is full of one or two generation dynasties descending into madness, debauchery or incompetence, roiling whole nations in turmoil. At some point, just as people stopped hunter-gathering daily meals and farming in seasons, humans decided that some institutional order was in order.