The Islamist Bogeyman
THE SOURCE: “Missing the Third Wave: Islam, Institutions, and Democracy in the Middle East” by Ellen Lust, in Studies in Comparative International Development , June 2011.
Argentina, Portugal, the Soviet Union: All turned democratic during what the political scientist Samuel Huntington famously called the “Third Wave” of democratization, a phenomenon of the 1970s, ’80s, and early ’90s. The authoritarian regimes of the Middle East and North Africa, however, were curiously resistant, and scholars have long tried to figure out why.
One group blames the region’s oil riches, noting the negative correlation between resource wealth and democracy. Another says that the absence of civic life and the strength of tribal and family-based networks make the region more disposed toward authoritarianism. For still others, the culprit is Islam, with its mixing of religion and governance.
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