The other day, Michael Anissimov at More Right wrote about adaptive advantages to authoritarian government:
In a certain sense, democracies are like cattle; slow, pondering, systematic, gregarious, perpetually hungry, and with a short attention span. They are adaptive in circumstances where there is an all-powerful titanic nuclear hegemon (the United States) that subsidizes and protects their sheltered existence. In an unstable multipolar world, however (which is where we are headed), it is not necessarily the most adaptive social or governmental strategy.
We can see this in the way that Middle East “democracies” have the unfortunate habit of evolving into authoritarian states. Middle East states don’t have much of a choice of being a democracy or authoritarian state so much as they have a choice of being a secular authoritarian state or an Islamic authoritarian state. This is because authoritarianism is an adaptive solution for states in that part of the world with that particular geopolitical ecology.
As the ideological and cultural unity of the West fades away in favor of multiculturalism and relativism, the adaptive utility of authoritarian governments here is likely to rise. The question is, will this be something forced on us by abrupt, bloody events, or something we deliberately choose and engineer in advance? I prefer the latter over the former.
Democracies have short attention-spans in part because of electoral turnover. The other reason is that they are beholden to the shifting consensus of the electorate. As the electorate changes its composition and opinions continually, the character of the state must also change substantially with it.
When you add in substantial immigration, this further adds to the instability, shifting attention, and continually changing priorities of the democratic state. To further add to the difficulty, foreign states must change their diplomatic approaches as each democracy changes based on its changing electorate.
As we see with the United States’ role in foreign policy, this also encourages the dominant power to meddle frequently in elections, both directly and indirectly, managing public opinion and values even in countries that it has no formal sovereignty over, even despite international treaties forbidding the practice.
Rather than a system of stable states, with stable rulers, stable characters, and stable peoples, we have a jumble of states that are continually shifting in an unpredictable way.