Fareed Zakaria on the Democratic Age
The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad (W.W. Norton: 2003), p. 13.
We live in a democratic age. Over the last century the world has been shaped by one trend above all others — the rise of democracy. In 1900 not a single country had what we would today consider a democracy: a government created by elections in which every adult citizen could vote. Today 119 do, compromising 62 percent of all countries in the world. What was once a peculiar practice of a handful of states around the North Atlantic has become the standard form of government for humankind. Monarchies are antique, fascism and communism utterly discredited. Even Islamic theocracy appeals only to a fanatical few. For the vast majority of the world, democracy is the sole surviving source of political legitimacy. Dictators such as Egypt's Hosni Mubarak and Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe go to great effort and expense to organize national elections — which, of course, they win handily. When the enemies of democracy mouth its rhetoric and ape its ritual, you know it has won the war.