Respond by thinking about the scientific information on global warming, ethics, politics, and environmental and social issues, and connect that experience and/or observation to one of the readings in particular.
In many non-democratic countries today, an abundance of wealth held by the ruling elites compared with poverty among the masses helps dictatorships resist democratisation. Often, the ruling elites spend large portions of the funds available to them on suppressing resistance, for example, “China reportedly employs two million censors to police the internet (Bennett and Naim 2015)”, while in Peru under Fujimori, “the regime paid more than $36 million a year to the main television channels to skew their coverage, and reportedly offered one channel a $19 million bribe (McMillan and Zoido 2004, pp.82-5)”. This has an opportunity cost; spending on investment and development of industries is foregone, often leaving the citizens of a non-democratic regime stuck in the early stages of Walter Rostow’s 5 Stages of Growth Theory, as shown in Figure 2, which can leave countries primary- or secondary-sector dependent and under-developed. As John Harriss describes, such “economic development [is] conducive to democratisation, partly because [it] strengthens the ‘moderate’ middle class”: a social group of people who are better educated and financially-placed to resist being ‘bought-off’ by a dictator. Emerging middle classes therefore diminish the extent to which non-democratic leaders can bribe their winning coalition with private goods, as the prospect of doing so becomes increasingly expensive as the size and wealth of the middle classes grow as a result of development, while the loyalty norm weakens too. We may also see a rise in post-materialist values as the population becomes wealthier, since “after a period of sharply rising economic and physical security, one would expect to find substantial differences [in] value priorities, […] for example, post-materialists […] are markedly more tolerant of homosexuality”. This could erode the extent to which the population would be morally willing to accept such bribes, regardless of magnitude. Subsequently, economic development might lead to the demise of such a regime. An additional economic explanation could be the ‘resource curse’, which suggests that countries “with abundant reserves of non-renewable mineral resources, such as Nigerian oil [and] DRC gold […] produce less diversified and less competitive economies, more income inequality [and] heightened danger of state capture and rent-seeking by ruling elites”. This is because the revenue streams in these countries are so concentrated to the elites and ruling classes, providing only menial low-paid labour to politically-insignificant lower classes. Moreover, since they are primary-product-export dependent, manufacturing industries develop overseas where economies of scales are subsequently built; diminishing the ability of local entrepreneurs to set up competing businesses and increase their wealth. The likelihood of a democratic transition is therefore low, since “democracy is expected to increase redistribution and reduce inequality”; something which is not in the interest of the elite ruling classes. Moreover, economic crises can have a large role to play in mobilising a population against the elites and causing the fall of a non-democratic government. Although the elites do have “the monopoly over large scale violence, […] states in crisis can […] slide […] into even more instability”, particularly if a popular revolution is supported by a large proportion of the population, or, as in the case of Sy>GET ANSWER