Which comes first democracy or rule of law?

My point is that respect for the rule of law does not necessarily result from free and open elections.  Respect for the role played by the rule of law in the general welfare may need to exist before democratic institutions can establish strong foundations.

Daron Acemoglu argues that “if you wish to fix institutions, you have to fix governments” and I’m not sure that I agree that governments are the starting point for reform.  On the other hand, his view that we should push non-democratic regimes to be more transparent and democratic and encourage foreign citizens to use technological tools to organize themselves can be supported on first principles without an appeal to economic growth.

In short, only after the value of the rule of law in common affairs was well established were democracies able to flourish in Europe.  Thus, if the goal is to “fix institutions”, it is possible that supporting economic growth in non-democratic regimes by pursuing goals like those of Paul Romer’s charter cities may be more effective than pushing democracy on countries that lack the economic foundations to maintain their democracies.

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