Capitalism, not democracy leads to peace?

capitalismpeace.JPGDon Boudreaux links to an interesting working paper by Columbia University political scientist Erik Gartzke; The Capitalist Peace.

The following is the conclusion of the paprer.

“This study offers evidence suggesting that capitalism, and not democracy, leads to peace. Additional research is needed to corroborate, extend, and even refute the findings reported here. One must be circumspect in questioning a body of evidence as large and as carefully constructed as that on the democratic peace. Still, economic liberals have long seen in free markets and prosperity the potential to discourage war. A century ago, the “conventional wisdom” looked more like this study and less like that of democratic peace researchers. While past arguments were clearly simplistic and overblown, there does now seem to be grounds for reconsidering liberal economic peace theory.

Critics can differ with my revision of classical arguments, or can plausibly challenge the assumptions on which my version of the capitalist peace is built. The statistical models I develop, and the findings that I present, can be altered, possibly in ways that again show that democracy matters. For now, I hope my claims are coherent, empirically plausible, and at the very least intellectually provocative. What is the “larger” relationship between development, capitalism, and democracy? It might be that democracy actually lies behind the apparent impact of capitalism on peace. Still, the world was not always made up of 50% democracies. Little attempt has been made to rule out the possibility that democracy and peace have common causes. A logical extension of this study is the exploration of determinants of political and economic liberalism, though resolving these more complex causal arrows would seem to require a far more profound set of conclusions about the world, ones that are still under construction in comparative politics, economics, and other fields.

The collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990’s gave new impetus to the exploration of domestic determinants of international relations. Today, political revolution from without is being attempted in the Middle East, in no small part because policy makers believe that peace can be had through regime change. If the imposition of liberal politics offers a domestic paradox, at the international level coercing democracy is an extreme, though arguably logical, extension of democratic peace theory. At the same time, allowing people freedom to choose implies that they will sometimes choose to disagree. A growing number of popularly elected leaders oppose the interests of established democracies. If democracy reflects the popular will, and many people in the world are unhappy, we should perhaps not expect that all new democracies will like the old ones.”


The Democracy Advantage: How Democracies Promote Prosperity and Peace (chapter 1 of the book)

R.J. Rummel's blogs; Freedom's Principles and Democratic Peace

The Declining Advantages of Democracy: A Combined Model of War Outcomes and Duration D. Scott Bennett, Allan C. Stam III

Economic Freedom of the World 2005 Annual Report; Chapter 2 - Economic Freedom and Peace

Book review of Alexis de Tocqueville: Prophet of Democracy in the Age of Revolution—A Biography By Hugh Brogan -Alexis de Tocqueville's strong views on demagoguery and citizenship are worth remembering, as is clear from a splendid new biography

Democracy pays off in the long run...

Economic and Political Freedom: Does One Lead to the Other?


Niall Ferguson: The War of the World

History of Altruism

Private Equity- the purest capitalism


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This page contains a single entry by Paul published on November 27, 2006 8:41 AM.

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