American Political Science Review, Vol. 98, Issue 1, 17-33.
The Paradox of "Warlord" Democracy: A Theoretical Investigation
Political theorists from Machiavelli to Huntington have denied the possibility of popular government arising out of the chaos of civil war, instead prescribing an intermediate stage of one- man rule by a Prince, Leviathan or a military dictator. Based on recent empirical evidence of post civil war democratization in El Salvador, Mozambique and elsewhere, I show that democracy can arise directly from anarchy. Predatory warring factions choose the citizenry and democratic procedures over a Leviathan when (1) their economic interests depend on productive investment by the citizens; (2) citizens' political preferences ensure that power allocation will be less biased under democracy than under a Leviathan; and (3) there is an external agency (e.g. the United Nations) that mediates and supervises joint disarmament and state-building. Ultimately, I discuss the implications of this argument for the basic intuitions of classical political theory and contemporary social theory regarding democratization and authoritarianism.