by Unglid Paul
Democratization is the process in which a political state becomes democratic; the function of the state exercises its power through the interest and representation of the people. In his book, Necropolitics, Achille Mbembe, observes that “deomcratic societies are pacified societies. This feature is held to be what distinguishes them from warrior societies” (Mbembe 16). Warrior societies are those run by authoritative regimes, who run on the overt threat of physical and individual violence. Democracy “attempts to control individual violence, to regulate it, reduce it, and even abolish its most spectacular and most abject manifestations by way of moral reprobation or legal sanctions” (Mbembe 16). It is through these new forms that democracy has found its praise because it emphasizes security and liberty. Because of this, it has become a universal argument that democracy is associated with freedom, social progress, modernity, and economic prosperity, which leads to the belief that the more democracy spreads, the better the world, because sovereign states work for the people, by the people.
Although, as Mbembe observes, the violence of democracies have simply been underestimated.
We tend to underestimate the violence and power that democracies can exercise on its citizens since it is not always overt, and can shape itself through history and time with social re-invention. We believe that the promotion of peace and liberty would be the end of individual violence but, as Mbembe argues, “the idea according to which life in a democracy is fundamentally peaceful, policed, and violence-free….does not stand up to the slightest scrutiny” because the violence that exist in “democratic societies have thus not banished brutality and physical violence,” but controls it in new forms--both legal and illegal. Thus, the support for democratization relies on the new forms it provides (Mbembe 16). But if pacifying overt individual violence is the main reason we promote the process of democratization, then we must face the facts that establishing a new liberal state does not always lead to consolidation; not all regimes that become democratic will function as one. This is because political violence has met social tolerance, and has found a way to imbed “forms of brutality into their culture, forms borne by a range of private institutions acting on top of the state” (Mbembe16).
“Democratization.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., www.britannica.com/topic/democratization.
Mbembe, Achille. Necropolitics. Duke University Press, 2019.