Democracy requires three basic things:
- A defined geo-political territory,
- A set of legitimate laws that everyone must follow (and a strong enough police power to enforce them),
- Democratically enforced accountability for the provision of consistent high-quality governmental services to meet the needs of the entire electorate.
When economic prosperity fails, so does the continued provision of these services and the legitimate needs of the entire electorate are no longer met. This leads to a perceived weakening of democracy as a fruitful form of government and into the vacuum comes something else.
Consider the interwar years: by 1920, the number of world democracies had doubled in the aftermath of the First World War – yet soon enough – in the wake of the Great Depression – like dominoes, they began to fall: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, and Japan.
In troubled times, Fascism appears more capable of providing basic reassurance than does Democracy and let’s face it, people do need reassurance. Problems are inevitable, however, when those people fail to fully appreciate the price that they will pay for that reassurance.