Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad

The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad

4.5 13
by Fareed Zakaria

See All Formats & Editions

“A work of tremendous originality and insight. ... Makes you see the world differently.”—Washington Post
Translated into twenty languages 'The Future of Freedom' is a modern classic that uses historical analysis to shed light on the present, examining how democracy has changed our politics, economies, and social relations. Prescient in


“A work of tremendous originality and insight. ... Makes you see the world differently.”—Washington Post
Translated into twenty languages 'The Future of Freedom' is a modern classic that uses historical analysis to shed light on the present, examining how democracy has changed our politics, economies, and social relations. Prescient in laying out the distinction between democracy and liberty, the book contains a new afterword on the United States's occupation of Iraq and a wide-ranging update of the book's themes.

Editorial Reviews

Peter Jennings
“A very thoughtful and intelligent book which is important for all Americans and those who would make American policy.”
Wall Street Journal
“Splendid.... Mr. Zakaria flies his colors bright and bold.”
“Intensely provocative and valuable.”
New York Times Book Review
“In his brave and ambitious book, Fareed Zakaria has updated Tocqueville.... The range of Zakaria's knowledge is impressive.... It deserves a wide readership.”
Chicago Tribune
“With a command of history and contemporary politics on a global scale, Zakaria persuasively shows that democracy by itself is not the answer to peace and prosperity.... Essential reading for anyone worried about the promotion and preservation of liberty.”
Henry Kissinger
“Fareed Zakaria, one of the most brilliant young writers, has produced a fascinating and thought-provoking book on the impact of Western constitutional principles on the global order.”
Arthur M. Schlesinger
“In this incisive book, Fareed Zakaria asks searching questions and offers provocative answers. 'The Future of Freedom' is an impressive contribution to our understanding of the crises of democracy that lie darkly ahead.”
Foreign Affairs
“Zakaria's provocative and wide-ranging book is eminently worth reading.... His book displays a kind of argumentation, grounded in history and political philosophy, of which there is precious little these days, particularly among opinion columnists.”

Product Details

Viking Penguin
Publication date:

Meet the Author

Fareed Zakaria has been called "the most influential foreign policy adviser of his generation" (Esquire). He is the Emmy-nominated host of CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS, contributing editor for The Atlantic, a columnist for the Washington Post, and the best-selling author of The Post-American World and The Future of Freedom. He lives in New York City.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Fareed Zakaria rightly forces his readers to think harder than they usually do about the interdependence existing between freedom and democracy. In the West, constitutional liberalism, with its checks and balances, gave birth to modern democracy. However, too much democracy can paradoxically lead to less freedom. Think for instance about humiliated Germany after WWI under the Weimar Republic and its subsequent mistreatment of different minorities for specious reasons under the Nazis. Similarly, more choices can result into less accountability. Think for instance about those who fail to plan financially for old age independent of a social security system increasingly at risk of insolvency due to shifting demographics. In the U.S. and overseas, right without responsibility is usually as immoral and unjust as responsibility without right. Unelected bodies such as the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Federal Reserve, or the World Trade Organization are a necessary evil. Expertise of their respective members is judged more important than their democratic legitimacy to hopefully pursue the better good of either a human community or a society of sovereign states. These unelected officials are not held accountable to the tyranny of instant gratification that too many elected officials perceive, rightly or wrongly, among a majority of their constituents. Because unelected bodies are a necessary evil to account for human weaknesses, they should remain the exception rather than the rule. Pleading for an increase in unelected bodies, though well-intentioned, could paradoxically lead to a weakening support of the best-in-class in their respective categories.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'Governments will have to make hard choices, resist the temptation to pander, and enact policies for the long run. The only possible way this can be achieved in a modern democracy is by insulating some decision-making from the intense pressures of interest groups, lobbies and political campaigns--that is to say, from the intense pressures of democracy.' In other words, Zakaria says that the best way to improve our democracy is to have less democracy. I violently disagree: We need more democracy, not less. Zakaria believes that freedom and democracy are in conflict. Today in the U.S., we have 'more democracy and less freedom.' Freedom, or as he calls it, constitutional liberalism, is about the limitation of power - via civil, economic and religious freedoms. Democrary, according to him, is about the accumulation and use of power. We have so much democracy that our democracy is 'illiberal.' 'Illiberalism' he says, produces bad results: 1 - Ethnic and Religious Conflict 2 - Loss of Civic Interest 3 - Aggressive Lobbying 4 - Business Regulation 5 - Campaign Finance Troubles Among his solutions are relying more on representatives, delegation of tough issues like taxes to a group of experts, and secrecy in a lot more public issues. ETHNIC AND RELIGIOUS CONFLICT Zakaria discusses this subject primarily with reference to foreign countries. He dwells quite a bit on what happened in India, his land of birth, since Mahatma Ghandi achieved freedom for India. He remembers that Nehru and the Congress Party dominated politics. India was essentially a one-party state. The party became corrupt and ineffective. So the BJP, a Hindu fundamentalist party that is anti-Muslim and anti-Christian, swept into power. Once in power, the BJP unleashed pogroms against Muslims and both Muslims and Hindus were killed. This is not a problem of democracy. Democracy is merely a technique for choosing leaders. It cannot work without goodwill. If people of one religion hate people of another religion, no political system can work. However, I believe that as you make the system more democratic, this eventually influences people to become less bigoted and more cooperative. Look at what happened in the U.S. when we, as a country, accepted the black man as a full-fledged citizen. Democracy powers freedom. It does not fight it. LOSS OF CIVIC INTEREST According to Zakaria, since the 1960s, our political system has gone downhill. He says there has been a decline in political participation and voting as well as a reduction in faith in our leaders and our elites. Why? Because 'Washington today is organized around the pursuit of public opinion.' I agree with the facts he presents, but to my mind, the reason is entirely different. It has nothing to do with the pursuit of public opinion. It has everything to do with the pursuit of money. Everything in politics revolves around money. The billionaire CEO of a multinational and the poor worker in a restaurant who can't make ends meet, both are 'free' to participate in politics. But why should the poor worker bother when he know he has no influence? The purpose of the 'pursuit of public opinion' is to find ways to sell to the poor the propaganda of the rich. Here, too, the solution is more, not less, democracy. AGGRESSIVE LOBBYING The author states that since the 1960s the number of lobbyists zoomed. In the mid-1950s there were 5,000 registered lobbyists in Washington. In 1970 the number doubled and in 1990 it doubled again. Since Congress now is more open and parties are almost dead, he says, lobbyists know everyone's vote. This gives them greater power. I hate to repeat myself. But lobbyists have more power because they lobby, not with words, but with money. They represent huge multinationals that know how to use lobbyists to bribe executives and legislators by promising to give--or take away--money. BUSINESS REGULATION Zakaria believes that one of the big
Guest More than 1 year ago
Finally someone can explain why some democracys fail and others succeed. Finally someone who understands the cultures that drive the Middle East. Fareed Zacharia for Secretary of State!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great example of a highly acclaimed book that actually deserves its reputation. Author Fareed Zakaria¿s refreshing perspective explains the political and economic world in a new way. He tackles political theory with bright witty style, so you barely notice that you are traveling through intellectually dense presentations on the distinctions between democracy and liberalism, how to rechannel Islamic fundamentalism, the problem with lobbying, the decline of American political parties and the end of authoritarianism. Zakaria clarifies many of the problems relating to the downside of democracy by providing an innovative perspective on the world¿s most serious problems. In this creative, well-researched and thought-provoking volume, he addresses economics, politics and social institutions around the globe. We highly recommend this exceptional book, which is packed with informative, provocative material. Corporate leaders and managers who are interested in the future of liberal democracy and the challenges facing modern society should read every page.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
A refreshing, original, honest and intelligent work. Zakaria is no polemicist by far, and no fool, He outlines carefully the paramount importance of freedom and constitutional liberty, liberal in the classical 19th Century sense, over elections and illiberal democracy. The parallels drawn between cultural and political development and the destructive power of excess 'democratization' are excellent. Read and think - and worry.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Zakaria bounces around from subject to subject, while looking at his readers as having no clue to world wide details. He makes assumptions about the American public's belief which I don't think fits most Americans. When it comes right down to it, he uses things in world history that most people are already aware of to get his readers to follow his lead. Where he is leading, I'm still not sure
Guest More than 1 year ago
A must read for every American that thinks that democracy is the solution for every problem. This problem shows the failure and sometimes consequences of democracy. This book shows the reality of democracy rather than the idealism behind it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you are interested in current affairs, just go ahead and buy this book and you will not be dissapointed. If not, i suggest you read this article http://www.fareedzakaria.com/articles/newsweek/101501_why.html. It is one of the finest by the author and infact forms a part of this book. If you like it, you will certainly like the book. This book is an amazing analysis of democracy and liberty and how the two words get confused. It dispells a lot of myths about democracy we all carry. Its the one book i have found that has fit the jigsaw puzzle together. Read it - its an enjoyable ride and at the end of it you will end up thinking. 'oh why didnt i see it earlier'.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Fareed Zakaria puts forth a direct outline of todays problems without sidetracking into unimportant details. His evaluation leaves no one out of the blame for the political turmoil we wade through everyday. His positions are unbiased and clear while using an outdated method of deduction called common sense. Zakaria keeps everything in persepective while moving from past cause to present problem into the future's possible solutions. In his description of democracy's decline there are no scapegoats. He refuses to bash the United States alone, but cares not to leave it blameless as well. Anyone with an independently thinking mindset will appreciate a voice of reason and a real explanation to this confusion that is our world.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Future of Freedom is the most important book I have read in the last year. And I read at least 150 books a year. It may be the most affecting political book I have ever read. It is clear, (almost) non-partisan, timely, and just incredibly, heartbreakingly sane. Fareed Zakaria illustrates the ways in which we misunderstand democracy -- primarily the way in which we confuse democracy with liberty. Also the failure of the international community (often the US) to understand how best to aid the transition from autocratic governments to democratic ones without simply creating new autocratic elites (particularly relevant now -- Jay Garner, please read this book). Along the way he gives a terrific history of liberty, as well as a much-needed smackdown of the idea that Islam needs to be 'reformed' in order to be compatible with any of the following: capitalism, democracy, liberty. Then, just when I thought I couldn't get more pleased, he eviscerates the short-sighted thinking behind referendums in my own country and even quotes a bit of Evelyn Waugh. :-) The only problem with the book is that it was obviously rushed out as a result of current events -- I saw a shocking number of typos, I'd say at least ten, and I wasn't exactly reading this thing as a copyeditor. But in terms of explaining a difficult subject in a way that almost anyone can understand, The Future of Freedom does for democracy what A Brief History of Time did for theoretical physics. I can only pray that it will be similarly successful.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just finished 2 great books: this book about the problems inherent in democracy, and Make Every Girl Want You by Fate and Reil about how to avoid the problems inherent in meeting and approaching women! This book really touches on democracy from all angles, and how it works in some situations, but not in others. The key, as Mr. Zakaria correctly points out, is that democracy needs its limits. If you don¿t keep it in check, it will run rampant. I really like the examples the author uses to prove his points, such as the Germans actually electing the Nazis in the early 20th century! He is correct in his assertion that we need more appointed bodies, such as the World Trade Organization and Supreme Court. Mr. Zakaria has proven once again that he truly is one of the world¿s top foreign affairs columnists. This book is absolutely mandatory reading for anyone studying government, politics, law, or anyone simply curious about the past, present, & future of democracies!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Fareed Zakaria applies the same clarity of thought and expression that he provides Newsweek readers to his 'The Future of Freedom.' His is a welcome point of view, coming at a time when Americans seem hellbent on democracizing the world, regardless of whether it makes sense or not. Zakaria provides much-needed sense and perspective, citing how the hurried application of democracy could result in the opposite of its intended effect.

Zakaria favors democracy when it enhances freedom, not wanting it for its own sake. He favors a minimum per capita income to make democracy workable. (I have personally felt that this and a minimum level of education and civil organization are necessary.) As such, he tends to fly in the face of prevailing thinking, but he does so with reason and understanding, both of current situations and of history.

President Bush should read this book and provide it to his senior advisors on international affairs. It would aid them in a more measured application of democracy throughout the world.