Why insist so much on political rights?

Last week, I suggested that democracy is not as good as many people think. I want to add on this that democracy should not be the first item on a list of priorities. In a broader sense. when the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it put way too much emphasis on political and civic rights, and too little of economic rights. According to this document, having the right to vote is more important to have enough to eat.

But putting absolute priority on political rights, this Declaration and the ensuing foreign policies of most western nations have wasted precious resources in trying to impose democracy to countries that were rather longing for a better living standard. In particular, I find it obscene that western nations tell developing countries to democratize while at the same time denying poor farmers proper access to export markets by subsidizing domestic agriculture.

One has to recognize that there are trade-offs. Democracy and political rights should be enjoyed, no question about it. But the priority, at least to me, should be on a decent economic life. And even if it is not a priority to others, they should recognize that democracy and political rights should not be imposed at all costs.

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