Feudal Societies Practising Democratic Forms of Government

A few days ago Charles Krauthammer had a column discussing the rather imperfect democratic legacy of the recently assassinated Pakistani opposition figure Benazir Bhutto. The core question, the columnist argues, is whether or not democratic forms of government can be effectively instituted in societies that remain for the most part feudal, whereby divine right to succession or simple clan power decides who leads, rather than popular sovereignty? Krauthammer furthermore points to many examples proving that economic liberalization and growth are not axiomatic to political liberalization, including of course Russia, which “acquiesces cravenly as its nascent democracy is systematically dismantled in return for a bit of great-power posturing and a measure of oil-fueled pottage doled out by Czar Vladimir.” Ouch.