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In this book, Zakaria is making the case that democratization needs to happen slowly. If it does not, he says, the society that undertakes democratization is likely to end up as a dictatorship. As he says on p. 58 of the hard cover edition of the book,
Most Third World countries that proclaimed themselves democracies immediately after their independence, while they were poor and unstable, became dictatorships within a decade.
Zakaria is arguing that democratization cannot succeed if a country simply holds elections and calls itself a democracy. It cannot succeed if people believe that democracy means that they can and should use their liberty without exercising self-control. Indeed, he says on p. 26 that his book is "a call for self control."
Zakaria believes that a true and stable democracy can only come about as a part of a complex social order with strong safeguards against people's undemocratic tendencies. He believes that this social order and these safeguards must be built up over time and that an excessively abrupt attempt to democratize will fail because it will lack these things.
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