Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Form vs. Substance

Jonathan Edelstein has a post up about the recent developments in Zimbabwe and Equatorial Guinea. His remarks about the political situation in Equatorial Guinea are particularly interesting, in light of the stress recently I've laid here on the importance of distinguishing between the formal rites that characterize a free society and the actual existence of freedom in a society. Teodoro Obiang's regime (and Robert Mugabe's, for that matter) is yet another reminder that the "right" to vote means nothing in and of itself. Were the citizens of pre-handover Hong Kong really worse off than those Equatorial Guinea or Zimbabwe are, in any meaningful sense?