I find that while he maintained a high degree of intellectual affinity with Chicago economics generally, Buchanan broke decisively with orthodox public finance (including that taught at Chicago) on several substantive issues early in his career, including the importance of expenditure theory and the relevance of the benefit principle and voluntary exchange.
In 2004 Mr Yanukovych was ousted from office by vast street protests, only to be re-elected to the presidency (with the help of huge amounts of Russian money) in 2010, after the opposition politicians who replaced him turned out to be just as hopeless. Where autocrats have been driven out of office, their opponents have mostly failed to create viable democratic regimes.
Even in established democracies, flaws in the system have become worryingly visible and disillusion with politics is rife.
Thus, we know very little about the subdiscipline of public finance at Chicago and its institutional and intellectual traditions in the immediate post-war period.
As the influence of Frank Knight, price theory, and catallactics on Buchanan have been well explored, the focus here is on Buchanan’s graduate training in public finance, the departmental emphasis on product differentiation of ideas, and the general acceptance in ‘Old Chicago School’ economics of the importance of institutions and institutional design.
Decolonialisation created a host of new democracies in Africa and Asia, and autocratic regimes gave way to democracy in Greece (1974), Spain (1975), Argentina (1983), Brazil (1985) and Chile (1989).
The collapse of the Soviet Union created many fledgling democracies in central Europe.Even though around 40% of the world’s population, more people than ever before, live in countries that will hold free and fair elections this year, democracy’s global advance has come to a halt, and may even have gone into reverse.Freedom House reckons that 2013 was the eighth consecutive year in which global freedom declined, and that its forward march peaked around the beginning of the century.Many nominal democracies have slid towards autocracy, maintaining the outward appearance of democracy through elections, but without the rights and institutions that are equally important aspects of a functioning democratic system.Faith in democracy flares up in moments of triumph, such as the overthrow of unpopular regimes in Cairo or Kiev, only to sputter out once again.Between 19 the cause of democracy experienced only a few setbacks, but since 2000 there have been many.And democracy’s problems run deeper than mere numbers suggest.The new regime stumbles, the economy flounders and the country finds itself in a state at least as bad as it was before.This is what happened in much of the Arab spring, and also in Ukraine’s Orange revolution a decade ago.After the fall of Athens, where it was first developed, the political model had lain dormant until the Enlightenment more than 2,000 years later.In the 18th century only the American revolution produced a sustainable democracy.