Researcher ORCID Identifier


Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE)

Second Department


Reader 1

George Thomas

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This paper argues that the governance system of authoritarian capitalism has arisen as a viable alternative to liberal democracy. It first lays out the mechanisms of how such a system functions, as well as the basis of its legitimacy, couched in terms of Francis Fukuyama’s conception of “getting to Denmark”. Specifically, the paper argues that authoritarian capitalism can accommodate the elements of competent governance and the rule of law, the latter with respect to the enforcement of property rights and contractual relationships. Next, the paper investigates the cases of South Korea, Singapore, and China to glean conclusions on how authoritarian capitalism affected their developmental trajectories. The case of Rwanda is discussed towards the end as an example of developing states emulating the perceived successes of other nations, with Singapore being the primary role model. Ultimately, the paper concludes that authoritarian capitalism can allow a state to not only survive but actually thrive. It also notes that the system is uniquely immune to external pressures from democratic states, given that capitalist interests place the importance of regime stability over the development of democracy. These capitalist interests thus provide economic incentives for democracies to avoid pressuring authoritarian capitalist nations to adopt reforms. The sustainability of authoritarian capitalism and the muted response from the West pose a great challenge to the democratic world order. If the goal is the global spread of democracy, then policymakers must recognize authoritarian capitalism as a viable governing system, and address its increased popularity in the developing world.

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