speech or like music, depending only on whether it has been repeated. In the 1990s Russia took a few drunken steps in that direction under Boris Yeltsin. This Year We Can End the Death Penalty in California. All this has demonstrated that building the institutions needed to sustain democracy is very slow work indeed, and has dispelled the once-popular notion that democracy will blossom rapidly and spontaneously once the seed is planted. Outside the West, democracy often advances only to collapse. The next big setback was the Iraq war. International organisations such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organisation and the European Union have extended their influence. But evidence has been accumulating that something more than the mere exposure effect governs the special role of repetition in music. Instead of asking: What is music?
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Repetition intensifies this effect. Being able to install alternative leaders offering alternative policies makes democracies better than autocracies at finding creative solutions to problems and rising to existential challenges, though they often take a while to zigzag to the right policies. Repeated exposure makes one sound seem to connect almost inevitably to the next, so that when we hear. Given these similarities, it should be no surprise that many rituals actually depend on music. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. Americas Senate has made it harder for senators to filibuster appointments. Zhang Weiwei of Fudan University argues that democracy is destroying the West, and particularly America, because it institutionalises gridlock, trivialises decision-making and throws up second-rate presidents like George Bush junior.
Why listen essays