Democracy and Democratization

By Geraint Parry; Michael Moran | Go to book overview
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Chapter 12

Democracy and democratization

Geraint Parry and Michael Moran

Nearly three decades ago a distinguished political theorist pictured liberal democracy as an embattled form of government in danger of decline:

Fifty years ago the world was almost the preserve of the Western liberal-democratic capitalist societies. Their economies were triumphant, and so were their theories. Since then, two-thirds of the world has rejected the liberal-democratic market society, both in practice and theory. From Lenin to Nkruma and Sekou Touré, the value system of the West has been spurned, either in the name of Marxism or in the name of a Rousseauian populist general-will theory… It is the mediate principle of liberal democracy that the other two ideologies reject—the mediate principle that the ultimate human values can be achieved by, and only by, free enterprise in both political and economic life, only by the free party system and the capitalist market system.

(Macpherson 1964, reprinted 1973, pp. 183-4)

It is obvious that events of recent years have falsified much of Macpherson’s account. Leninism and African socialism now seem almost as anachronistic as the golden age of constitutionalism to which he in turn looked back. The principles underlying the ‘free party system and the capitalist market system’ are more firmly in the saddle than ever. Indeed, they seem more dominant now than in the golden age of democratic constitutionalism before the First World War. In 1914 many states which could now claim to be in the democratic camp lacked the full attributes of democratic government: the United Kingdom had a restricted franchise; India was under colonial rule; Germany was a


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