Democracy and Democratization

By Geraint Parry; Michael Moran | Go to book overview
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the provision of the conditions of agency still entails ensuring minimal protection for life. Democracy is an uncomfortable political destination, for in its modern pluralist form, it sets us free; and with freedom comes anxiety and even agony. As our contributors have shown, the road to that uncomfortable destination—democratization—is often hard, long and uncertain. Is this preoccupation with freedom and its attendant anxieties only a luxury that prosperous societies can afford? Is it, indeed, a reflection of the hegemony of a particular ‘Western’ value system (Parekh 1992)? We think not. The history of the post-war world has shown us that poverty, corruption and economic inefficiency have too often flourished because societies had too little democracy, not because they had too much. For the impoverished of the Third World or of the former Marxist autocracies democratic government is not a luxury to be postponed until material comfort arrives; it is a pre-condition (but, sadly, not a guarantee) of economic progress. Our recent history has also shown that whatever existential agonies attend the exercise of democratic freedom they are as nothing to the more prosaic agonies imposed by the brutal alternatives to democratic government.


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Burnheim, J. (1985) Is Democracy Possible?, Cambridge: Polity Press.

Cain, B. (1992) ‘The American electoral system’, in G. Peele, C. Bailey and B. Cain (eds), Developments in American Politics, Basingstoke: Macmillan.
Campbell, A., Converse, P., Miller, W. and Stokes, D. (1960) The American Voter, New York: Wiley.
Cawson, A. (1983) ‘Functional representation and democratic politics: towards a corporatist democracy?’, in G. Duncan (ed.), Democratic Theory and Practice, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Ceaser, J. (1990) ‘Political parties: declining, stabilizing, or resurging’, in A. King (ed.), The New American Political System, Basingstoke: Macmillan.

Dahl, R. (1982) Dilemmas of Pluralist Democracy: Autonomy vs. Control, New Haven: Yale Univeristy Press.
Dahl, R. (1985) A Preface to Economic Democracy, Berkeley: University of California Press.
Dahl, R. (1989) Democracy and its Critics, New Haven: Yale University Press.


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