Democracy in the Mid-Twentieth Century: Problems and Prospects

Democracy in the Mid-Twentieth Century: Problems and Prospects

Democracy in the Mid-Twentieth Century: Problems and Prospects

Democracy in the Mid-Twentieth Century: Problems and Prospects

Excerpt

This volume is the product of an investigation of some of the critical issues of our time--the nature, achievements, difficulties, and future of our political way of life.

Problems of democratic government have concerned thoughtful men for a good many centuries. Faced as we are today by the challenges of rival systems, an adequate understanding of such problems becomes even more important. Social science is a plant of relatively recent growth, and the expansion of reliable knowledge has not yet provided a clarification of issues of democracy adequate to our contemporary condition. In this situation, it seemed to us that social scientists have an obligation to bring their best intellectual tools to bear in a re-examination of democratic values and practices. It was this conviction that led members of the Department of Political Science at Washington University to begin the work which has resulted in this volume.

We were not alone in our interest. For several years Chancellor Ethan A. H. Shepley of Washington University has expressed a very deep concern which he, like many other thoughtful citizens, feels for the present condition and prospects of democracy, and he has sought to encourage serious exploration of democratic problems by citizens and scholars alike. In 1957, James S. McDonnell, President of the McDonnell Aircraft Corporation of St. Louis, and a man with a long-standing interest in fundamental public questions, indicated to Chancellor Shepley his willingness to support efforts to stimulate a reconsideration of democracy. A committee from the Department of Political Science, composed of Professors William N. Chambers, chairman, Roy C. Macridis, and myself, proposed to Chancellor Shepley that a conference of outstanding scholars . . .

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