Democracy in the Dominions: A Comparative Study in Institutions

Democracy in the Dominions: A Comparative Study in Institutions

Democracy in the Dominions: A Comparative Study in Institutions

Democracy in the Dominions: A Comparative Study in Institutions

Excerpt

This book is an introduction to a large subject. It undertakes to discuss and compare the political institutions of the four overseas Dominions, and of necessity it has related them to physical environment and social heritage. Its theme is a democracy that consists, not in abstract thought, but in operating institutions, built by a highly empirical people in conformity with the British parliamentary pattern, and exhibiting a variety determined in each case by the whole cast of national life and the intricate interplay of history and geography. In these countries democracy in its essentials means government by the free exchange of opinion, the free choice of electors, and the free activity of parties; it means all those civil and political liberties that took active form in three centuries of British history, along with the rich mental inheritance whereby alone parliamentary institutions can properly work. Nationality and democracy are here on the whole happily married, and in their development have intimately reacted one upon the other.

Some readers may ask why the institutions of Ireland were excluded. Their exclusion was determined, not by the question as to whether Ireland was a Dominion or whether she was even in the Commonwealth, but merely by the circumstance that in character she is different from the young nations which developed from colonies in the last century and whose people experienced the social transformations of settlement in new and often severe lands. The basic unity of this book dwells in its concern with a study of inheritance and environment in countries widely separated, colonized since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, and deeply influenced by the domestic vicissitudes of such colonization. The unity of the volume would have been impaired by the inclusion of Ireland.

When some years before the Second World War, I began to study the comparative politics of the Dominions, I had . . .

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