Democratic Theory

Democratic Theory

Democratic Theory

Democratic Theory

Excerpt

This book may give a somewhat disconcerting impression to an American audience. For it is one thing to address an audience which is already convinced, and another to address one which is not. And my Democratic Theory has been conceived in the latter perspective, among other reasons because I live in a frontier zone of the West--a country in which more than 40 per cent of the electorate vote for parties which do not, in truth, want democracy. Perhaps this fact also helps to explain why this book relies heavily on argument, why I am laying a good deal of emphasis on explanation, and on the kind of explanation which leads to theory construction.

Theory, to be sure, is not at this moment in great favor. As Hans Morgenthau recently observed, "Theory, being by definition useless for practical purposes, was assigned an honorific but ineffectual position." And not only has it been assigned a secondary role but, still worse, the word theory, at least in politics, is often not even honorific. Economic theory sounds all right, but political theory has a dubious ring, as if it were akin to ideological rationalization. This seemed to me, however, all the more reason for giving to this book, somewhat polemically, the title it bears. For I am not in agreement with those who underestimate the practical impact of theory, and much less with those who view it with suspicion.

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