Modern Democracies - Vol. 1

Modern Democracies - Vol. 1

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Modern Democracies - Vol. 1

Modern Democracies - Vol. 1

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Excerpt

Many years ago, at a time when schemes of political reform were being copiously discussed in England, mostly on general principles, but also with references, usually vague and disconnected, to history and to events happening in other countries, it occurred to me that something might be done to provide a solid basis for argument and judgment by examining a certain number of popular governments in their actual working, comparing them with one another, and setting forth the various merits and defects which belonged to each. As I could not find that any such comparative study had been undertaken, I formed the idea of attempting it, and besides visiting Switzerland and other parts of Europe, betook myself to the United States and Canada, to Spanish America and Australia and New Zealand, in search of materials, completing these journeys shortly before the War of 1914 broke out. The undertaking proved longer and more toilsome than had been expected; and frequent interruptions due to the War have delayed the publication of the book until now, when in some countries conditions are no longer what they were when I studied them eight or ten years ago. This fact, however, though it needs to be mentioned, makes less difference than might be supposed, because the conditions that have existed in those countries, and especially in France, the United States, and Australia, from 1914 to 1920 have been so far abnormal that conclusions could not well be drawn from them, and it seems safer to go back to the earlier and more typical days. Neither is it necessary for the purpose here in view to bring the record of events in each country up to date; for it is not current politics but democracy as a form of government that I seek to describe. Events that happened ten years ago may be for this particular purpose just as instructive as if they were happening to-day.

The term Democracy has in recent years been loosely used to denote sometimes a state of society, sometimes a state of . . .

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