Political Culture and Democracy
The effect of political culture on the form of government that emerges in a given nation has been debated for many years. Enlightenment theorists in England, France, and the United States seemed to be saying that any nation could establish the rule of law and a representative parliamentary system--that the overthrow of the monarchy would ipso facto lead to the establishment of a legal democratic state, and that such a state would be stable. No mention was made of cultural or structural factors underlying such a change. The focus of the Enlightenment theorists was on the political structure alone. Because of this focus, they improved the whole concept of political theory, giving to the world their analysis of power and power limitation, of law and legal authority, and of checks and balances within the political structure itself. The ideal of the power-limited, tenure-limited, legally constrained, minimalist state is their great gift to humanity and for this they will remain immortal.
If the Enlightenment theorists went beyond the Greeks in their analysis of power, the structure of representative government, and the court system, they abandoned some of the knowledge of the Greeks on social structure and the power of ideas. If Aristotle is weak on the theory of law and power limitation, he is strong on the theory of the class base for democracy. If Plato was disastrous on his theory of political guardianship, and the state control and propaganda that would support it, he was powerful on his theory of ideas determining human reality. The establishment of the legal parliamentary apparatus alone, without a great deal of corresponding change in the structure and culture of the society, does not seem to insure the longevity or stability of the new political system.
The Enlightenment optimism about the establishment of the legal democratic polity was tested in its infancy as the English Civil War resulted in the Cromwell