Political Culture and Constitutionalism: A Comparative Approach

By Daniel P. Franklin; Michael J. Baun | Go to book overview

Introduction

Political Culture and
Constitutionalism

Seldom had the prospects for peace been so auspicious as they were at the time of the collapse of the Berlin Wall. All over the world, and particularly in the West, pundits began to speak of the ascendancy of liberal capitalism that was to follow the collapse of Soviet communism. 1 Now, in the aftermath of a full-scale war in the Persian Gulf and a number of "brushfire" wars that threaten to burn out of control, we are forced to rethink our earlier optimism. Maybe the end of the cold war did not so much signal "the end of history" as the "return to history." Social forces such as religious fundamentalism and nationalism, long thought to be moribund, reemerged with a vengeance. The cold war itself seemed to have held in check the undercurrents that are contributing to today's conflicts. This is true to such an extent that, in retrospect, the cold war may be thought of as a period of relative calm. In their competition, the superpowers enforced a regime of controlled violence. Client states were created and sustained for the single purpose of supporting the position of a superpower ally. Now that the superpower competition is over, underlying forces in those states have come to the fore. In this new environment, what trends can we expect in state development? What are the role and responsibility of mature democracies in this new-old international regime?

This book attempts to explore these last two questions. We take in this study an undisguised Western, Northern perspective. It is in the power of industrialized democracies to lead, but in what direction? Decision makers need to be realistic enough to know what is possible as well as what is in their nation's interest. The editors of this volume believe that a state system and democracy are probably the most likely paths to world peace, but the means for fostering stability and the forms of democracy that are possible are far less certain. Decision makers in the West may need, for example, to step away from their Western bias to accept regimes that are substantially different, with considerably different approaches to property rights and political participation.

In the aftermath of the cold war, legal scholars and political scientists from the West have developed a cottage industry that trades in the development of democratic structures in formerly authoritarian states. The editors of this book

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