In this months The American Interest is a fascinating perspective article that like any profoundly effective piece opens ones mind to a better way of thinking about a topic, in this case democracy and the ‘liberal societies.’ The Cultural Contradictions of Democracy The main threats to democracy lie within liberal societies themselves. by Vladislav Inozemtsev
Its more of a monograph than an article, it’s talking to the reader about taking a different perspective on a whole classes of issues. In short as my title says Democracy historically emerges after life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness have already emerged within a society not before. Also he points out that liberal (in the old sense of societal and economic freedoms) societies emerged in homogenous and élite societies and then democracy was implemented to create a stable and responsive gov’t that would last. Only later as the rule of law, freedom of speech and assembly, equality before the law, became ingrained, and the polis became generally literate and self-reliant did the right to vote become general.
But as the right to vote became general its strength became debased. As the right to vote was given to many without a strong tie to the society it became more and more populist and a tool of those able to manipulate it.
Some societies have developed that are quite ‘liberal’ in the old and robust meaning of the world without democracy (Singapore is one example.)
Many societies have developed democratic trappings but they are not at all liberal (Russia is one example)
Some societies have had democratic trappings dropped on them and then have started to tear themselves apart because there is no homogenous polis, (Iraq, many of the African states)
If you are at all interested in the topic read the article, its one of those pieces that opens the mind to a better perspective that might lead to insights of importance. unfortunately its all too likely that the right people won’t get the message…