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Was Democracy Just a Moment
Was Democracy Just a Moment
Was Democracy Just a Moment
Was Democracy Just a Moment
Was Democracy Just a Moment
Was Democracy Just a Moment
Was Democracy Just a Moment
Was Democracy Just a Moment
Was Democracy Just a Moment
Was Democracy Just a Moment
Was Democracy Just a Moment
Was Democracy Just a Moment
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Was Democracy Just a Moment

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Slides based on the article Was Democracy Just a Moment (Robert D. Kaplan) for an undergraduate course in Political Thought that I taught between 2003-2005.

Slides based on the article Was Democracy Just a Moment (Robert D. Kaplan) for an undergraduate course in Political Thought that I taught between 2003-2005.

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  • Learning Objectives: 1.) To appreciate the complexity of democracy and the demands it imposes on societies. 2.) To assess the argument that democracy requires certain pre-requisites before it can be enjoyed in its fullest (and what these pre-requisites supposedly are).
  • Transcript

    • 1. WAS DEMOCRACY JUST A MOMENT?
    • 2. Context <ul><li>People tend to romanticize the triumph of ideals </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Christianity, the Enlightenment, the Scientific Revolution, Marxism, etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Yet such perspectives only amount to determinism </li></ul><ul><ul><li>i.e. History as unidirectional and linear </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Individuals as incapable of shaping their own destinies </li></ul></ul>
    • 3. On Democracy <ul><li>It may be wrong to insist that democracy has proven itself as “the end of history” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>That other forms of government have failed say nothing of democracy’s own viability </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To insist that democracy has proven itself as the final form of government is itself deterministic </li></ul></ul>
    • 4. Performance Review <ul><li>Because democracies emphasize political freedoms, they highlight societal characteristics </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Particularly, societies’ weaknesses </li></ul></ul><ul><li>If we examine the performance of democracies, we find the record spotty at best </li></ul>
    • 5. Performance Review <ul><li>What these instances tell us is that not all countries may be ready for democracy </li></ul><ul><li>In short, democracy has certain pre-requisites </li></ul><ul><li>In the absence of these prerequisites, democracy will not thrive/function </li></ul>
    • 6. Prerequisites <ul><li>Functioning bureaucratic/civic institutions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Democracy neither forms states nor strengthens them </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Thus in order for them to ''work&quot; they must be strong to begin with </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In the absence of such institutions, such democracies will remain weak states </li></ul></ul>
    • 7. Prerequisites <ul><li>Ethnic homogeneity </li></ul><ul><ul><li>This is a prerequisite for a working party system </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Without ethnic homogeneity, instituting democracy may exacerbate exiting ethnic cleavages </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Democracy, in a non-homogenous society, will be rife with factionalism </li></ul></ul>
    • 8. Prerequisites <ul><li>A large middle class </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Democracies can only work after a certain level of economic development </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Middle classes bring social stability (Aristotle) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Middle classes are usually created first by authoritarian governments </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Democracy presents itself as the step following authoritarianism </li></ul></ul>
    • 9. Prerequisites <ul><li>High literacy rate </li></ul><ul><li>Sometimes, bloody revolution </li></ul>
    • 10. The Lesson <ul><li>“The lesson to learn is not that dictatorship is good and democracy bad, but that democracy emerges successfully only as a capstone to other social and economic achievements.” </li></ul>
    • 11. The Lesson <ul><li>Often, our advocacy of democracy is based on moral arguments </li></ul><ul><li>Moral arguments alone are insufficient: by and large democracy is a matter of practical consequence </li></ul><ul><li>How can we argue in favor of democracy if it doesn’t work everywhere? </li></ul>
    • 12. Therefore… <ul><li>There is great danger transplanting democracies from one country to the next </li></ul><ul><li>Democracies should arise after or as a result of certain socio-economic transformations </li></ul><ul><li>In the absence of these pre-requisites, democracy is problematic </li></ul>

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