Growth of A Democratic Culture

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Growth of A Democratic Culture

  1. 1. 1. The Affirmation of Civil and Political Rights(1776). Both the American and French Revolutions asserted the right of the individual to participate in the affairs of the state through the right to choose key leaders in government who were to represent the interests of their constituents.
  2. 2.  Coupled with this right were the rights to freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of worship and freedom or arbitrary arrest and detention. These rights at this stage , reserved only for men and property-holders.
  3. 3. 2. Economic Rights and Social Responsibility(1848). The first French Revolution(1789)overthrew the dominant nobility and the clergy and replaced them with the bourgeoisie. Henceforth. Privileges were to be gained on the basis not of inherited rights but individual, acquired merit. The second French Revolution(1848) removed the clause on property ownership as a prerequisite and gave the workers the right to vote.
  4. 4. 3. The Struggle for Self- Determination(1776). The American Revolution was a struggle against the dominance of the people, the Britons, over the Americans who had come to regard themselves as different. The struggle against both colonialism and neo-colonialism is premised on the notion that a people have the right to run their own affairs, free from external control.
  5. 5.  On the basis of these conceptions, an authentic democratic culture would seem to require the ff values:1. Respect for and affirmation of the individual. The struggle for the civil rights was waged because powerful people ignored the individual and used him/her as a means for their own ends. In the democratic culture, therefore, the individual is affirmed as possessing inherent value and has the right to decide on matters affecting him/herself.
  6. 6. 2. Recognition of the Inherent dignity of all human beings. Although it is obvious that distinction of class , ethnicity and political office separate human beings from each other, the democrat assumes that beneath all this is a common humanity that links one to the other and gives his/her dignity.
  7. 7. 3. Concern for the Public good. In creative tension with the affirmation of the individual is the affirmation of the public good. Defining the “public” is no doubt one of the most hazardous enterprises. The public is that community which in a given political organization subsumes all other communities under it. Thus in a village, it is the village a a whole rather than individual families, while at the same time including them.
  8. 8.  The same can be said of the “public” on the level of the city or on the level of the democratic state. The public good on the level of the city and the state is harder to define than on the level of the village.
  9. 9. 4. Willingness to listen to the other. A truly communal undertaking requires of the willingness to lend an ear to one another. The assumption is that no one person, despite that person’s expertise, has a monopoly on information; the experts decision may have consequences on another person’s life that the expert may not be aware of. Because each person is valuable by him/herself, that person’s concerns, either as an individual or as a member of a group, ought to be heeded.

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