One of the developments that took place during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries following the American and French Revolutions was the spread of democracy in the Western world. In Antiquity and plainly up until the American Founding Fathers, “democracy” was never seen as anything self-evidently good. Plato and Aristotle were quite critical of it, although the democratic system in ancient Greece was rather different from the modern one.
As John Dunn says in his book Setting the People Free: The Story of Democracy, a title he admits carries some degree of irony, in the Athens Assembly citizens had the right not merely to vote on all proposals coming before it and thus to determine together its outcome, but also to address it themselves. This fierce directness of Athenian democracy contrasts sharply with the more indirect system often called “representative democracy” that is practiced in the modern West. Indeed, the two systems are so different that calling the latter “democracy” would have caused confusion among leading figures from Athens during the Hellenic age....
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Must-read blog post
Democracy and Universalism by Fjordman