chapter5_cq--C

chapter5_cq--C - Principles of Comparative Politics Chapter...

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Principles of Comparative Politics Chapter 5: Conceptualizing and Measuring Democracy
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Democracy in Historical Perspective We live in a world that agrees on the importance and desirability of democracy. But it hasn’t always been that way. Until the middle of the nineteenth century, democracy was associated with an obsolete and ancient political system that was dangerous and unstable.
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Democracy in Historical Perspective The concern with the relative merits of different forms of government goes back at least as far as Aristotle and Plato. Demokratia normally gets translated as “rule by the people” but without distinguishing who the people are. Demos actually referred to the “common people.” These were people with little or no economic independence, no education, and no knowledge of politics. These people were expected to pursue their own interests at the expense of the commonweal.
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Democracy in Historical Perspective Plato did not see democracy as government by the people. Instead, he saw it as government by the poor and uneducated against the rich and educated. Plato believed that political decision making should be based on expertise and that allowing all people to rule in a democracy would lead to mob rule and class warfare.
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Democracy in Historical Perspective Aristotle disagreed with Plato to the extent that he believed that there were some conditions under which the will of the many could be equal or wiser than the will of the few. BUT, this is not to say that he thought highly of democracy!
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Number of rulers Good form “For the good of all” Corrupt form “For the good of the rulers” One Monarchy Tyranny Few Aristocracy Oligarchy Many Politeia Democracy Aristotle’s Typology Aristotle saw democracy as class rule. Democracy was class rule by the worst class! Mob rule was seen as the extreme form of democracy. Democracy was the most dangerous of the corrupt forms of government .
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Democracy in Historical Perspective Not only was democracy seen as dangerous, but it was not even associated with elections! In the eighteenth century, democracy was seen as a form of government from the ancient world “in which offices are distributed by lot.” “Suffrage by lot is natural to democracy; as that by choice is to aristocracy.” (Montesquieu) Monarchy was consistently preferred to democracy. Bodin, Hobbes, Locke, Vico, Montesquieu, Kant, Hegel.
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Democracy in Historical Perspective Democracy was seen as obsolete. It meant direct legislation by the people, not by representatives of the people. It could work in Athens but most people thought that it could not work in the modern world.
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Democracy in Historical Perspective Democracy really entered west European political rhetoric only at the end of the eighteenth century. People had talked about representative government and popular
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This note was uploaded on 05/25/2010 for the course POSC 15 taught by Professor Indrig during the Spring '10 term at UC Riverside.

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chapter5_cq--C - Principles of Comparative Politics Chapter...

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