Lecture+9+October+14

Lecture+9+October+14 - Today in Comparative Politics...

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Today in Comparative Politics Culture and the Evolution of Democracy Do we need “a civic culture” for democracy to take hold and thrive? Is there a best religion for encouraging democratic development? Are some religions incompatible with democracy?
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Culture “An historically transmitted pattern of meaning embodied in symbols, a system of inherited conceptions expressed in symbolic forms by means of which men communicate, perpetuate, and develop their knowledge about and attitudes toward life.” Clifford Geertz, The Interpretation of Cultures
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An important distinction Primordialist arguments treat culture as something that is objective and inherited ; something that has been fixed since “primordial” times. Primordialist arguments may imply that democracy is not for everyone. Constructivist arguments treat culture as something that is constructed or invented rather than inherited. It may be that democratic culture is required for democracy. But cultures are malleable. Cultures may not be impenetrable barriers to democratization.
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Classical Cultural Arguments The notion that democracy or authoritarianism is more suited to some cultures than others has a long history. Aeschylus, The Persians, 472 BCE Aftermath of the Athenians' bloody defeat of the Persians at the battle of Salamis Contrast: opulent tyranny of the Persians v. personal freedom of his fellow Greeks Imputed authoritarianism to Asia, democracy in Athens. Aeschylus imagines the victorious Greeks, who invented democracy, projecting civilizing freedoms throughout barbarian Asia. “Asia” is a Greek term, referring originally to those “others” to the east in Anatolia and beyond
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Classical Cultural Arguments Montesquieu, The Spirit of the Laws (1752) Each form of government requires specific cultural patterns to endure: Monarchy is most suited to European states. Despotism is most suited to the Orient. Democracy is most suited to the ancient world. Best government for a given country: that which “leads men by following their propensities and inclinations” and “best agrees with the humor and disposition of the people in whose favor it is established.” What factors shape the answer?
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Classical Cultural Arguments Montesquieu, The Spirit of the Laws (1752) Political institutions “should be in relation to the climate of each country, to the quality of its soil, to its situation and extent, to the principal occupation of the natives, whether husbandmen, huntsmen, or shepherds: they should have relation to the degree of liberty which the constitution will bear ; to the religion of the inhabitants, to their inclinations, riches, numbers, commerce, manners, and customs.” A long list… A pessimist about the possibility of exporting the institutions of one country to another.
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John Stuart Mill (1861) “No one believes that every people is capable of working every sort of institutions.” Example: “Nothing but foreign force would induce a tribe
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This note was uploaded on 11/10/2011 for the course POLI SCI 790:103 taught by Professor Blair during the Fall '09 term at Rutgers.

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Lecture+9+October+14 - Today in Comparative Politics...

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