Does Democracy "Travel"? Some Thoughts on Democracy and Its Cultural Context [Abstract]
Ethics & International Affairs, Volume 6 (1992)
December 2, 1992
The fundamental question is whether the non-Western world is capable of developing our form of liberal democratic self-government, despite our differences in tradition and culture. The author taps on several critical differences of interpretation of what we consider to be integral to our form of government, such as John Locke's concept of "civil society"; the idea of "pluralism"; and the concept of "inherent human rights" counsel, which have distinctly different meanings in the West compared to those of Central and Eastern Europe. Interestingly, the differences are indicative of the profound cultural and historic differences of the societies engaged in the interpretation and adaption of these ideas. The author is optimistic in the regard of democracy "traveling," provided that individuals recognize their own identity within the democratic society and acquire practice in exercising their freedoms. In this way, not only will democracy flourish under previously dictatorial regimes, but will continue to persist where it is already established.
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