Globalizing democracy

Globalizing democracy: Power, legitimacy and the interpretation of democratic ideas

Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    Globalizing democracy
    Book Description:

    This new edition examines some of the philosophical and theoretical issues underlying the ‘democratic project’ which increasingly dominates the fields of comparative development and international relations. The first concern presented here is normative and epistemological: as democracy becomes more widely accepted as the political currency of legitimacy, the more broadly it is defined. But as agreement decreases regarding the definition of democracy, the less we are able to evaluate how it is working, or indeed whether it is working at all. The second issue is causal: what are the claims being made regarding how best to secure a democratic system in developing states? To what extent do our beliefs and expectations of how political relations ought to be governed distort our understanding of how democratic societies do in fact emerge; and, conversely, to what extent does our understanding of how democracy manifests itself temper our conception of what it ought to be? The volume will be of interest to those in international development studies, as well as political theorists with an interest in applied ethics.

    eISBN: 978-1-84779-431-4
    Subjects: Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface to the second edition
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    If there is such a thing as ‘moral progress’, then the most obvious manifestation of it is the spirited diffusion of democratic ideals around the globe. But while the effervescence of democracy seems on the surface to be real enough, there is less agreement on whether it constitutes progress and, more testily, whether such progress as there is is necessarily moral. As the globalization of democracy becomes increasingly palpable, the political obstacles to its achievement become overshadowed by more vexing questions concerning the very nature of democracy itself; and the line between strategic and normative concerns, so much clearer (and...

  6. 1 Contextualizing the debate over democracy
    (pp. 15-34)

    From the exhilaration of revellers celebrating the obsolescence of the Berlin Wall to the horror of the Balkan wars, the modern experiment with self-government has been both gratifying and chastening. Regardless of the consequences, the emphasis upon political autonomy and self-government continues to define both the substance and the direction of modern politics. ‘Democracy’ is one of the most commanding ideas influencing the character of contemporary political relations; yet it is also a term that is very difficult to define precisely or satisfactorily. Democracy is seen to exert a globalizing force upon the international community; yet its most enthusiastic proponents...

  7. Part I Interpreting democracy:: philosophical debates
    • 2 The ambiguity of democracy
      (pp. 37-65)

      The overarching theme of this book, noted in the previous chapter, addresses the current theoretical and epistemological challenges to the practice of democracy: given that ‘democracy’ is a reasonably-accepted standard of political legitimacy in the modern world, whose account of democracycounts? Does the attempt to ‘respect cultural values’ mean an inability to challenge or discount certain interpretations of democracy? Before turning to these issues, it is helpful to begin by clarifying what is commonly meant by the standard or ‘orthodox’ understanding of democracy. This chapter then discusses current controversies within the field of democratic theory: one axis rotates upon...

    • 3 Expanding democracy
      (pp. 66-99)

      Proponents of ‘globalization’ have observed, no doubt with some satisfaction, that there is an increasing consensus across (and within) states that ‘democracy’ is the correct standard upon which to judge the political legitimacy of states. But this contentment must, upon reflection, be considerably lessened by the realization that the consensus on what, precisely, is entailed by democracy has concurrently diminished a great deal. There are fairly clear political reasons why this has occurred; and some of these political explanations will be more closely examined in chapter seven. But rarely (especially in putatively democratic societies) are political actions taken without an...

    • 4 Can there be nonliberal democracy?
      (pp. 100-134)

      The globalization of democracy involves a particularly vexing paradox. The moral attractiveness of democracy has been recognized by either governing administrations or their opponents within every state; but there is much less widespread enthusiasm for the liberal principles of individualism and universal human rights that, in western states, underpins the practice of democracy. How, then, can democracy serve as the new global measure of political legitimacy if the liberal ideals upon which it is based are viewed as both foreign and oppressive to so many? The obvious answer is that democracy, as a principle of self-rule, can be expanded to...

  8. Part II Explaining democracy:: causal debates
    • 5 The market
      (pp. 137-165)

      If the first and most fundamental issue regarding the globalization of democracy is what, precisely, democracyis, the second question is how democracy comes about. And, while a wide spectrum of methodological investigations have been employed by comparativists (e.g. structuralism, elite compromise theory, strategic choice and rational choice theory: see Remmer 1995) in order to explain the last wave of democratization, two causal variables are generally viewed as pre-eminently important, although neither commands unqualified support. The first looks at the form of economic organization – specifically, the market – as the causal key to democratization; the second views a particular form of...

    • 6 Civil society
      (pp. 166-196)

      The focus upon both the market and civil society as strategies for democratization has been a reaction to the abysmal and disheartening performance of state-led development throughout the 1960s and 1970s. And as the ‘sociological counterpart of the market in the economic sphere and to democracy in the political sphere’, suggests White, ‘[civil society] is a valuable analytical complement to the tired old “state-market” dichotomy’ (1994: 375). But how useful is this focus upon civil society as a means of either theorizing about, or strategizing toward, democratization? Both activists and academics have been placing a great deal of attention on...

  9. Part III Pursuing democracy:: political debates
    • 7 Power, legitimacy, and the interpretation of democracy
      (pp. 199-226)

      In 1989 an American civil servant piqued the intellectual community with the simple but provocative claim that liberal democracy was the global culmination of a long historical progress toward the most desirable system of governance possible (Fukuyama 1989). He was certainly correct in his observation that more support for democracy exists worldwide than ever before. But his assertion rested importantly upon the glib assumption that democracy was so prevalent because of its moral superiority, rather than because the meaning of ‘democracy’ had been broadened well beyond its earlier, more limited, connotations.

      If we believe that democracy, as the ability of...

    • 8 Deromanticizing democracy
      (pp. 227-244)

      It is possible that the reason democracy is so resonant today is because it speaks to our desire for justice. This idea of ‘justice’ is, of course, unapologetically contemporary, and has its origins in early modern accounts which grounded political legitimacy upon consent. Why, for us, is a political regime ‘just’? Not because it conforms to our inherent nature. Not because it accords with God’s will on earth. It is ‘just’ because we have agreed to it. Some theorists have pointed out that this particular account of ‘justice’ seems to fit suspiciously well with the evolution of modern capitalism, where...

  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 245-260)
  11. Index
    (pp. 261-274)