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Wednesday, October 03, 2012


Ed Peters

I need to read this.

I'm fine with democracy, btw, but then I live in an (as yet) essentially free nation, with high literacy rates (not sure about comprehension levels) with a functional mechanical and technological infrastructure, and plenty of room twixt me and my neighbors (foreign and domestic). Start taking away those things, and I'd be, I'm pretty sure, less and less interested in democracy per se, and more and more interested in watching out for me and mine. In the meantime, I am getting pretty tired of "democracy" being the label slapped on every goal that happens to be more or less good. Maybe "democracy" is as close as a secularized society (or at least a thoroughly secularized elite) can get to a 'spiritual' value.

Mark Brumley

A very important point regarding the cultural, even technological, underpinnings of democracy. There are reasons, apart from sheer bigotry and other forms of injustice, that "democracy" in ancient Athens amounted to oligarchy, with only 5 percent of the population "participating" in government. Hard as it is to have a genuinely democratic society today, how much harder it would have been in Pericles' Athens. That society was built on slavery, among other things. And how difficult it is to have truly democratic societies in many places in the world today--although in many cases this is a cultural, not a technological, issue. There is no substitute for civilization, when it comes to having a viable political community. And civilization entails things such as education and virtue, as well as a certain level of material prosperity and stability. It was, as Maritain points out in CHRISTIANITY AND DEMOCRACY, the Christian emphasis on the dignity of every human person, that provided the cultural foundation for the rise of a truly universal vision of democracy in the West. And it was, among other things, economic development, with the related technological developments of industrialization, that made the idea of genuine democracy feasible. The Marxists are not wholly wrong when they consist the material conditions of human existence as pertinent to the political order.

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