The Future of Democracy: Lessons from the Past and Present to Guide Us on Our Path Forward
This work advocates that democracy is an attitude of respecting the rights of others and seriously considering individual responsibilities. Those serving the public’s interests should be doing the most good for the greatest number of people. Given these underpinnings, it traces the history of governance through time from Ancient Egypt to the end of the twentieth century. The second part of this book explores contemporary times by looking at governance in a dozen different countries. The third part outlines what citizens need to do to safeguard democracy for future generations.
Providing and justifying an operational definition of democracy is beyond the scope of this book. Readers may detect hints of Platonic forms and Utilitarianism, which are not without their critics as far as governance or a proxy for democracy is concerned. If one were to accept the above philosophical underpinnings, one quickly realizes that there are several manifestations of democracy that a governing body can adopt. Here is where the text only explores only a small slice of the various faces of democracy. Missing are the governments in the Muslim lands (Egypt under Caliph Muizz, India under Akber, or the Ottoman lands under Suleiman for instance), Central Asia during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, or the Far Eastern archipelago during the early middle ages. A critique of these governments would show a greater variety of democracies than those presented.
The governments that are covered (both historical and contemporary) show only a narrow sliver of the varieties of democracies that human societies have conceived. The narrative could also be more succinct and more tightly focused on governance. A broader range of democracies would help enrich the discussion in the final part of the book and would help draw sharper distinctions among “voting”, “making one’s voice heard,” and “having representation” within the context of governance. Despite the omissions, it is a good book to help students of democracy develop a deeper appreciation of the various varieties of democracies in human history and contemporary times.
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