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Exporting Democracy

Exporting Democracy

Exporting Democracy

作    者
Rae, Bob;  
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所属分类
Political Science > International Relations
Political Science > International Relations > General
Political Science > Political Ideologies > Democracy
出版社
McClelland & Stewart
ISBN-13
9780771072901
ISBN-10
0771072902
出版日期
2011-11
页数
275
单位
尺寸
22.76 * 1.32 * 15.27
装帧
Paperback
版本

About the Author

A former Rhodes Scholar, BOB RAE was born in Ottawa in 1948. A leading politician of his generation, he has been elected to federal and provincial parliaments eight times and served as Ontario's twenty-first premier in the early 1990s. In 1999, he helped found the international Forum of Federations and served as its chair for seven years. He has advised and worked on federalism and constitutional matters in Sri Lanka, Sudan and Iraq. Since 2006, Rae has been a prominent member of the federal Liberal Party. He is the party's foreign affairs critic, and is the author of three previous books.


From the Hardcover edition.

Review

"Widely read and richly experienced in the art of politics, Bob Rae puts all he has learned to excellent use in this humane, thoughtful -- and highly readable -- book on the perils and possibilities of exporting democracy. . . . Altogether, a splendid read!" 
— David Cameron

"In this erudite, judicious and lively book. . . . Rae offers a wise and compelling alternative vision." 
— Globe and Mail


From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter 1
THE WORLD IN OUR IMAGE:
The Challenge of Sharing Democracy and Human Rights
 
 
Today it’s possible for people in almost half the countries of the world to say, “We’re democrats now.” This does not mean that democracy can be taken for granted, that history is over, or that different people mean the same things when they say these words. But it does mean that what was, for much of the last two hundred years, a Western idea has become widely adopted as the political gold standard. From Indonesia to Estonia, from Chile to Iraq, people have claimed the democratic idea as their own. As I write these words, people are in the streets of Thailand campaigning for democratic accountability. In Afghanistan, women are worrying that “reconciliation” will mean their rights are abandoned. In Russia, demonstrators hold simultaneous rallies across the country to reaffirm that they want their rights respected and their government held accountable. It would seem that Thomas Jefferson was right. Democracy is truly an infectious idea.
 
Many governments say they value democracy deeply, but their practices often fall far short of their ideals. What should the rest of the world do when countries flout human rights? Does the standard of what to do vary depending on whether that country is rich or poor, powerful or weak? Should cultural traditions trump equality rights?
 
These questions seem simple enough. But after listening to a wide range of opinions over the past several years, and working in a number of countries, I have learned that the answers are never easy.
 
If Karl Marx and John Stuart Mill were to meet today in a Highgate coffee shop in London, they would no doubt scratch their heads at the state of the world around them. Each in his own way – and using very different arguments – was convinced that a more rational world would lead to a decline in religious zealotry. In Marx’s view, a well-led proletariat, conscious of its economic role, would overthrow the institutions and prejudices of feudal and bourgeois societies. The result inevitably would be a better world, one of scientific production, material abundance, and general enlightenment, where the division of labour, which alienates man from his true self, would be no more. Mill’s view was less utopian, less grandiose, and more practical, but no less optimistic: progress would be steady, rational, and benign as the world became more prosperous, tolerant, open-minded, and liberal.
 
Their century, the nineteenth, was a time of radical and optimistic ideas, but it was also a time of expanding empires, of ideologies based on racial superiority and hatred. Nationalism arose from the need of communities to have their voice heard, but it came with a price – the harsh view that “my tribe is better than yours.” Ultimately, these competing empires and ideologies clashed in the first and second world wars.
 
The twentieth century was both the most liberal and the most barbaric in human history. Fanaticism, religious hatred, ideological zealotry, and an infinite capacity for cruelty proved to be deadly when combined with technological prowess and an insatiable appetite for empire and control. Hence Gandhi’s entirely apt response when asked what he thought of Western civilization: “It would be a good idea.”
 
Yet during these dark times other ideas emerged: the importance of international law in dealing with disputes between nations, and the creation of institutions to enforce these laws. The recognition of a community of nations in 1648 at Westphalia, which ended thirty years of religious warfare in Europe; the condemnation of slavery in 1815 at the Congress of Vienna; the creation of the Red Cross in 1863 and the signing of the first Geneva Convention a year later; the establishment of the World Court in 1908; the League of Nations in 1919, and in 1945 the founding of the United Nations; the judgement at Nuremberg; and the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, followed three years later by the Convention on Genocide; in 2002 the International Criminal Court; and in 2006 the Security Council Resolution on the Responsibility to Protect – these are all the result of the effort to create an international order whose purpose is to express our common yearning for security, peace, and the chance to fulfill our ambitions as human beings in a co-operative world. None of these accomplishments has come easily, and these aspirations are frequently dashed by politics.
 
 
When we talk about democracy, what do we actually mean? The word means “rule of the people,” but it is only relatively recently that its meaning is complimentary. Few people today who aspire for public support would fail to describe themselves as democrats.” It has become the common working assumption of politics. For many thousands of years this was not the case. The citizens of ancient Greece were the first to adopt democracy, and Pericles of Athens was among the first recorded to sing its praises: “We Athenians decide public questions for ourselves or at least endeavour to arrive at a sound understanding of them. . . They want to be free and to rule.” (Dunn, 28-29)
 
But far from everyone in Athens was a citizen and entitled to these rights – women, slaves, and foreigners were excluded. And just a generation after Pericles, Plato insisted that the rule of virtue and of the virtuous was far preferable to the rule of the people. When Plato’s student Aristotle wrote of the demos, he meant the mob, the unruly majority who could be mobilized and swayed one way or the other by the unscrupulous. Democracy was not, for the ancients, the most desirable of systems, because it could lead to a world out of balance. The best government was one that encouraged the arts, prosperity, and the pursuit of learning. It required leaders who understood this, and who themselves accepted limits to their power.
 
The democratic idea went into hibernation after its earliest emergence some twenty-five hundred years ago. It would take the Protestant Reformation and the Enlightenment to give it new life, and the American and French revolutions to give it the vibrancy that is still with us today.
 
In the 1950s, C.B. Macpherson, the Canadian scholar and teacher of politics, wrote about “the real world of democracy,” in which different kinds of democracy competed with each other. Macpherson tried to make the case that the countries of both the Soviet bloc and the Third World had as much right to claim they were democracies as the liberal, capitalist democracies of the West. Liberal democrats should not, he argued, think their model is the only form of democracy.
 
Macpherson was way off the mark about the state of democracy in the Soviet Union and its satellites, to say nothing of China. Today, the idea that “non-liberal” systems like the Soviet Union had a “genuinely historical claim to the title democracy” seems perverse. Just because regimes use the word democracy doesn’t mean they are democratic. Poland in the 1950s was a communist dictatorship that called itself a “workers’ democracy.” The abuse of democracy is widespread, and no regime’s propaganda proves its own legitimacy.
 
Human rights, the rule of law, the independence of judges, and respect for constitutional order are all values that today seem intrinsic to liberty and democracy. Yet, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the workers’ movements that ultimately gave rise to social democracy were fighting for freedom. Freedom, they argued, didn’t just mean the right of employers to buy and sell labour. It had to mean the right of workers to form unions and to use the political process to force governments to ensure universal access to health care, pensions, a minimum standard of living for everyone.
 
There are other key elements to our sense of democracy. Freedom of speech and association mean little without a free press of diverse opinions and political parties able to mobilize oppositions as well as governments. It is not enough that there are courts. There also have to be judges at liberty to make rulings.
 
Democracy, freedom, and the rule of law may not be technically synonymous, but in the West they are intimately connected in our minds and political practice. Democracy means being able to choose our governments and our leaders. But it is about far more than elections. It’s about being fairly treated by the police and courts, about being able to make a living and keep something for ourselves as well as contribute to common services through taxes. It’s about being able to make our way without being told that the door of opportunity is barred because of the colour of our skin, or the language we speak, or the religion we practise, or our gender, or our sexual orientation. The equality we seek is not absolute equality of condition or outcome, but it is about being treated fairly and without discrimination.
 
The expansion of democracy to include everyone has meant several dramatic changes. Today, being a property owner is not a requirement for political participation. We take this for granted, but it is a relatively recent phenomenon. Fear of the demos was used to limit the franchise, to ensure that constitutional order and social privilege were protected by keeping most people down, out, and under control. Even as he was contemplating an expanded political and social order, John Stuart Mill was arguing that university graduates should have more than one vote, that the wise guidance of the more intelligent was needed to offset the risk of too much power in the hands of an unguided people.
 
Property qualifications limited the franchise throughout the industrialized world until well into the twentieth century. But p...