Subject of Democracy

The subject of democracy has become severely muddled because of the way the rhetoric surrounding it has been used in recent years . There is , increasingly , an oddly confused dichotomy between those who want to ‘ impose ‘ democracy on countries in the non – Western world ( in these countries ‘ ‘ own interest ‘ , of course ) and those who are opposed to such ‘ imposition ‘ ( because of the respect for the countries ‘ ‘ own ways ‘ ) . But the entire language of ‘ imposition ‘ , used by both sides , is extraordinarily inappropriate since it makes the implicit assumption that democracy belongs exclusively to the West , taking it to be a quintessentialy ‘ Wester ‘ idea which has originated and flourished only in the West . But the thesis and the pessimism it generates about the possibility of democratic practice in the world would be extremely hard to justify . There were several experiments in local democracy in ancient India . Indeed , in understanding the roots of democracy in the world , we have to take an interest in the history of people participation and public reasoning in different parts of the world . We have to look beyond thinking of democracy only in terms of European and American evolution . We would fail to understand the pervasive demands for participatory living , on which Aristotle spoke with far – reaching insight , if we take democracy to be a kind of a specialized cultural product of the West . It cannot , of course , be doubted that the institutional structure of the contemporary practice of democracy is largely the product of European and American experience over the last few centuries . This is extremely important to recognize since these developments in institutional formats were immensely innovative and ultimately effective . There can be little doubt that there is a major ‘ Western ‘ achievement here .

 

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