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Monday, October 08, 2012

Unlimited Democracy

The Magna Carta was an early attempt to rein in government, reduce the scope of monarchical rule. Constitutional monarchy was the result in many countries.

When democracies replaced monarchies, the urgency to limit their scope of power waned even though there are many political theorists who warned that democracies can turn out to be quite tyrannical. The tyrannies of majorities are well known. Most recently there was plenty of talk about that in connection with developments in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East. The election of Hamas, for example, bode ill for limited democracy!

Even in countries such as the United States of America, the form of government that emerged was labeled "illiberal democracy." Fareed Zakaria's book The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad discussed the difference between liberal and illiberal democracies in the context of geopolitics but the idea had been the focus of Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America over a century ago.


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