Democracy in Europe: A History of an Ideology (Making of by Luciano Canfora

By Luciano Canfora

This historical past lines the advance of democracy in Europe from its origins in old Greece as much as the current day.The e-book opens with the delivery of democracy in historical Greece, and descriptions the adoption and variation of Greek political rules by means of French revolutionaries and intellectuals to fit their very own ends. the writer then is going directly to examine all of the significant watersheds within the improvement of democracy in sleek Europe: the twenty-year drawback from 1789 to 1815, whilst the repercussions of revolution in France have been felt around the continent; the explosion of democratic hobbies among 1830 and 1848; the hijacking of democratic approaches through Napoleon III, and the débâcle of the Paris Commune. Canfora strains how the unfold of Marxist principles in east and west Europe, the Russian revolution, and the increase of fascism ended in a "European civil battle" lasting from 1914 till 1945.In end, the ebook demonstrates how within the fresh earlier democracy itself, faraway from making growth, has in reality develop into extra restricted and oligarchic, as certainly it used to be on the outset, 2,500 years in the past.

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This plan went against an order that had been established for a long period, and was eventually defeated by the Spartans themselves. As Aristotle notes, the term ‘‘few’’ (oligoi) itself creates confusion. He was the most perspicacious interpreter of the true nature, the ‘‘substance’’ of democracy and oligarchy. The whole of ancient Greek political theory came into being as a response to the ‘‘scandalous’’ phenomenon of democracy. 5 Socrates’ followers of all tendencies, and Plato above all, maintained a radical aversion to it.

The famous diobelia (a salary of two obols) which Aristotle (Constitution of Athens, 28, 3) attributes to the initiative of Cleophon, one of the last popular leaders active before the military collapse of 404 of whom something is known, is also recorded in epigraphic documents for the years 410/405 bc. Such incentives aimed at reducing absenteeism by non-property-owners, who were encouraged to attend meetings in return for payment because this compensated them for the loss of a day’s work. Within the ruling state, Athens, the extension of citizenship to non-property-owners produced an important change at the top of the system.

Aristotle observes that the difference between the two opposite political systems lay not in whether ‘‘many’’ or ‘‘few’’ held citizenship, but in whether they were propertyowners or non-property-owners: their numbers were a ‘‘pure chance’’ (Politics, 1279 b 35). To his credit, he makes the link between the two systems and the classes that constitute them. He also highlights the fact that ‘‘the majority are in power in oligarchies too’’ (1290 a 31) and that, moreover, even within oligarchic groups decisions were taken by majority – which in his view confirms, if confirmation were needed, that there was no essential relation between democracy and the principle of majority.

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