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John Dunn on Diagnosing Democracy's Power

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John Dunn, a political theorist and emeritus Professor of Political Theory at King's College, Cambridge, gave a series of four lectures on "Beyond the Democratic Maze" for the Henry L. Stimson Lecture on World Affairs.
03:11
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John Dunn, a political theorist and emeritus Professor of Political Theory at King's College, Cambridge, gave a series of four lectures on "Beyond the Democratic Maze" for the Henry L. Stimson Lecture on World Affairs.
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John Dunn, a political theorist and emeritus Professor of Political Theory at King's College, Cambridge, gave a series of four lectures on "Beyond the Democratic Maze" for the Henry L. Stimson Lecture on World Affairs.
03:07
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Michael Walzer thinks the U.S. should spread liberal democracy to other parts of the world—mostly, by example. Question: Should Americans promote democracy around the world? Michael Walzer: Well, I think democrats, small "d" democrats should promote democracy around the world. They should do it by cultivating friendships with democrats in other countries, especially democratic dissidents and authoritarian countries. They should provide them with moral support. They should make sure that their names are known in the world so that the governments, their governments cannot make them disappear so easily. They should contribute money to groups like Human Rights Watch. I think international civil society is the space within which we should be democracy promoters, and although groups like Human Rights Watch don't say that they are working for regime change, they are in fact working for regime change when they expose the brutalities of despotic regimes. And that's the place. I think at the governmental level we need to be much more cautious. Governments are coercive, governments command military power, governments should not be involved in the work of democracy promotion, except in very limited and special circumstances. Had there been, let's say, a NATO or a European Union intervention in Rwanda, where European countries had been involved as colonial powers, had there been a European intervention in Rwanda to stop the killing and necessarily to overthrow the Hutu Power government which was organizing the killing, then Europeans would have been responsible for the political reconstruction of the country, perhaps under a UN mandate of some sort. And then, they should aim at the best regime that they can possibly create in those circumstances, first of all, most importantly, a non murderous regime. But if the opportunity presented itself to create a more or less democratic regime, they should do it, because they are already there and they face a need for political reconstruction. But, I wouldn't go around promoting democracy by military means. I think that's a bad idea. Question: Should Americans promote democracy around the world? Michael Walzer: Well, I think democrats, small "d" democrats should promote democracy around the world. They should do it by cultivating friendships with democrats in other countries, especially democratic dissidents and authoritarian countries. They should provide them with moral support. They should make sure that their names are known in the world so that the governments, their governments cannot make them disappear so easily. They should contribute money to groups like Human Rights Watch. I think international civil society is the space within which we should be democracy promoters, and although groups like Human Rights Watch don't say that they are working for regime change, they are in fact working for regime change when they expose the brutalities of despotic regimes. And that's the place. I think at the governmental level we need to be much more cautious. Governments are coercive, governments command military power, governments should not be involved in the work of democracy promotion, except in very limited and special circumstances. Had there been, let's say, a NATO or a European Union intervention in Rwanda, where European countries had been involved as colonial powers, had there been a European intervention in Rwanda to stop the killing and necessarily to overthrow the Hutu Power government which was organizing the killing, then Europeans would have been responsible for the political reconstruction of the country, perhaps under a UN mandate of some sort. And then, they should aim at the best regime that they can possibly create in those circumstances, first of all, most importantly, a non murderous regime. But if the opportunity presented itself to create a more or less democratic regime, they should do it, because they are already there and they face a need for political reconstruction. But, I wouldn't go around promoting democracy by military means. I think that's a bad idea.
02:58
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Democracy is ideal for religion. Jim Wallis: Well I'm convinced that the democracy is not so much a system as a process.  Democracy recognizes our strengths and our weakness; our need to have checks and balances; our need to sort of be careful not to put too much power in one place.  That's what democracy does.  The more we all participate, and the more we have sort of conflicting views and interests and the whole conversation, the better off we're gonna be.  So in the end, I favor this continual movement toward greater and greater democracy.  I think most of us do.   That's not so much a system as just a way to live together and to search for the common good.  The common good is the notion that we have to bring back into politics.  Catholic social teaching has it.  Judaism has it.  ________ Islam.  ____________.  So there's a whole notion of how do we forge the common good, which I think takes away from capitalism, socialism.  You know our . . . the poorest and the most vulnerable being lifted up and being seen and not ignored, and not allowed to be exploited.  That's a question to ask any system.  Are there checks and balances?  Is power finally able to . . .  Human beings with too much power, it doesn't work well.  The gospel is at odds always with empire -- Roman Empire, British Empire, and may I say American empire.  Super powers are dangerous always.  And so how do we decentralize power?  How do we distribute power?  How do we have competing, conflicting kind of power centers within a government and around the world?  I think, in fact, the rule of law is very important.  I think we have to learn how the rule of law -- and international law in particular -- could help to move us beyond the conflicts between nation states which isn't working very well.  So I think democracy both at the level of neighborhoods, and schools, and churches, but also on a grander scale, that's the future.  How do we more and more respect each other?  Everybody is important.  Everybody has a part to play.  The dignity of every individual is crucial; but individualism can rob us of our collective need, in fact, for the common good. Jim Wallis: Well I'm convinced that the democracy is not so much a system as a process.  Democracy recognizes our strengths and our weakness; our need to have checks and balances; our need to sort of be careful not to put too much power in one place.  That's what democracy does.  The more we all participate, and the more we have sort of conflicting views and interests and the whole conversation, the better off we're gonna be.  So in the end, I favor this continual movement toward greater and greater democracy.  I think most of us do.   That's not so much a system as just a way to live together and to search for the common good.  The common good is the notion that we have to bring back into politics.  Catholic social teaching has it.  Judaism has it.  ________ Islam.  ____________.  So there's a whole notion of how do we forge the common good, which I think takes away from capitalism, socialism.  You know our . . . the poorest and the most vulnerable being lifted up and being seen and not ignored, and not allowed to be exploited.  That's a question to ask any system.  Are there checks and balances?  Is power finally able to . . .  Human beings with too much power, it doesn't work well.  The gospel is at odds always with empire -- Roman Empire, British Empire, and may I say American empire.  Super powers are dangerous always.  And so how do we decentralize power?  How do we distribute power?  How do we have competing, conflicting kind of power centers within a government and around the world?  I think, in fact, the rule of law is very important.  I think we have to learn how the rule of law -- and international law in particular -- could help to move us beyond the conflicts between nation states which isn't working very well.  So I think democracy both at the level of neighborhoods, and schools, and churches, but also on a grander scale, that's the future.  How do we more and more respect each other?  Everybody is important.  Everybody has a part to play.  The dignity of every individual is crucial; but individualism can rob us of our collective need, in fact, for the common good.
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Introduction to Political Philosophy (PLSC 114) With the emergence of democracies in Europe and the New World at the beginning of the nineteenth century, political philosophers began to re-evaluate the relationship between freedom and equality. Tocqueville, in particular, saw the creation of new forms of social power that presented threats to human liberty. His most famous work, Democracy in America, was written for his French countrymen who were still devoted to the restoration of the monarchy and whom Tocqueville wanted to convince that the democratic social revolution he had witnessed in America was equally representative of France's future. 00:00 - Chapter 1. Tocqueville's Problem 08:36 - Chapter 2. Who Was Alexis de Tocqueville? 14:04 - Chapter 3. Democracy in America and the Letter to Kergolay 35:46 - Chapter 4. The CharacterIstics of American Democracy: Importance of Local Government Complete course materials are available at the Open Yale Courses website: http://open.yale.edu/courses This course was recorded in Fall 2006.
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Anne-Marie Slaughter says no to a specific league. Slaughter:    No.  Obama should not seek a League of Democracies, and the way the McCain camp put out the League of Democracies, it was pretty clearly intended as an alternative to the United Nations.  I and John Ikenberry and other Democrats had also talked about a Concert of Democracies, a Caucus of Democracy, some group that engage democracies beyond the West, because our point was right now we talk about democracies, we think about the EU, Japan, the US.  But India, Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia, Chile, Mexico, these are counties that are all democracies and it shouldn't be seen as the West versus the rest.  This should be seen as countries from every part of the world, with every culture, religion in the world have been able to govern themselves.  That's a very important message to send.  Slaughter:    No.  Obama should not seek a League of Democracies, and the way the McCain camp put out the League of Democracies, it was pretty clearly intended as an alternative to the United Nations.  I and John Ikenberry and other Democrats had also talked about a Concert of Democracies, a Caucus of Democracy, some group that engage democracies beyond the West, because our point was right now we talk about democracies, we think about the EU, Japan, the US.  But India, Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia, Chile, Mexico, these are counties that are all democracies and it shouldn't be seen as the West versus the rest.  This should be seen as countries from every part of the world, with every culture, religion in the world have been able to govern themselves.  That's a very important message to send.