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Lecture 17

POL101Y1 Lecture 17: How Democracy Can Succeed or Fail; Case Studies of Weimar Germany and the Arab Spring


Department
Political Science
Course Code
POL101Y1
Professor
Jeffrey Kopstein
Lecture
17

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POL101Y1Lecture17Notes
DemocraticSuccess&Failure
● WithintherealmofPoliticalScience,amongthemostbasicquestionsis“Whatistheformof
government(democracy,dictatorship,oligarchy)?”and“Whydoesasystemtransitionfromone
typeofgovernmenttoanother?”
○ Particularly,thesequestionsconcernagreaterquestioninthecaseofWeimarGermany:Why
didthedemocraticGermangovernmenttransitionintoamurderousdictatorship?
■ Thequestionofimportanceinthisregardisnotwhydemocraciesfailbutratherwhythey
succeed
● Democracyisarelativelyrecentidea
○ UntiltheFrenchRevolution,itwaswidelyheldthatdictators,monarchiesorparticularsocial
classesknewbesthowtogovernacountry;allofwhomwereassumedtobebenign
● Democracydemandsprerequisites,suchasfreeandfairpress,rightofassociation,freedomof
opinionandfreedomfrompoliticalintimidation
○ Certaintheoristsarguethatpoliticalparticipationfromthecitizenryshouldalsobeconsidered
aprerequisite
○ Amongothernewprerequisitesincludesocioeconomicequality(becausetheypoorestofthe
poorcannotaffordtoparticipateindemocracy)and‘gendered’democracy(becausefeminists
arguethatdemocracyshouldbegenderedsincetherehaveyettobe‘equal’)
● Democracy’sshortcomingsinclude:
○ Majoritarianism;thereisaprospectthatthe‘tyrannyofthemajority’willmanifest
○ Stability;democracycanbeproventobeinefficient,onanyscale
○ Constraints;certainlimits,whichruncontrarytodemocracy’supheldvaluesandideals,may
benecessarytopreserveit
■ E.g.Democracycannotvoteitselfout
● SamuelHuntingtonhadportrayeddemocratizationinthreewaves
○ The1stwaverangedfromtheearly19thcenturyto1922
■ Thiswasanexpansionofthefranchise;suffragewasexpandedtopropertiedmales,all
malesandandwomen(insomecountries)
■ 1stWavecumulatedintotheInterWarPeriod,wheredemocracyfailedasitenabled
totalitarianism/dictatorshiptomanifest
○ The2ndwavewasthePostWWIIperiod,from19451970’s
○ The3rdwavestartsfrom1974andcontinuesintothepresentday
■ Massiveincreaseofdemocraciesacrosstheglobe;118democraciescurrentlyexist
● 1933:WeimarGermany’sfailure
● SheriBerman'sargumentisacritiqueofNeoTocquevilleanarguments
○ The(NeoTocquevillean)caseisconsideredaclassicalexampleofbadintellectualism
● TheNeoTocquevilleanargumentisrubbishbecause:
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