Modern Democracy: The History and Legacy of the World’s Democratic Institutions Since the American Revolution

Modern Democracy: The History and Legacy of the World’s Democratic Institutions Since the American Revolution

Narrated by:
Jim Johnston
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Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date
January 2020
2 hours 12 minutes
In today’s modern world every political regime, even the most authoritarian or repressive, describes itself as democracy or a Democratic People’s Republic. The concept of rule by the people, on behalf of the people, has come to be accepted as the norm, and very few would overtly espouse the cause of dictatorship, absolute monarchy or oligarchy as the most desirable political system upon which to base the government of any country.

At the same time, the ancients would not have recognized, or accepted, any of today’s modern versions of democracy as being truly “democratic.” A rejection of dictatorships masquerading as democracies would be understandable, but the ancients would have been equally scathing of Western-style representative democracies that they would undoubtedly have seen as anti-democratic. The key to democracy, as far as the Greeks and Romans were concerned, was active participation by the citizen body in all political aspects of life.

While the French Revolution tried and ultimately failed to bring about an almost fully democratic system, the fledgling United States of America managed to bring about one of the most enduring forms of democratic government in the 1780s. The Constitution of the United States was not the first written expression of the democratic ideal, but it certainly was the most perfect in the context of the times. In the entire history of the British Empire, only two territories would attempt a unilateral declaration of independence. The first was the United States, and the second, 189 years later, was the rebel territory of Southern Rhodesia in the constellation of British African territories. The sheer audacity, in 1776, of a subject territory of the British Crown declaring itself independent sent shockwaves through the imperial establishment, setting into motion a reevaluation of British overseas policy and beginning the boldest experiment in democracy to date.
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