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Robert Dahl, On Democracy p 1 of 39

Chapter 1 Do we really need a guide?

I. Apparent Triumph of Democracy

A. first half of 20th century pre-modern anti democratic governments

lost legitimacy
monarchy, herititary aristocracy, oligarchy with narrow suffrage

B. second half of 20th Century

Main alternatives either disappeared, became eccentric survivals,
Or retreated and "hunkered down in last strongholds"
Nazism, Fascism, Communism
Military dictatorships - even Latin America - democratic face

Had Democracy at last won?

II. Anti Democratic Currents

A. Antidemocratic belief and movements continued

(This book predates post 9 -11 awareness of Muslim fanaticism
Democratic governments existed in fewer than half the countries
Less than half the world's population

B. concerns about "Crisis of Democracy" in established democracies like the U.S.

III. Challenges of Democracy

Divide countries into three rough groups

A. Antidemocratic
Challenge is to make transition to democracy

B. Newly Democratic
Challenge is to strengthen or consolidate democratic practices and institutions

C. Established, Older Democracies

Challenge is to perfect and deepen democracy

IV. Confusion of Meanings

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A. What is democracy
2500 year history, means different things to different people

B. Ancient
Greeks and Romans 500 B.C.

C. New
Representative Democracy with universal suffrage
Is mostly a 20th century phenomenon

V. Topics

What is democracy?
Why is democracy desirable?
How democratic are today's democracies?
Why are some countries democracies and others are not?
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Chapter 2 History
Where and How did Democracy Develop?

just what do we mean by democracy?

democracy has been discussed off and on for 2500 years, but little agreement on
meaning. lengthy history contributes to confusion. different people mean different

But until only 200 years ago, few examples of functioning democracies
Mostly an idea, an unpopular ideaso more an idea for philosophers

I. Introduction: Invention of Democracy

A. Myth of growth
Invented and then continuously advanced, spread inevitably and gradually
Why false?

After early centuries in Greece and Rome

Popular government's disappeared

B. Mistake to assume Democracy was invented once and for all

1. Diffusion
Some expansion of democrdacy is diffusion of democratic ideas and practices
from one place to another. Copying and adaptation

2. Rather independently invented by various groups (like fire)

invented in more than one time and place

3. Primitive Democracy
A kind of democracy probably existed in tribal governments
back into pre historical times.

Push to democracy develops out of the logic of equality

Studies on nonliterate tribal societies - forms of primitive democracy

Dahl speculates it is the most natural political system.
Robert Dahl, On Democracy p 4 of 39

Note philosophical idea of State of Nature

4. Hierarchy
When people settled into fixed communities
circumstances favorable to equality waned
hierarchy and inequality and domination became more natural.

Tribal democracies replaced by monarchies, aristocracies etc.

C. Democracy as we first know it

Around 500 B.C. conditions favorable to democracy reappeared in several places.

Primitive Democracy reinvented in a more advanced form in Europe


A. Ancient Greece
Athens 507 B.C. democracy lasted about 200 yrs.
coined term democracy demos people kratos people
who were the people sometimes meant whole population, sometimes
commoners, sometimes poor
But only citizens not slaves or women
All served in Assembly, juries, offices by lot
more direct form of democracy

Aristotles classification:
in public interest in selfish interest of rulers
by one monarchy tyranny
by few aristocracy oligarchy
by many polity democracy

B. Ancient Rome
also about 500 B.C. end of kings
Roman republic res = thing or affair, publicus = public
republic was a thing or affair that belonged to the people
(a commonwealth.)

Senate, consuls, tribunes changing institutions

Robert Dahl, On Democracy p 5 of 39

conflict between patricians and plebians

undermined by empire, growth in provinces, army, emperors
44 B.C. Julius Ceasar

C. Late Medieval Italy

Northern Italian City States 1100-1500 A.D.
Florence, Venice, Milan, Pisa etc.
walled cities, free from aristocrats, middle class dominate, nobles feuding
independent, no nation state, shifting international alliances
senates, councils etc.
1300s rise of tyrants/princes, then dominance of France and Spain

D. A Word about Words

1. Popular government
Democracy republic

Do they refer to different things?

2. Madison confused matters in 1787

Federalist Papers
"pure democracy" vs. republic
republic = scheme of representation

Dahl says this distinction had no previous history

Madison wanted to answer charges
Of Antifederalists that Constitution was not democratic enough
Dahl says roman Republic fit better into Madison's "democracy

Dahl says the difference is only difference between Greek and Latin

3. However Madison's distinction stands today

Modern Republic is taken to mean a representative democracy


A. What was absent in popular governments of Ancient world?

1. national parliament
2. composed of elected representatives
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3. popularly chosen local governments

This combination evolved in Britain, Scandinavia, Low countries, Switzerland

B. Local Assemblies

1. Vikings
Boat shaped ring of large stones 600 - 1,000 A.D. Viking freemen met
Called Ting
Typically held in an open field. Large vertical stones
Settled disputes, debated laws, approved or rejected king.
Vikings knew nothing about ancient democracy.
Invented on their own from the "logic of equality"

Considerable Inequality
Men/women; wealth and status , slaves, aristocratic class, king

2. Other parts of Northern Europe

a. Swiss cantons 800 A.D.

isolated pastoral, equality

C. From Local Assemblies to Parliaments

1. Iceland
Viking settlers transplanted practices
930 A.D. created a super-Thing
Althing or national assembly
Source of Icelandic law for 3 centuries.

2. Norway, Denmark, Sweden

similar developments
regional assemblies arose and then national
rise in power of king led to reduction of their importance.

3. Later 15th Century Sweden

a kind of revived tradition
King called together meetings of representatives from different sectors of
society , nobility, clergy, burghers, commoners
Robert Dahl, On Democracy p 7 of 39

Needed money
Riksdagor parliament

4. Similar development in Netherlands

Rulers needed funds, called representatives of middle classes
Estates - did not evolve directly into parliaments

D. Atlantic Democratic Tradition

1. England Greatest influence by far

King called parliament/assembly, for revenue
1272, 1300's

Evolution of British Parliemnt-- long story

Medieval England: Growth of Parliament
English nobles 1200s, 1300s

Magna Carta
Civil War
Glorious Revolution

Cabinet System

By 1700 Evolved into a constitutional system in which king and parliament

were each limited by authority of the other. Parliament consisted of hereditary
House of Lords and elected (very limited suffrage) House of Commons
Mixed government
King ---Lords --- Parliament

Admired throughout the world


2. America
colonial legislatures, evolved unto state governments
Continental Congress into Congress of Confederation and Constitution

Writers of U.S. Constitution admired British system

Wanted to create a system with the benefits of English system
But avoided defects on monarchy and aristocracy
Robert Dahl, On Democracy p 8 of 39


1. By early 1700 political ideas and practices had appeared in Europe

that would be part of later democratic ideas and practices

a. local assemblies - from logic of equality

b. idea that governments need the consent of the governed

originally about taxes, later laws in general

c. need to govern a larger area - representation

d. How to choose representatives


2. What had not been achieved?

a. great inequalities remained

status, hierarchy social enequalities remained

b. The whole people were not represented

inequality of voting rights
exclusion of majority

c. Assemblies did not control Kings

far from democratic
next step to control kings ministers
parliaments were bastions of privilege

d. until 1800's democratic ideals not understood or widely shared

democracy seen as a bad thing
jacksonian Democracy of 1830's
French Revolution

Also parties condemned

Elections corrupted by crown
Few people believed in democracy

Conditions needed to change

Robert Dahl, On Democracy p 9 of 39


Democracy did not proceed on an inevitable path

We can't count on inevitability of democracy

Depends on conditions
Demcracy is a bit chancy.
Depends on what we do.
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CHAPTER 3 what lies ahead

Democracy as Ideal and actuality
A word about words: empirical judgments/ value judgments
questions to be asked: p. 29

CHAPTER 4 goals and ideals


CHAPTER 5 goals and ideals


goals and ideals

CHAPTER 7goals and ideals


What Political Institutions Does Large-Scale Democracy Require? (ch. 8 p. 83)

CHAPTER 9 Varieties I Democracy on Different Scales (ch. 9 p. 100)

Greek vs. Modern
Assembly democracy vs. representative democracy
Democracy reconfigured as Representative democracy: Why?

Chapter 10 Varieties II Constitutions

Do differences in Constitutions of democratic countries really matter?
Looks at older democracies first.
Constitutions defined broadly to include unwritten.

Chapter 11
Varieties III: Parties and Electoral Systems

Chapter 12
What Underlying Conditions Favor Democracy?
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Ch. 13
Why Market-Capitalism Favors Democracy

Ch. 14 Why Market-Capitalism Harms Democracy

Ch. 15 The Unfinished Journey

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Chapter 1

Do we really need a guide?

1. Recent apparent spread of democracy.

Has democracy triumphed? Not really

anti democratic beliefs and movements
democracy in less than half the countries/population
crisis of democracy in established democratic countries.

2. Different challengs for different countries

nondemocratic how to make transition
newly democratic how to consolidate
established democ how to perfect & deepen

3. Democracy ancient and new

2500 years of democratic tradition
relatively recent widespread experience with real democracy
mainly a product of the 20th century

4. Basic questions need to be answered.

1. History
Chapter 2
Where and How did Democracy Develop?

A. Not a smooth, inevitable increase

Not invented just once
some diffusion from existing ideas and practices
but Dahl also maintains independently invented (Scandanavian)

Democracy grows out of logic of equality

Tribal situations
What undermines this basic equality

A. The Mediterranean: Democracy

self governing city states

1. Ancient Greece 500 B.C.

Robert Dahl, On Democracy p 13 of 39


Add Aristotles classification

in public interest in private interest
one Monarchy Tyranny
few Aristocracy Oligarchy
many Polity Democracy

Greek practices
Citizens assembled to pass laws, judgments, elect officials
Other officials chosen by lottery
usually given as an example of direct democracy

2. Ancient Rome 500 B.C.

a. republic Public Thing, Common Wealth
Kings, republic, Emperor

b. Institutions and practices

2 counsuls, occasional dictators
10 Tribunes Popular Assemblies

b. Who participated?
Problems with the system
Empire but no representation Italian citizens
Direct Democracy corruption

c. Lessons of Romans
for Political Thought, Americans in particular
direct democracy, popular participation dangerousfactionalism
corruption, independence and virtu needed
military standing army bad, citizen militia good
Small republics, Not empire
Balance, separation of powers

d. Madisons Confusion of the terms

Word about words p. 16: Popular government
Democracy direct participation
Republic scheme or representation
no history of this distinction
Robert Dahl, On Democracy p 14 of 39

But we are stuck with it now.

Often people/Pol Scis use Republic to mean Representative system

or Representative democracy

3. Italian City-Republics 1100 A.D. 1600s

City Republics
Growth of cities, memory of the Romans
Classes: Aristocracy Grandi Middle Class Popolo
Institutions: Senates or Grand Councils, Counsuls, Signori,
Undermined by tyrants/princes/ national monarchies of France, Spain

Examples for us:

Factions, small republics
Rise of tyrants

B. Northern Europe : Representative Assemblies

local self government combined with
national assemblies

1. Vikings/Scandanavia
Local Assemblies Ting

Kings and nobles

2. From Assemblies to Parliaments

a. Iceland Althing

b. Netherlands, Flanders

3. England

Struggle for Parliamentary supremacy

Growth of Cabinet system
Robert Dahl, On Democracy p 15 of 39

Montesquieu, Separation of Powers

King, Lords, Commons

4. America

postive and negative example of ancients

positive and negative model of British Constitution

5. France

C. By 1700 Representative Democracy Launcyed

Pol ideas and practices established that would become elements of democratic
beliefs and institutions

What had not been achieved? Limitations:

1. Huge Inequalities

2. Parliaments and Assemblies themselves undemocratic

did not control Kings ministers
privileged still dominated

3. Unrepresentative
whole people not really represented
men, wealth

4. Democratic Beliefs not widely shared or understood

democracy not a good thing until 1800s
Political opposition, freedom lacked legitimacy
political parties condemned
mass participation not encouraged
deference to betters prevailed
elections corrupt

D. Democracy: Past and Future

1. Not inevitable march, setbacks

2. Not inevitable future

Robert Dahl, On Democracy p 16 of 39

depends on us. Democracy chancy.

CHAPTER 3 what lies ahead

1. Democracy as Ideal and actuality

2. A word about words: empirical judgments/ value judgments

3. questions to be asked: p. 29
Goals and ideals Actual demo govs
What is demo? Why Demo? What pol What conditions
institutions does favor democracy
demo require?
ch. 4 ch. 5-7 Part III Part IV
Robert Dahl, On Democracy p 17 of 39

goals and ideals
Some other definitions of democracy

Literally rule by the people. democracy as more than a peoples right to participate in governance, it
means all people hold power and can exercise it to create our common worldcitizens exercising
power in all facets of public life. Green book: p. 23

A democracy is more than a form of government; it is primarily a mode of associated living, of

conjoint communicated experience. each has to refer his own actions to that of others, and to
consider the action of others to give point and direction to his own (John Dewey: Democracy and
Education, Free Press 1944. p. 87

Dahl p. 37

A. Definition
all the members are to be treated as if they were equally qualified to participate in the
process of making decisions about the policies the association will pursue.

Key element is political equality

B. Criteria for a Democratic Process

1. Effective Participation

2. Voting Equality

3. Enlightened Understanding

4. Control of the Agenda

5. Inclusion of adults

C. Some Crucial Questions

1. Can we apply the criteria to the government of a state?

2. Is it realistic to thin that an association could ever fully meet these criteria
not really
Robert Dahl, On Democracy p 18 of 39

how does an unreachable ideal help us?

3. Are these criteria all we wouild need for designing democratic political

4. Why should we believe that Democracy is desirable, particularly in governing an

association as important as the state?
Robert Dahl, On Democracy p 19 of 39

goals and ideals

Democracy Produces Desirable Consequences

1. Avoiding Tyranny
examples of tyrants
fear of majority tyranny, majority harm.

2. Essential Rights
Other rights must be granted for democracy to be effective
effective participation.

3. Personal Freedom
Wide range of personal freedoms
What do anarchists say? What is Anarchy? Anarchy and Public Achievement.

4. Protecting Personal Interests: Democracy helps people protect their

fundamental interests.

5. Self Determination:
Only democracy can provide a maximum opportunity for persons to exercise
the freedom of self-determinations that is to live under laws of their own
choosing. pg. 53-54

6. Moral Autonomy: max opportunity for moral responsibility

Moral responsibility: you adopt your moral principles and make decisions
that depend on these principles only after you have engaged in a thoughtful

7. Human Development
Dahl says this is an empirical claim, more controversial
characteristics we want to foster: honesty, courage, fairness, love

8. Political Equality
Foster a high degree of pol equality

In addition modern democracies produce

9. Peace-seeking
Robert Dahl, On Democracy p 20 of 39

counting the wars


10. Prosperity
asssociaiton with affinity between representative democracy and a market
foster high education
rule of law, independent courts, property rights
dependence on communication
Robert Dahl, On Democracy p 21 of 39

goals and ideals

A. Is Equality Self Evident

Declaration of Independence
possible meanings

B. Intrinsic Equality: A Moral Judgment

not an empirical statement
but a statement of how people ought to be treated. (as if they were equal)

C. Why should we adopt the moral principle of intrinsic Equality?

1. Ethical and religious grounds

2. Weakness of an Alternative Principle

3. Prudence
government has great power for good, but also for harm
governing process that put you in privileged position could turn on you.

3. Acceptability
more people will accept this idea. If you accept it they may too.
Robert Dahl, On Democracy p 22 of 39

goals and ideals


1. What is guardianship and how argued?

based on the analogy of doctor, pilot

2. Problems with the analogy

a. personal decisions by individuals not equivalent to decisions by
b. to govern a state requires more than strictly scientific knowledge
(ethical judgments)
c. good ends often conflict with each other trade offs needed
d. Even where agreement prevails on the ends,
Much conflict and disagreement about the means

Thus to govern a state well takes more than knowledge

e. even if guardians have superior knowledge, power will corrupt

f. to design a utopia is not to implement it
How will guardians be chosen?

3. The Competence of Citizens to govern

Rejecting guardianship leads to this conclusion:
Among adults, no persons are so definitely better qualified than others to
govern that they should be entrusted with compete and final authority over
the government of a state.

every adult should be allowed to judge what is best for his our her own good
or interests.

a. Adults not children b. not all adults

4. Fifth Democratic Standard: Inclusion

If you are deprived of an equal voice in government chances are high your
interests will be neglected.
John Stuart Mill and the working class
Slaves, women
Robert Dahl, On Democracy p 23 of 39

Full inclusion: citizen body in a democratically governed state must include

all persons subject to the laws of that state, except transients and persons
proved to be incapable of caring for themselves.

6. Unsettled Problems
a. Importance of Expertise vis a vis democratic decision making
b. Citizen competence and Civic Education p. 70 IMPORTANT FOR PA
perfect conclusion for PA p. 80.
What Political Institutions Does Large-Scale Democracy Require? (ch. 8 p. 83)

A. Word about words


B. How can we know?

look at countries that have become/made transition to democracy
look at countries generally considered to be democratic
reflect on a specific country, group of countries, or a hypothetical
Either way same set of democratic institutions

C. The Instutions
1. Elected Officials
2. Free, fair, frequent elections
3. Freedom of expression
4. Access to alternative sources of information
5. Associational autonomy
6. Inclusive Citizenship

D. Political Institutions in perspective

1. Historical development of democracy

Which institutions came first
brief account of first political parties Jeffersonians

2. Word about words: polyarchy

democracy traditionally meant only some men could vote
Robert Dahl, On Democracy p 24 of 39

modern democracy that meets all 6 criteria is new

Dahl calls it polyarchical democracy

3. Are some of the institutions simply a product of historical

development and not really necessary for democracy?

E. The Factor of Size

all the institutions necessary for a democratic country would not\
always be required for a unit much smaller than a country.

Governments of small organizations would not have to be full-fledged representative

Robert Dahl, On Democracy p 25 of 39

F. Institutions and Criteria

in a country these are necessary to meet How to apply this in
insititutions the following democratic small groups like PA?
1. Elected Officials Effective Participation
Control of the Agenda
2. Free, fair, frequent Voting Equality
elections Control of the Agenda
3. Freedom of expression Effective Participation
Enlightened Understanding
Control of the Agenda
4. Access to alternative Effective Participation
sources of information Enlightened Understanding
Control of the Agenda
5. Associational autonomy Effective Participation
Enlightened Understanding
Control of the Agenda
6. Inclusive Citizenship Full Inclusion

G. Questions about the Criteria

1. Why and when does Democracy require Elected Representatives?

early town meeting democracy
earlier view of democracy and republics: direct participation
representative democracy was a contradiction in terms
America (and Britain) Representative Republic
older tradition forgotten

2. Why does Democracy require free, fair and frequent elections?

Equal and effective Participation
Free Fair Frequent

3. Why does Democracy require Free Expression?

To Participate Effectively..
must be able to make your views known, to persuade others
must be able to hear what others have to say, to be persuaded
Civic Competence and Enlightened understanding need free expression
Cant affect the Agenda if cant have free expression
Robert Dahl, On Democracy p 26 of 39

4. Why does Democracy Require the Availability of Alternative and Independent

Sources of Information?

5. Why does Democracy Require Independent Associations?

Need to organize and conduct elections, if one group, why not others?
Politics need not stop between elections
Associations contribute to understanding, civic competence

6. Why does Democracy Require Inclusive Citizenship?

H. Polyarchical Democracy
ideal or less than ideal?
depends on current status of democracy: older democracies to go beyond
newer to achieve this ideal
Robert Dahl, On Democracy p 27 of 39

Varieties I Democracy on Different Scales (ch. 9 p. 100)

1. Democracy Greek vs. Modern

Two differences
a. inclusion
b. election of representatives
Greek democracy was a primary or assembly or town meeting democracy

2. Assembly democracy vs. representative democracy

a. Dahl reminds us that assembly democracy was main democratic idea for a long
Other thnkers Rosseau
Representation had a shady past: not democratic in intent
representation is not really self government: ordinary citizens dont have
opportunities for participating effectively in decisions

b. Democracy reconfigured as Representative democracy: Why?

1. Representation already existed medieval estates, could evolve into a kind
of democracy - opportunity for reformers.
Destutt de Tracy, James Mill 1820: Representation the grand discovery of
modern times.
2. nation state obviously too large for assembly democracy

3. Size and Democracy

number of persons and extent of territory
territorial problem could be solved by electronic democracy
but number of citizens naturally limits ability to discuss

What is ideal size for democracy? How big is too big?

Greek city state 2,000-10,000 Athens 60,000
Table 1 shows as size increases, time for discussion becomes impossible

Even in an assembly democracy a de facto kind of representation takes place

not everyone speaks. Some listen and judge

4. Democratic Limits of Representative Government

great democratic defect of Rep gov
time it would take for constitutents to communicate with representative.
U.S. representative would need 130 days to meet for 10 mins with all constits
Robert Dahl, On Democracy p 28 of 39

Law of time and numbers affects both assembly democracy and rep demo

5. Fundamental Democratic Dilemma

goal should be:
-to establish a demo system that provides maximum opportunities for
citizens to participate in political decisions
- maximum scope to deal effectively with problems of greatest concern to

smaller unit: more participation/ less important problems

a. Small is Beautifulsometimes

Town Meetings: Limits and possibilities

citizens stay home when unimportant issues only on agenda

b. Bigger is Better..sometimes
Achilles heel of small state 0 military weakness vs large state
also: economics, traffic, transportaion, communication, health etc.

Is it possible to see a world where large states have vanished, replaced only by
small populations? No

6. Dark Side of Democracy: Bargaining among elites

citizens delegate enormous discretionary authority to elites

this is a nondemocratic process

7. Can International Organizations be Democratic?

Dahl thinks this is harder than even for national state.
Bargaining, hierarchy and markets even more important

8. Robust Pluralistic Society within Democratic countries

municipal governments, also states or regions

Democratic principles on p. 118 suggest possible democratic governments for

Robert Dahl, On Democracy p 29 of 39

Chapter 10
Varieties II Constitutions

Do differences in Constitutions of democratic countries really matter?

Looks at older democracies first.
Constitutions defined broadly to include unwritten.

A. What are the important Variations?

1. Written or unwritten?
2. Bill of Rights?
3. Social and Economic Rights?
4. Federal or Unitary?
5. Unicameral or bicameral legislature?
6. Judicial Review?
7. Tenure of judges for life, or limited term?
8. Referenda?
9. Presidential or Parliamentary?
10. Electoral System?

B. How Constitutions make a difference

1. Stability
2. Fundamental Rights
3. Neutrality
4. Accountability
5. Fair Representation
6. Informed Consensus
7. Effective Government
8. Competent Decisions
9. Transparency and Comprehensibility
10. Resiliency
11. Legitimacy

C. How Much of a Difference Do the Differences Make?

additional evidence from newer democracies and failed democracies.
Each of these variations has existed in a stable democracy;

1. If underlying conditions highly favorable, stability is likely with any
Robert Dahl, On Democracy p 30 of 39

constitutional variation.
2. If underlying conditions highly unfavorable, no constitutional variations can
provide stability.
3. Where conditions neither favorable nor unfavorable, where democracy
chancy, but not impossible, the choice of constitutional design might matter.

a well designed constitution might help democracy to survive,

whereas a poorly designed constitution might contribute to breakdown of

Other values besides stability

fairness of representation
effectiveness of government
legitimacy of government
Robert Dahl, On Democracy p 31 of 39

Chapter 11
Varieties III: Parties and Electoral Systems

Political Parties and electoral systems, some of the most impactful political


A. Proportional Representation
B. First Past the Post (SMDP)

C. Two systems evaluated

1. Fairness
example explaining its unfairness of FPTP
More evenly distributed, more unfairness
(51% in every district means 100% in legislature)

2. Number of Parties
debate over relative merits of two or multi party systems
advantages of each mirror its disadvantages
a. two party system simplifies choices
b. two party system leads to effective government


A. Continental European Option: Parliamentary gov + PR

B. British or Westminster Option: Parliamentary Gov + FPTP

C. The U.S. Option: Presidential Gov + FPTP

D. Latin American Option: Presidential Gov + PR

E. Mixed Options
French Fifth Republic Pres + parl + modified FPTP


A. most of the basic problems of a country cant be solved by constitutional design

Robert Dahl, On Democracy p 32 of 39

Underlying Conditions very important

B. Democratic Stability is not the only criterion

Fair representation; transparency; comprehensibility; responsiveness;
effective government

C. All Constitutional Arrangements have disadvantages

There is no perfect constitution

D. U.S. System is exceedingly complicated

works OK here through pol culture, skills, practices
But U.S. probably should not be imitated

E. Latin American Combination may be associated with breakdowns.

Thomas Jefferson: Revolution every 20 years?

Dahl: No, but maybe a constitutional review
Robert Dahl, On Democracy p 33 of 39

Chapter 12
What Underlying Conditions Favor Democracy?


A. No Strong Foreign Control Hostile to Democracy

B. Control of Military and Police by Elected Officials
C. Democratic Beliefs and Political Culture
What are these beliefs? p. 157
How are they created?


A. Modern Market Economy and Society

B. Weak Subcultural Pluralism
How to deal with subcultures?
1. Assimilation (U.S.) or repression (U.S. & Soviet)
2. Consensus -veto to minorities
3. Electoral Systems to require support of more than one group
4. Separation
a. federalism or confederalism
but subgroups must be geographically separated
problem of Quebec
b. secession and independence
not a real solution


A. India does not meet many of the conditions
B. some of the conditions are met
control of military and police
popular support for democracy
minorities too small and intermingled to rule alone


A. danger of intervention by outside powers hostile to democracy declined
B. Lure of military dictatorships declined
C. new democracies somewhat homogenous
D. Visible failures of totalitarian systems, military dictatorships
E. Spread of Market Capitalism
Robert Dahl, On Democracy p 34 of 39
Robert Dahl, On Democracy p 35 of 39

Ch. 13
Why Market-Capitalism Favors Democracy
A. Five important conclusions (two here, three next chapter)

1. Polyarchal democracy has enured only in countries with predominantly market

capitalist economies. It has never endured in a country with apredominantly
nonmarket economy

2. Certain features of market-capitalism make it favorable to democracy

Certain features on nonmarket economy harmful to democratic process

a. markets led to economic growth, cut acute poverty, reduce

social and pol conflict
provides resources for non zero sum solutions

b. social and political consequences

creates a large middle class of property owners who seek education, personal
freedom, rule of law, property rights, and participation in government

c. Command economy puts incredible power in hands of political elites

power corrupts..
market economy avoids this temptation

B. Some Qualifications

1. Market Capitalism has existed in nondemocratic countries

In Taiwan, S. Korea it undermined authoritarian regiemes

China: denomouement of a momentous historical drama

will market capitalism undermine and democratize communism?

2. Market capitalism need not be industrial or post industrial to be fav. for demo
Economy was highly decentralized

3. War time exceptions to decentralized economy

Robert Dahl, On Democracy p 36 of 39

Ch. 14
Why Market-Capitalism Harms Democracy
Return to five important conclusions:

3. Democracy and Market-capitalism are locked in a persistent conflict in which

each modifies and limits the other

a. market capitalisms suffering and widespread suffrage led to regulation

b. basic institutions of market capitalism require extensive regulation and


without intervention and regulation, economy inflicts serious harm on

some, and they demand intervention

Note: list of interventions on pl. 176

4. Because market capitalism inevitably creates inequalities, it limits the

democratic potential of polyarchal democracy by generating inequalities in
distribution of political resources.

5. market capitalism favors democratic development up to level of polyarchal

democracy. But because of its adverse consequences for political equality
It is unfavorable to development of democracy beyond the level of polyarchy
Robert Dahl, On Democracy p 37 of 39

Ch. 15
The Unfinished Journey
What lies ahead?
20th century -often appeared dark period for democracy
-Turned out to be an era of unparalleled triumph
Yet Democracy has been rare to human experience

Future is uncertain:
Will it be replaced by a non-democratic system? Guardianship in some form?
Will it continue its global expansion?
Will democracy become broader in reach and shallower in depth?

confidence to predict certain problems or challenges will remain, grow more daunting.

Nature and quality of democracy will depend on how well democratic citizens and
leaders meet these challenges:


A. Market-capitalism unlikely to be displaced

1. labor/socialist parties abandoned nationalization as goal
communism collapsed
B. the antagonistic cohabitation will persist

1) internal governments of capitalist firms are undemocratic, despotisms

profits distributed in highly unequal fashion
2) worker ownership and management economic democracy?
Only experiment ended with Yugoslavia
Trade Unions not pushing for internal democracy

Internationalism, globalization likely to expand domain of decisions made by
political and bureaucratic elites

need is to find ways to hold bureaucratic elites accountable, and remember the
costs to democracy.


Moderate level of cultural homogeneity favorable to democracy
Older democracies dealt with diversity in undemocratic ways in the past.
Robert Dahl, On Democracy p 38 of 39

Diversity seems likely to increase

A. Increasing Demands
Those who had been discriminated against joined movements of cultural
identity that sought to protect their rights and interests

Women, color, language minorities, immigrants, homosexuals, ethnic

minorities in historic regions

B. Immigration
from poorer countries to older democracies
business needs for cheap labor
impossibility of sealing off border


recall one basic criterion for democracy: enlightened understanding

A. How do citizens acquire civic education in older democracies?

1. Formal education
Dahl: for literacy
I add: direct socialization
indirect socialization

2. Mass Media
widespread info available cheaply
I add: What about infotainment, popular culture, cynicism and incivility?
does extra info lead to declining party Id?

2. Political Parties
competition between office seekers and parties
parties also as low cost voting cue
reduce need for much political information

4. Interest Groups
associations seeking particular concerns
special kind of representation
Id add internal communication and mobilization

5. Incrementalism
Robert Dahl, On Democracy p 39 of 39

step by step policy changes, rational in uncertain environment

How does this relate to civic education?

B. Three interrelated developments

likely to render these standard solutions deficient

1. Changes in Scale
decisions are being made that cover more and more people over larger and
larger areas

2. Complexity
while formal education levels has risen
complexity of issues has increased even more

3. Communications
sheer amount of information available has increased
But may not lead to greater competence or understanding