Postwar Theories of Democracy and Democratization: What went wrong?
“Actually existing” democracies have fallen onto hard times. From Trump’s America to Putin’s Russia, from Orban’s Hungary to Erdogan’s Turkey and Bolsonaro’s Brazil, democratic values such as liberty, equality, respect for human rights and human diversity, seem to have lost their popularity among the majority of the electorates, who increasingly fall for the particularistic rhetoric of authoritarian populists. As particularistic tendencies seem to overwhelm universalistic aspirations and authoritarian bids to power seek to chip off the democratic gains of the last seven decades, the clock seems to be set back where we have started thinking about the possibilities of worldwide democratization at the end of the Second World War.
It is against this background, that this course will focus on postwar theories of democracy and democratization. We shall read and discuss the works of such thinkers and theorists as Kant, Weber, Schumpeter, Dahl, Lipset, Almond, Verba, Huntington, Arendt, Rawls, and Habermas in an attempt to find answers to the questions: what went wrong in our post-war conceptualizations of democracy and democratization? Was/is democracy indeed an “actually existing” reality in some parts of the world — In the West? In the East? In the North? Or was/still is democratization a goal, that no country on the face of the earth have yet a right to claim to have reached? Should we revise and radicalize our understanding of democracy and democratization, to make the world “safe for democracy” once again? If yes why and how? If not, why not?