chapter  13
13 Pages

Modernity and democracy

The new millennium dawned on a world that seemed more democratic than ever before in its history. Indeed, the twentieth century had in many ways been the age of democracy, when, to quote Hobsbawm once more, ‘For better or worse – the common people entered history as actors in their own collective right’ (1995: 582). By the century’s end few indeed were the governments that still claimed to rule by divine right, as many had done 100 years earlier. The twentieth century’s numerous authoritarian regimes, like the Fascists and the countless military dictatorships, had made a practice of appealing to the masses, while the communists, ruling in the name of the proletariat, had claimed to offer a more genuine form of democracy than that practised in the West. But by the end of the century even such authoritarian forms of government were in retreat and parliamentary democracies were establishing themselves throughout the former communist and ‘Third’ worlds. It is the issue of the apparent spread of democracy through the EMCs, and the limitations to that process, that are the subject of the present chapter.