chapter
3 Pages

Introduction

ByAlain Touraine

For several centuries the authors have associated democracy with human liberation, thanks to a combination of reason, economic growth, and popular sovereignty, from the prisons of ignorance, dependency, tradition, and divine right. They undertook to give society an economic, political, and cultural impetus by freeing it from all absolutes, religions, and state ideologies, so that it would be subject only to truth and to the criteria of knowledge. Great revolutionary hopes have been transformed into totalitarian nightmares or state bureaucracies. Revolution and democracy have proved to be enemies, and one does not lead to the other. The world, exhausted by calls for mobilization, would readily settle for peace, tolerance, and well-being, with liberty reduced to meaning protection from authoritarianism and arbitrary rule. The chapter presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. It helps in reconstructing the political space and to promote the rebirth of democratic convictions by combating both these threats.