chapter  9
8 Pages

Democracy as a Coalition of Cultures

ByAaron Wildavsky, Charles Lockhart, Richard M. Coughlin

The relationship of each of the cultures to democracy is curvilinear—Paracelsus's dictum "the poison is the dose," applies to the body politic as well. Egalitarians, according to cultural theory, are more likely to favor restriction of speech and assembly they perceive as antiegalitarian, antiminority, antiwomen, antigay. To hierarchical supporters of democracy, however, weakening and delegitimizing government is anathema because they have institutions they wish to defend. A considerable body of opinion among political scientists holds that democracy is safe as long as elites do most of the governing and they believe firmly in procedures facilitating competition, more firmly than does the general citizenry. The idea that the balance between cultures is as important as the content in explaining democratic success has been most fully developed by Harry Eckstein in his classic Theory of Stable Democracy. He argues that democracy requires authority that "contains a balance of disparate elements".