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Can the Whole World Become Democratic Essay

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CSD

Center for the Study of Democracy

An Organized Research Unit University of California, Irvine www.democ.uci.edu

I want to begin by thanking the UC Irvine Center for Democracy, for asking me to present this lecture. Harry Eckstein was one of the great contributors to the social science literature on the conditions for democracy and on political culture. And this Center is one of the most active, creative, and resourceful academic centers on democracy. I know that no small measure of the credit for that goes to the intellectual inspiration that Harry Eckstein gave his colleagues here at UC Irvine, and also to the leadership of Professor Russ Dalton. My subject tonight is a difficult one. It would be hard enough to address it in normal circumstances. But these are far from normal times. We are in the midst of a major war whose primary purpose, in the minds of many of the Administration officials who have pressed for it relentlessly, is to spread democracy in the most unlikely of places. I will briefly address this challenge near the end of my lecture, and will welcome your comments and questions. But mainly, I want to address a broader question: Can any country become a democracy. Which is to ask as well, can every country become a democracy? Let me begin by talking about the stunning trend of the past three decades. As Samuel Huntington has documented in his seminal work, The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century, a powerful wave of democratic transitions began in April 1974, when the Portuguese dictatorship was overthrown in a military coup. It was far from clear then (28 years ago this month) that Portugal would become a democracy. It had never been one before. It had just been through half a century of quasi-fascist rule. The Spanish dictator, Francisco Franco, held on to power over the border. Both countries were steeped in a Latin, Catholic culture that was dismissed by many political scientists and commentators as being unsuited...

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