Examines the history of both the theory and practice of democracy and the fierce opposition it so often provoked. Arblaster finds that, through most of history, democracy meant what we now call "direct" democracy, rather than the representative democracy we are now familiar with.
Anthony Arblaster examines the history of both the theory and practice of democracy and the fierce opposition it so often provoked. He finds that through most of history democracy meant what we now call "direct" democracy - the people governing themselves directly through participation in the processes of decision-taking and policy-making. The representative type of democracy we are now familiar with was a relatively late arrival on the scene. Arblaster finds the core of the idea of democracy in the notion of popular power and, in the second part of the book, he explores the meaning of this and the problem it involves. Drawing on the classical writings of Rousseau, Paine and John Stuart Mill, he shows how wide the gap is between their idea of a fully democratic society and the limited realities of the Western democracies of today. Democracy, he argues, remains a relevant ideal and a challenge to conventional political thinking. This edition has been updated to take particular account of the collapse of European communism.