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The Inner Enemies of Democracy | Zookal Textbooks | Zookal Textbooks
  • Author(s) Tzvetan Todorov
  • Edition1
  • Published5th September 2014
  • PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons (UK)
  • ISBN9780745685748

The political history of the twentieth century can be viewed as
the history of democracy?s struggle against its external
enemies: fascism and communism. This struggle ended with the fall
of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet regime. Some
people think that democracy now faces new enemies: Islamic
fundamentalism, religious extremism and international
terrorism and that this is the struggle that will define our
times. Todorov disagrees: the biggest threat to democracy today is
democracy itself. Its enemies are within: what the ancient Greeks
called 'hubris'.


Todorov argues that certain democratic values have been
distorted and pushed to an extreme that serves the interests of
dominant states and powerful individuals. In the name of
?democracy? and ?human rights?, the United
States and some European countries have embarked on a crusade to
enlighten some foreign populations through the use of force. Yet
this mission to ?help? others has led to Abu Ghraib and
Guantanamo, to large-scale destruction and loss of life and to a
moral crisis of growing proportions. The defence of freedom, if
unlimited, can lead to the tyranny of individuals.


Drawing on recent history as well as his own experience of
growing up in a totalitarian regime, Todorov returns to examples
borrowed from the Western canon: from a dispute between Augustine
and Pelagius to the fierce debates among Enlightenment
thinkers to explore the origin of these perversions of
democracy. He argues compellingly that the real democratic ideal is
to be found in the delicate, ever-changing balance between
competing principles, popular sovereignty, freedom and progress.
When one of these elements breaks free and turns into an
over-riding principle, it becomes dangerous: populism,
ultra-liberalism and messianism, the inner enemies of
democracy.

The Inner Enemies of Democracy

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  • Author(s) Tzvetan Todorov
  • Edition1
  • Published5th September 2014
  • PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons (UK)
  • ISBN9780745685748

The political history of the twentieth century can be viewed as
the history of democracy?s struggle against its external
enemies: fascism and communism. This struggle ended with the fall
of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet regime. Some
people think that democracy now faces new enemies: Islamic
fundamentalism, religious extremism and international
terrorism and that this is the struggle that will define our
times. Todorov disagrees: the biggest threat to democracy today is
democracy itself. Its enemies are within: what the ancient Greeks
called 'hubris'.


Todorov argues that certain democratic values have been
distorted and pushed to an extreme that serves the interests of
dominant states and powerful individuals. In the name of
?democracy? and ?human rights?, the United
States and some European countries have embarked on a crusade to
enlighten some foreign populations through the use of force. Yet
this mission to ?help? others has led to Abu Ghraib and
Guantanamo, to large-scale destruction and loss of life and to a
moral crisis of growing proportions. The defence of freedom, if
unlimited, can lead to the tyranny of individuals.


Drawing on recent history as well as his own experience of
growing up in a totalitarian regime, Todorov returns to examples
borrowed from the Western canon: from a dispute between Augustine
and Pelagius to the fierce debates among Enlightenment
thinkers to explore the origin of these perversions of
democracy. He argues compellingly that the real democratic ideal is
to be found in the delicate, ever-changing balance between
competing principles, popular sovereignty, freedom and progress.
When one of these elements breaks free and turns into an
over-riding principle, it becomes dangerous: populism,
ultra-liberalism and messianism, the inner enemies of
democracy.

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