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The impact of 1989 on theoretical perceptions of democracy

Der Einfluss von 1989 auf theoretische Wahrnehmungen der Demokratie
[working paper]

Blokker, Paul

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Abstract The revolutions of 1989 have predominantly been understood as the confirmation of Western, liberal democracy as the ultimate model of the modern polity. Here, it is however argued that there is more to 1989 than the mere collapse of the communist world as the direct alternative to Western modernity. 1989 has had subtle implications for rethinking democracy. 1989 should not be understood as merely marking the triumph of Western liberal democracy, but instead, it can be shown that the events of 1989 and dissident thought also entailed a variety of alternative democratic models, the retrieval of which can help reinvigorate (and in many cases has already done so) current debates on democracy. In the essay, I will first argue that the general interpretation of 1989 as a triumph of liberal democracy is problematic. I will then proceed by discussing four alternative understandings of democracy that have emerged with 1989, for analytical purposes represented as democratic models: radicalized liberal democracy, republican democracy, civil democracy, and cosmopolitan democracy. The alternative dimensions of democracy as articulated by East-Central European dissidents have been sensed, picked up, and re-elaborated in political theory since 1989, in this contributing to perceptive shifts in the democratic imaginary.
Keywords democracy; communism; political history; political change; liberalism; Eastern Europe; dissident; political theory; cosmopolitanism; republicanism
Classification Basic Research, General Concepts and History of Political Science; Political Process, Elections, Political Sociology, Political Culture
Method descriptive study; historical
Free Keywords 1989; Cosmopolitanism; Dissent; Liberal Democracy; Republicanism
Document language English
Publication Year 2008
City Berlin
Page/Pages 15 p.
Series Working Paper Series of the Research Network 1989, 21
Status Published Version; not reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works