Berkowitz Book Review Appears in Weekly Standard
A century ago democracy existed in only 10 countries in the world, as opposed to today when 119 (two-thirds) of the world's countries have democratic governments, writes Professor Peter Berkowitz in his review of Michael Mandelbaum's book Democracy's Good Name: The Rise and Risks of the World's Most Popular Form of Government for The Weekly Standard.
Mandelbaum's book attempts to account for the success of democracy and to evaluate its extension in the future, says Berkowitz, while it argues that the spread of liberty abroad depends on the example set by the U.S. at home.
Democracy at Home; The promise and peril of universal suffrage, The Weekly Standard, October 22, 2007. By Peter Berkowitz.
"Michael Mandelbaum's excellent and broadly accessible book seeks to account for democracy's success, and to assess the prospects for its extension. Mandelbaum, a professor of American foreign policy at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, is cautiously optimistic.
"To understand democracy's rise and its current golden reputation, he argues, it is necessary to appreciate, as even learned commentators seldom do, that 'what the world of the twenty-first century calls democracy is, in fact, a fusion of two political traditions that, for most of recorded history, were not only separate and distinct from each other but were seen by virtually all those who took an interest in politics as entirely incompatible.' This fusion of liberty and popular sovereignty, or rule by the people through free, fair, and regular elections, produced 'a hybrid political form' that has proved remarkably resilient.
"Neither of the two component parts alone provides all the goods that we have come to associate with democracy. Absent either, democracy as we have come to know it is unthinkable:
"Liberty belongs to individuals; self-government to the community as a whole. Liberty involves what governments do, or, more accurately, what they are forbidden to do--they are forbidden to abridge individual freedoms. Self-government, by contrast, has to do with the way those who govern are chosen--they are chosen by all the people. Self-government therefore answers the question of who governs, while liberty prescribes rules for how those who govern may do so. Liberty refers to the way the machinery of government operates, self-government to the identity of the operators."