by Bruce Thornton
Hoover Institution
July 07, 2014
By democracy we usually mean a government comprising popular rule, individual human rights and freedom, and a free-market economy. Yet the flaws in traditional Athenian democracy can instruct us on the weaknesses of that first element of modern democracies shared with Athens: rule by all citizens equally. In Democracy’s Dangers and Discontents, Bruce Thornton discusses those criticisms first aired by ancient critics of Athenian democracy and their relevance to the United States’ current problems – many of which are the consequences of the increasing democratization of our government. The flaws of democracy, being ultimately an expression of the flaws in human nature, are unlikely to be corrected. Yet the continuing vigor of the US Constitution and the American character give us hope that democracy’s dangers and discontents do not have to end in soft despotism. We can restore the limited government of the founders and recover American democracy’s “aptitude and strength.”

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