The Difficulty of Democracy: Diagnoses and Prognoses
February 14–16, 2014
In spite of its advantages as an ideal form of government, democracy has proven to be remarkably difficult to establish and to maintain in reality. While it remained a rare exception for much of human history, its spread in the modern world has not had the character of a triumphant march but rather of a tortured path dominated by failed attempts, transformations into dictatorship, and degenerations into civil war. Even the most successful cases, Great Britain, France, and the United States, were marked by a concurrence of the rise of democratic institutions with an imperialist expansion that created a de facto hierarchy of citizens and non-citizens familiar also in ancient Athens. The purpose of the Eighth Annual Telos conference will be to analyze the key characteristics of democracy in order to determine, first, the precise advantages and disadvantages of this form of government in comparison to alternatives, second, the reasons for its rarity and volatility, and, third, the factors that are essential for its stability. We welcome paper submissions that address issues such as classical and modern theories of democracy, case studies of successful or failed democracies around the world, antinomies and conflicts within established democracies, revolutionary movements as progenitors of democracy, degeneration of democracies into other forms of government, the importance of culture and representation for founding and maintaining democracy, and the economic requirements and consequences of democracy. Please send an abstract and short c.v. to firstname.lastname@example.org by August 31, 2013.