Unbearable Lightness of Democracy
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When is a democracy perfect? Even if we subscribe to the minimalist definition ofdemocracy, or to a more demanding one, the answer remains difficult. We usually struggle to control difficulties by assigning the dimension of time to this definition: this is the notion ofconsolidation. The notion of quality is even more evasive, and inseparable from a comparative touch: if, as many utopists dreamed, the world would be united in only one political unit, wherepolitical office would be accessed via some form of competition, the meaning of quality would become impossible to grasp. And when is a democratic society perfect? Spooling the democraticpolicies of the most advanced democracies of our time the temptation is to answer that perfection of a democratic society is attained when equal opportunity becomes truly the rule of the game,not only in national politics, but also in every sector of life. Of course, nobody has reached this ideal yet. However, we do tend to consider some democratic societies better than others, thoughhere again the opinions are divided. Are post-material societies, as Ronald Inglehart calls them, or feminine societies, as they are labeled by Geert Hofstede, better than the average Westerndemocracy as we know it, and do these differences reveal something on their nature as democracies, or rather on their nature as societies? Again the answer is elusive: post-materialsocieties are wonderful if a country is already developed and soft power is great, as long as nobody wages war on one’s country.

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