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Single Idea 19828

[catalogued under 25. Society / C. Political Doctrines / 5. Democracy / a. Nature of democracy]

Full Idea

No government is so subject to civil wars and internal agitations as a democratic or popular one, since there is none that tends so forcefully and continuously to change its form, or that demands greater vigilance and courage to keep its form.

Gist of Idea

Democracy leads to internal strife, as people struggle to maintain or change ways of ruling


Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1762], III.05)

A Reaction

We would like to think that a robust democracy, with a free press, can cope with all this strife and still survive. He may be thinking of the English Civil War. Democracies seem to be more conservative about the structure of government.

Book Reference

Rousseau,Jean-Jacques: 'The Basic Political Writings', ed/tr. Cress,Donald A. [Hackett 1987], p.180