Towards a Definition of Democracy

  • Howard P. Kainz


This description by Freud of the ‘primal scene’ and the ‘primal crime’ was not meant to be a metapsychological account for the development of democracy. But it does indicate that in the evolution of civilisation there has been a gradual and seminal but quite constant drift towards the appropriation of power by masses who were formerly subject to arbitrary rule of some sort.


Direct Democracy Representative Democracy Modern Democracy American Revolution Ancient Model 
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  1. 1.
    E.g. Robert Ardrey, in The Social Contract (NY: Atheneum, 1970) p. 100f; and as we shall see later in this chapter, M. ten Hoor would like to see a certain amount of ‘chaos’ as an ingredient for a viable definition of democracy.Google Scholar
  2. 6.
    Although these features have become explicit during a relatively brief period in modern times, there were long and laborious intellectual and attitudinal transitions in the Middle Ages which paved the way for most of the modern innovations, as Carl Friedrich points out in his excellent book, Transcendent Justice: the Religious Dimensions of Constitution (North Carolina: Duke University, 1964).Google Scholar
  3. 9.
    See Adrienne Koch, The Philosophy of Thomas Jefferson (Chicago: Quadrangle, 1964) p. 151.Google Scholar
  4. 11.
    From Jefferson’s letter to John Taylor, in The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, A. E. Bergh ed. (Wash., DC: Jefferson Memorial Assn., 1903) XV, 19.Google Scholar
  5. 14.
    Political scientists use various terms to refer to this phenomenon. Dye and Ziegler in The Irony of Democracy (NY: Wadsworth, 1970) call it ‘pluralism’ — a term which emphasises the interaction of multiple, often competing political élites;Google Scholar
  6. Pennock in Democratic Political Theory (Princeton University Press, 1979) refers to it as ‘social pluralism’, i.e. rule by various natural social, racial, occupational, religious, ethnic and sectional groupings;Google Scholar
  7. Frankel in the Democratic Prospect (NY: Harper, 1962) speaks of ‘Politicking’ as a necessity in the American system and ten Hoor in Freedom Limited refers to the necessity for conflict and compromise — necessities which are conditioned, of course, by the presence of multiple special interest groups, organisations and lobbies’.Google Scholar
  8. 15.
    Clinton Rossiter, Alexander Hamilton and the Constitution (NY: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1965) passim;Google Scholar
  9. Carl Friedrich, Man and His Government (NY: McGraw Hill, 1963), ch. XVII;Google Scholar
  10. 21.
    See Richard Goodwin, The American Condition (NY: Doubleday, 1974) passim;Google Scholar
  11. Norman Brown, Love’s Body (NY: Vintage, 1966) p. 9.Google Scholar
  12. 22.
    See Wm. Kornhauser, ‘The Politics of Confrontation’, in The New American Revolution (NY: Free Press, 1971).Google Scholar
  13. 24.
    Robt. Paul Wolff, offers a detailed proposal for ‘Instant Direct Democracy’ in In Defense of Anarchism (NY: Harper, 1970) pp. 34ff.Google Scholar

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© Howard P. Kainz 1984

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  • Howard P. Kainz

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