For the past 60 years, democratic theory has more than held a central place at the
core of political theory. The collapse of European fascism as well as the opposition
to Soviet communism produced a robust discourse about the nature of democracy
not only as a theory of politics, but as the very ground of legitimacy for modern
government and the overall structure of modern society. True, libertarians tried
overzealously to fuse political democracy and the ethic of human liberation to the
market and to capitalism, but more influential were those thinkers who sought to
tame the excesses of laissez faire economics and create a modern, social liberalism
– from L. T. Hobhouse, T. H. Green, Walter Weyl, John Dewey, and many others.
Today, democratic theory has been largely dominated by a more narrowed liberalism
and, on occasion, other rival theories of democratic life such as communitarianism
and republicanism. But on the whole, no one doubts that traditions such as
socialism have become irrelevant to theoretical justifications of democracy.
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