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Introduction : democracy and history
chapterposted on 01.01.2012, 00:00 authored by Benjamin IsakhanBenjamin Isakhan, S Stockwell
The notion that democracy could have a ‘secret’ history might at first seem strange to many readers. Indeed, the history of democracy has become so standardized, is so familiar and appears to be so complete that it is hard to believe that it could hold any secrets whatsoever. The ancient Greek practice of demokratia and the functions of the Roman Republic are foundational to Western understanding of politics; school textbooks introduce the Magna Carta and the rise of the English Parliament; Hollywood blockbusters recount the events surrounding the American Declaration of Independence; many best-selling novels have been written about the French Revolution; and the gradual global spread of the Western model of democracy has been a recurrent news story since the end of the Cold War. So pervasive is this traditional story of democracy that it has achieved the status of received wisdom: endlessly recycled without criticism by policy-makers, academics, in the popular media and in classrooms across the world.