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Liberal Project and the Transformation of Democracy

The Case of East Central Europe

By Sabrina P. Ramet

Publication Year: 2007

Students of democratic theory have watched the dramatic transformation of Eastern Europe from communism to various forms of democracy in the last two decades. With her unique blend of theory and empirical analysis, veteran observer Sabrina P. Ramet offers clear insight into the processes, challenges, and accomplishments of this area.     Drawing on a classical understanding of “liberalism” based on a philosophy of Natural Law, she probes the issues of capitalism, national sovereignty and self-determination, gender inequality, and political legitimacy in the context of Eastern Europe’s particular experience. She also explores the limitations of classical liberalism and argues for the extension of liberal principles to encompass the rights of women and protection of all species as well as the environment.     Political theorists, political scientists, students of Eastern Europe, and those interested in the larger questions of political philosophy will be richly rewarded in their reading of this volume by a renowned scholar of Eastern European politics.

Published by: Texas A&M University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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PREFACE

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pp. ix-xii

It is my hope that this volume reaches a readership wider than the field of East European studies. Although most of my examples are taken from the East European context (with those not from Eastern Europe having been drawn from the contemporary United States), I believe that the framework developed here may have a more general applicability. Certainly the issues ...

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1. INTRODUCTION

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pp. 1-8

This book figures as a defense of liberalism, but not in the sense in which it is commonly understood. What has come to be understood and championed under the rubric of liberalism is often very different from what it was at the time it was developed. In defending liberalism, then, I am returning to the classics, in order to provide a basis for ...

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2. LIBERALISM AND THE MORAL LAW, THEN AND NOW

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pp. 8-19

Some forty years ago, when I was a senior in high school, I took a class popularly called “Senior Problems.” The class was, in fact, an introduction to philosophy and it was there that I first encountered the pre-Socratic philosophers, and, in particular, Heraclitus, the great philosopher of change. Heraclitus is famous for having said that one ...

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3. LIBERALISM AND CAPITALISM: An Unhappy Marriage

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pp. 20-32

More than a decade and a half ago, as Eastern Europe began a process of transformation of its political, economic, moral, and cultural systems, many there allowed themselves to feel jubilant (though not in Yugoslavia, where tensions were already running high and fear was the dominant emotion). Berliners danced on the Wall that ...

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4. THREE VIEWS OF SOVEREIGNTY: The East European Connection

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pp. 33-48

I alluded in chapter 3 to the threat nationalism may pose to the liberal project, hinting that I consider a nationalism that claims differential rights for members to be incompatible with the Natural Law tradition or, as it is sometimes called, the tradition of Universal Reason. There are, to be sure, “liberal nationalists” 1 who argue that nationalism may provide a ...

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5. THE SO-CALLED RIGHT OF NATIONAL SELF-DETERMINATION AND OTHER MYTHS

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pp. 49-70

The preceding chapter continued the discussion of nationalism, setting it in the context of alternative understandings of sovereignty. The analysis of nationalism would not be complete without a discussion of the central claim registered by nationalists, namely, that there is a universal, natural right of self-declared nations to be independent ...

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6. THREE MODELS OF CHURCH–STATE CONDOMINIUM

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pp. 71-90

Across post-communist Europe, a battle is being waged over the moral content of democracy. This is a battle over whether the religious market should be open or closed, over whether the dominant religious organization should be able to translate its moral convictions into laws binding on all citizens regardless of their religious affiliation, ...

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7. THE FATE OF WOMEN IN POST-1989 EASTERN EUROPE

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pp. 91-109

The argument presented here consists of three parts: first, that the situation of women in Eastern Europe has deteriorated on a number of significant measures since the collapse of communism in1989; second, that the deterioration in women’s equality and rights is related to a broader context in which conservative forces promote so-called traditional ...

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8. THE PURPOSE OF POLITICAL ASSOCIATION

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pp. 110-123

It has become less fashionable of late to pose the big question, almost as if it should be seen as somehow in bad taste to ask about purposes and ultimate ends. And yet, if one has no answer to the question—What is the purpose of political association?—then perhaps one is navigating without a map. The great philosophers—Plato, Aristotle, Bodin, Hobbes, ...

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9. LEGITIMACY OR ORDER: Which Is the Fulcrum?

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pp. 124-128

Make no mistake: both liberal idealists and liberal realists value legitimacy and order.1 The difference is that, where idealists believe that civic order is a consequence of system legitimacy and that legitimacy is, in turn, measured in terms of the system’s harmony with certain values and norms, realists construe legitimacy as but the face...

NOTES

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pp. 129-156

BIBLIOGRAPHIC ESSAY

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pp. 157-162

INDEX

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pp. 163-178


E-ISBN-13: 9781603445023
E-ISBN-10: 1603445021
Print-ISBN-13: 9781585445790
Print-ISBN-10: 1585445797

Page Count: 192
Illustrations: 6 tables.
Publication Year: 2007

Series Title: Eugenia & Hugh M. Stewart '26 Series on Eastern Europe

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Subject Headings

  • Liberalism -- Europe, Eastern.
  • Democracy -- Europe, Eastern.
  • Europe, Eastern -- Politics and government -- 1989-.
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