Democratic Reform Movement

Thomas Jefferson famously said that successful democracy requires a revolution in each generation,every generation needs a new revolution and many democratic theorists have supported his argument. Indeed Tocqueville said that in order to interest the apathetic, democracy requires drama. Throughout the twentieth century that drama came from a series of major threats posed to democracy, especially from authoritarianism, elitism, and non-democratic economic ideas. It was against the context of those threats that each generation really did see a revolution, and one that was fought either implicitly or explicitly, about democracy.

The twentieth century’s first revolution was the political emancipation of women. Its second revolution centred on the introduction of radical new ideas such as Socialism and Fascism into the political mainstream after WW1 and the Great Depression (termed by many as a “reverse wave” in the advance of democracy). Its third revolution followed in the wake of WW2, with the ensuing waves of national emancipation from colonial powers, radical…

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