Posts tagged democracy

The moral meaning of democracy

I just came across and wanted to share this interesting passage from philosopher John Dewey, which seems especially relevant as we approach Election Day on November 6:

The contrast usually assumed between the period of education as one of social dependence and of maturity as one of social independence does harm. We repeat over and over that man is a social animal, and then confine the significance of this statement to the sphere in which sociality usually seems least evident, politics. The heart of the sociality of man is in education. The idea of education as preparation and of adulthood as a fixed limit of growth are two sides of the same obnoxious untruth. If the moral business of the adult as well as the young is a growing and developing experience, then the instruction that comes from social dependencies and interdependencies are as important for the adult as for the child. Moral independence for the adult means arrest of growth, isolation means induration. We exaggerate the intellectual dependence of childhood so that children are kept too much in leading strings, and then we exaggerate the independence of adult life from intimacy of contacts and communication with others. When the identity fo the moral process with the processes of specific growth is realized, the more conscious and formal education of childhood will be seen to be the most economical and efficient means of social advance and reorganization, and it will also be evident that the test of all the institutions have a meaning, a purpose. That purpose is to set free and to develop the capacities of human individuals without respect to race, sex, class or economic status. And this is all one with saying that the test of their value is the extent to which they educate every indivdiual into the full stature of his possibility. Democracy has many meanings, but if it has a moral meaning, it is found in resolving that the supreme test of all political institutions and industrial arrangements shall be the contribution they make to the all-around growth of every member of society.

For those interesting in reading more, this passage is taken from Dewey’s 1920 book Reconstruction in Philosophy, which can be downloaded for free here or here.

Freedom House launches new blog

If you haven’t already heard of Freedom House — in which case you should spend some time here — it is a non-governmental organization that supports the expansion of freedom and advocating for democracy and human rights around the world, and conducts both research and advocacy.

Last week, Freedom House finally launched a blog, Freedom at Issue. It promises to be interesting and important reading, and I suggest adding it to your reading schedule.

Guided by the findings of our surveys and reports, as well as the experiences of our staff members and partners in the field, Freedom House has decided to launch a new blog that will offer comment and analysis on the state of, threats to, and prospects for global democracy. We are pleased to welcome you to the inaugural post of Freedom at Issue.

The name of our blog, Freedom at Issue, has a distinguished pedigree. During the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, Freedom House published a journal, originally called Freedom at Issue and later Freedom Review, that provided indispensable commentary on the events and trends shaping the global struggle for democracy. It is our hope that this blog will perform a similar function, illuminating internal and external threats to both established and aspiring democracies, offering cross-country comparisons on important themes, drawing on Freedom House’s unique array of research data and on-the-ground activists, and generally stimulating discussion and debate on the broad range of issues that will affect the future of freedom in the world.