Twenty-First Century Democratic Renaissance: From Plato to Neoliberalism to Planetary Democracy

Errol E. Harris
January, 2008
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About this book

Starting from ancient Greece and the writings of Thucydides and Plato, Professor Harris examines the major concepts of democracy developed by notable thinkers down through the ages. He presents a powerful and incisive explanation of the emergence of the democratic principle from Plato through Aristotle, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Immanuel Kant, Adam Smith, G.W.F. Hegel, Karl Marx and on to contemporary thought. By Contrast with this democratic tradition, Harris advances a powerful analysis of the tradition that has attempted to subvert the legitimacy of democracy throughout the 20th Century.

Beginning with the Nazi legal theorist, Carl Schmidt, Harris show the flaws in the thought of the entire anti-democratic tradition that schmidt influenced: Joseph Schumpter, Vilfredo Pareto, Freidrich von Hayek, Hans Morgenthau, and Benjamin Barber. He shows the relationship between the flawed thinking of this tradition and the work of Leo Straus, the darling of today’s Neoconservatives, especially Milton Friedman, who for the past decade have wrecked such havoc in Washington DC and the world.

In many ways, Harris’s brilliant book provides the necessary historical background for understanding the powerful criticisms of the the work of Strauss’ follower Milton Friedman offered in Naomi Klein’s book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.

Professor Harris concludes by pointing to the urgent necessity for a world federal process including a world constitution as the rational, effective, secure and lawful means by which the people and nations of the world can ensure true and enduring world democracy. He shows clearly and powerfully in what ways we can only deal with today’s multifaceted global crisis through a 21st Century Democratic Renaissance. The insights clearly articulated in this book will provide the foundation for world-wide democracy in the coming century.

About the author

Errol E . Harris is John Evens Professor of Moral and Intellectual Philodophy (Emeritus) at Northwestern University, Honorary Research Fellow at the Center for the Philsophy and History of Science, Boston University, and a former President of the Hegel Society of America. Only a part of his many publications include, Atheism, Spinoza’s Philosophy: an Outline, Cosmos and Anthropos; The Foundation of Metaphysics in Science; Cosmos and Theos, The Spirit of Hegel; Apocalypse and paradigm: Science and Everyday Thinking, and Earth Federation Now: Tomorrow is Too Late.

Full Chapter and Sub-chapter titles:


Part 1

1. Freedom and the Tradition of Democracy

2. More Recent Theories of Democracy

  • Adam Smith
  • Utilitarianism
  • Hegel
  • Marx

3. Democracy and Secularism

Part II

4. Democracy and Fundamentalism

5. The Decline of Contemporary Democracy

6. Critique of Liberal Democracy

  • Carl Schmitt
  • Joseph A. Schumpeter
  • Vilfredo Pareto
  • Friedrich A von. Hayek
  • Hans Morgenthau
  • Benjamin R. Barber

Part III

7. Alternatives or Remedies?

8. The Global Solution



About the Author

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