Saturday post on “Public Opinion” in MODERN DEMOCRACIES (by James Bryce)
Ackshually, says Bryce, Athens was a republic not a democracy
Here is a long Saturday thread. Feel free to read and comment with any reactions.
I was at a small book store in Detroit, Michigan last year when I found a copy of James Bryce’s Modern Democracies from 1921. I bought it because I knew who Bryce was, but didn’t know this book and because it still smelled brand new, which I thought was weird because the binding was falling off. See here:
As a quick aside: For those of you who do not know him, James Bryce was a British statesman and early scholar of democracy who wrote a lot of good things but also popularized the term “the negro problem.” I talk about this in my book. Bryce is often heralded as the philosophical inspiration for public opinion pollsters, but there is a deep tension in how he thought governments should react to the people and who, exactly, counted as a person.
Anyway, he is an important guy, so his books are worth talking about.
Modern Democracies vol 1 is a weird book. It contains 150 pages of “general considerations” on what democratic government means and then follows with 350 pages covering democracies in France, Switzerland, and Canada. There are some remarks on the republics in Greek, chiefly on Athens, and in Spanish America.
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