Download Cultures of Optimism: The Institutional Promotion of Hope by O. Bennett PDF

By O. Bennett

What are the features of optimism in smooth societies? How is desire culturally transmitted? What values and attitudes does it replicate? This ebook explores how and why robust associations propagate 'cultures of optimism' in numerous domain names, resembling politics, paintings, the relations, faith and psychotherapy.

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Example text

As we have seen, democracy was originally associated with rule by the many through the direct exercise of popular power. However, it was not this idea of democracy that prevailed. Although, as we shall see, certain elements of it have functioned as a revolutionary inspiration and, indeed, have continued to inspire a variety of radical movements, the idea of democracy came to be associated almost exclusively with representative democracy. Representative democracy, famously described by Thomas Paine as ‘representation ingrafted upon democracy’, had been developed by the Founding Fathers of the United States and written into the American Constitution.

But what is important to note here is that, for millions of people around the world who are denied the most basic democratic rights, democracy, as practised in its existing forms, still promises a form of political equality that, as yet, can only be dreamt of. Thirdly, democracies provide the space for groups, factions and individuals to pursue whatever political objectives they see fit, within certain legally established rules and boundaries. Democracy provides 38 Cultures of Optimism a means for setting these boundaries, which can be pushed out or pulled in according to changing values and norms, and it provides a more or less ‘safe’ arena in which conflicts between competing interests can be fought out.

Whilst some autocracies have been a great deal less repressive than others, as the historical record attests, and however much autocracies may claim to rule in the real interests of the people, they cannot, by definition, permit challenges to their ultimate authority. As the powers of the state have grown with technological advance, particularly since the Optimistic Democracy 37 beginning of the twentieth century, so has the capacity of dictators to sustain their regimes through the ruthless elimination of opponents and unremitting repression of their own people.

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