Published Humanitas, Volume VI, No. 2, 1993

There is a widespread belief that liberty, liberalism, and democracy entail one another. According to this belief, any liberal social order has an ineluctable tendency for individual liberty to find political expression in the style of elective, representative government nowadays known as democracy; likewise, it is thought, democracy fulfills its promise only by taking form as liberal democracy. Propositions such as these are the stock in trade of many strident optimists—
ubiquitous in academia, journalism, and government—who foresee the maturation of “emerging democracies” in the aftermath of communism, apartheid, and sundry military dictatorships. Yet, depending on the meanings of the terms involved, liberty and liberalism can be incompatible with democracy and with each other. The hostility between traditional liberalism and democracy parallels the centuries-old struggle between classical liberty and traditional liberalism. …

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