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Classical Democratic Theory

How did the concept of democracy develop? What theories underlie its functioning? How has it evolved, and how is theory reconciled with practice?
Critics and Critiques of Athenian Democracy
The Greeks invented political theory, probably during the fifth century BC, and their theories provide the foundation of a democratic society. This BBC essay explores the tension between "mob rule" and the political power of the elite.
Declaration of Independence
Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Indpendence between June 11 and June 28, 1776, and it is his most enduring writing. Jefferson borrowed ideals of individual liberty from philosophers like John Locke and succinctly described them as "self-evident truths" in setting forth a rationale for breaking ties with England.
Federalist Papers, No. 10 and No. 51
The 85 Federalist Papers were a series of essays by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay which were written to promote the ratification of the Constitution and published in New York newspapers in 1787-1788. These two, written by James Madison, deal with contitutional governance over a large geographic area (10) and checks and balances in government (51).
On Liberty - John Stuart Mill - 1859
A timeless essay on the relationship between the individual and society by John Stuart Mill (180673), British philosopher and economist. Composed with his wife, Harriet Taylor. From Mill: "The subject of this Essay is ... Civil, or Social Liberty: the nature and limits of the power which can be legitimately exercised by society over the individual.
Politics, Coercion and The State: Reformulated Democratic Theory
Read this introduction to Persuasion, Power and Polity, a theory of democratic self-organization. The author, Gus diZerega, argues that "democratic theory must be developed in consensual rather than majoritarian terms."
Political Associations in the United States
Alexis de Tocqueville explores the effects of association in civil and political life in this excerpt from Democracy in America, Volume 1, Chapter 12, Phillips Bradley Edition. He notes that the right of association was imported from England and cautions against the "omnipotence of the majority."
U.S. Constitution
The complete U.S. Constitution and the 27 Amendments.

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