John Keane | UK academic offers views on nurturing democracy
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UK academic offers views on nurturing democracy

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(Interview with John Keane published by Taipei Times, 2, June, 2005. Page 2)

Democracy is an extraordinary invention and viewing it from a humble perspective is an innovative way to safeguard existing democracies, a visiting academic from the UK said yesterday.

John Keane, a professor of politics at the UK’s University of Westminster, suggested a theory of “humble democracy.” Unlike dictatorships, which nurture monopolies of power, humble democracy fosters the understanding that multiple forms of democracy are possible, he said.

Keane, ranked by London’s Times newspaper as one of Britain’s leading political thinkers, was invited by the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy to deliver a lecture titled “Why Democracy? Considerations on an Old Ideal in Need of New Life” yesterday at the foundation.

In introducing Keane, Michael Hsiao, standing supervisor of the foundation and a national policy adviser to the president, talked about the importance of understanding the meaning of democracy.

“The foundation feels the need to let all the people of Taiwan understand the reason our country needs democracy and search for solutions to fight for the survival of democracy in Taiwan,” Hsiao said.

Keane praised Taiwan as having a more modest and humble form of democracy than the US, where political leaders often cite “God” in saying that all nations are entitled to democracy.

Keane also noted the challenges Taiwan faces.

“At the cutting edge of the problem of how democracies can survive, Taiwan must grapple with the problem of how to nurture and sustain its democracy in a difficult geopolitical environment,” Keane said.

All mature democracies are suffering the symptoms of aging and degeneration, he said.

“What is needed … is a democratic way of thinking about the advantages of democracy,” Keane said.

“Instead of thinking of democracy as true and right, humble democracy sees democracy as the best political weapon for publicly humbling armies, governments, parties and corporations,” he said.


Interview conducted By Mo Yan-chih, staff reporter of the Taipei Times .