The Perils of Democratism

The Perils of Democratism

Sakwa R.,

University of Kent, Canterbury, Great Britain,

elibrary_id: 683723 | ORCID: 0000-0001-6678-8820 |

Article received: 2022.12.07. Accepted: 2023.01.09

DOI: 10.17976/jpps/2023.02.07

For citation:

Sakwa R. The Perils of Democratism. – Polis. Political Studies. 2023. No. 2. P. 88-102. (In Russ.). EDN: FXBYGN


The article examines an aspect of the meta-theoretical context of the renewed confrontation between the political West and Russia. A distinction is drawn between democratism, the purposive instrumentalization of democracy agendas in great power conflict, and democracy as a responsive, reflexive and participatory mechanism of popular control over government. In the post-Cold War era this gave rise to inter-democracy, the combination of NATO and the European Union as the basis for the continued predominance of Atlanticism in the political West. This served to exclude alternative security arrangements in post-Cold War Europe, notably pan-continental variants. At the same time, the political West, a constellation of power that was created during and shaped by the Cold War, advanced transdemocracy, the view that democracy was the foundation for the creation of a genuine security community. Drawing on democratic peace theory, this approach substituted democratic internationalism for the sovereign internationalism at the heart of the UN-based Charter international system established in 1945. This gave rise to a distinctive style of international politics, described as democratism in this paper. Rather than overcoming conflict, democratism serves to sharpen antagonisms and thus helped to regenerate Cold War practices and undermined the credibility of liberal internationalism itself. The blowback effects, however, should be distinguished from the continuing struggle for democracy and a style of international politics that remains true to Charter principles.

democratism, democracy, inter-democracy, transdemocracy, democratic peace, political West, Charter international system, international politics.


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Content No. 2, 2023

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