"Political Lexicon" is the name of a new series of volumes directed by Carlo Galli. Since its inauguration in September 1999 eleven titles have been published: Constitution, Representation, Liberty, State, Tolerance, Interest, Revolution, Government, Community and Authority. The series aims to supply an essential encyclopaedia which describes the main concepts underlying political discourse and its historical evolution. In these volumes the non-specialist reader will find historical and theoretical underpinnings of contemporary political thought. The fifth title of the series is dedicated to the concept of democracy, one of the major emblems of the West. Born in Athens 2500 years ago, the idea of democracy is today the central platform of contemporary politics. But the history of political thought shows that the concept has experienced a long struggle, and the history of institutions teaches us that democratic mechanisms are extremely vulnerable. The volume reviews the history of the concept of democracy, identifies how its meaning has changed over times (tapping other concepts such as political equality, popular sovereignty and citizens' self-government). With its chronological structure, the volume focuses on models of participatory democracy in the Greek tradition, representative models refined by medieval culture, the evolution of republican and democratic thought in the modern era, from Machiavelli to Rousseau, and finally the ideas of 19th century liberalism and socialism, the theories regarding the advent of mass society and contemporary democratic doctrines.
Edoardo Greblo is a secondary school teacher and also contributes to a History of Contemporary Philosophy course at the University of Trieste.