Conference Held in Prague on “Big Government”
More than 50 scholars and intellectuals from the United States and Europe gathered in Prague on July 12–15 for an international conference on “The Question of ‘Big Government.’” Organized by the Symposium on Science, Reason, and Modern Democracy (Michigan State University) and the Center for Theoretical Study (Charles University and the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic), the meeting focused on the size of the state in the modern era and the roots of the ideal of limited government.
Among the specific topics discussed by conference participants were what exactly constitutes “big government”; whether it existed in earlier civilizations or is a specifically modern phenomenon; the forces of modern society that seem to compel the state to expand; and the advantages and dangers of “big government” in the political, economic, and moral realms.
The five principal papers presented at the conference addressed such themes as “big government” and the liberal tradition (Harvey Mansfield and Delba Winthrop) and “big government” and the tradition of the democratic Left (Claus Offe). Other paper presenters and discussants included John Dunn, Richard Epstein, Francis Fukuyama, Miklós Haraszti, Pierre Hassner, William Kristol, Martin Palous, Joel Rogers, and Aleksander Smolar.
Report on NED’s International Forum
On September 20, the Forum and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace cosponsored a day-long conference entitled “Five Years into the Transition: Where Is Russia Headed?” The meeting, held at the Carnegie Conference Center in Washington, D.C., will result in a published report and will be described in greater detail in the next issue of the Journal.
On November 18–19, the Forum [End Page 189] will conduct an international conference in Washington, D.C., on “Political Parties and Democracy.” The meeting, which will also be described more fully in the next issue of the Journal, will bring together leading scholars from around the world and will focus on factors contributing to the rise and decline of parties; party-building and international assistance; parties and the mass media; the impact of electoral reform on party systems; and the development of party systems in Japan, Italy, India, Turkey, Latin America, Eastern Europe, and Taiwan. The conference will result in a published volume as well as a conference report.
The Forum and the Pacific Council on International Policy recently published “Constructing Democracy and Markets: East Asia and Latin America,” a report stemming from a conference that the two organizations cosponsored in Los Angeles on 26–27 January 1996. The report summarizes the presentations and comments made during the meeting, which brought together leading scholars from Asia, Latin America, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The Forum and the Pacific Council will soon publish an expanded version of the report that includes memos prepared for the conference by the participants. In addition, the Forum will shortly publish reports resulting from conferences that were held this past spring on “Democracy in East Asia” and “Consolidating Democracy in Taiwan.”
The Johns Hopkins University Press recently published a substantially revised and updated second edition of The Global Resurgence of Democracy. Edited by Larry Diamond and Marc F. Plattner, the book contains essays by more than 25 eminent scholars.
Another Journal of Democracy book, entitled Civil-Military Relations and Democracy, will be published by the Johns Hopkins University Press by the end of this year. This volume, also edited by Diamond and Plattner, stems from a conference that the Forum cosponsored with the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in March 1995, and focuses primarily on civil-military relations in developing and postcommunist countries.
The Forum recently welcomed two new scholars to its Visiting Fellows Program: Rita Jalali, assistant professor of sociology at Michigan State University, is working on a study of the impact of international aid on women’s groups in India; E. Gyimah-Boadi, who has been teaching at the School of International Service at the American University in Washington, D.C., and taught previously at the University of Swaziland and the University of Ghana, is working on a study of democratic consolidation in Africa in the 1990s. In November, Aymen Khalifa, former editor of Civil Society, a monthly publication of the Ibn Khaldoun Center for Development Studies in Cairo, will arrive as a visiting fellow at the Forum to prepare a study of free expression and democracy in Egypt.