Thursday, June 13, 2013

Rule of Law, Individual Rights and the Free Market in the Liberal Tradition: The Case of Greece

by Aristides N. Hatzis

Bridging the Gap: Arab-European Dialogue on the Basics of Liberalism, Ronald Meinardus, ed.
Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty
Cairo, 2013

The western liberal tradition is closely connected with the idea of rights and the rule of law. Rule of law is the idea of a civil society governed by a Constitution which sets limits to government power and protects individual rights against any authority, even against the political will of a majority. The development of the western democratic theory from Ancient Athens to the British parliamentary system, the American Constitution and the French Revolution is mostly a development of two different and often contrasting principles: the democratic principle of people’s sovereignty and the liberal principle of the protection of individual rights. The balance between these two principles defines the quality of constitutional democracy. Greece was one of the first liberal democracies of the modern era. Nevertheless, contemporary Greece lags behind modern liberal democracies in many respects. The experience of Greece could be most useful for the new Arab democracies and Egypt in particular.

Keywords: Liberalism; Rights; Rule of Law; Free Market; Democratic Principle; Liberal Principle; Liberal Democracy; Harm Principle; Personal Autonomy; Greece; John Stuart Mill; James Madison

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