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Democracy and the Lessons of Dictatorship

Nancy Bermeo
Comparative Politics
Vol. 24, No. 3 (Apr., 1992), pp. 273-291
DOI: 10.2307/422133
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/422133
Page Count: 19
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Democracy and the Lessons of Dictatorship
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Abstract

This article investigates the cultural and behavioral legacies of dictatorship. It argues that the experience of dictatorship can lead to a process of political learning in which social actors reevaluate their past perspectives on the relative merits of democracy. It begins by explaining what political learning is, using examples from Europe and Latin America, moves on to explain why political learning is key to the reconstruction of democracy and what it adds to our understanding of empirical democratic theory, and closes with a discussion of how it takes place and why it emerges in some dictatorships and not in others. Political learning comes from two principal sources, comparisons with previous regimes and foreign reference states and interactions in exile communities, jails, opposition groups, and the arenas of civil society left relatively unrestrained by the dictatorship. The sources of political learning are affected by level of economic development but also have important historical and cultural components.

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