Could democracy have a "secret" history? Most of us are familiar with a history of democracy that emphasizes the keystone moments in the story of Western civilization: the achievements of the ancient Greeks and Romans, the more recent development of the British parliament, the American Declaration of Independence and the French Revolution, and the gradual global spread of democracy since the end of the Cold War. The central argument of this book is that there is much more to the history of democracy than this standard history admits. There is a whole "secret" history, too big, complex and insufficiently 'Western' in character to be included in common accounts.
In exploring The Secret History of Democracy, the contributors establish that democracy was developing in the Middle East, India and China before classical Athens, clung on during the "Dark Ages" in Islam, Iceland and Venice, was often part of tribal life in Africa, North America and Australia, and has developed in unexpected ways through the grassroots activism of Muslims, feminists and technophiles.