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Abstract

How does the American experience with democracy contribute to our understanding of the prospects for, and paths to, democracy worldwide?" Another half of the papers prepared for the Conference deal with the experience of other countries, many of them moving toward rule-of-law democracy. Taken together, they represent a sample of our present knowledge-and they suggest new directions for future research. Communities with certain qualities contribute to the development and sustaining of democracy. The qualities to which I refer include: mutual respect across lines of division and the creative composition of differences. At Syracuse, we saw two kinds of community: local and scholarly. Within the large community of greater Syracuse, there are many smaller communities that also foster mutual understanding and joint effort. People in this area have formed many different kinds of groups that cross lines of division, search for common ground, and frequently succeed in finding it. Many of these are informal and casual, but several have regular meetings, agendas, and programs. Size is a major factor in determining how these groups operate. The second type of community, also evident at the Conference, is the community of socio-legal scholars. They assembled at Syracuse as a group interested in the potential for worldwide proliferation of rule-of law democracy. They shared a common culture in which factual information is formally presented and analyzed. They considered the topic of change toward (or away from) rule-of-law democracy in several countries and exchanged views as to the factors contributing to such change. They differed on a variety of issues-among them, the value of "evolution" as a concept in analyzing socio-legal change, but differences of this kind were handled with civility and a tacit commitment to understand opposing positions. Both types of community can tell us something about how democracy works. The scholarly socio-legal community can also tell us something about how democracy works. Its method of doing so, however, is very different from community at the local level. It seeks to discern through analysis and observation what is happening in America and in other countries that relates to the growth or decline of democratic governance. On the basis of such observations, differences can be identified and sometimes resolved.

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