Fallacy of unique founding conditions

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Fallacy of unique founding conditions is the claimed illogic of concluding that because liberal democracy and civil society emerged under one set of historical conditions, those same conditions must be reproduced for liberal democracy and civil society to emerge elsewhere. The fallacy is said to lie in confusing the bases for innovation with the bases for replication.

The claimed fallacy is deployed by some scholars to argue that the participation of Islamists in contemporary electoral politics in Turkey or Iraq is no more threatening than the participation of Christian Democrats in post-war Western Europe. What it overlooks is the role played by Christian confessional parties in the rise of pre-war authoritarianisms. For example, the Roman Catholic German Centre Party (Deutsche Zentrumspartei or Zentrum) delegation in the German Reichstag voted for the Enabling Act (Ermächtigungsgesetz) of 1933 that granted the Chancellor, Adolf Hitler, plenary or dictatorial powers. The party then politely dissolved itself on July 5, 1933 to fulfill a condition of a Concordat between the Vatican and Nazi Germany.


  • Alfred Stepan. "Religion, Democracy and the "Twin Tolerations." " Journal of Democracy. (October 2000), Pp. 27-57