Neither given nor granted, democracy requires conflict, often violent confrontations, and challenges to the established political order. In Europe, Geoff Eley convincingly shows, democracy did not evolve orgainically out of a natural consensus, the achievement of prosperity, or the negative cement of the Cold War. Rather, it was painstakingly crafted, continually expanded, and doggedly defended by varying constellations of socialist, feminist, Communist, and other radical movements that originally blossomed in the later nineteenth century. Parties of the Left championed democracy in the revolutionary crisis after World War I, salvaged it against the threat of fascism, and renewed its growth after 1945. They organized civil societies rooted in egalitarian ideals which came from the very fiber of Europe's current democratic traditions. The trajectories of European democracy and the history of the European Left are thus inextricably bound together.
Eley... has written a history of the left that is a narrative of success, not failure.... [He] shows that revolutionary socialists were the strongestand sometimes the onlychampions of democracy in Europe. There would be, he argues, no liberalism without socialism.