ABOUT THE BOOK:
Today, the majority of sovereign states can be described as "democracies" because they possess elected political leadership and some measure of commitment to the protection and promotion of individual rights and equality under law. In the economic realm, most democracies are market-based and are integrated into wider regional and global markets. Virtually all are organized around Western liberal principles and values. For some, these philosophical commitments are indigenous and longstanding, and for others they were imported later, often through colonization. This book asks how democratic governance and economic development differ when founded on Eastern, Buddhist principles, rather than Western, liberal, and Enlightenment values and beliefs.
The small, remote country of Bhutan is the only democratic, market-based state that is rooted constitutionally and culturally in Mahayana Buddhist principles and ethics. In this book, William J. Long provides an authentic basis for theoretical and empirical comparison between two distinct models of democracy and development that differ on important, first-order principles. Bhutanese Buddhist and Western liberal concepts of the individual "self," "human nature" and "the pursuit of happiness"-the building blocks of democratic and market-based economic theory-differ profoundly. Because the two approaches-liberal and Buddhist-are based on distinctive philosophical traditions, this comparison elucidates new questions, frames of inquiry, and alternative understandings of democracy and development.
The book describes how democratic political institutions and markets emerged and how they function in Bhutan, demonstrating how, in real-world terms, Bhutan organizes and operates a political and economic system consistent with its Buddhist worldview. It considers the nature of Bhutan's unique political institutions and its economic touchstone, the pursuit of "Gross National Happiness (GNH)," rather than Gross National Product, as its ordering principle for policy. Ultimately, Tantric State reflects on whether Bhutan's unique model can withstand the forces of globalization and what insights Bhutan might have to share with the rest of us about dilemmas facing Western democracies and the need to pursue development in a more holistic and sustainable way.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
William J. Long is Professor in the Global Studies Institute and Department of Political Science at Georgia State University, and the former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. He is the author of five books and numerous articles. Dr. Long is the recipient of research and teaching awards and grants from the Hewlett, Pew, Sloan, and MacArthur Foundations, the Fulbright Commission, the Carnegie Corporation, the European Union, and the U.S. Department of Education.