It opens by exploring the evolving terms used to describe Europe, but then shifts into a discussion of democracy, and suggests, “ban the word ‘democracy’, which has been worn smooth by misuse.” It proposes as alternatives “law-governed,” “free,” and “public-spirited,” with Karl Popper’s “open society” serving as useful short hand for societies with these qualities.
As per my previous comments on this, the problem with democracy promotion is often one of language, because democracy means different things to different people. Like “empire” or “imperialism,” the term has been overused to the point of analytical uselessness. For a government to proclaim itself in favor of spreading democracy almost ensures disappointment, both for transmitters and receivers, as the reality never quite matches what either had imagined. Replacing democracy with more concrete terms, such as those mentioned by the Economist, would provide for more concrete targets — and thus more realizable visions for what the developed democracies can actually achieve in helping other countries develop politically.