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That was the original system of making decisions for society all ... Toronto: Lester and Orpen Dennys Ltd., 1988, p.12. The Classical Theory of Democracy ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Democracy

  • Democracy as a Natural Order
  • Democracy is any form of government
  • in which the rules of society are decided
  • by the people who will be bound by them.
  • That was the original system of making decisions
    for society all members took part
  • When the state arises 5,000 years ago, it takes
    the decision-making power away from society
  • Democracy is a way of trying to restore the
    original norm to put the state under societys
  • Catherine Kellogg, Democratic Theory, in Janine
    Brodie and Sandra Rein, Critical Concepts An
    Introduction to Politics. 3d edition.

  • The experience of Athens, 5th century BCE
  • Assembly democracy citizens participated
    directly in initiating, deliberating, and passing
    of, the legislation. The Assembly, no less than
    6,000 strong (out of 22,000 citizens), convened
    about every 10 days. Supreme power to decide on
    every issue of state policy
  • Citizen juries justice is responsibility of
    citizens (juries composed of 501-1001 citizens)
  • Appointment of citizens to political office by
  • Citizen-soldiers every citizen had a duty to
    serve in the army
  • Ostracism a bad politician could be kicked out
    of office by the people
  • See Patrick Watson and Benjamin Barber, The
    Struggle for Democracy. Toronto Lester and Orpen
    Dennys Ltd., 1988, p.12

  • The Classical Theory of Democracy
  • The triple meaning
  • Democracy as source of state authority power of
    the people
  • Democracy as the purpose of government the
    common good
  • Democracy as a method of choosing political
    leaders by the people
  • Abraham Lincoln Government of the people, by
    the people, and for the people (1863)
  • Also from Lincoln (1861) This country, with its
    institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit
    it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the
    existing government, they can exercise their
    constitutional right of amending it, or their
    revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it.

  • But what happens in real life?
  • As a principle, it sounds attractive, but
  • If society is large, complex, divided, can it get
    organized to control the state especially a
    large and powerful state?
  • Perhaps, only to a limited degree
  • Joseph Schumpeter, 1942
  • The classical theory is too broad and vague. It
    is much more practical to narrow the meaning of
    democracy to the method
  • The democratic method is
  • that institutional arrangement for arriving at
    political decisions
  • in which individuals acquire the power to decide
  • by means of a competitive struggle for the
    peoples vote.
  • Joseph Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism, and
    Democracy. New York Harper, 1947, p.269

  • 2 major dimensions of the democratic method
  • contestation free and fair competition between
  • participation all adult citizens have the
    right to vote
  • The use of this method requires the freedoms of
  • expression, to speak publicly and publish ones
  • assembly, to gather for political purposes
  • association, to form political organizations
  • Robert A. Dahl, Polyarchy Participation and
    Opposition. New Haven Yale University Press,
    1971 Samuel Huntington, The Third Wave.
    Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century.
    University of Oklahoma Press, 1991


Democracys Century A Survey of Global Political
Change in the 20th Century. NY Freedom House,
2001 http//

Democracys Century A Survey of Global Political
Change in the 20th Century. NY Freedom House,
2001 http//
  • Since 1900, the number of internationally
    recognized independent states has grown
  • from 55 to 192.
  • Electoral democracies
  • countries where governments are formed by
    democratic method
  • number 120 of the 192 existing countries and
    constitute 62.5 of the worlds population.

  • Key events which led to this expansion
  • The defeat of fascism in World War 2
  • The fall of Western colonial empires
  • The fall of Russian communism and the Soviet

  • Liberal democracy around the world, 2005
  • http//

  • Todays Democratic Paradox
  • Democracy is accepted as the normal and even
    normative - form of government more widely in the
    world than ever before
  • And yet, the real scope of democratic practices
    is very limited.
  • The sea of democracy has never been wider.
  • But it is very shallow.
  • Inadequacies and failures of states organized by
    the democratic method
  • Declining ability to manage economies
  • Growth of inequality
  • The environmental crisis
  • The rise of ethnic and religious conflicts
  • Growing practice of mass violence (wars,
    terrorism, arms races)

  • Democratic deficit global public opinion,
  • http//

  • Liberal Democracy Main Principles
  • 1. Individualism Society is composed of
    individuals. The individual is sovereign.
    Individuals come first - groups second
  • 2. Equality All individuals have equal rights
    (see below)
  • 3. Reason People are capable of making rational
    decisions about anything, and can improve the
    conditions of their existence
  • 4. Rights Society must recognize certain
    individual claims as givens (the list of rights
    has been expanding compare US Declaration of
    Independence, 1776, with UN documents Universal
    Declaration of Human Rights, 1948, other UN
    rights declarations)
  • 5. Society Its interests are nothing but a sum
    of individual interests.
  • 6. Protection of property and rights The state
    exists to protect individual rights and private
  • 7. Freedom individuals ability to act without
    interference by the state or other citizens
  • See Kellogg, Democratic Theory, pp.30-31

  • LD reflects the ambivalence about the role of the
    state (see the previous lecture)
  • The state as the provider of public goods
  • vs.
  • The state as a source of dangers to private
  • LD seeks to make the state strong and capable by
    making it legitimate through the democratic
    method (democracy makes state power rightful and
    just, enables the state to rule)
  • And it seeks to limit state authority over
    society through separation of powers, rule of
    law, constitutionalism

  • Key principle of LD distinction between
  • --the private sphere (personal life of
    individuals, the family, civil society autonomous
    from the state, religion, the market economy) and
  • --the public sphere (political society, the
    state, government policies)
  • Activities of the state should be confined to
    the public sphere
  • The public sphere should not be too large
  • The private sphere should be autonomous from the
    state and protected from the states encroachments

  • Democracy, understood in the broad, classical
    sense, may easily lead to the violation of
    societys autonomy.
  • Majority rule always contains the danger of
    suppression of minorities in the name of
    democracy. Tyranny of the majority Alexis de
  • Democracy may undermine and even destroy liberty
  • Liberty is enhanced by democracy but it must
    be protected from democracy

  • This ambivalence is a source of LDs strength and
  • The concern for individual rights
  • The emphasis on the autonomy of society from the
  • The emphasis on pluralism
  • are very important political values
  • But the compromise at the core of LD also makes
    it vulnerable to challenges
  • Both from the Right and from the Left
  • From the Right LD fragments society and the
    state, it makes for disorder, it weakens the
    state. It is too much democracy
  • From the Left LD secures privileges of the
    elites both private elites and state elites.
    This democracy is too limited

  • In the history of liberal democracy, liberalism
    precedes democracy
  • When liberal principles become accepted in the
    practice of more and more Western states
    (18th-19th centuries), the exercise of political
    rights and freedoms is limited
  • Classical, laissez-faire liberalism is concerned
    primarily about limiting state power and
    protecting the private sphere the market
    economy in the first place

  • In the 20th century, the extension of political
    rights to all adults was accompanied by the
    expansion of the activities of the state
  • The balance between the private and public
    spheres shifted in favour of the public sphere,
    as the liberal-democratic state, under the
    pressure of majorities, widens the scope of its
    activities, recognizes a wider range of rights,
    including labours right of collective bargaining
  • Welfare-state liberalism emphasized the role of
    the state as provider of public goods
  • Countertrend In the last quarter of the 20th
    century, conservative, or neoliberal, forces
    gained political dominance in the West (led by
    Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in UK, President
    Ronald Reagan in the US)

  • The Trilateral Commission and the idea of The
    Crisis of Democracy (1975)
  • There is too much democracy in the West
  • Democracy is becoming ungovernable

  • Recent years in the Trilateral countries have
    seen the expansion of the demands on government
    from individuals and groups. The expansion takes
    the form of
  • ( I ) the involvement of an increasing proportion
    of the population in political activity
  • (2) the development of new groups and of new
    consciousness on the part of old groups,
    including youth, regional groups, and ethnic
  • (3) the diversification of the political means
    and tactics which groups use to secure their
  • (4) an increasing expectation on the part of
    groups that government has the responsibility to
    meet their needs and
  • (5) an escalation in what they conceive those
    needs to be.
  • (Continued on next page) 

  • The result is an "overload" on government and
    the expansion of the role of government in the
    economy and society. During the 1960s
    governmental expenditures, as a proportion of
    GNP, increased significantly in all the principal
    Trilateral countries, except for Japan. This
    expansion of governmental activity was attributed
    not so much to the strength of government as to
    its weakness and the inability and unwillingness
    of central political leaders to reject the
    demands made upon them by numerically and
    functionally important groups in their society.
  • (Continued on the next page)

  • The impetus to respond to the demands which
    groups made on government is deeply rooted in
    both the attitudinal and structural features of a
    democratic society. The democratic idea that
    government should be responsive to the people
    creates the expectation that government should
    meet the needs and correct the evils affecting
    particular groups in society. Confronted with the
    structural imperative of competitive elections
    every few years, political leaders can hardly do
    anything else. 
  • Michel Crozier, Samuel Huntington, Joji
    Watanuki. The Crisis of Democracy. Report on the
    Governability of Democracies to the Trilateral
    Commission. New York New York University Press,
    1975, pp.163-164

  • The conservative revolution, launched by
    Thatcher and Reagan, began to dismantle the
    welfare state in the name of individual freedom
    and market autonomy.
  • As electoral democracy marched forward, expanding
    territorially around the globe,
  • the ability and willingness of the democratic
    states to satisfy social demands declined.

  • 2 basic methods of social coordination in any
  • 1. Directed coordination, or authority (somebody
    plans for the group, gives commands, others obey)
  • 2. Mutual adjustment, or exchange (everyone does
    his/her thing, nobody plans, nobody commands,
    coordination takes place through the web of
    interactions between gain-seeking individuals or
  • Capitalism expands the realm of mutual adjustment
    the rise of the market system, the power of
  • But directed coordination exercise of
    authority, the power of command
  • does not disappear. Quite the opposite it
    becomes more effective
  • No society can rely only on market-type
  • Many important social tasks can only be performed
    through the use of authority

  • Combining Authority and Exchange
  • Authority structures under capitalism
  • The family
  • The workplace (obey the boss, be disciplined,
    work hard)
  • The state (whether democratic or authoritarian)
  • Liberal democracy is a way of combining the power
    of command with the power of self-interest,
    putting a strong emphasis on self-interest. The
    state derives its authority to command from a
    market-type deal between the citizen and the
  • Ill give you my vote and my taxes, if you work
    to deliver the public goods I need (for example,
    peace, order, good government)

  • The Equality of the Unequal
  • Is liberal democracy the perfect political form
    for capitalism?
  • Yes, but at the same time, democracy and
  • are in conflict
  • In the market economy, people are formally equal
    free agents, each after his/her own interests
  • But in reality, they have vastly different
    amounts of social power
  • The market system, in and by itself, does not
    reduce those differences. On the contrary, it
    increases existing inequalities both within
    societies and between societies.

  • Democracy, on the other hand, is rooted in the
    idea of equality. Vigorous practice of democracy
    in society does lead to lessening of social
  • Another contradiction in a democracy, citizens
    work together to achieve common goals
  • In a market economy, people compete, trying to
    gain advantage over each other survival of the
    fittest (Herbert Spencer)
  • Can the contradictions between
  • socioeconomic inequality and political equality,
  • between cooperation and competition
  • be kept under control?


Average Pay of US CEOs and Workers 1980-2000 (in
2000 US dollars)
Average pay 1980 2000
CEO 1,306,120 13,100,000
Production and non-supervisory worker 28,950 28,579
Ratio, CEO/worker pay 45 458
Source Holly Sklar, Laryssa Mykyta and Susan
Wefald, Raise the Floor, 2001 (Ms. Foundation for
Women). http//
Distribution of wealth in the USA

Who owns capital in America
  • Haves vs. have-nots in America public opinion
    study by Pew Research
  • http//


Percentage share of national income
Country Poorest 10 Poorest 20 Richest 20 Richest 10
Brazil 1.0 2.6 63.0 46.7
Russia 1.7 4.4 53.7 38.7
US 1.8 5.2 46.4 30.5
Canada 2.8 7.5 39.3 23.8
Germany 3.3 8.2 38.5 23.7
Human Development Report 2001, UN Development
  • Inequality on a global scale
  • The gap in living standards between the richest
    and poorest nations
  • 1820 3 to 1
  • 1913 11 to 1
  • 1950 35 to 1
  • 2002 70 to 1
  • See Jeremy Seabrook, The No-Nonsense Guide to
    Class, Caste and Hierarchies. Toronto New
    Internationalist Publications, 2002, p.77

  • The worlds population 3 classes
  • Upper class 11 (real income higher than the
    average income in Italy)
  • Middle class 11 (real income between the
    average income in Italy and the poverty line,
    adjusted for purchasing power)
  • The poor 78 (real income below the poverty
  • See Branko Milanovic, True World Income
    Distribution, 1988 and 1993 First Calculations
    Based on Household Surveys Alone. Economic
    Journal , Jan.2002
  • 2.8 bln. people live on less than 2 a day
  • The richest 1 of the worlds people receive as
    much income as the poorest 57 (UN Human
    Development Report 2002, Overview, p.2)
  • Worlds 3 richest people have assets greater than
    48 poorest countries combined

  • UN Human Development Report 2002 (see link on my
  • Economically, politically and technologically,
    the world has never seemed more free or more
    unjust (p.1)
  • Advancing human development requires governance
    that is democratic both in form and in
  • Why democracy is key to development
  • 1/ Participating in decision-making is a
    fundamental human right
  • 2/ Democracy protects people from political and
    economic catastrophes famines, wars
    (governments are more circumspect, attentive to
    public needs)
  •   -Since 1995, 10 of population of North Korea
    died of famine
  • -In 1958-61, 30 mln. died of famine in China
  • -In India, there has not been a single famine
    since 1947, despite crop failures 
  • 3/Democratic governance can trigger a virtuous
    cycle of development as political freedom
    empowers people to press for policies that expand
    social and economic opportunities, and as open
    debates help communities shape their priorities

  • BUT
  • The links between democracy and human
    development are not automatic when a small elite
    dominates economic and political decisions, the
    link between democracy and equity can be broken
  • At issue
  • Can an egalitarian political system coexist long
  • with massive and growing socioeconomic
  • Can concentration of economic power in the hands
    of a few be reconciled with political pluralism?

  • How can these contradictions be resolved
  • At democracys expense
  • --limit democracy by manipulating its workings
  • --limit democracy by strengthening coercive
    powers of the state
  • --mobilize the nation to unite, despite the
    inequalities to defend itself against an
    external enemy, or to conquer other nations
  • --foster racial and ethnic divisions, mobilize
    majorities against minorities
  • --opt for full-fledged fascism

  • In favour of democracy
  • --Widen the channels through which citizens can
    effectively participate in politics
  • --Use new information technologies, network-type
    forms of political organizing
  • --Extend democracy into the workplace (employee
  • --Reduce the influence of big money on political
  • --Increase the states ability to control
    economic elites
  • --Create new forms of regulation of market
    economies both at the national and the global
  • --Develop effective social policies