Polsoc week 9 slideshare

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This week builds upon last week’s discussion of citizenship and whether everyone is included in so-called liberal democratic societies, such as those of Europe. Everyone (almost!) says they are a democrat but democracy has many different meanings: the popular, direct or participatory democracy of classical Athens, Rousseau, Marx and Lenin; the protective, representative and limited democracy of the Mills and many liberals; and ideas which see democracy as merely a means for revolving governing elites, ensuring efficient government or the means by which governing politicians are made accountable. There are many different ideas of democracy, some of which stress empowerment and others the minimising of, and protection against, power. What sorts of society do these different forms of democracy require for their success? Are some of these forms, or even democracy in general, only appropriate for some sorts of society – (e.g. is democracy specific to the west)? Are the types of democratic systems that we live in today really democracies? Some have argued that representative democracy, where a parliament is elected every number of years, is not as inclusive as a participatory democracy where there is an attempt to include the population in decision making. Still others argue that this is utopian and that it is impossible to run a country if everyone is involved. Moreover, elite theorists argue that this runs contrary to human nature! We will be contrasting representative, elitist and participatory democratic styles and relating these to theories about who governs. Is there a small elite that runs the country, or does everyone have an equal say in a truly pluralist manner?

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  • Exercise and then show Taking Liberties extract.\n
  • Theories of democracy generally revolve about the elaboration of these three basic models of democracy (although as David Held notes in ‘Models of Democracy’, these can potentially be divided up into several more sub-categories).\n\nThe origins of the term democracy is the Greek ‘demokratia’ - from the roots Demos (people) and kratos (rule).\n\nThe basic principle upon which democracy is based is that the people, as opposed to a small artistocratic elite, rules. However, there is much discussion about (a) who the people are, (b) what ruling means and (c) how rule by the people can be achieved.\n\nMany scholars have noted that democratic rule within nation-states is made increasingly difficult as states become modernised, grow larger, govern a growing number of people, have to deal with highly technical and specialised knowledge, etc. \n\nAlso, as the definition of the ‘people’ becomes broader, due to migration, globalisation, etc., how people can be engaged in their own rule is also raised as a significant problem. As we saw last week, there are numerous constraints placed on people to participate equally in public life (due to inequalities of various kinds). Democratic participation is often confined to citizens, making it difficult for those who are not citizens to participate in political decision-making (especially voting).\n\nRepresentative democracy:\n\nIf representative democracy means participating politically through the election of a proxy - a representative (e.g. a member of parliament) who acts on your behalf, many people have noted the limitations of this system. \n\nThese limitations include:\n\n- a lack of connections between local people and their representative, especially as politics become more professionalised (a candidate may be ‘parachuted in’ to an area rather than being intimately connected to the locality).\n\n- the fact that politics today is often mediated - in the sense of relying heavily on the media. The extent to which a party can mobilise the media to be on its side can have a huge impact on how people vote. This can be seen in the role played by newspapers like The Sun declaring on behalf of either Labour or the Conservatives in British general elections. The success of Silvio Berlusconi in Italy is another example - Berlusconi owns almost all the media outlets in Italy (especially the TV).\n\n- the fact that elections have become hugely expensive operations and that enormous sums of money are necessary to run them (especially in the US). This means that not only will only those with access to these funds be able to run for office, but also the political agenda will arguably be set by those with the financial means to support political campaigns. So, to what extent does the representative then represent her electorate or her financial backers?\n\n- The fact that elections can often be subject to corruption. It is well-known that elections have often been corrupted in various ways (votes ‘lost’ or spoilt’, voters threatened with violence, voters bought off...). There are international missions in place to try to curb this (e.g. international observers mainly deployed in post-conflict zones). However, the case of the 2000 presidential election in the US was arguably a case of corruption (voters in Florida - mainly poor and black - were often not sent ballot papers, voting machines were said not to have functioned properly, voters were turned away from the polls, etc.). This led to the election of George W. Bush after a Supreme Court decision despite the fact that his opponent, Al Gore, had a pparently won the popular vote.\n\n- Other arguments against representative democracy include an examination of the voting system itself. Many argue that systems such as First Past the Post in the UK or the electoral college system in the US are unfair, because they ultimately do not result in ‘one person, one vote’. Calls for proportional representation or the recently rejected ‘alternative vote’ system are seen as ways of rectifying this. But other argue that this would only be tinkering with an intrinsically unfair system in which only some (mainly elite men) get to be candidates in the first place, thus effectively disempowering the majority of poor people who do not feel truly represented by their supposed representative.\n\nAlternatives:\n\nSome argue for a replacement of representative democracy with direct or participatory democracy. These are in fact two different things.\n\nDirect democracy is inspired by anarchism and, if taken to the extreme, would be based on people governing themselves, based on their localities, or on collectives organised in different ways (e.g. workers collectives) but on a small scale. \n\nThe argument is that large-scale rule does not work as it always leads to the domination of the many by the few, usually in their own interest.\n\nOthers argue that such ideals are unrealistic. They argue instead for a greater extension of democracy through encouraging greater citizens’ participation in decision making. Examples include referenda (very common in Switzerland) or e-democracy.\n\nHowever, critics argue that referenda can lead to the tyranny of the majority. A recent example in Switzerland was the anti-minarets campaign whereby a referendum saw the building of minarets on mosques being banned. The arguably greater democratic principle of freedom of religion was put into peril because local parties mobilised Islamophobia sentiment to argue that allowing minarets to be built would lead to Islam dominating in Switzerland.\n\nE-democracy is about making greater use of the internet to encourage citizens to participate. If used extensively, we could imagine citizens being asked to vote on certain decisions via the internet. The way it is used in the UK is through e-petitions. David Cameron promised that if an e-petition gains 100,000 votes, the issue would be discussed in parliament. \n\nHowever, in practice the issue also needs MPs support. For example, an e-petition with 124,000 votes recently was on tax on fuel. A recent debate in parliament led George Osbourne announcing in November that there would be no fuel tax increase [CHECK]. This is arguably because a number of MPs supported the idea and it was also seen by the government as a popular idea in an otherwise grim budgetary outlook.\n\nIn contrast, another recent e-petition concerned the extradition of Babar Ahmed, currently being held without charge on suspicion of terrorism in the UK at the request of the US who can ask for him to be extradited at any time. Although the e-petition raised more than 140,000 signatures it has not led to a Commons’ debate.\n\nCan we think of other methods of participatory democracy that might be more effective?\n\nElite democracy:\n\nWhen we looked at elite theories of power in Week 2, we already saw that elite theorists were concerned that, if taken to the letter of the law, democracy can lead to the tyranny of the majority. Others saw the masses as simply unable to understand the is and outs of government. For many elite theorists, leaving government up to the people was too risky. The people were seen as too stupid, incompetent, or intolerant to do the job!\n\nIn a sense, the system of government in liberal democracies is a compromise because people are given apparent choice through voting but technical decisions are left up to the representatives and, above all, the bureaucracy.\n\nRecent examples in Greece and Italy, however, show that elite democracy is not only theoretical. Both Greece and Italy have put technocratic governments in power in order - it is hoped - to ensure economic stability. The leaders have not been elected but have been put in place by the presidents without recourse to elections. While some may breathe a sigh of relief that Berlusconi is gone, for example, for others this is an example of a flouting of the very principles of representative democracy.\n\n\n
  • Theories of democracy generally revolve about the elaboration of these three basic models of democracy (although as David Held notes in ‘Models of Democracy’, these can potentially be divided up into several more sub-categories).\n\nThe origins of the term democracy is the Greek ‘demokratia’ - from the roots Demos (people) and kratos (rule).\n\nThe basic principle upon which democracy is based is that the people, as opposed to a small artistocratic elite, rules. However, there is much discussion about (a) who the people are, (b) what ruling means and (c) how rule by the people can be achieved.\n\nMany scholars have noted that democratic rule within nation-states is made increasingly difficult as states become modernised, grow larger, govern a growing number of people, have to deal with highly technical and specialised knowledge, etc. \n\nAlso, as the definition of the ‘people’ becomes broader, due to migration, globalisation, etc., how people can be engaged in their own rule is also raised as a significant problem. As we saw last week, there are numerous constraints placed on people to participate equally in public life (due to inequalities of various kinds). Democratic participation is often confined to citizens, making it difficult for those who are not citizens to participate in political decision-making (especially voting).\n\nRepresentative democracy:\n\nIf representative democracy means participating politically through the election of a proxy - a representative (e.g. a member of parliament) who acts on your behalf, many people have noted the limitations of this system. \n\nThese limitations include:\n\n- a lack of connections between local people and their representative, especially as politics become more professionalised (a candidate may be ‘parachuted in’ to an area rather than being intimately connected to the locality).\n\n- the fact that politics today is often mediated - in the sense of relying heavily on the media. The extent to which a party can mobilise the media to be on its side can have a huge impact on how people vote. This can be seen in the role played by newspapers like The Sun declaring on behalf of either Labour or the Conservatives in British general elections. The success of Silvio Berlusconi in Italy is another example - Berlusconi owns almost all the media outlets in Italy (especially the TV).\n\n- the fact that elections have become hugely expensive operations and that enormous sums of money are necessary to run them (especially in the US). This means that not only will only those with access to these funds be able to run for office, but also the political agenda will arguably be set by those with the financial means to support political campaigns. So, to what extent does the representative then represent her electorate or her financial backers?\n\n- The fact that elections can often be subject to corruption. It is well-known that elections have often been corrupted in various ways (votes ‘lost’ or spoilt’, voters threatened with violence, voters bought off...). There are international missions in place to try to curb this (e.g. international observers mainly deployed in post-conflict zones). However, the case of the 2000 presidential election in the US was arguably a case of corruption (voters in Florida - mainly poor and black - were often not sent ballot papers, voting machines were said not to have functioned properly, voters were turned away from the polls, etc.). This led to the election of George W. Bush after a Supreme Court decision despite the fact that his opponent, Al Gore, had a pparently won the popular vote.\n\n- Other arguments against representative democracy include an examination of the voting system itself. Many argue that systems such as First Past the Post in the UK or the electoral college system in the US are unfair, because they ultimately do not result in ‘one person, one vote’. Calls for proportional representation or the recently rejected ‘alternative vote’ system are seen as ways of rectifying this. But other argue that this would only be tinkering with an intrinsically unfair system in which only some (mainly elite men) get to be candidates in the first place, thus effectively disempowering the majority of poor people who do not feel truly represented by their supposed representative.\n\nAlternatives:\n\nSome argue for a replacement of representative democracy with direct or participatory democracy. These are in fact two different things.\n\nDirect democracy is inspired by anarchism and, if taken to the extreme, would be based on people governing themselves, based on their localities, or on collectives organised in different ways (e.g. workers collectives) but on a small scale. \n\nThe argument is that large-scale rule does not work as it always leads to the domination of the many by the few, usually in their own interest.\n\nOthers argue that such ideals are unrealistic. They argue instead for a greater extension of democracy through encouraging greater citizens’ participation in decision making. Examples include referenda (very common in Switzerland) or e-democracy.\n\nHowever, critics argue that referenda can lead to the tyranny of the majority. A recent example in Switzerland was the anti-minarets campaign whereby a referendum saw the building of minarets on mosques being banned. The arguably greater democratic principle of freedom of religion was put into peril because local parties mobilised Islamophobia sentiment to argue that allowing minarets to be built would lead to Islam dominating in Switzerland.\n\nE-democracy is about making greater use of the internet to encourage citizens to participate. If used extensively, we could imagine citizens being asked to vote on certain decisions via the internet. The way it is used in the UK is through e-petitions. David Cameron promised that if an e-petition gains 100,000 votes, the issue would be discussed in parliament. \n\nHowever, in practice the issue also needs MPs support. For example, an e-petition with 124,000 votes recently was on tax on fuel. A recent debate in parliament led George Osbourne announcing in November that there would be no fuel tax increase [CHECK]. This is arguably because a number of MPs supported the idea and it was also seen by the government as a popular idea in an otherwise grim budgetary outlook.\n\nIn contrast, another recent e-petition concerned the extradition of Babar Ahmed, currently being held without charge on suspicion of terrorism in the UK at the request of the US who can ask for him to be extradited at any time. Although the e-petition raised more than 140,000 signatures it has not led to a Commons’ debate.\n\nCan we think of other methods of participatory democracy that might be more effective?\n\nElite democracy:\n\nWhen we looked at elite theories of power in Week 2, we already saw that elite theorists were concerned that, if taken to the letter of the law, democracy can lead to the tyranny of the majority. Others saw the masses as simply unable to understand the is and outs of government. For many elite theorists, leaving government up to the people was too risky. The people were seen as too stupid, incompetent, or intolerant to do the job!\n\nIn a sense, the system of government in liberal democracies is a compromise because people are given apparent choice through voting but technical decisions are left up to the representatives and, above all, the bureaucracy.\n\nRecent examples in Greece and Italy, however, show that elite democracy is not only theoretical. Both Greece and Italy have put technocratic governments in power in order - it is hoped - to ensure economic stability. The leaders have not been elected but have been put in place by the presidents without recourse to elections. While some may breathe a sigh of relief that Berlusconi is gone, for example, for others this is an example of a flouting of the very principles of representative democracy.\n\n\n
  • Theories of democracy generally revolve about the elaboration of these three basic models of democracy (although as David Held notes in ‘Models of Democracy’, these can potentially be divided up into several more sub-categories).\n\nThe origins of the term democracy is the Greek ‘demokratia’ - from the roots Demos (people) and kratos (rule).\n\nThe basic principle upon which democracy is based is that the people, as opposed to a small artistocratic elite, rules. However, there is much discussion about (a) who the people are, (b) what ruling means and (c) how rule by the people can be achieved.\n\nMany scholars have noted that democratic rule within nation-states is made increasingly difficult as states become modernised, grow larger, govern a growing number of people, have to deal with highly technical and specialised knowledge, etc. \n\nAlso, as the definition of the ‘people’ becomes broader, due to migration, globalisation, etc., how people can be engaged in their own rule is also raised as a significant problem. As we saw last week, there are numerous constraints placed on people to participate equally in public life (due to inequalities of various kinds). Democratic participation is often confined to citizens, making it difficult for those who are not citizens to participate in political decision-making (especially voting).\n\nRepresentative democracy:\n\nIf representative democracy means participating politically through the election of a proxy - a representative (e.g. a member of parliament) who acts on your behalf, many people have noted the limitations of this system. \n\nThese limitations include:\n\n- a lack of connections between local people and their representative, especially as politics become more professionalised (a candidate may be ‘parachuted in’ to an area rather than being intimately connected to the locality).\n\n- the fact that politics today is often mediated - in the sense of relying heavily on the media. The extent to which a party can mobilise the media to be on its side can have a huge impact on how people vote. This can be seen in the role played by newspapers like The Sun declaring on behalf of either Labour or the Conservatives in British general elections. The success of Silvio Berlusconi in Italy is another example - Berlusconi owns almost all the media outlets in Italy (especially the TV).\n\n- the fact that elections have become hugely expensive operations and that enormous sums of money are necessary to run them (especially in the US). This means that not only will only those with access to these funds be able to run for office, but also the political agenda will arguably be set by those with the financial means to support political campaigns. So, to what extent does the representative then represent her electorate or her financial backers?\n\n- The fact that elections can often be subject to corruption. It is well-known that elections have often been corrupted in various ways (votes ‘lost’ or spoilt’, voters threatened with violence, voters bought off...). There are international missions in place to try to curb this (e.g. international observers mainly deployed in post-conflict zones). However, the case of the 2000 presidential election in the US was arguably a case of corruption (voters in Florida - mainly poor and black - were often not sent ballot papers, voting machines were said not to have functioned properly, voters were turned away from the polls, etc.). This led to the election of George W. Bush after a Supreme Court decision despite the fact that his opponent, Al Gore, had a pparently won the popular vote.\n\n- Other arguments against representative democracy include an examination of the voting system itself. Many argue that systems such as First Past the Post in the UK or the electoral college system in the US are unfair, because they ultimately do not result in ‘one person, one vote’. Calls for proportional representation or the recently rejected ‘alternative vote’ system are seen as ways of rectifying this. But other argue that this would only be tinkering with an intrinsically unfair system in which only some (mainly elite men) get to be candidates in the first place, thus effectively disempowering the majority of poor people who do not feel truly represented by their supposed representative.\n\nAlternatives:\n\nSome argue for a replacement of representative democracy with direct or participatory democracy. These are in fact two different things.\n\nDirect democracy is inspired by anarchism and, if taken to the extreme, would be based on people governing themselves, based on their localities, or on collectives organised in different ways (e.g. workers collectives) but on a small scale. \n\nThe argument is that large-scale rule does not work as it always leads to the domination of the many by the few, usually in their own interest.\n\nOthers argue that such ideals are unrealistic. They argue instead for a greater extension of democracy through encouraging greater citizens’ participation in decision making. Examples include referenda (very common in Switzerland) or e-democracy.\n\nHowever, critics argue that referenda can lead to the tyranny of the majority. A recent example in Switzerland was the anti-minarets campaign whereby a referendum saw the building of minarets on mosques being banned. The arguably greater democratic principle of freedom of religion was put into peril because local parties mobilised Islamophobia sentiment to argue that allowing minarets to be built would lead to Islam dominating in Switzerland.\n\nE-democracy is about making greater use of the internet to encourage citizens to participate. If used extensively, we could imagine citizens being asked to vote on certain decisions via the internet. The way it is used in the UK is through e-petitions. David Cameron promised that if an e-petition gains 100,000 votes, the issue would be discussed in parliament. \n\nHowever, in practice the issue also needs MPs support. For example, an e-petition with 124,000 votes recently was on tax on fuel. A recent debate in parliament led George Osbourne announcing in November that there would be no fuel tax increase [CHECK]. This is arguably because a number of MPs supported the idea and it was also seen by the government as a popular idea in an otherwise grim budgetary outlook.\n\nIn contrast, another recent e-petition concerned the extradition of Babar Ahmed, currently being held without charge on suspicion of terrorism in the UK at the request of the US who can ask for him to be extradited at any time. Although the e-petition raised more than 140,000 signatures it has not led to a Commons’ debate.\n\nCan we think of other methods of participatory democracy that might be more effective?\n\nElite democracy:\n\nWhen we looked at elite theories of power in Week 2, we already saw that elite theorists were concerned that, if taken to the letter of the law, democracy can lead to the tyranny of the majority. Others saw the masses as simply unable to understand the is and outs of government. For many elite theorists, leaving government up to the people was too risky. The people were seen as too stupid, incompetent, or intolerant to do the job!\n\nIn a sense, the system of government in liberal democracies is a compromise because people are given apparent choice through voting but technical decisions are left up to the representatives and, above all, the bureaucracy.\n\nRecent examples in Greece and Italy, however, show that elite democracy is not only theoretical. Both Greece and Italy have put technocratic governments in power in order - it is hoped - to ensure economic stability. The leaders have not been elected but have been put in place by the presidents without recourse to elections. While some may breathe a sigh of relief that Berlusconi is gone, for example, for others this is an example of a flouting of the very principles of representative democracy.\n\n\n
  • Many commentators have noted the increased disinterest of citizens of western liberal democracies in political participation, including going to vote.\n\nFor example, the 63% who turned out to vote in the last US elections was a record high. In 2001, only 59% of the UK electorate voted. In 2010, it was 65.1%.\n\nThis has been theorised differently by different people.\n\nBowling Alone\n\nRobert Putnam (2001) has noted a greater tendency towards individualism in societies such as the US and the UK and has said that this is behind the lack of citizens’ involvement in public life. He called this ‘bowling alone’ because, people were engaged in less and less common activities, even bowling. This is due to more and more time spent indoors due to the proliferation of TV and the internet, but also changes in demographics, such as the breakdown of the nuclear family, and geographical mobility meaning that people are more detached from the places they live.\n\nHowever, critics have pointed out that Putnam’s observation can be explained by looking at the effects of neoliberalism on society which has created more atomization. \n\nFor example, in The Return of the Public, Dan Hind looks at how, in the 1970s in the US, elites started to become concerned with ordinary people’s seeming lack of trust in the political system. In 1970, a study by the University of Michigan, for example, found that trust in government had fallen to very low levels. This was higher among blue collar workers, 61% of whom said they had low trust in the government, according to Howard Zinn. \n\nIn 1975, Samuel Huntington contributed to a book of essays entitled The Crisis of Democracy. In his essay, Huntington argued that the mistrust in government and rise in involvement in nongovernmental, oppositionary movements meant there was an ‘excess of democracy’. He worried that this would lead to the disappearance of social control and authority. \n\nHuntington has two solutions to this. The first was classic elitism - government shouldn’t necessarily be based on democracy. Rather it had to be run by experts\n\nSecondly, he advocated that the ‘effective operation of a democratic political system usually requires some measure of apathy and non-involvement on the part of some individuals and groups.’\n\nUnder neoliberalism, apathy was created by elevating the role of experts, giving the impression that government and the economy could only be run by highly specialised experts. At the same time, groups who challenged the state were beaten back into apathy and isolation as more and more people became convinced by the idea put forward by the business sector - which was increasingly closer to government - that the public sector was a drain on the economy and had to be fought.\n\nAs Dan Hind explains, public choice theory became the theory that explained how voting took place under neoliberalism. As people became individuals in unregulated markets - rather than members of a common civil society - voting would only choose the candidates who would give them the most material goods. But because voting could only be the expression of an individual’s own interest, no individual’s vote could be decisive at a national level where millions were involved. Therefore, there was no point in voting.\n\nAccording to Dan Hind, this orchestrated disengagement of the public from democracy paid the way for the dismantling of the public with private capital increasingly controlling the political agenda.\n\nApathetic for a reason\n\nIn his book, The Meaning of David Cameron, Richard Seymour explains further how apathy is orchestrated. While people seem to be acting against their own interests if they don’t vote, they also need to have something to vote for. Universal suffrage itself was only achieved because people fought for it; It was not something about which people had the option of voting. But, increasingly, people are noticing that when they try to fight for something there is no change. He gives the example of the 2003 anti-war march.\n\nSeymour argues that the real democratic deficit is to be found in the fact that most working class people in a society like Britain are not represented. They have no channels through which to be represented due to the erosion of trade unions for example. Therefore, if they do not vote it is not mere apathy (e.g. that they don’t care) but that they don’t see their interests as being given importance. \n\n\n
  • Many commentators have noted the increased disinterest of citizens of western liberal democracies in political participation, including going to vote.\n\nFor example, the 63% who turned out to vote in the last US elections was a record high. In 2001, only 59% of the UK electorate voted. In 2010, it was 65.1%.\n\nThis has been theorised differently by different people.\n\nBowling Alone\n\nRobert Putnam (2001) has noted a greater tendency towards individualism in societies such as the US and the UK and has said that this is behind the lack of citizens’ involvement in public life. He called this ‘bowling alone’ because, people were engaged in less and less common activities, even bowling. This is due to more and more time spent indoors due to the proliferation of TV and the internet, but also changes in demographics, such as the breakdown of the nuclear family, and geographical mobility meaning that people are more detached from the places they live.\n\nHowever, critics have pointed out that Putnam’s observation can be explained by looking at the effects of neoliberalism on society which has created more atomization. \n\nFor example, in The Return of the Public, Dan Hind looks at how, in the 1970s in the US, elites started to become concerned with ordinary people’s seeming lack of trust in the political system. In 1970, a study by the University of Michigan, for example, found that trust in government had fallen to very low levels. This was higher among blue collar workers, 61% of whom said they had low trust in the government, according to Howard Zinn. \n\nIn 1975, Samuel Huntington contributed to a book of essays entitled The Crisis of Democracy. In his essay, Huntington argued that the mistrust in government and rise in involvement in nongovernmental, oppositionary movements meant there was an ‘excess of democracy’. He worried that this would lead to the disappearance of social control and authority. \n\nHuntington has two solutions to this. The first was classic elitism - government shouldn’t necessarily be based on democracy. Rather it had to be run by experts\n\nSecondly, he advocated that the ‘effective operation of a democratic political system usually requires some measure of apathy and non-involvement on the part of some individuals and groups.’\n\nUnder neoliberalism, apathy was created by elevating the role of experts, giving the impression that government and the economy could only be run by highly specialised experts. At the same time, groups who challenged the state were beaten back into apathy and isolation as more and more people became convinced by the idea put forward by the business sector - which was increasingly closer to government - that the public sector was a drain on the economy and had to be fought.\n\nAs Dan Hind explains, public choice theory became the theory that explained how voting took place under neoliberalism. As people became individuals in unregulated markets - rather than members of a common civil society - voting would only choose the candidates who would give them the most material goods. But because voting could only be the expression of an individual’s own interest, no individual’s vote could be decisive at a national level where millions were involved. Therefore, there was no point in voting.\n\nAccording to Dan Hind, this orchestrated disengagement of the public from democracy paid the way for the dismantling of the public with private capital increasingly controlling the political agenda.\n\nApathetic for a reason\n\nIn his book, The Meaning of David Cameron, Richard Seymour explains further how apathy is orchestrated. While people seem to be acting against their own interests if they don’t vote, they also need to have something to vote for. Universal suffrage itself was only achieved because people fought for it; It was not something about which people had the option of voting. But, increasingly, people are noticing that when they try to fight for something there is no change. He gives the example of the 2003 anti-war march.\n\nSeymour argues that the real democratic deficit is to be found in the fact that most working class people in a society like Britain are not represented. They have no channels through which to be represented due to the erosion of trade unions for example. Therefore, if they do not vote it is not mere apathy (e.g. that they don’t care) but that they don’t see their interests as being given importance. \n\n\n
  • \nMost scholars point out the western origins of democracy going back to Greek and Roman traditions and developed out of struggles in Europe. Democracy is not seen as intrinsic to the non-western world according to some.\n\nOthers, in contrast, draw a strong link between democracy and human rights implying that democracy is a universal value that all people aspire to. This is grounded in the belief that it is the best possible system and what people naturally strive for. \n\nBoth of these views appear limited because, to argue that it is western is to forget the unevenness of the spread of democracy in the West itself. For example, despite the achievements of the French revolution in overthrowing the monarchy, the rise of Napoleon meant that the French spent many decades under another form of monarchy before really becoming citizens of a Republic. In all European countries, universal suffrage took a long time to come about. In Switzerland, for example, women only got the vote in 1971. \n\nEven if western countries were relatively democratic, until the 20th century those without property, women and the colonised could not vote. Societies that benefited from slavery until the 18th century (and thereafter indentured labour) could not be said to be truly democratic...\n\nThe contrary view, which sees democracy as a universal value also forgets that democracy as an idea develops under specific circumstances in specific locations. It is by no means an ideal system. Seymour and others point out that suffrage is extended in European countries ultimately because it is seen as the best way of containing revolution. \n\nThe growth in internationalism (communism) in the 19th and early 20th centuries meant that the ruling class had to do something to appease the workers who were increasingly seeing themselves as an international force capable of dismantling elite power. The Russian revolution proved this could happen. So, one of the ways of keeping revolution under control was to give the working class the impression that they were participating without ultimately significantly changing the way power was exercised.\n\nA global parliament\n\nThese reservations notwithstanding, those who support democracy see it as the only viable system of government internationally. Scholars such as Held propose that, undert globalization, there should be a democratization of global governance. International organisations such as the UN, the EU and the WTO etc. are insufficiently transparent and accountable. \n\nHeld believes there should be a global parliament which would make law and policy at an international level. He sees this being organised through transnational regional political institutions such as the EU. This would work by decisions being taken at local levels but all being ultimately accountable to a global parliament in a system Held calls cosmopolitan democracy. \n\nHowever, critics of Held say that this is highly unrealistic because democracy is difficult enough to ensure at the national level and that it is likely that the more international an institution, the more it will only represent politicl elites.\n\nThis is the type of criticism made of the European institutions that are seen as being unrepresentative and not transparent. The European parliament is widely seen as an institution with no political power. This was highlighted during the recent protest at the European University Institute when the European Council president Herman Von Rompuy came to give a speech. The protestors accused the EU of imposing antidemocratic decisions on the European people, such as the austerity measures being imposed on Greece, Italy and Ireland. \n\nExporting democracy\n\nOver the last decade, mounting criticisms have been heard against the West’s role in exporting democracy. Since the 1970s, the US in particular was involved in wars purportedly to bring democracy to communist run countries or countries with a strong socialist presence. In the context of the Cold War, this was part of an ideological war between opposed super powers.\n\nMore recently, the US and its allies have been involved in wars, occupations and other missions (e.g. Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya...) to bring about democracy and topple dictators responsible for human rights violations. However, critics have argued that democracy is not something that can be imposed. It has to be something fought for by people themselves (as was the case in the west). They also point out the disparity between contexts. For example, the toppling of Mubarak in Egypt last Spring was not initially met with support from western countries who viewed Mubarak as an ally. The contrast with the approach to Gaddafi is marked. Israel that speaks of itself as the ‘only democracy in the Middle east’ is not comfortable with Mubarak’s demise or the spread of democratic movements in the Middle East because these movements may be opposed to it.\n\nSimilarly, opponents of parties such as Hamas are often reminded that they were voted in in democratic elections. Democracy does not always bring about the preferred result. The Arab Spring is an example of how freedom, rather than democracy, appears to be the aim of protestors around the world. People may be less concerned with the right to vote than the right to equality and freedom from material hardship. Here there may be an overlap with the concerns of movements in the West, such as the Occupy movements, who seem more concerned with redressing unequal redistribution (from the rich to the poor) than with having the right to vote. Indeed having the right to vote doesn’t seem to change the material hardship and inequality faced by many people.\n\nIt may be necessary to ask whether formal, procedural democracy is a good aim to strive for. If not, what is the difference between freedom and democracy? Should we reassess what we mean by democracy, setting it apart from the mere right to vote. \n
  • \nMost scholars point out the western origins of democracy going back to Greek and Roman traditions and developed out of struggles in Europe. Democracy is not seen as intrinsic to the non-western world according to some.\n\nOthers, in contrast, draw a strong link between democracy and human rights implying that democracy is a universal value that all people aspire to. This is grounded in the belief that it is the best possible system and what people naturally strive for. \n\nBoth of these views appear limited because, to argue that it is western is to forget the unevenness of the spread of democracy in the West itself. For example, despite the achievements of the French revolution in overthrowing the monarchy, the rise of Napoleon meant that the French spent many decades under another form of monarchy before really becoming citizens of a Republic. In all European countries, universal suffrage took a long time to come about. In Switzerland, for example, women only got the vote in 1971. \n\nEven if western countries were relatively democratic, until the 20th century those without property, women and the colonised could not vote. Societies that benefited from slavery until the 18th century (and thereafter indentured labour) could not be said to be truly democratic...\n\nThe contrary view, which sees democracy as a universal value also forgets that democracy as an idea develops under specific circumstances in specific locations. It is by no means an ideal system. Seymour and others point out that suffrage is extended in European countries ultimately because it is seen as the best way of containing revolution. \n\nThe growth in internationalism (communism) in the 19th and early 20th centuries meant that the ruling class had to do something to appease the workers who were increasingly seeing themselves as an international force capable of dismantling elite power. The Russian revolution proved this could happen. So, one of the ways of keeping revolution under control was to give the working class the impression that they were participating without ultimately significantly changing the way power was exercised.\n\nA global parliament\n\nThese reservations notwithstanding, those who support democracy see it as the only viable system of government internationally. Scholars such as Held propose that, undert globalization, there should be a democratization of global governance. International organisations such as the UN, the EU and the WTO etc. are insufficiently transparent and accountable. \n\nHeld believes there should be a global parliament which would make law and policy at an international level. He sees this being organised through transnational regional political institutions such as the EU. This would work by decisions being taken at local levels but all being ultimately accountable to a global parliament in a system Held calls cosmopolitan democracy. \n\nHowever, critics of Held say that this is highly unrealistic because democracy is difficult enough to ensure at the national level and that it is likely that the more international an institution, the more it will only represent politicl elites.\n\nThis is the type of criticism made of the European institutions that are seen as being unrepresentative and not transparent. The European parliament is widely seen as an institution with no political power. This was highlighted during the recent protest at the European University Institute when the European Council president Herman Von Rompuy came to give a speech. The protestors accused the EU of imposing antidemocratic decisions on the European people, such as the austerity measures being imposed on Greece, Italy and Ireland. \n\nExporting democracy\n\nOver the last decade, mounting criticisms have been heard against the West’s role in exporting democracy. Since the 1970s, the US in particular was involved in wars purportedly to bring democracy to communist run countries or countries with a strong socialist presence. In the context of the Cold War, this was part of an ideological war between opposed super powers.\n\nMore recently, the US and its allies have been involved in wars, occupations and other missions (e.g. Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya...) to bring about democracy and topple dictators responsible for human rights violations. However, critics have argued that democracy is not something that can be imposed. It has to be something fought for by people themselves (as was the case in the west). They also point out the disparity between contexts. For example, the toppling of Mubarak in Egypt last Spring was not initially met with support from western countries who viewed Mubarak as an ally. The contrast with the approach to Gaddafi is marked. Israel that speaks of itself as the ‘only democracy in the Middle east’ is not comfortable with Mubarak’s demise or the spread of democratic movements in the Middle East because these movements may be opposed to it.\n\nSimilarly, opponents of parties such as Hamas are often reminded that they were voted in in democratic elections. Democracy does not always bring about the preferred result. The Arab Spring is an example of how freedom, rather than democracy, appears to be the aim of protestors around the world. People may be less concerned with the right to vote than the right to equality and freedom from material hardship. Here there may be an overlap with the concerns of movements in the West, such as the Occupy movements, who seem more concerned with redressing unequal redistribution (from the rich to the poor) than with having the right to vote. Indeed having the right to vote doesn’t seem to change the material hardship and inequality faced by many people.\n\nIt may be necessary to ask whether formal, procedural democracy is a good aim to strive for. If not, what is the difference between freedom and democracy? Should we reassess what we mean by democracy, setting it apart from the mere right to vote. \n
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  • Polsoc week 9 slideshare

    1. 1. Political Sociology Democracy & its Discontents
    2. 2. OverviewAre liberal democracies democratic?Theories of democracyA democratic deficit?Can democracy be globalized?Deep democracy: dream or reality?
    3. 3. Are Liberal Democracies democratic?
    4. 4. Are Liberal Democracies democratic?
    5. 5. Theories of Democracy
    6. 6. Theories of Democracy Representative democracy
    7. 7. Theories of Democracy Representative democracy Direct/ participatory democracy
    8. 8. Theories of Democracy Representative democracy Direct/ participatory democracy Elite democracy
    9. 9. A Democratic Deficit? ‘effective operation of a democratic political system usuallyrequires some measure of apathy and non-involvement on the part of some individuals and groups.’ Samuel Huntington (1975)
    10. 10. A Democratic Deficit? Bowling Alone? ‘effective operation of a democratic political system usuallyrequires some measure of apathy and non-involvement on the part of some individuals and groups.’ Samuel Huntington (1975)
    11. 11. A Democratic Deficit? Bowling Alone? Apathetic for a reason ‘effective operation of a democratic political system usuallyrequires some measure of apathy and non-involvement on the part of some individuals and groups.’ Samuel Huntington (1975)
    12. 12. Can democracy be globalized?
    13. 13. Can democracy be globalized? A global parliament?
    14. 14. Can democracy be globalized? A global parliament? Democracy as a commodity to be exported
    15. 15. DebateIs it possible for democracy tofunction at the level of the state?Is real democracy local?How can local democracy feed in tothe state?Is global democracy a desirable aim?Do people want democracy to bebrought to them?

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