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8 Slides

  1. 1. Culture, Theory and Society Lecture 8: Democracy and its opponents
  2. 2. Democracy <ul><li>Central idea of Enlightenment thought </li></ul><ul><li>Particularly in the form of Liberal Democracy </li></ul>
  3. 3. The history of democracy <ul><li>Possibly began in ancient Iraq or India </li></ul><ul><li>Definite beginnings in ancient Greece: </li></ul><ul><li>Athens </li></ul><ul><li>www.sikyon.com/athens/Monuments/athens_view1.jpg </li></ul>
  4. 4. Athenian democracy 1 <ul><li>All citizens were free </li></ul><ul><li>All citizens could vote in the assembly </li></ul><ul><li>(Direct democracy) </li></ul><ul><li>Treasurers and generals chosen by election </li></ul><ul><li>Other officials, like juries, chosen by lot (sortition) </li></ul>
  5. 5. Athenian democracy 2 <ul><li>Begun by Solon in 594 BCE </li></ul><ul><li>Strengthened by Pericles (495-429 BCE) </li></ul><ul><li>Finally ended by the Romans in 146 BCE </li></ul>http://images.google.co.uk/ www.poetryfoundation.org
  6. 6. Obvious problems with Athenian democracy <ul><li>It did not include women or slaves </li></ul><ul><li>The Athenians ruled over other city states “the Delian league”, which were not free </li></ul>
  7. 7. Democratic elements were also present in: <ul><li>Ancient Rome </li></ul><ul><li>The ancient Christian church </li></ul><ul><li>Ancient Germany </li></ul><ul><li>Medieval city states (Florence and Venice) </li></ul><ul><li>Medieval Poland </li></ul><ul><li>The althing of Iceland: the world’s oldest parliament (930 CE) </li></ul>
  8. 8. Important dates for liberal democracy <ul><li>The Bill of Rights (1689) England </li></ul><ul><li>The Bill of Rights (1791) the U.S.A. </li></ul><ul><li>France (1792) universal male suffrage </li></ul><ul><li>New Zealand (1893) first major nation to enfranchise women </li></ul>
  9. 9. Two types of democracy: <ul><li>Liberal </li></ul><ul><li>Illiberal </li></ul><ul><li>Singapore </li></ul><ul><li>Zimbabwe </li></ul><ul><li>Liberal autocracies are also possible </li></ul><ul><li>Hong Kong </li></ul>
  10. 10. Liberal democracies in 2008 <ul><li>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Freedom_House_electoral_democracies_2008.gif </li></ul>
  11. 11. Liberal democracies must have … <ul><li>Elections – free and fair </li></ul><ul><li>Secret ballots </li></ul><ul><li>Universal suffrage </li></ul><ul><li>Political pluralism </li></ul><ul><li>The rule of law </li></ul><ul><li>An independent judiciary </li></ul><ul><li>Civilian control of the military </li></ul><ul><li>Freedom of expression </li></ul><ul><li>Freedom of assembly </li></ul><ul><li>Freedom of religion </li></ul>
  12. 12. JUSTIFICATIONS OF DEMOCRACY - 1 (intrinsic) <ul><li>Every individual gets a say in how the country is run: </li></ul><ul><li>each person in a political community should be entitled to have his/her interests given equal consideration </li></ul>
  13. 13. JUSTIFICATIONS OF DEMOCRACY – 2 (instrumental) <ul><li>Liberal democracies never (or rarely) fight wars with one another </li></ul><ul><li>Poor liberal democracies (compared to poor dictatorships) have: </li></ul><ul><li>Better education </li></ul><ul><li>Better access to drinking water </li></ul><ul><li>Better health care </li></ul><ul><li>Better life expectancy </li></ul><ul><li>Lower infant mortality </li></ul>
  14. 14. JUSTIFICATIONS OF DEMOCRACY – 3 (instrumental) <ul><li>No functioning democracy has suffered a large-scale famine (Sen) </li></ul><ul><li>Compared to non-democracies, democracies have </li></ul><ul><li>less genocide </li></ul><ul><li>fewer refugee crises </li></ul><ul><li>higher levels of happiness </li></ul><ul><li>lower levels of corruption </li></ul>
  15. 15. Karl Popper 1902-1994 <ul><li>The Open Society and its Enemies (1945): </li></ul><ul><li>Democracy is the only system that allows for a peaceable change of government </li></ul>http://www.nndb.com
  16. 16. The liberal critique of democracy <ul><li>Racists and other unpleasant people can win power </li></ul><ul><li>Constitutional protections are easily overthrown </li></ul><ul><li>Voters can be irrational </li></ul><ul><li>Democracy has failed to overcome widespread inequality </li></ul><ul><li>It is not clear what the definition of a “people” is: when is it acceptable for states to secede? </li></ul>
  17. 17. Which is better …? <ul><li>A massively unequal democracy or a dictatorship where everyone is equal? </li></ul><ul><li>An anti-racist dictatorship or a racist democracy? </li></ul>
  18. 18. Alternatives to democracy <ul><li>Absolute monarchy </li></ul><ul><li>Theocracy </li></ul><ul><li>Dictatorship </li></ul><ul><li>One-party state </li></ul><ul><li>Military junta </li></ul>
  19. 19. Authoritarianism <ul><li>Centralised power structures </li></ul><ul><li>Political power is used to mobilise the people around the aims of the government </li></ul><ul><li>Rule of men, not the rule of law </li></ul><ul><li>Elections are rigged </li></ul><ul><li>Leadership cannot be displaced </li></ul><ul><li>No guaranteed civil liberties </li></ul><ul><li>No/restricted freedoms of speech, assembly or religion </li></ul>
  20. 20. Totalitarianism <ul><li>Characteristic of Fascist and Communist states </li></ul><ul><li>Controls all aspects of life – public and private </li></ul><ul><li>Usually under a charismatic leader </li></ul><ul><li>Lenin </li></ul><ul><li>Hitler </li></ul><ul><li>Pol Pot </li></ul><ul><li>Last totalitarian state – North Korea </li></ul><ul><li>http://images.google.co.uk </li></ul>www.doukhobor.org www.holocaust-history.org www.psywarrior.com
  21. 21. Hannah Arendt 1906-1979 <ul><li>The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951) </li></ul><ul><li>Totalitarianism relies on ideology: </li></ul><ul><li>History is racial struggle (Nazism) </li></ul><ul><li>History class struggle (Marxism) </li></ul><ul><li>This provides a comforting answer to all problems, past and present </li></ul><ul><li>However </li></ul><ul><li>Totalitarianism relies on terror </li></ul><ul><li>Unlike authoritarianism, it seeks to control every aspect of everyone’s life </li></ul>http://images.google.co.uk/
  22. 22. Authoritarianism in general <ul><li>For </li></ul><ul><li>More stable </li></ul><ul><li>Cheaper </li></ul><ul><li>Less crime </li></ul><ul><li>Against </li></ul><ul><li>People have limited freedom </li></ul><ul><li>Governments are harder to remove </li></ul><ul><li>Authoritarian states have more </li></ul><ul><li>Genocide </li></ul><ul><li>Famine </li></ul><ul><li>Refugees </li></ul><ul><li>Corruption </li></ul><ul><li>Illiteracy </li></ul><ul><li>etc etc </li></ul>
  23. 23. “ Democracy is preferable to any other kind of government” <ul><li>This statement is supported by majorities all over the world </li></ul><ul><li>“ www.worldpublicopinion.org” </li></ul>
  24. 24. In general, <ul><li>Authoritarian states lack a legitimising theory </li></ul><ul><li>So … </li></ul><ul><li>They pretend to be democratic </li></ul>
  25. 25. Four theorists of authoritarian societies <ul><li>Plato 427-347 (?) BCE </li></ul><ul><li>The Republic </li></ul><ul><li>In a democracy, people will choose a demagogue </li></ul><ul><li>The demagogue will become a tyrant </li></ul><ul><li>------------------------------------------------- </li></ul><ul><li>Humans are corrupted by power </li></ul><ul><li>Only philosophers can resist corruption </li></ul><ul><li>Therefore, the philosophers should rule </li></ul>http://images.google.co.uk
  26. 26. Plato also proposed … <ul><li>The rulers are not allowed to have property </li></ul><ul><li>The destruction of family units </li></ul><ul><li>The censorship of most music and poetry </li></ul><ul><li>Control of what all classes are allowed to read </li></ul>
  27. 27. Problem’s with Plato’s Republic <ul><li>Democracies exist where the people do not choose demagogues </li></ul><ul><li>Totalitarian </li></ul><ul><li>Unnatural </li></ul><ul><li>Unfeasible </li></ul>
  28. 28. Marxism <ul><li>Liberal Democracy is a tool used by the state </li></ul><ul><li>It controls the masses </li></ul><ul><li>It gives them the illusion of choice </li></ul><ul><li>Power is still controlled by private capital </li></ul>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Karl_Marx.jpg
  29. 29. Problems with Marxism <ul><li>Post-revolutionary societies provide no democracy at all </li></ul><ul><li>If human rights are a bourgeois illusion, then terror becomes a legitimate tool </li></ul><ul><li>“the ends justify the means” </li></ul><ul><li>“the dictatorship of the proletariat” is deliberately left vague </li></ul>
  30. 30. The Islamist critique of democracy <ul><li>Sayyid Qutb (1906-1966) </li></ul><ul><li>Milestones (1964) </li></ul><ul><li>Sovereignty belongs to Allah </li></ul><ul><li>Democracy is the sovereignty of man </li></ul><ul><li>Therefore the authority that belongs to Allah should be returned to him </li></ul><ul><li>The West (democracies) are “evil and corrupt” </li></ul>http://fursans.wordpress.com/sayyid-qutb/
  31. 31. Problems with the Islamist critique of democracy <ul><li>Not all Muslims would accept this interpretation of the Quran </li></ul><ul><li>It is of limited applicability to non-Muslims </li></ul><ul><li>The solutions given assert the law of Allah but do not address the elimination of corruption and so on </li></ul>
  32. 32. “Asian Values” <ul><li>Associated with such figures as Mahathir Mohamed (b 1925) </li></ul><ul><li>Combines elements of Islam and Confucianism </li></ul>www.intellectualconservative.com
  33. 33. Asian Values <ul><li>Strong leadership </li></ul><ul><li>Respect for harmony and collective well-being </li></ul><ul><li>Loyalty towards authority (parents, government) </li></ul><ul><li>Guided democracy </li></ul><ul><li>Not </li></ul><ul><li>Political pluralism </li></ul><ul><li>Individualism and human rights </li></ul><ul><li>Respect for freedom </li></ul><ul><li>Liberal democracy </li></ul>
  34. 34. Critics of “Asian Values” <ul><li>Amartya Sen </li></ul><ul><li>Kim Dae Jung </li></ul><ul><li>Long Ying Tai (b 1952): </li></ul><ul><li>“ Asian Values” are just another way of suppressing freedom of speech </li></ul>thechinadesk.wordpress.com
  35. 35. Noam Chomsky (b 1928) <ul><li>Enlightenment thinker </li></ul><ul><li>Power is always illegitimate </li></ul><ul><li>Wage slavery is slavery </li></ul><ul><li>Modern democracies (e.g. the U.S.A.) preach democracy, but suppress it </li></ul><ul><li>The Western mass media is all propaganda </li></ul>www.nndb.com
  36. 36. Noam Chomsky <ul><li>He is a libertarian socialist with anarchist leanings </li></ul><ul><li>However he thinks: </li></ul><ul><li>“the United Stares is the freest country in the world” </li></ul>
  37. 37. Conclusion 1 – Liberal Democracy <ul><li>It has its problems </li></ul><ul><li>It generally provides a better society over a wide range of measures </li></ul><ul><li>It is the system that most people in the world would prefer </li></ul>
  38. 38. Conclusion 2 – critiques of liberal democracy <ul><li>Totalitarian (Plato/Marx)) </li></ul><ul><li>Too ready to use terror/violence (Marx) </li></ul><ul><li>Utopian (Plato/Marx/Chomsky) </li></ul><ul><li>Refer to values that many people do not share (Qutb/Asian Values) </li></ul><ul><li>Do not really address the problem of corruption (all of them!) </li></ul>
  39. 39. Conclusion 3 <ul><li>Winston Churchill </li></ul><ul><li>“Democracy is the worst system </li></ul><ul><li>… except for all the others” </li></ul>www.battlefield-site.co.uk