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The Problem of Democracy generally taken as an ideal => has today become almost synonymous with “the good society” => the question of good society becomes.

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Presentation on theme: "The Problem of Democracy generally taken as an ideal => has today become almost synonymous with “the good society” => the question of good society becomes."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Problem of Democracy generally taken as an ideal => has today become almost synonymous with “the good society” => the question of good society becomes blurred - no longer a real question, because it is already answered => difficulties with examining democracy in a critical fashion “too much democracy is a problem” - a revival of classical forms of critique of democracy (e.g. unreason, power of the poor, consumer power, anarchy etc.) - a culture of hatred of democracy is also common today (Rancière, 2005) => democracy is good only in restricted forms - Churchill: "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” (House of Commons speech, 1947) What is democracy? - as an issue of political philosophy and political theory How shall we understand democracy in this age of globalization and post-national society? disaffiliation - increasing distance between democracy as a system and the power of the people

2 Sheldon Wolin: “… while democracy is widely proclaimed as the political identity of the American system, the demos is becoming disenchanted with the forms that claims it. Disaffiliation is one of the marks that identify the state not only as postdemocratic but as postrepresentative” Politics and Vision (expanded edition), 2004, p. 601

3 The Problem of Democracy its goodness, how to define it (in what sense is democracy a good thing?) problematic consequences and effects, its relation with other good things its meaning, what is it?

4 democracy demos + kratein: power/rule of the people a moral ideal (here: moral ≈ goods of our life with others that ought to be realized) the concept of democracy tells us something about some goods of social life (in case we endorse it/them) a limited ideal: democracy does not contain all goods of social life  might exist other goods beside and in addition to democracy that a society ought to realise - welfare? human rights? a system of government or a mode of (successful) action the dimension of ideality is not sufficient, it must also be realised/realisable in practice (like all other moral ideals) compare: Jacques Derrida: the sense of urgency present in all moral imperatives: - if something really is morally good, it ought to be realised right now, without further delay (“Ethics and Politics Today” in Negotiations, 2002)  realist demands: - sufficient unity (specification of the people) - functionality (economic resources, political legitimacy etc.) - capability to make decisions and to successfully implement them (power ≈ successful power) - stability (decisions stay valid tomorrow) ought to regulate realist limits on the ideal

5 Democracy, the goodness and meaning of: some classical conceptions Pericles (c B.C.) on democracy: “Our constitution … favors the many instead of the few; this is why it is called a democracy. If we look to the laws, they afford equal justice to all in their private differences; if to social standing, advancement in public life falls to reputation for capacity, class considerations not being allowed to interfere with merit; nor again does poverty bar the way, if a man is able to serve the state, he is not hindered by the obscurity of his condition. The freedom which we enjoy in our government extends also to our ordinary life.” Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War, (translated by Richard Crawley, 1951), pp freedom - respects and secures the freedom of the individual - in private life - freedom as the possibility to rule over oneself - political rule is ”rule over free and equal persons” (Aristotle, The Politics Book I.vii) - everyone is both ruler and ruled - participatory, political freedom  modern liberal conception - “freedom of the moderns” - private freedom as contrasted with political rule - freedom from rule/domination  republican conception of freedom - ”freedom of the ancients” - freedom as the possibility to participate in societal life and political rule

6 Democracy, the goodness and meaning of: some classical conceptions Pericles (c B.C.) on democracy: “Our constitution … favors the many instead of the few; this is why it is called a democracy. If we look to the laws, they afford equal justice to all in their private differences; if to social standing, advancement in public life falls to reputation for capacity, class considerations not being allowed to interfere with merit; nor again does poverty bar the way, if a man is able to serve the state, he is not hindered by the obscurity of his condition. The freedom which we enjoy in our government extends also to our ordinary life.” Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War, (translated by Richard Crawley, 1951), pp freedom equality - political equality - political rule is ”rule over free and equal persons” (Aristotle, The Politics Book I.vii) - to be simultaneously ruler and ruled - participatory equality  republicanism  radical democratic equality - of all, before the law (of all free citizens)  modern liberal conception - formal equality - liberal rights  modern addition?: social equality and economic equality - egalitarianism - welfare state - Marxism: real equality

7 Democracy, the goodness and meaning of: some classical conceptions Pericles (c B.C.) on democracy: “Our constitution … favors the many instead of the few; this is why it is called a democracy. If we look to the laws, they afford equal justice to all in their private differences; if to social standing, advancement in public life falls to reputation for capacity, class considerations not being allowed to interfere with merit; nor again does poverty bar the way, if a man is able to serve the state, he is not hindered by the obscurity of his condition. The freedom which we enjoy in our government extends also to our ordinary life.” Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War, (translated by Richard Crawley, 1951), pp freedom equality pluralism - the many, instead of the few - in all their differences ”to greater unity, from being a state, it becomes a family (oikos, household), and from being a family, an individual; for the family may be said to be more one than the state, and the individual than the family. So that we ought not to attain this greatest unity even if we could, for it would be the destruction of the state … Again a state is not made up only of so many men, but of different kinds of men; for similars do not constitute a state. It is not like a military alliance” Aristotle, The Politics Book II:ii

8 Democracy, the goodness and meaning of: some classical conceptions Pericles (c B.C.) on democracy: “Our constitution … favors the many instead of the few; this is why it is called a democracy. If we look to the laws, they afford equal justice to all in their private differences; if to social standing, advancement in public life falls to reputation for capacity, class considerations not being allowed to interfere with merit; nor again does poverty bar the way, if a man is able to serve the state, he is not hindered by the obscurity of his condition. The freedom which we enjoy in our government extends also to our ordinary life.” Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War, (translated by Richard Crawley, 1951), pp freedom equality pluralism participation - citizenship = taking part in power/the practice of ruling

9 Democracy demos = people people as ethnos people as demos demos? - all of the citizenry, independently of wealth, status, ethnic background, culture or personality, in equality - plurality, pluralistic common restrictions to the citizenry (full political rights): - membership - age (only adults) - knowledge skills, sufficient education - freedom (not slaves nor other ‘dependants’ nor those incapable of freedom) nationality, ethnic group, culturally defined group - ethnic background, language, culture - otherwise substantially defined group (e.g. religion, ideology)  ethnocracy an ethnocratic version of democracy is of course possible to develop


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