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Cohen-MIT Fung-Harvard - Radical Democratic Project - Via DrSophie73

Cohen-MIT Fung-Harvard - Radical Democratic Project - Via DrSophie73

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Published by lelaissezfaire
Radical Democracy: "competitive representation" vs "participation and deliberation"
Radical Democracy: "competitive representation" vs "participation and deliberation"

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Published by: lelaissezfaire on Nov 25, 2010
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DELIBERATION ET ACTION PUBLIQUE 23WALZER, Michael (1999), “Deliberation, and what else ?”, in Stephen MACEDO (ed.).
Deliberative Politics
. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp.58-69.YOUNG, Iris Marion (1996), “Communication and the Other : Beyond DeliberativeDemocracy”, in Sheyla BENHABIB (ed.).
Democracy and Difference
. Princeton: PrincetonUniversity Press, pp. 120-135.YOUNG, Iris Marion (2000
 ). Inclusion and Democracy
. New York: Oxford University Press.
 
Radical Democracy
 Joshua Cohen, Department of Political Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology(MIT), E-mail: jcohen@mit.edu Archon Fung, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University,E-mail: archon_fung@harvard.edu
The Radical-Democratic Project
Over the past generation, radical-democratic ideas have reemerged as an importantintellectual and political force. This reemergence reects a combination of skepticismabout the regulatory capacities of national governments and concerns about thecapacity of conventional democracies to engage the energies of ordinary citizens.By “conventional democracies,” we mean systems of competitive representation,in which citizens are endowed with political rights, including the rights of speech,association, and suffrage; citizens advance their interests by exercising their politicalrights, in particular by voting for representatives in regular elections; elections areorganized by competing political parties; and electoral victory means control ofgovernment, which gives winning candidates the authority to shape public policythrough legislation and control over administration.Arguably, any mass democracy must be organized at least in part as a system ofcompetitive representation. Radical democrats acknowledge this basic fact of politicallife, but seek a fuller realization of democratic values than competitive representationitself can attain.In particular, radical-democratic ideas join two strands of democratic thought.First, with Rousseau, radical democrats are committed to broader participation inpublic decision-making. Citizens should have greater direct roles in public choicesor at least engage more deeply with substantive political issues and be assured
 
24 DEBATE
that ofcials will be responsive to their concerns and judgments. Second, radicaldemocrats emphasize deliberation. Instead of a politics of power and interest, radicaldemocrats favor a more deliberative democracy in which citizens address publicproblems by reasoning together about how best to solve them—in which no force isat work, as Jürgen Habermas (1975: 108) said, “except that of the better argument”.
1
 The ambitious aim of a deliberative democracy, in short, is to shift from bargaining,interest aggregation, and power to the common reason of equal citizens as a dominantforce in democratic life (Cohen 1989,1996; Cohen and Sabel 1997, 2003; Fung 2003,2003a, 2003b, 2004; Fung and Wright 2003; Fung et al. 2000, 2001).But while many radical democrats endorse participation and deliberation in a singlebreath, these two strands of the democratic project grow from different traditions andaddress distinct failures of competitive representation. Our aim here is to clarify therelationship of these different strands, explore the tensions between them, and sketchsome possibilities for reconciliation. We start by showing how participation anddeliberation might address three limitations of competitive representation.
2
Then wepresent some tensions between deliberation and participation, and offer two strategiesfor blunting these tensions. We conclude by outlining the unsolved difculties thatmust be met in order to advance a radical-democratic project.Before getting started, we should mention that some radical democrats argue thata more participatory and deliberative democracy would be better at solving practicalproblems than systems of competitive representation: better, because of advantagesin identifying problems, collaborating in their resolution, testing solutions to see ifthey are well-tailored to local circumstance, and disciplining solutions by referenceto solutions adopted elsewhere. Our focus here is on normative matters, but nothingwe say is intended to dispute this proposition about practical advantages. Sufce tosay that if a more radical democracy is not at least reasonably good at addressingregulatory problems, then its normative virtues are of limited interest.
Democratic Decits of Competitive Representation
Radical-democratic criticisms of systems of competitive representation focus onthree political values: responsibility, equality, and autonomy.1.
Responsibility
. “As soon as public business ceases to be the citizens’ principalbusiness, and they prefer to serve with their purse rather than with their person, the
1
In this passage, Habermas is not describing an idealized democracy, but a hypotheticalsituation suited to the justication of norms.
2
In reading the other contributions to this debate, we are reminded of the importanceof distinguishing participation from deliberation. Other contributors seem to conate thetwo, though Loïc Blondiaux rightly observes that there is an interesting question about therelationship between discussion of deliberative democracy—a topic in political theory forthe past 15 years—and an older literature on participatory democracy.
 
DELIBERATION ET ACTION PUBLIQUE 25
state is already close to ruin”.
3
Here, Rousseau expresses the idea that the balance ofreasons sometimes speaks strongly in favor of performing a task oneself rather thandelegating it. For example, countries should ght wars with their own citizens ratherthan mercenaries or surrogates because the task is of great importance, its performance(both initiation and execution) demands judgment, and the consequences ofmisjudgment are so serious.Similarly, radical democrats worry about relying excessively upon representativesto make consequential political choices. Competitive representation, to be sure,provides opportunities for citizens to judge for themselves the merits of alternativelaws and policies and hold representatives accountable in light of those judgments.But because representation is a very limited tool for ensuring ofcial accountability,citizens will be strongly tempted to leave the hard work of substantive policy judgment to professional politicians. The capacities of citizens may in turn atrophy.Lacking democratic skills and habits, they may refrain from judging public businessexcept under dire circumstances, and then judge poorly.2.
Equality
. A great achievement of modern representative democracy was to bringthe idea that people should be treated as having equal importance in the processes ofcollective decision-making to bear on the political institutions of a modern state. Oneimplication—formal political equality—is that suffrage rights, for example, should notdepend on property qualications, gender, race, or social status. But even with theseconditions in place, social and economic inequalities shape opportunities for politicalinuence within systems of competitive representation.Economic advantage is one important source of political advantage. In addition,because it is easier to mobilize small groups of individuals than large ones, competitiverepresentation tends to favor concentrated interests (in which few actors gain largebenets on some policy question) over diffuse one (where many actors gain smallbenets). Finally, in newly-democratized countries with long histories of authoritariangovernment and hierarchical public culture, the new electoral vestments may merelyreproduce and reauthorize the authoritarian past (Avritzer 2002).Radical democrats have recommended participation and deliberation to increasepolitical equality: deliberation, because it blunts the power of greater resources withthe force of better arguments; participation, because shifting the basis of politicalcontestation from organized money to organized people is the most promisingantidote to the inuence conferred by wealth. Similarly, expanding and deepeningcitizen participation may be the most promising strategy for challenging theinequalities that stem from asymmetric concentration of interests and from traditionalsocial and political hierarchies.3.
Political Autonomy
. A third objection is that systems of competitive representationfail to realize a central democratic ambition: to foster political autonomy by enabling
3
Rousseau, Social Contract, Book, III, chap. 15.

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