Democracies POSC 120 Intro to Politics and Political Analysis Braunwarth
Ideology • A coherent world view that purports to explain how things “should be” • Generally has some assessment of Human Nature • As well as an assessment of how society should be set up
Classical Liberalism • Not the same as the way we talk about liberal and conservative in the U.S. • Classical Liberalism emphasizes the Individual who is: • Rational and Reasonable • Have passions but also have the ability, through reason, to control our desires • Therefore deserve rights and liberties • Individuals are inherently Self-Interested and Competitive • Does this seem natural? Why?
The Sources of Liberal Democracy • The Greek heritage of democracy – demos and krateia • Christian theology and Roman republicanism • Medieval Europe • The Protestant Reformation – Luther and Calvin • The American republic: the first great Democratic experiment • The French Revolution of 1789 and liberal democracy in Europe
Democracy • What is it? • A method of governing in which the people rule directly or through representatives • Examples of Pure (Direct) Democracy? • Athenian Democracy, New England town meetings, CA ballot propositions • Why Representative Democracy? • Matter of Scale
What does Democracy Mean to You? • What does Democracy Mean to you? • Take a few moments and write down a definition of democracy • Is it just casting votes or does it mean something more?
The Ideals of Liberal Democracy 1. Popular Control of Government • Government does what the people want, not vice versa • Representative government • Responsible government • General welfare government 2. Rule of Law • Constitutional government • Limits and restraints on rulers • Rights-respecting government • Paradox of Democracy 3. Contestation • Genuine alternatives who do gain power
Liberal Democracy: A Working Definition • Constitutional government characterized by popular rule, • protection of basic rights, • and political and economic competition.
In Defense of Liberal Democracy • Guiding vision and ideals have led to greater measure of civilized life, healthy growth, and creative fulfillment as evidenced in the American case. • Has shown a remarkable ability to adapt to changing circumstances. • Has been able to effectively respond to the worst examples of the abuse of power and tyranny. • Is realistic about politics, and this creates a stable regime.
The Attack on Liberal Democracy from the Left • American liberal democracy has failed to fulfill its own promise. • Individuals are not free; they are confined in an exploitive economic and social system of inequality, racism, and sexism.
The Attack on Liberal Democracy from the Right • Liberal democracy has degenerated into mobocracy, serfdom, and socialism. • The dangers of participatory democracy threatened representative democracy and equality of opportunity. • The political right is fearful of the state’s growing bureaucratic power to regulate economic affairs and undermine private property and enterprise.
Variations on the Liberal Democratic Theme _______________________________________________________________ Government Intervention in Economic Affairs For Against Expansion ofFor Liberal Libertarian Personal ______________________________________ Freedoms Against Populist Conservative _______________________________________________________________ Source: William S. Maddox and Stuart A. Little, Beyond Liberal and Conservative: Reassessing the Political Spectrum (Washington, D.C.: Cato Institute, 1984), 5.
Contemporary American Liberals • Seek to expand popular power • In general, they favor a greater concern for the least free and the least powerful in society, • Markets can also limit freedoms, how? • Advocate employing government to help people overcome obstacles – poverty, illness, ignorance, prejudice – allowing fair play for society’s most needy. • Concern that free markets do not do these things • They are also more favorably disposed to political, economic, and social change.
Contemporary American Conservatives While they are genuinely concerned about the most needy in society, they are deeply skeptical of the ability of government to solve the problems associated with poverty. They generally endorse a laissez-faire position and are opposed to adverse government interference in their economic, political, and social affairs. Seek to maintain the existing economic, political, and social scheme of things.
Contemporary American Conservatives • Uneasy Alliance: • Free-Market Conservatives: Government should not interfere with markets (sound familiar?) • Social Conservatives: need government to protect “traditional” morality and passions (sound familiar?) • Also, Neoconservatives: Disillusioned with unintended consequences of liberal social programs and Willingness to use force abroad
Traditional Conservatism • Emphasis on Community rather than individual • “Conserve” traditional social institutions • Skeptical of rapid social change • Society has been around a long time, individuals are relatively transient
Politics of Imperfection • Individuals are weak in the face of our desires: selfish and egocentric • Need a strong government/Society: • to restrain our passions • to preserve social institutions and values • to make sure no one is left behind
Socialism • Humans are naturally social or communal creatures • Do not live or produce in isolation • Unrestricted Capitalism creates under-class, monopolies and depressions • Need Government control of key industries and raw materials • Marxists: achieve through Revolution • Social Democrats: achieve through democratic reforms (Welfarism)