Tag Archives: democracy

Reflections on ‘The Problem with Democracy’

[NB Re-post. First published at movements@manchester.]

Parliamentary Affairs has just published an interesting public lecture by Matthew Flinders, along with responses by Jack Corbett and Ian Marsh. The lecture brings together a whole host of complaints that have been targeted at advanced liberal democracies in trying to understand nose-diving levels of trust in politicians and voter turnout among young citizens. It is a systematic and insightful piece that ultimately Continue reading Reflections on ‘The Problem with Democracy’

It’s Democracy Stupid

Democracy continues to be the most important source of division among the coglomeration of radical movements active today.

The radical wings of socialism, anarchism and liberalism are all alive and kicking in the current movements for social change, although they have undoubtedly both learned and innovated in the face of a changing politico-economic habitat. Each of the ‘big three’ have historically carried substantially different meanings of ‘democracy’, and each have been attached to real-life experiments with democracy in various settings. Continue reading It’s Democracy Stupid

A Vote for Voting Properly

With the election behind us a few voices are at last crying foul – and this time its not just the Lib Dems. But the issue of electoral reform goes way beyond who got how many seats.

What we Voted ForThe image on the right, from the Independent tells a striking story. Under proportional representation our parliament would now look very different, indeed the Liberal Democrats would hold the balance of power with neither Labour nor the Tories able to form a government on their own. Their analysis needs some serious qualification: PR is unlikely to be sprung upon us, after we’d cast our votes, so our knowledge of our direct effect on the power of the different parties would change voting behaviour in marked and fairly unpredictable ways. We can, however, be certain both that more people would come out to vote, and that tactical voting would diminish (or even become meaningless). Continue reading A Vote for Voting Properly

What Revolutionary Action Means Today

“Pessimism is the mood inspired by a reasoned conviction that only a revolutionary change can ward off the consequences that are implicit in the tendencies in contemporary American society, but that such a revolution … is neither possible nor prudent – if by revolution we mean launching a campaign of violent insurrection or civil war. Revolutions of that nature are plainly pathological under contemporary conditions of interdependency.

Democrats need a new conception of revolution. Its text should be John Locke not Karl Marx, because the problem is not to show that a social class should seize power – no social class in an advanced society can pretend to the universality of right which Marx presupposed in the workers of his day – but to reinvent the forms and practices that will express a democratic conception of collective life.

Locke is best remembered for the argument that when those who rule seem bent on acquiring ‘Absolute Power over the Lives, Liberties and Estates of the People’, their power, which they hold on trust from the people, reverts, and the people are free to fashion new institutions. The right to revolution is not solely a right to overturn and destroy institutions but to fashion new ones because those who rule have perverted the old ones. The right to revolution is the right to creat new forms.”

Sheldon Wolin (1992) “What Revolutionary Action Means Today” in C. Mouffe, ed., Dimensions of Radical Democracy. Verso, London.