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C LASS N OTES FOR : P OLI S CI 3Y03
McMaster University, Winter 2014
T UESDAY , MARCH 4, Y
Previous class - democratic transitions and reference to non-democratic countries
as well their movements to democratic regimes.
- Waves of democracy
- Ongoing continuous waves of countries
- Spanish civil work - Canadians joined the working classes of Spain and went to
- As many of the Mediterranean countries followed by the end of Latin American
dictatorships, etc. began to join the democratic ways.
- Countries joining the “Western” democracy
o We define democracies not by what they are, but what they are not.
o When countries that had not been previously democratic, joined
democratic countries without asking questions about democracy and
human rights that have been discussed previously.
- “What is democracy”?
o Has become a common place term
o Everyone wants democracy, but do not know what these are
o (1) What are the conditions, possibilities of democracy possible?
o (2) What do we need to have in place?
- (3) What is more important? Civil and political rights or social / economic /
cultural and indigenous rights on the other hand
o Why do we have priorities?
- (4) What is the relationship between democracy and equality?
o Looking at the developing world, where the inequality not only might lead
to poverty, but it is compounded by the fact that out of inequality comes
poverty and out of poverty comes polarization.
- What we had today is better than what we had previously…
- Pervasiveness of globalization and the neoliberal economic model and the
collapse of the communist alternative, it is common sense to assume that there
are no alternatives to capitalist democracy. Once communism collapsed,
democracy and as such capitalism has prevailed***
- People live with the auspice that they live in democracy because they have
competitive elections, held regularly every four years, etc.
o Since Russia, Nigeria and Bolivia have regular elections, we can say that
they are “democracies”
- Condition and possibility of democracy - Relationship between democracy and
o The frequency of economic crisis that has affected the entire world over
the last 20-30 years.
o As economic crisis occurs, we witness something else, a significant
process of social exclusion, that translates into the disarticulation of the
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identities and solidarities that used to characterize the working class, and
make possible the welfare state.
o What does it have to do with the discussion of democracy
o Liberal democracy is the outcome of the working class struggles in the
mid 19 century, in which workers moved from being led by economic
interest to demand political participation.
o The working of globalization as such that one of the fundamental
weaknesses and flaws of globalization process, is the inability to create
JOBS. The welfare state and workers were premised on the past on full
employment, and now the increasing technological development by the
capitalist forces of production are such that capitalist need fewer and
fewer workers now a days. The dream of capitalist person is to produce
items without workers! Producing machinery that is constantly replacing
people. As technology replaces the need for workers, we have a situation
characterized that there are 1.4 billion people in the world referred to as
marginalized groups. A marginal person is one who can expect to never
have a regularly paid job, as it will not exist since its been taken over by
machinery and equipment. Informal sector!
o If you live in this marginal situation, and all of the time is consumed to
survive, you have no time to ask yourself what is democracy or let alone
participate in substantive political activities!
o Even those who might have jobs are now concerned with keeping their
current job. If asked to work 68 hours a week instead of 54, and as such
have less time to spend in politics, and less time to participate, etc.
o Less solidarity amongst workers.
- We are living in an environment in which we have no time to ask philosophical
- One reason why we do not ask about the conditions of democracy, and the
linkages between social and political, economic, etc. rights, has to do with the
retrenchment in terms of intellectual thinking. “Leftist intellectuals”
- It is not only a problem of physical poverty, but also intellectual poverty. Not
produced the kind of intellectual that could help us understand the relationship
between gov’t and society. British American model. Adopting the Anglo-Saxon
model. We’ve adopted the model that has been put forward, by Schumpeter.
Joseph Schumpeter: Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy
(1942) Born in 1883, same year that Marx died. John Keynes
was also born this same yr; Welfare state, gov’t intervention
• PREMISE 1. Contention that socialism will replace capitalism; opposite of Marx,
socialism will replace capitalism because of the “success” of capitalism, which will
make it possible on day to have socialism replace it? Success of capitalism
depends on technological progress, new inventions, etc. also part of a
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competitive environment in which capitalists have to be at competition with one
another and do so with innovation.
• DEMOCRACY constantly relishes on the construction of new things. Only the
paranoids can succeed within the framework of capitalist competition. Destructive
creation, destroy what is in order to bring something more advanced!
• Capitalism is successful because of its own irrationality.
• There will be a need for a central planning organization for it to be established.
But it has not happened yet, would this be at the domestic or international level?
• Period of the 1940s goes on a descending fall?
• When no one expected that there could be great number of democracy, it is
remarkable that Schumpeter would be writing about democracy, to the point that it
still influences political democratic freedoms.
• The rationalization of Democracy as the “government of the politicians”
o Article 1-21 (Gov’t of the politicians)
o Article 22 + (Gov’t of the people)
o Two different but related conceptualizations of democracy
o Looks at democracy as methodology.
• Main question: are democracy and socialism compatible?
• Democracy as a “political method”, a procedure, and not as an end in itself.
o It is an instrument, methodology.
o Democracy might bring about human rights, economic development, food,
etc. Democracy is a methodology.
• What does this method consist of: leaders and elections
o It is traditionally understood that in a democracy, like CANADA, it is the
people; it is the electorate who first determine what they important issues
of the date are!
o We ‘live’ in a democracy as if we are the democracy / gov’t of the people
o But Schumpeter disagrees!
o In a real democracy, all of these terms are inverted.
o First the People elect their leaders and the politicians determine what the
important issues are for the day, as well as to define the issues needed.
• Democracy’s resemblance to the market
• What about the “general will”? The will of the people is the product and not the
motivating power of the political process.
• The elector as a “subnormal” person. The typical citizen drops down to a lower
level of mental performance as soon as s/he enters the realm of politics.
• If the voter is “subnormal” how to explain s/he electing the leaders? It requires a
lesser degree of rationality to choose leaders than to participate in decision-
• Democracy “means only that the people have the opportunity of accepting or
refusing those who are to rule them”
• The Democratic Method is “an institutional arrangement for arriving at political
decisions in which individuals acquire the power to decide by means of a
competitive struggle for the people’s vote”.
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• Democracy is the government not of the people but of the politicians. Politicians
are professionals who not only live for politics, but also live of politics.
- Political model we have in place here, even though we may not relate to
Schumpeter, much of what happens as liberal democratic regimes follows on the
footsteps and methodologies put forward by Schumpeter.
- We are beginning to undertake discussions on so called democratic transitions
- Democratic transitions and democratization is a reference to all of these
countries that have recently joined the ‘democratic’ family.
- Includes the most recent democratic transitions that take place in the Arab world
- What regarding these n