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Intro to Political Ideas- Second Half.doc

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University of Waterloo
Political Science
PSCI 101
Gerard Boychuk

Liberal Democracy: • They do not agree with general welfare; all individuals • Most important goal is to protect the individual rights o They dont care how long it takes to make decision in a group; protect the individual • How cares how the decision is made, the important thing is to limit the power of the leader • Assumptions about human nature o Human productivity toward individualism § Human nature is... • Rational • Self-interested • Naturally competitive- "how can I help myself or what can benefit me" • Eg. Margaret Thatcher- "its our duty to look after ourselves" o Human proclivity toward intolerance § They believe they are right § You dont try to change people but dont give them any power instead § They want to change other people's ideas Vision of Society • Political community (society) is an association of separate individuals with distinct competing interests *because we are self-interested o THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS SOCIETY (Maragret Thatcher) o Vs. Consensual and positive sum (win-win) vision of society (underpinning elite model of democracy) § "everyone for themselves and "getting ahead" vs "we're all in this together" § They dont want to be part of a society • Central characteristics of liberal democratic model o Constraints on democratic processes to ensure protection of individual rights o Limiting collective (government) power: Two ways this is done § Constitutional restrictions on state/government power (bill of rights 1982) • With focus on individual rights and with emphasis on negative freedoms- outlining what governments cannot do • Positive freedoms- outlining what government must do... Canada must put things in two languages (french and english) § Institutional dispersal government power • Separation of powers (versus fusion of powers) o Separation of powers between arms of government (eg. Legislature) example: Obama can not make laws o The US has 102 legislatures!!!! • Federalism (division of powers) versus a unitary system o Division of powers between levels of government (eg. Federalism) Required Social Conditions • Relative equality o Equality of opportunity § Vs. Hierarchy stratified society • Liberals would want to argue this down § Vs. Equality of condition/outcome • Not arguing for this • They want a difference in society because people can reach to become those people • If we are making everyone equal, we would be stunting society § You will rise up in society if you deserve it § Everyone has the ability to go "up in the food chain" if you want to/ all have an equal opportunity and a quality of opportunity § Everyone should be able to get a high education Debate between Democratic Models (Elite vs Liberals) • Elite democratic response to liberal model o Society will go to hell because people will be irrationally self interested o Assumption-- individuals are not rational o The liberal model of democracy's insistence on putting limits on collective (government) power really serves to protect private economic interests § Protecting the power of the elites and not giving the society the tools to achieve it § It does not protect the organic whole, if you succeed good for you, if you dont, too bad • Liberal democratic critique of elite democracy o Assumption-- humans are self interested and rational o Individuals make the best decisions for themselves o Elites are not able to judge the interests of individuals than individuals themselves o If unchecked elites will use power to infringe the rights of individuals o Elite democracy's focus on general welfare (versus individualism) sacrifices individual interests (of all individuals) for the interests of the elites Movie: Beyond Elections: Redefining Democracy in the Americas • Athens was the first democracy • In the 1900s the idea of democracy is reintroduced by the French and American Revolution • Participatory Budgeting o The council people know that needs of the community because they live their o Eg. Daycare, electronics plant and health care o Argument is that a government election is not just enough for a democracy but it is needed in the workplace and in the communities o After participatory government, they could see democracy spreading to soccer games and other activities o Participatory government goes beyond election • Participation and liberty in a bunch of spheres; not just political • Participatory Democracy o It is not about majority o It is not about voting every four or five years; its something more then that o About individualism- if people are all for themselves, o They dont want more elections, they want things other than elections o Uses census Participatory Democracy • Most important goal is maximizing mass participation • High mass participation will result in decisions being made that maximize the general welfare o Argue for an expanded range decisions to be subjected to collective decision making o Differences between participatory democracy and other models § Elite- don't agree with mass participation like participatory; limited to the elites § Liberal- don't really have a say in the participatory aspect; like limited government (is nothing more than a collectivity; argue for a narrow range decision to be subjected to collective decision making Assumptions about human nature • Human are rational ad capable of being oriented toward community (eg. Altruistic) o Vs. View that humans are self-interested and rational (liberal model of democracy) o Vs. View that humans are self-interested but irrational (elite democracy) § Individual perceptions of interests are malleable, constructed, and manipuable (elite) Vision of Society • Consensual and positive sum vision of societal interests o If we all sat down long enough we would all come to some agreement of what society should look like o Similar to assumptions underpinning elite model of democracy § Organic whole- everyone is better off together o Vs. Political community (society) as an association of separate individuals with different and competing interests; everyone is in competition with each other; its about individuals getting ahead of other individuals (liberal assumption) o "everyone from themselves" vs "we're all in this together" (liberal vs elite and participatory) Central Characteristics of the Model • Meaningful mechanisms of participatory decision making (the government needs to do this) o Eg. More than simply electoral participation (Beyond Elections) o Important implications for the size, nature, and organization of political units § Canada is too big to start doing this o Expanded range of sites for democratics decision making § Eg. "democracy where we live" (Beyond Elections) § Argument is that just by having a election is not good enough for democracy but needs to be in the workplace etc. o Alternative means of participation § Do things other than having elections (Canada just has elections) § Range of opportunities is small and involvement is not necessary § Eg. More than simply electoral participation (Beyond Elections) • Vs. Liberal democratic view o A highly restricted political sphere subject to collective decision-making § This is a good thing and its the way it should be • Vs. Elite democratic view o Elite democracy emphasizing technocratization and depoliticization § If it is run properly, you dont have to worry about it; it subject to the people of expertize; limits the debate to political elites (rather than open to the masses) • Vs. Participatory democracy view o All spheres of life are politicized and should be subjected to participatory Required Social Conditions • Some degree of equality of material/economic conditions (sufficient to ensure mass political participation) o People need to have the similar experience of life (people need to live in the same conditions) o Vs. Higher material/economic inequality implicit in other models § Inequality in outcome despite equality of opportunity (liberal) § Inequality in outcome due to hierarchically stratified society (elite) Debates Between Democratic Models (participatory and liberal) • Liberal democratic response to participatory o The collective does not have the right to make decisions o The majority is not better able to judge the interests of individuals than individuals themselves o Assumptions--individuals are not altruistic but intolerant; you cant do tests on this because when we test people we cant take away how they have been taught (nature vs nurture) o Allowing the masses effective power to pursue the general welfare could lead to the "tyranny or the majority" • Participatory response to the liberal model o Liberal's democracy's focus on individualism server to undermine development of social solidarity required to challenge existing social hierarchies o People are not individualistic (or competitive) by nature, liberal democratic systems make them behave so o Putting limits on collective (government) power grants increased power to dominant private actors and private economic interests • Participatory democratic critiques of liberal democracy o Implications for liberal democratic model § Masses of people will remain fundamentally unfulfilled in a liberal democratic political order § Eg. "possessive individualism"; something is causing them to be like this... Can we change people and the way they think • Debates between Democratic Models- Participatory and Elites o Elite democratic response to participatory model § The majority is not better able to judge the general well-being better than political and technical experts (the elites think the participatory are crazy!) § Allowing the masses effective power to pursue the general welfare will undermine the pursuit of the general welfare; they think they will be making good decisions but they wont be because they dont really understand o Participatory response to the elite model § Masses of people are not apathetic (or irrational) by nature, existing democratic systems make them behave so- it doe
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