Juan J. Molina

Juan J. Molina
Juan J. Molina

viernes, 8 de enero de 2010

CONSENSUAL DEMOCRACY


"For all concerned, the system was set up for participation in power, not its appropriation, and the underlying philosophy was one of cooperation, not confrontation."
Representative democracy limits the participation of the elector to specific actions; done with these, the citizen then leaves, losing control of his representatives, who then decide for him. Representative democracy is a procedure that replaces the power of the citizens; it creates a social class linked to parties and public functions, which is where the power is illegitimately retained; this class is comprised of a political bureaucracy and supported by economic power. Representative democracy is founded in the principle of competition, just as the bureaucracy of the triumphant party has ruled out its electors. Once it has attained power, it then pushes to the side the defeated minorities; exclusion is a necessary feature of democratic procedure.
Consensual democracy, the ideal of many non-Western communities, behaves as a rectification of the faults inherent in representative democracy. It would have the same sense as the proposals of a "radical" or "participative" democracy of other authors. It would emphasize procedures that would secure the participation in decisions that concern all members of a society, as well as their say about who represents those decisions. It would be anchored to the principle of agreement, not to party competition. Its regulative idea would be the avoidance of exclusion. Opposed to the competitive individualism of liberal democracy, this democratic alternative would fortify the bonds that constitute a community.
As Wiredu accurately indicates, consensual democracy presumes that all the members of the society are able to arrive, by way of communication, at a substantive common good: »Human beings have the ability eventually to cut trough their differences to the rock bottom identity of interests.« In effect, in premodern communities, the people may coincide with the best goals and values that are accepted by tradition, which tend to maintain unity within the community. On the other hand, modern, multifaceted democratic societies do not necessarily behave this way. Rather the liberal idea of democracy is grounded upon the opposite supposition; it is a way of responding to the multiplicity of conceptions about the common good that spring from divergent interests. If the state were to accept a basic idea of the common good, it would be because of the imposition of one social sector above the rest. In fact, this is what could happen in reality if the principle of majority rules continues to be rigidly adhered to.
Now, this adherence to the principle of consensus was a premeditated option. It was based on the belief that ultimately the interests of all members of society are the same, although their immediate perceptions of those interests may be different. This thought is given expression in an art motif depicting a crocodile with one stomach and two heads locked in struggle over food. If they could but see that the food was, in any case, destined for the same stomach, the irrationality of the conflict would be manifest to them.

Luis VilloroOn Consensual Democracy
Concerning Kwasi Wiredu's Ideas

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