Making a Plausible Case for Participatory Democracy Under Modern Conditions

Making a Plausible Case for Participatory Democracy Under Modern Conditions

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Making a Plausible Case for Participatory Democracy Under Modern Conditions

The ‘classical’ theory of democracy, such as that advocated by
Rousseau in the Social Contract and traditionally held as adopted by
the citizens of Ancient Greece, arose from a vision of democracy as a
fully participatory system, a system in which the citizens would
gather together to rule in a sovereign assembly and, hence, each
member would be able to contribute directly and equally to the
political decision-making. This system of participation was thought to
comprise the only true democratic system, allowing each their own
voice and influence over political affairs. The ‘classical’ view of a
fully participatory democracy differs to a large extent then from what
we currently take to be democratic systems in the modern world and
differs still from the 18th century conception of a democratic method
as that institutional arrangement whereby political decisions are made
in order to realise the common good. On in which the people themselves
decide issues through the election of individuals who are to assemble
and carry out the ‘will of the people’. Both the 18th century idea and
our modern practices of democracy then do call for participation, but
only at a certain level. It is usually only in such times as election
of a government or representative, or in times of referendum, when
direct participation of the citizens is called for. That this is the
level at which participation in a modern democratic system should
remain is argued for a number of reasons. Such reasons include the
impracticalities of a larger popular participation in politics due to
the size and c...

... middle of paper ...

...y could be altered to accommodate a
participatory system, presuming we could, in fact, democratise
industrial authority structures in such a way. But even if we could
provide evidence to support this proposes link between equal
participation in the workplace and equal participation at a political
level, this would not be modern society on the conditions under which
it currently exists. If we are asking whether a plausible case can be
made for participatory democracy under modern conditions as they are,
then surely the answer must be that it cannot. For the
impracticalities and unrealistic demands of a fully participatory
system would suggest that it could not be successfully implemented in
our modern societies and its threat of instability renders it is an
unlikely possible system to be adopted under modern conditions.

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