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Paper Topic:

elitist democracy

Running head : Elitist Democracy

Elitist Democracy

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Elitist Democracy

"Democracy is a dynamic process of governance and even of living in general , not a static institutional construct . Supporters of democracy must continue to change its specific meaning and forms (Anthony Downs 1987 ,

. 146 . In the same way , Schumpeter defines philosophy of democracy as the democratic method is that institutional arrangement for arriving at political decisions which realizes the common good by making the people itself decide

issues through the election of individuals who are to assemble in to carry out its will (Schumpeter , 1962

According to this outlook , democracy can never be a developed political . In his 1990 address to a joint session President Vaclav Havel of the former Czechoslovakia proposed that democracy is best conceptualized as an ideal for which we should constantly endeavor , even though we can never accomplish it . Approving of Havel 's position , Michael Lienesch concluded that "it may well be dangerous to strive to make democracy ideal . But it is even more dangerous , and eventually more destructive of democratic government , not to try to make it as a minimum a little more perfect than it is (1992 ,

. 1012 . Democracy can move forward or backward , but it cannot stand still

Schattschneider defines democracy as "a competitive political system in which competing leaders and orrational : the desire for office is based on considerations of self-interest , power , or economic gain . The chief function of a political party is to achieve electoral victory and perpetuate itself . To remain in office , the winning party needs to maximize public support . Hence , citizen demands must be met policies affording positive utility income to the majority must be sponsored Citizens are also rational : they will support the political party that would give them the greatest benefits (Rejai , 1967

Thoughtless enlargement of the range of democratic control is evenly dangerous . Without safeguards , it points at an extreme to a situation in which no regions of life are resistant to political examination but in which those under inspection have no alternative or defense and find themselves unable to participate efficiently in or against the mechanisms of social control . Herein lies the liberal 's fear of democratic excess leading to solution is to spell out rights that secure a private realm immune from public scrutiny as well as political control . The democrat 's contribution here can be to maintain that the democratic franchise and particularly , democratic authenticity never be sacrificed for the sake of prolonged range . To exemplify the effects of such sacrifice , consider the growing scope of political control many universities in recent years , into areas such as appropriate speech , appropriate sexual relationships , as well as appropriate course content . Combined with the recognition and privileging of ever more kinds of politically significant victim-hood , the result is the institutionalization of new kinds of euphemism , convention , oppression , and self-censorship , all policed by a prolonged university bureaucracy (Michael , 1992

A common will or public opinion of some sort may still be said to emerge from the infinitely complex jumble of individual and group-wise situations , volitions , influences , actions and reactions of the "democratic process (Schumpeter , 1962

In early twentieth century the more industrialized countries start to deserve the name of democracy as long as the five essential characteristics to this political regime were present . Democracy is the constitutional regime assuring the rule of law , freedom of association speech and information , the universal right to vote and to be elected and minorities ' rights , whose government members are regularly chosen according to majority rule through free and competitive elections

This is a minimal definition of democracy , which should not be confused with the minimalist or elitist concept of democracy that Schumpeter advanced a little later . Joseph Schumpeter 's "elitist " theory of democracy has been the subject of much discussion in political theory It is commonly considered to have been seminal for the "empirical approaches to democracy that emerged in American political science after World War 11 (Isaac , 2002

These historical forms of state , as well as the corresponding forms of democracies , involve cumulative additions of human rights . The liberal state adds the rule of law and respect for civil rights the liberal-democratic state establishes liberal democracy as long as it assures political rights - the rights to vote and to be elected - for all citizens yet democracy remains elitist , as long as politicians are accountable only at the moment of their election . The social-democratic state adds the protection of social rights , expressed in the welfare state . The corresponding democracy ceases to be purely elitist and becomes social-democratic or plural , as the new political weight of corporate organizations has to be accommodated , and a free media gives rise to public opinion . Finally , the republican state adds the protection of republican rights - rights that every citizen has guaranteeing that the public patrimony be used for public means - while participatory or republican democracy implies that politicians and senior civil servants are becoming additionally accountable through societal accountability organizations . In so far as , first , a plural democracy emerges out of corporate organizations and , second , republican democracy arises from social accountability organizations , civil society is becoming increasingly cohesive and active

Weber feared that political life in both West and East would be ensnared ever more by a rationalized , bureaucratic system of administration Against this , he championed the countervailing power of private capital the competitive party system and strong political leadership , all of which could prevent the domination of politicsby state officials (Held 2005

Such historical forms of state , or of political regime , do not involve inevitable and well-defined stages of political development in all democratic countries . And we should not suppose that each form of state resolves the problems posed by its predecessor . They are just a simple way of understanding how governance evolved through time , taking as paradigm cases Western European countries like France and England , and the United States - so different from one another , but with so many common features , starting with the fact they were the first nations to complete the industrial and capitalist revolutions

It is only by grasping the nature of modern political parties that one can fully understand the meaning of the extension of the franchise in the nineteenth and the twentieth century . In all communities larger than small rural districts , political organization is , Weber contended 'necessarily managed by men interested in the management of politics It is unimaginable how in large associations elections could function at all without this managerial pattern . In practice this means the division of the citizens with a right to vote into politically active and politically passive elements (Held , 2005

Elitism is optimism about the decision-making ability of one or more elites , acting on behalf of other people . Elitism implies pessimism about the people 's ability to make decisions affecting themselves HYPERLINK "http /www .usprogressiveconservatives .blogspot .com www .usprogressiveconservatives .blogspot .com

In the world of monarchy that prevailed for most of known history , the competence of people was no more than a secondary issue , because people were subjects . They belonged to a king or to a nobleman or to both . They were part of a realm . People may have made many decisions affecting their lives , but on a matter in which the monarch had a concern , the question of competence did not often arise . The people were his to direct

Today , only three or four countries , mostly in the Arab world , could be described as ruling monarchies . The Western idea of political equality is universal . Few voices can be heard , at least for the record disagreeing with the idea of government for the people

This is why it is here , in a world of political equality , that elitist views become important . Since today it is no longer easy to deny people control over their lives , as in feudalism or slavery , the only effective argument for decisions by an elite on behalf of other people is the elitist argument that such a decision would be better for the people - that is , pessimism about the people 's ability to make decisions affecting themselves

In this egalitarian climate , the growth of populist belief in people 's competence is often the last step toward democracy . Since government for the people gives people equal standing in political society , growth in optimism about their political competence makes adoption of government by the people more and more likely

But closely related as the populist-elitist argument is to the growth of democracy , it is important to understand that a trend toward populism does not make democracy inevitable - only much more likely - and that adoption of democracy does not end the argument between populism and elitism

The power of elites is limited by their need to appeal to non-elites for support , but non-elites have only "very general opinion tendencies and , consequently "The detailed treatment of political questions is largely left to elite choice (19-20 ) In the restated elitist paradigm the relative unity or disunity of elites is a key political variable Political stability depends upon the existence of a unified elite , and representative democracy is possible only when the elite is unified by consensus rather than by ideology (Isaac , 2002

Just as elites inaugurated the age of equality , the age of equality brought forth elitism . This was a natural step , given the nature of monarchy and of equality

The world of monarchy was a world of command . The physical power base was military skill and inherited land , which included the people on it Political and religious ideas were a factor in sustaining monarchy These included the divine right of kings and the Confucian belief that the highest life for a gentleman was to participate in the imperial bureaucracy . But the essence of government was to establish standards and exercise discretion over the people and over things in short , to command

Today 's world of presently recognized political equality , or democracy is a world of persuasion . Ideas , knowledge , and arguments therefore rise in relative importance . Command exists , but by consent of the community Consent by definition takes prior persuasion . But when political equality is recognized in the present , the people are acknowledged as sovereign , and persuasion becomes an even greater factor because consent is needed from so many more people

Schumpeter 's conception of modern industrial society was indebted to both Marx and Weber . Like Marx , he emphasized the ceaseless motion and dynamic nature of industrial capitalism . Like Marx , he affirmed a trend towards the domination of ever larger corporations in the production and distribution of goods . And , like Marx , he believed that the development of industrial capitalism would eventually destroy the foundations of capitalist society : the latter was based on contradictions which it could not solve (Held , 2005

Elitists should not be seen as closet royalists , or as necessarily less than wholehearted in their belief in equality . The belief in human equality , in the sense of present , innate equality as stated in the Declaration of Independence or the Declaration of the Rights of Man , is a moral statement . The argument between populism and elitism is an argument about the relative competence of people and elites , and is practical in character

Alexander Hamilton was a member of the American elite who was also elitist in the context of American politics . This did not stop him from being an eloquent advocate of representative government in the Federalist s . George Washington was also elitist in belief , but that did not prevent him from risking his life and fortune for political equality and repeatedly condemning the idea of an American monarchy with himself as king

Other key members of the American elite of the late eighteenth century were egalitarian and populist , and formed the Democratic-Republican party in the 1790s to fight the more elitist Federalists led by Washington , Hamilton , and John Adams . The presidential victories of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison in the early nineteenth century laid the groundwork for a populist interpretation of American equality . The optimism of such leaders undoubtedly sped the virtually universal enfranchisement of white males that perhaps would have happened anyway But the enlargement of the franchise did not end the argument between populism and elitism in the United States , nor has it done so in any other country (Downs , 1987

In the democratic world of fully realized political equality , elitism almost by its nature involves the claim to superior knowledge . The gaining of wealth may give a person elite economic status , and it could enable him to increase his political influence either legally (a campaign contribution ) or illegally (a bribe . But elitism is not the same thing as elite status or elite influence . Elitism is the belief that the elite in question can make superior decisions on behalf of others , and when these others have an equal political say , they are likely to cede their right to make decisions only to those who make a strong case for their possession of greater relevant knowledge

By democracy , Schumpeter meant a political method , that is , an institutional arrangement for arriving at political - legislative and administrative - decisions by vesting in certain individuals the power to decide on all matters as a consequence of their successful pursuit of the people 's vote . What political decisions were taken was an independent questions from the proper form of their taking : the conditions of the de facto legitimacy of decisions an decision-makers as a result of the periodic election of competing political elites (Held 2005

One kind of elitism , of course , may particularly in an area where the elites in question have a natural conflict . Business elitism is very different from union elitism however much the two kinds of elitism might agree on their pessimism about the members of the labor force , they would strongly disagree as to which elite 's decision-making ability they are optimistic about

It is , nevertheless , natural that the elites in a complex society should interact with and influence each other , particularly in their areas of expertise . Journalistic elite may disagree on most issues with business elites while tending to defer to them on issues relating to business investment

In Eastern Europe , values issues began to erupt as soon as it became clear that the communist systems had been definitively defeated - a remarkable development considering the depth of those countries economic problems . Such issues as the role of religion in Hungary 's schools and abortion in Poland immediately began to divide previously united anti-communist coalitions . Conflicting abortion laws , not economic issues , proved to be the final sticking point in the merger of East and West Germany in 1990 (Michael , 1992

In the United States , most of the elite opinion stream is strongly opposed to this kind of values combat , as it made clear by its disdain for the issue selection of the Bush campaign in 1988 . The first line of defense against the politicizing of such issues - a federal judiciary that consistently threw out efforts of state and local commu nities to set their own standards on such values issues as abortion and pornography - is eroding due to the appointments of Presidents Reagan and Bush . But the second line of defense of liberal elites against an upsurge of values politics is at least equally impressive , in that it is based on a firmly believed , understandable idea rather than the raw power of judicial elites . This line of defense is their widespread propagation of the idea that all moral values are relative , and that accordingly very few if any should be adopted by the community acting together

So the application of the elitist vision of equality - managing toward equality of result - can be seen as twofold . In economics , political procedure , and other areas outside the values issue cluster , the standard is equality of result . In the moral realm , the standard is relativism - or , to put it in moral terms , tolerance . These are the two distinctive standards favored by liberal elites today . It would be difficult to find in contemporary political debate an issue position regarded as distinctively liberal that does not trace back either to equality of result or to relativism , which at root are the same thing

The "elitist " democrats have been accused of concentrating upon explanation to the neglect of important values and desired goals . There can be no doubt that more political scientists are interested in explaining ongoing systems than in penning exhortatory tracts , but these research concerns alone cannot be used to determine the beliefs and values of the scholars engaged in them , since there is no necessary connection between the two . What one might wish for are explicit statements by these scholars of the values they espouse and wish to prescribe (Medding , 1969

Elite groups and professions tend to be so optimistic about their members that they often tend to be pessimistic about the people as a whole , at least by comparison with themselves . Interest-group elites in a regime of equality , by contrast , tend to be so pessimistic about their members that they often view the rest of society as a kind of collective elite , morally compelled by their superior status to divert resources to the interest group in question . But whether the rest of the community is viewed as superior or inferior to one 's own group , the result of either elitism in policy terms is often surprisingly similar : diversion by the rest of the community of resources and /or power to the group in question . In democracy , the community as a whole must ratify the diversion , but the information and analysis that leads to such decisions is provided by elites

The essence of democracy was , as the protective theorists of liberal democracy rightly emphasized , the ability of citizens to replace one government by another and , hence , to protect themselves from the risk of political decision-makers transforming themselves into an immovable force . As long as governments can be changed , and as long as the electorate has a choice between broadly different party platforms , the threat of tyranny can be checked (Held , 2005

Another kind of elitism is less directly involved with the community as a whole . This elitism is optimism about the ability of elite to make decisions on behalf of the people within a given sector of society concerning decisions involving that sector only . Examples would be managerial elitism in business , clerical elitism in religion , and the elitism of the officer corps in military life (Downs , 1987

Because it is limited , this kind of internal elitism is more compatible with political populism than are other kinds of elitism . Many thorough-going populists would defend the need for s to be obeyed without question in the army , or for courses of study at a university to be mapped out by scholars rather than by undergraduates . These examples involve , at least in part , an imbalance of expertise within a group that might well require inequality and /or elitism

There could also be inequalities of standing . The owner of a grocery store could hire two people to sweep the floors , but his populism would hardly compel him to award each of them an equal say to his own in the running of the business . On the other hand , elitist and populist theories of internal management have often contended for influence in business , with profound ripple effects in the political community as a whole

Indeed , internal elitism has its greatest political effects by analogy particularly when members of an elite generalize from their experience in the group to society as a whole . Clerical elitism may be highly defensible as a means of spreading the tenets of a faith to the believers , but when it tries to dictate to those believers in political matters , it turns into the political elitism known as clericalism . When a religious elite calls on the political elite to impose its authority on all people , believer and unbeliever alike , it adopts still another form of political elitism , establishmentarianism

In transitions to equality from either monarchy or colonialism , so often fraught with political unrest or even chaos , military elites are especially likely to reason in this way - from the particular to the general . They contrast the and efficiency within their own ranks with the unrest in society at large and are tempted to impose that on the political realm . Anyone who might think the recent experiences of the post-colonial Third World are unique in this regard would do well to remember Cromwell 's dismissal of Parliament in England , Bonapartism in France , and the battles between the Continental Congress and Continental Army in revolutionary North America

In less dramatic circumstances , internal elitism has a tendency to interact with other kinds of elitism , contributing to the pessimism about people that often affects the elite opinion stream as a whole Such factors as careerism , power worship , and arrogance are of course factors in elitism , as they are in other belief systems . But questionable motives on the part of ambitious people are unlikely to attain critical mass in the age of equality without strong reinforcement from sincerely elitist argumentation and belief , among the elites themselves and to some extent in public opinion as a whole


Connolly William E . 1991 "Democracy and Territoriality " Millennium 20 463-84

David Held (2005 . Models of Democracy . Blackwell Publishers

Downs Anthony , 1987 "The Evolution of Democracy " Daedalus 116 (3 119-48

Jeffrey C . Isaac , 2002 . The American Political Science Review , Vol . 96 No . 4 (Dec , pp . 805-806

Joseph A . Schumpeter , 1962 . Capitalism , Socialism , and Democracy . Harper Perennial 3rd Ed edition

Lienesch Michael . 1992 "Wo (e )begon (e ) Democracy " Journal of Political Science 36 : 1004-14

Mostafa Rejai , 1967 . Ethics , Vol . 77 , No . 3 (Apr , pp . 202-208

Peter Y . Medding , 1969 .The Journal of Politics , Vol . 31 , No . 3 (Aug pp . 641-654

www .usprogressiveconservatives .blogspot .com



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