Thursday, August 19, 2004

On democracy

When looking upon democracy it is easy to concur in Ernst Jüngers words, "I hate democracy as I do the plague". This of course depends quite of the definition of democracy used, it is perfectly clear that Jünger had various forms of mob rule in mind, such as parliamentarism and other forms of modern mass-"democracy". A century of experience of such "rule" clearly shows that little good can come from such arrangements.

However, this conception of democracy may be to shallow. According to the brilliant German political theorist Carl Schmitt democracy is best looked upon as the identity between rulers and the ruled. This is actually rather simple, take two examples.
First, think of a state where all power is centralized in the hands of one person, and this person rules accordingly to the will of the people.
Second, you have a state where public life is regularly paralyzed by party squabbles, where no one thinks further than to the next election and, since there is no stable majority, compromises has to be made that satisfies no one.
Which of the two is most democratic? As can be seen, democracy and dictatorship is not mutually exclusive.

Democracy has two components, the demos and crate. In parliamentary "democracy" neither is usually present. That there isn't really question about any real rule should be obvious from the liberal division of society in different spheres - political, economic, private and so on.
The lack of demos is perhaps less clear but it doesn't take much time to realize that there isn't any fundamental identity between "citizens". This is why any pluralistic system is doomed, parties represent antagonistic interests, therefore it can be no real deliberation, only petty chatter.

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