Democratic Theory in a Time of Defiance
Jean-Paul Gagnon and Emily Beausoleil
Ben Berkowitz and Jean-Paul Gagnon
Carl Schmitt and Jean-Jacques Rousseau on a Key Question in Democratic Theory
The question of how to adequately represent the demos in a democracy has always been an issue. Of the many different aspects in the debate between representative and direct democratic approaches, one key point of contention is “the will of the people.” Here, an oft-overlooked question is what takes precedence: “the will” or “the people.” This article addresses the issue by examining Carl Schmitt’s reading (and one-sided slanting) of Rousseau and how it has influenced today’s debate in unacknowledged ways. In scrutinizing Schmitt’s body of work and its particular development of “the will of the people,” I demonstrate that “identitarian” democratic concepts must ultimately remain trapped in a dilemma produced by Schmitt’s reading—one that can only be resolved through representation.
Nancy S. Love, Sanford F. Schram, Anthony J. Langlois, Luis Cabrera, and Carol C. Gould
Democracy in ASEAN
Why has “democracy” become a standard reference in the statements and declarations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)? Discussion about domestic governance and regime types in member states has traditionally been considered off-limits in official ASEAN dialogue. Membership does not require democratic rule, and there are no grounds for suspension or expulsion of a member state due to domestic political circumstances (such as an unconstitutional change of government). Further, the norm of non-interference means that the (politically diverse) member states have traditionally refrained from criticizing each other’s internal affairs. As such, it is puzzling that ASEAN commonly refers to the importance of “strengthening” and “promoting” democracy. The article argues that we should not overlook the diversity of views about democracy within ASEAN. Member states have mostly avoided discussion about how (strengthening and promoting) democracy is defined in ASEAN, because it is a sensitive matter. The article also engages in a critical analysis of the way in which a “democratization narrative” shapes many perspectives on democracy in ASEAN.
Autocracy Promotion in the New Asian Order?
Octavia Bryant and Mark Chou
Does China’s vision for a New Silk Road constitute autocracy promotion? This critical commentary argues that while China may currently be showing no signs of promoting autocracy strictly defined, its broad-ranging economic, political, and cultural initiatives along its New Silk Road will likely influence how foreign governments and everyday people think and act. Though still in its infancy, the New Silk Road represents an ambitious new geopolitical project that may require scholars and analysts to rethink both the thesis and concept of autocracy promotion in the years ahead.
Mark Chou and Jean-Paul Gagnon
This article examines several obstacles to the deliberative inclusion of women where traditional cultural-political authority exist alongside national democratic institutions. Drawing on the example of land reform in post-apartheid South Africa, the article argues that introducing deliberative democratic procedures to local cultural-political institutions may fail to achieve the inclusion and/or empowerment of subordinated members, such as rural women. I discuss three ways that deliberative interventions might be made more inclusive in such contexts: first, by using strategic exclusion to amplify the voices of disenfranchised community members and/or to make possible parallel deliberation by them; second, by legitimizing and supporting the informal political practices of more disempowered group members (e.g., informal protests, political activism); and third, by fostering the political capacities of disempowered citizens in both formal and informal political life.
After centuries of oblivion, the idea of using civic lotteries to select citizens to participate in major decision-making bodies has started gaining popularity among certain democratic theorists. Undoubtedly, this is an idea worth exploring, given the constantly rising dissatisfaction with the operation of major representative institutions. One should not, however, infer from this fact that any proposed sortition-based institutional arrangement is compatible with basic democratic principles. This article critically examines two such proposals: (a) that we should establish fully powered legislative bodies consisting entirely of allotted citizens and (b) López-Guerra’s enfranchisement lottery, the gist of which is that voting rights should be granted only to a very small random sample of current electors, who will be subjected to a “competence-building process.” The article argues that both proposals run counter to the idea of rule by the people conceived as equally valuable and fully participating members of a self-governing political entity.
What Democratic Theorists Can Learn from Democratic Professionals
Selen A. Ercan’s and Albert W. Dzur
Introduction to the interview
In an era when democracy is claimed to be in crisis, citizens are portrayed as increasingly distrustful of politicians and political institutions, and change, if any, is expected to be coming from extra-institutional spaces, Albert Dzur invites us to seek and find the seeds of democratic change within the existing institutions of representative democracy. Dzur’s work captures the difference democratic professionals can make in these spaces and tells us about the fresh approach they bring to their everyday routines in schools, community centers, government agencies, and even prisons. What links democratic professionals in different institutions is their aspiration to create power-sharing arrangements and collaborative thinking skills in places that are usually characterized as hierarchical and non-participatory. Dzur explains how democratic professionals transform the way institutions function and find solutions to collective problems. Yet such transformative practices often elude the attention of democratic theorists as they fall outside of the established notions of democracy and democratic change. The following interview focuses on the relationship between democratic theory and practice, the difference between social movement actors and democratic professionals, and the challenges of bringing democratic change and sustaining it in existing institutions, organizations and work places.