The Swiss system of direct democracy is in many ways paradoxical. The federal structure counteracts the formation of centralizing state hierarchies and protects the egalitarian representation of local political interests. Simultaneously, local political structures can have hierarchical and exclusionary effects, especially when democratic processes are turned into values. This article considers the tensions between egalitarian and hierarchical values in Swiss democratic structures in the wake of the rise of anti-foreigner and anti-EU passions harnessed by extreme right-wing parties. These tensions are heightened in the context of global processes that are transforming the structures of the state, as corporate power undermines state apparatuses with the potential to subvert democratic practices.
Egalitarianism and Hierarchy in a Model Democracy
More than a state ideology, the concept of 'Revolution' holds multiple meanings for Cubans. A historic moment, the government, the country, the people—Revolution is any one of these and all of them at once. How, then, do people experience a permanent Revolution in their daily lives? The interactions between biomedicine, alternative health practices, and the syncretic system of beliefs known as Santería have important implications for the socialist project of the Revolution. As a central concern of Revolution, health provides a particularly clear example of the interaction between revolutionary ideology and practice. This distinction elucidates the epistemological and experiential complexity of Revolution, providing the Cuban state with a powerful signifier that allows it to adapt to situations of crisis, continuously reinvent itself, and be in a permanent state of Revolution.