Frontiers of Democratic Theory

Frontiers of Democratic Theory

Frontiers of Democratic Theory

Frontiers of Democratic Theory

Excerpt

Shortly after World War II, a world-wide UNESCO survey showed the concept of democracy to be sufficiently elastic to allow every nation to applaud it. The principles of democracy found universal acclaim. Today the democratic ideology is in fact so pervasive that it has become easy to see mankind as having reached the end of ideological conflict. Eulogizing political equality, we readily assume that at least one ideal preoccupying previous generations of political thinkers -- the ideal of widespread popular participation in political processes -- has finally ceased to be controversial. Increasingly, we agree that men should participate in formulating whatever policies affect their lives -- at least to the extent that participation will not threaten political stability, orderly economic growth, and industrial development. And since men everywhere appear to want the large-scale industrial society (or at least the comforts it promises), the remaining political problems, so it would seem, are merely practical ones. They are problems not of principle but of social engineering. It becomes sufficient to engage in empirical inquiry, to ask how to attain a maximum of "democracy" without sacrificing the obvious benefits of industrialism.

Accepting an industrial order, we feel bound to consent to the social discipline it entails. Having moved from a predominantly agrarian to a predominantly industrial economy, we have agreed on the way the labor of individuals must first be divided and then controlled within hierarchically structured organizations. We have . . .

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