Friday, December 26, 2008



Hirst: associational democracy
Mouffe: agonistic pluralism
Habermas: deliberative democracy

Schumpeter: competitive elitism
Truman: classical pluralism
Dahl: classical pluralism, polyarchy / neo-pluralism

Miliband: neo-marxism
Poulantzas: (structural) neo-marxism
Offe: neo-marxism / neo-pluralism

Schmitter: corporatism
Marshall: citizenship

Keywords 1: Political liberalism, comprehensive liberalism, polyarchy, value pluralism, de facto pluralism, classical pluralism, neo-pluralism, neutrality, perfectionism, multiculturalism, citizenship, identity, autonomy, difference, civil society

Keywords 2: Representation, democracy, plebiscitarian democracy, sovereignty, constitutionalism, parliamentarianism, underlying consensus, overlapping consensus, equality, civil / political / social rights, corporatism, tripartism, class, accumulation, governance

Keywords 3: republicanism, communitarianism, New Left, New Right, competition, welfare

Keywords 4: Arrow’s impossibility theorem, Pareto efficiency

Keywords 5: anomie, Fordist family, bureaucracy, postliberalism, organisational society, rule of law, decisionism,

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Antoine's notes on democracy and pluralism

Conceptions of Democracy

Platonic vs. Aristotelian traditions
- Platonic: seeks systemic order on basis of universal principles (“the Good”)
- Aristotelian: seeks organic balance which embraces pluralism and dissent within limits

For Plato, democracy (demos = many, cracy = power) was the rule of the mob and the ignorant over the educated and enlightened

Rousseau, the French Revolution and the general will (volonté générale): idea of general agreement of the community over the common good (Republicanism) but potential to authoritarianism and ‘tyranny of the majority’ (or even minority)

Aristotle: qualified defence of democracy, the polis is about the plurality of voices: “It is true that unity is to some extent necessary … but total unity is not. There is a point at which a polis, by advancing in unity, will cease to be a polis: there is another point, short of that, at which it may still remain a polis, but will none the less come near to losing its essence, and will thus be a worse polis. It is as if you were to turn harmony into mere unison, or to reduce a theme to a single beat. The truth us that the polis is an aggregate of many members.”

Liberal Pluralism and the Quest for Consensus

Premised on the lack of a final truth concerning the ‘good’ of the polity, liberal conception of democracy is that of pre-social individuals with their own personal interests and wants whose wishes are democratically aggregated. Thus civil society and state to provide a neutral sphere for expression of interests and find a consensus

Striving for more than compromise of aggregate private interests but still fundamentally consensual, Rawls and Habermas argue for “deliberative democracy” whereby political decisions are to be reached through a process of deliberation among free and equal citizens leading to a rational and moral outcome, producing a sense of justice (Rawls) or legitimacy (Habermas).

With liberal rights & protections of minorities, pluralism is impossible under republicanism. But for John Kekes: liberal societies are not as pluralistic as their defenders claim.

Liberalism recognises a private sphere to individuals deemed as autonomous entities that precede society but nonetheless elevate some procedural or substantive values as overriding values which cannot be violated or subject to democratic decision --> a necessity for pluralism or an obstacle to it?

For Marx, the liberal conception of the individual (and with it the presumed inalienable rights advocated by liberalism) is a product of the material base of society – contra liberalism, Marx affirms the primacy of the social over the individual.

“The failure of current democratic theory to tackle the question of citizenship is the consequence of their operating with a conception of the subject, which sees the individuals as prior to society, as bearers of natural rights, and either as utility maximizing agents or as rational subjects. In all cases they are abstracted from social and power relations, language, culture and the whole set of practices that make the individuality possible. What is precluded in these rationalistic approaches is the very question of what are the conditions of existence of the democratic subject.” (Mouffe)

Marxist critique of liberal democracy: political equality without economic equality is a sham (liberal individualism alienates humans from their social nature) but how to avoid the slide into authoritarianism?

Dissent and Agonistic Pluralism

Rescher advocates a pluralism that recognises the limits of rational argumentation and inevitability of dissent, thereby exchanging “the yearning for an unattainable consensus for the institution of pragmatic arrangements in which he community will acquiesce – not through agreeing on its optimability, but through a shared recognition among the dissonant parties that the available options are even worse.”

Laclau and Mouffe & “agonistic pluralism”: the ineradicable antagonism that the pluralism of values entails (see also Nietzsche/Weber & “warring gods”, Carl Schmitt & friend/enemy distinction)

“If we accept that relations of power are constitutive of the social, then the main question for democratic politics is not how to eliminate power but how to constitute forms of power more compatible with democratic values.” (Mouffe)

“The constitution of democratic individuals can only be made possible by multiplying the institutions, the discourses, the forms of life that foster identification with democratic values.” (Mouffe)

Hirst and Associative Democracy

Third way between collectivist state socialism and laissez-faire capitalism:
- shift away from state towards voluntary and democratically self-governing associations
- decentralisation of political authority
- economic mutualism (non-profit + cooperative firms)

“Associative democracy aims neither to abolish representative government not to replace market exchange with some other allocative mechanism, rather to free the former from the encumbrance of an over-extended and centralised public-service state and to anchor the latter in a complex of social institutions that enables it to attain socially desirable outcomes […] The conversion of public and private corporate hierarchies into self-governing bodies answerable to those they serve and who participate in them would thus answer to the greatest democratic deficits of our time – organisational government without consent and corporate control without representation.” (Hirst)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Antoine's notes on citizenship

Citizenship: rights and duties attached to membership of a defined society or political community (subject vs. citizen)

“Citizenship is status bestowed on those who are full members of a community. All who possess the status are equal with respect to the rights and duties with which the status endows” (Marshall)

Question of the substantive content of rights and duties + of those entitled to them (class, gender, race, age, mental fitness, etc.)

Marshall, Citizenship and Class

T.H. Marshall: 'Citizenship and Social Class' (1949):

3 elements of citizenship:
- civil: rights guaranteeing individual freedom (freedom of speech, thought, faith and association, right to property, equality in front of law and due process)
- political: rights to participate in exercise of political power as representative or elector
- social: welfare (provision of economic security and universal access to health, education and social services)

Formal equality of citizenship vs. informal inequality of socio-eco class - “it is clear that, in the twentieth century, citizenship and the capitalist class system have been at war” (Marshall)

State as mediator of social conflict arising within liberal democracies and welfare state as basis of inclusive social democracy

- methodological: evolutionist account, underplays political struggles in the gain of citizenship rights
- focused on British case, ethnocentric
- ‘top down’ account of citizenship
- no parallel theory of the state
- neglects other forms of inequality (gender, race, etc)

Citizenship, Identity, and Cultural Diversity

Challenge of multiculturalism and minorities to liberal theories of citizenship
Needs/demands of minorities (linguistic, religious, ethnic, etc.) which are not accounted for by standard liberal laws

3 approaches to citizenship and identity:
- liberalism (universalism)
- communitarianism (particularism)
- civic republicanism (Habermas’s ‘constitutional patriotism’)

Tension btw universal (negation of difference, imposition of foreign values) and particular (incommensurable gap between self and other, essentialism of cultures)

Formal (membership of a nation-state) vs. substantive (array of civil, pol, and soc rights) citizenship

Dual citizenship, supra/sub-national governance (EU), cosmopolitanism, human rights (international legal recognition of crimes against humanity, genocide, war crimes, and humanitarian interventions)

Cultural/Identity Politics
  • Gender, ethnic, sexual orientation, religion, age (children, seniors), ability, etc.
  • --> not simply extension of rights to marginalised groups but reconceptualisation of citizenship in terms of the right to an identity (universal citizenship itself a form of group identity?)
  • Criticisms of identity politics: risk of social “balkanisation”, abandonment of class as central analytic concept
  • Moving beyond essentialism/constructivism in speaking of identity?
  • Is the formation of identity possible without processes of exclusion or ‘othering’?

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Robert Dahl

Early work:
  • What is a majority? "The numerical majority is incapable of coordinated undertaking."
  • Agrees empirically w/ Schumpeter (competitive elitism): apathetic citizenry & opinion-making representatives, but reads a different significance. Lack of political involvement can be social capital - trust.
  • Substantive diversity better protects rights that constitutionalist guarantee supported by separation of powers.
  • Power in the USA disaggregated and non-cumulative: protean complex of shifting advantages.
  • Business organisatins, political parties, ethnic groups, religious groups, trade unions, NSMs, even government departments: competitive equilibrium in the long term.
  • Underlying consensus establishes horizon of politics.
  • The problematic of state power can be superimposed on individual group.
  • "Influence terms" taxonomise “A” getting “B” to do what “A” wants.
  • Critique from Bachrach and Baratz, 1962; Mouffe on struggle inscribed on hegemonies; Foucault on grids of intelligibility; Lindblom on controlled volitions & circularity (& cf. PSRPs). & ??
Recent work
  • Democracy requires effective participation; voting equality at the decisive stage; enlightened understanding; control of the agenda; inclusiveness.
  • Modern Western states are polyarchies, not democracies. Polyarchies have elected officials, free and fair elections, inclusive suffrage, rights to run for office, freedom of expression, alternative information and associational autonomy.
  • Threat to liberty has not been from equality (as de Tocqueville predicted) but from inequality produced by "liberty of a certain kind" -- namely, liberty to privately accumulate unlimited economic resources and organise production in hierarchically governed enterprises.
  • Truman: emphasis on overlapping membership.
  • Neo-marxists and post-marxists

Monday, May 26, 2008

Communitarianism vs. liberalism debate

Drawing on Aristotle and Hegel, Alasdair MacIntyre, Michael Sandel, Charles Taylor & Michael Walzer disputed Rawls' assumption that the principal task of government is to secure and distribute fairly the liberties and economic resources individuals need to lead freely chosen lives. Few accept the label "communitarian" w/o caveat.

Methodological claims about the importance of tradition and social context for moral and political reasoning

Liberal universalism vs. communitarian particularism.

Universalist presuppositions of Rawlsian liberalism, tempered in Political Liberalism & The Laws of the People.

Taylor and MacIntyre: moral & political judgement depend on the very interpretive dimension Rawls wants to abstract away from.

Walzer: such abstraction, even if metaphysically unproblematic, will fail to resonate in any thinking about actual distributions.

Recent East Asian "cosmopolitan-communitarian" arguments: cultural factors can affect the priority of rights; the justification of rights (cf. Walzer); & can provide foundations for distinctive political institutions & practices.

Taylor: overlapping consensus on human rights (agree on norms while disagreeing about why they are the right norms)

Debate over the self

Taylor and Sandel: Rawls' overly individualistic conception of the self. Self constituted in ties & commitments.

Unfair to accuse Rawls of endorsing atomism, though perhaps he does not give proper weight to constitutive non-chosen attachments etc.

Appearance of Heideggerean motifs. Background of everydayness.

"It is only when things break down from the normal, everyday, unchosen mode of existence that we think of ourselves as subjects dealing with an external world, having the experience of formulating various ways of executing our goals, choosing from among those ways, and accepting responsibility for the outcomes of our actions. In other words, traditional intentionality is introduced at the point that our ordinary way of coping with things is insufficient."

Cf. Habermas's lifeworld & (??).

Ought moral outlooks to be the product of individual choice?

Tacit social world orients individuals in moral space?

Conditions for autonomy rest on self-determination w/r/t what we value? Relationship b/w tacit "value" (?) & judgement disclosed in consciousness -- cf. ideology, false consciousness, critical theory, the human.

Autonomy = choice w/i unchosen framework.

Choice not intrinsically good? Deliberation not intrinsically good? Liberal answer (Dworkin?): principle of autonomy strengthens community; individuals following community-determined norms possess different moral & psychological content depending on whether they have the choice not to.

Constitutive attachments?

Policy-driven communitarian critique of de facto atomisation

"[...] political communitarians blame both the left and the right for our current malaise. The political left is chastised not just for supporting welfare rights economically unsustainable in an era of slow growth and aging populations, but also for shifting power away from local communities and democratic institutions and towards centralized bureaucratic structures better equipped to administer the fair and equal distribution of benefits, thus leading to a growing sense of powerlessness and alienation from the political process. Moreover, the modern welfare state with its universalizing logic of rights and entitlements has undermined family and social ties in civil society by rendering superfluous obligations to communities, by actively discouraging private efforts to help others (e.g., union rules and strict regulations in Sweden prevent parents from participating voluntarily in the governance of some day care centers to which they send their children), and even by providing incentives that discourage the formation of families (e.g., welfare payments are cut off in many American states if a recipient marries a working person) and encourage the break-up of families (e.g., no-fault divorce in the US is often financially rewarding for the non custodial parent, usually the father) [...]"

Habits of the heart. Communities of place. Communities of memory. Pyschological communities.

Et cetera.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Held on pluralism and Dahl

Key features of pluralism: government by minorities, constitutional resistance to faction.
  • Citizenship rights: one-person-one-vote, freedom of expression and association.
  • Constitutionalism, checks and balances, division of powers.
  • Competitive electoral system.
Classical pluralism vs. neopluralism

Who has power? Classic: diverse overlapping groups; neo: bias to corporate interests.
What is the state? Classic: a mediator; neo: the state, and even individual departments, have their own interests.
What is the nature of political resource? Classic: various, distributed, and fluid; neo: endogenously unequal.
Involvement of the citizenry? Classic: minimal enough to ensure stability; neo: goverment is not permeable to most citizens, apathy is compulsory.
Role of the international? Classic: by and large helps to uphold pluralist, free market societies; neo: dominated by multinationals and the particular interests of powerful states.

Early Dahl (1956)

For many contemporary societies, Dahl claims a deep underlying consensus, which effectively winnows down "politics" into an area of technics and details.

Dahl abstracts the constitutional form of so-called liberal democracies as "polyarchy." But for Dahl, the formal polyarchic constitutional content is trivial compared with the substantive social prerequisites of democracy. Early Dahl claims that these criteria are more or less met de facto.

Criticism: Dahl is surrendering "the rich history of the idea of democracy to the existent."

Criticism: Empirical research drew the idea of an underlying consensus into question. There seemed to be systematic ideological differentials with a significant class structure. The political polarisation during the 60s and 70s in Europe and the US was difficult to account for within the classical pluralist framework.

The classical pluralist analysis of power, as influence by A over B's action, was also criticised. Power was assigned a role previously belonging to representation. Cf. Henry Parker (the people and their parliament both are sovereign) vs. Thomas Hobbes (the body politic is so much a fiction it cannot even contract with the sovereign, only constitute itself as a fiction by contracts among its members). Cf. perhaps Sieyes, representation as constitutive of social relations. For the classical pluralists, de-juridified power in a well-behaved polyarchy could tick some of the same boxes because of overlapping membership, and the diversity, fluidity and transitivity of that power. Cf. balance of powers.

Bachrach and Baratz (1962): A's power may mobilise bias to establish / defend structures ("social and political values and institutional practices") of political process which exclude any issues whose resolution may frustrate A's interests. Cf. triangulation, social choice theory, Arrow's Impossibility Theorem, agenda setting, saliency theory (competition of emphasis), hegemony, transforming positional issues into valence issues, politics conducted in a register of morality (Mouffe).

Late Dahl

Dahl (1985): threat to liberty is not from equality (as Tocqueville suspected it would be) but from liberty of a certain kind - namely, liberty to accumulate unlimited economic resources and organise production in hierarchically governed enterprises. INEQUALITIES.

Corporate capitalism produces sharp inequalities in social and economic resources sufficient to undermine political equality and therefore democracy.

Furthermore: the capacity for Western goverments to act in the ways desired by many groups is systematically constrained by the requirements of private accumulation. Governments must ensure the prosperity of the private sector.

Democracy is embedded in a socioeconomic system which systematically privileges business interests. Dahl now argues that the normative content of democracy demands the priority of the right to self-government over the right to private property.

Political liberty requires democratisation of the workplace and a widespread system of cooperative forms of ownership.

Sectors of the state are locked into the interest structures of private corporations.

Some neo-Marxist theories of the state

Miliband (1969): the state is a crucial instrument in the maintenance of the structure of power and privilege inherent in capitalism, which routinely separates itself from ruling class factions.

Poulantzas: Miliband is humanist and subjectivist, reproducing bourgeois categories of thought. Direct participation of the capitalist class in government is unnecessary. The state is a condensation of class interests. It participates in class contradictions. It is nonetheless the subsystem which oversees the organisation of class fractions, and the political disorganisation of the working classes. It regroups the economically and politically marginal. The state bureaucracy and electoral leadership involuntarily construct national unity and simultaneous atomise the body politic.

Offe: the state is constitutively contradictory. The arbitration of interests is key to its legitimation, and tax revenue from a particular interest (accumulation), key to its material reproduction. Intervention in the economy is inevitable, yet it risks challenging the traditional basis of liberal social order.

The liberal democratic capitalist state (a) is excluded from accumulation; (b) is necessary for the function of accumulation; (c) is dependent on accumulation; (d) functions to conceal a, b & c.

The state is a reactive mechanism. Contra Miliband and Poulantzas, it is not functionally interlocked (in the long term) with the needs of capital. The manouevres of constellations may benefit the working class. The most vulnerable suffer.

Cf. Habermas in Legitimation Crisis.

Schmitter (theorist of corporatism) argues that at the very least, the validity of an unspecified number of voluntary self-determined categories is deeply questionable.

Some more on corporatism:
Financial liberalisation
Labour market liberalisation
Professionalisation and bureaucratisation of large sections of the labour movement
Contemporary corporatism: a system of interest representation organised into limited "singular, compulsory, hierarchically ordered" & functionally differentiated categories, licensed by the state to a representational monopoly.
Tripartite relation between state, employees and labour
Is tripartism displacing traditional political representative institutions? Extraparliamentary policy origins?
To be fair, it's mainly macroeconomic policy so far
It's also limited by the degree to which the trade unions produce a legitimate elite that is both amenable to corporatism

Final thoughts

Non-Marxists have come to appreciate the limits placed on popular sovereignty by massive concentrations of ownership of productive property. Vulgar marxism is marginalised, with few Marxist theorists arguing for the reduction of state activity to class categories.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Chantal Mouffe on pluralism and democracy

Liberal democracy is a regime, a distinct symbolic organisation of social relations. It results from the articulation of political liberalism (rule of law, separation of powers, individual rights) with democratic tradition of popular sovereignty.

Emphasising the fact of pluralism (Rawls) tends to obscure how pluralism constitutes the political dimension in modern democracies. It is an axiological principle we should celebrate and enhance.

Mouffe's postmodern gloss: "difference" must be construed as the condition of possibility of being. Then a radical democratic project informed by pluralism can be formulated.

Main forms of liberal pluralism start with de facto difference and look for procedures to make those differences irrelevant.

Valorizing all differences - anti-democratic, because it doesn't recognise that some (!) differences are constructed as relations of subordination.

Extreme pluralism, by refusing a "we," partakes in the liberal evasion of plurality.

After Derrida: social objectivity has "constitutive outside," traces of the acts of exclusion. Cf. Schmitt. Every identity purely contingent.

No social agent therefore can legitimately claim mastery of the foundation of society. Relations among agents are democratic only inasmuch as they (1) "accept" the particularity of their claims; which is also (2) "recognising" ineradicable power in their mutual relations.

Tacit institutional elaborations of these epistemological interventions? Or to do with subject formation, i.e. these "recognitions" are those of a subject for whom the Friend/Enemy distinction is an ineradicable feature of democracy, & who are reconciled to moderate viciousness as civic virtue?

"To negate the ineradicable character of antagonism and to aim at a universal rational consensus" -- this, supposedly, is the real threat to democracy. Mouffe ascribes it to Habermas. But cf. Habermas's (a) call for the defense of the lifeworld against systems; (b) sophisticated fallibilism (consensus, even were it "universal and rational," would not be incontrovertible); (c) rather impressive collection of rationality concepts (systems vs. lifeworld rationalization), whose qualitative distinctions rule out the kind of dogmatic idealism Mouffe is hinting at. Habermas's concepts for the analysis of rationality encompass greater difference than Mouffe's appeal to difference.

Cf. Hart: assume that each party has the discretion to provide “perfunctory” rather than “consummate” performance – we refer to this as shading – and that such behavior cannot be
observed or penalized by an outsider (e.g., a court).

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Some notes on Hirst

Modern Western states are narrowly plebiscitarian "democracies" (cf. Schumpeter) wherein elites espouse roughly the same economic ideas (cf., say, Poulantzas).

Materialism -- the kind which involves having swimming pools and special shoes -- is the dominant but unsatisfying ideology (cf. Habermas on civil privatism and familial-vocational privatism. Fatalism and an orientation towards immediate gratification for low- and high-income demographics, acquisitive abstinence for the middle. Cf. food).

Social theory is attenuated. Your options are: postmodern ironism, rationalism / game theory, or a metadiscourse of concern for academic enquiry as such (wherein falls Political Sociology. The compulsory mixture of analytic and contintental styles creates a huge burden for a kid who is trying to trace connections between ideas simultaneously with interventions among authors. It does seem to force you into a historical narrative to resolve it all though). A retreat, anyway, from social generality into issue-specificity / identity-centrism.

Can we reason from existing institutions? Cf. Habermas on democratic incrementalism.

Associative democracy -- a third way between collectivist state socialism & laissez faire capitalism.

Contra utopianism:
  • Marxism's ideal of a stateless society without a complex division of labour is an unattainable "institutionlessism" which legitimated brutality as pragmatism, so.
  • Modern laissez-faire ignores issues of governance and institutions to purify markets ... its foci imaginarii is a social order sustained exclusively by production and transaction.
So far, not that far from the spirit of Keynes, Fordism and embedded liberalism. Why did this break down? Cf. Streeck.

Prevailing forms of governance are difficult to apply to de facto social conditions. One of associative democracy's strengths is to generate standards, not just coordinate action (cf. of course communicative reason vs. steering media).

The prevalent methods of governance are:
(1) hierarchy and imperative
(2) exchange and contract
(3) bargaining and deliberation

Central planning suffers where product mixes change rapidly and there is an emphasis on customization. We see a drive towards decentralisation, devolution and complex, multi-centred methods of monitoring product quality and productive performance.

The collapse of state socialism is connected with central planning's failure to address the increasing complexity and localization of social action. The audit explosion originated in the imperative first to protect then to replace administrative coordination of action.

Modern capitalism diverges from perfect competition inasmuch as it is characterised by large corporations, complex division of labour. Cf. "natural monopolies," monopolistic and oligopolistic competition & Habermas's "great concerns."

Weakly regulated markets are not always prosperous and efficient (let alone substantively egalitarian). With the marketization of labour, certain costs of social stabilisation are transferred to the state in the form of income maintenance, retraining etc. Typically the state has also been obliged to set up a powerful bureaucracy to counteract the very incentive structure created in these activities, policing illegitimate use of benefits and politely coercing the unemployed into seizing undesired opportunities. Streeck argues that the costs proliferate even into the category of biological reproduction, as "flexible" and uncertain work disincentivises child birth in key demographics. The structure of familial-vocational privatism coexists with a new ideology combining achievement orientation in the vocational dimension with fatalism in the familial.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Chantal Mouffe on citizenship

"Modern citizenship was formulated in a way that played a crucial role in the emergence of modern democracy. But it has become an obstacle to making it wider and more pluralistic." Postmodern citizenship: acknowledging the particular, the heterogeneous and the multiple.

What is it to be a citizen in a pluralistic society? How can individual and political liberty be reconciled? How many different communities can be accommodated in the political community? What conception of social justice will regulate their claims?

Liberal view of citizen as bearer of rights is inadequate.

Communitarians (Sandal) vs. liberals (Rawls) debate: "civic republican" idea of citizenship.

Civic activity, public spiritness and political participation in a community of equals: since the C19th, seen by liberalism as pre-modern or dangerous ("common good" implies totalitarianism: cf. Hayek). The "liberties of the moderns" require the renunciation of the "liberties of the ancients" (cf. Constant, & Berlin, Two Concepts of Liberty). Indeed some civic republicanists do want to renounce pluralism in the name of a substantive idea of the common good -- v. dangerous obv.

Skinner: synthesises individual & political liberty. Idea of a common good is a necessary condition for the enjoyment of individual liberty. Cf. Habermas.

"The defence of pluralism, the emergence of the individual, the separation of church and state, and the development of civil society, are all crucial elements of modern democracy. They require that we distinguish today between the domain of the private and the domain of the public, the realm of morality and the realm of politics. As a consequence, the common good cannot be conceived of in a way that implies the acceptance of one single substantive idea of the good life in all fields of society. It must be understood to refer exclusively to to the shared political ends of a democratic political community, i.e. the principles of freedom and equality for all. Citizenship concerns the way those principles are embodied in different institutions and practices, the way the political community is constructed."

Common good never actualised. Always debate over exact nature of citizenship.

Hurd's citizenship: voluntary acts of moral responsibility; privatised conception of citizenship that whisks away the notion of political community.

Democratic citizenship could provide the organising principle of a new politics of the left.

Feminist critique: Pateman. Generality and homogeneity of public sphere based on exclusion of women.

Transformation of public/private distinction so as not to relegate all plurality, all difference to the private?

New rights being claimed by women or ethnic minorities cannot be universalised? Expressions of specific needs which should be granted only to particular communities? (Cf. rule of law, decisionism).

Citizenship and social justice

Rawls' distributive justice. Defence of individual liberty, commitment to equality. Does not necessitate private property in the means of production (unlike Hayek and Nozick?). Citizenship as capacity to form, pursue & revise conceptions of the good (cf. autonomy). No place for community: precludes conceptions of the good life in which it is necessary to join with others beyond contract.

Walzer (Spheres of Justice) idea of justice. Egalitarian ideal not "simple equality" but "complex equality" -- diff. social goods distributed in accordance with a variety of criteria reflecting diversity of these goods and their social meanings. Different spheres of justice & different distributive principles: free exchange and need.

Democratic and pluralistic citizenship

Reverse-engineer concept of citizenship from democratic demands found in a variety of movements.

Democratic rights.

Welfare benefits shifted from assistance to the rights of citizenship.

E.g.: universal grants.

"A pluralistic and democratic citizenship is not concerned with indivudal questions of morality but with our obligations as fellow members of a political community"

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Marcuse on pluralism

Denunciation of the oppressive capabilities of the Welfare State thus serves to protect the oppressive capabilities of the society prior to the Welfare State. At the most advanced stage of capitalism, this society is a system of subdued pluralism, in which the competing institutions concur in solidifying the power of the whole over the individual. Still, for the administered individual, pluralistic administration is far better than total administration. One institution might protect him against the other; one organization might mitigate the impact o the other; possibilities of escape and redress can be calculated. The rule of law, no matter how restricted, is still infinitely safer than rule above or without law.

However, in view of prevailing tendencies, the question must be raised whether this form of pluralism does not accelerate the destruction of pluralism. Advanced industrial society is indeed a system of countervailing powers. But these forces cancel each other out in a higher unification -- in the common interest to defend and extend the established position, to combat the historical alternatives, to contain qualitative change.
    The countervailing powers do not include those which counter the whole.
They tend to make the whole immune against negation from within as well as without; the foreign policy of containtment appars as an extension of the domestic policy of containment.

The reality of pluralism becomes ideological, deceptive. It seems to extend rather than reduce manipulation and coordination, to promote rather than counteract the fateful integration.
    Free institutions compete with authoritarian ones in making the Enemy [cf. Schmitt, Mouffe] a deadly force within the system.
And this deadly force stimulates growth and initiative, not by virtue of the magnitude and economic impact of the defense "sector," but by virtue of thte fact that the society as a whole becomes a defense society. For the Enemy is permanent. He is not in the emergency situation but in the normal state of affairs [cf. Benjamin, Agamben]. He threatens in peace as much as in war (and perhaps more than in war); he is thus being built into the system as a cohesive power.

Neither the growing productivity nor the high standard of living depend on the threat from without, but their use for the containment of social change and perpetuation of servitude does. The Enemy is the common denominator of all doing and undoing. And the Enemy is not identical with acual communism or actual capitalism -- he is, in both cases, the real spectre of liberation.

Once again: the insanity of the whole absolves the particular insanities and turns the crimes against humanity into a rational enterprise.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Samantha on civil society


The concept of "civil society" plays a prominent role in articulating alternative modes of social organisation to that of the state-society relationship of the Keynesian welfare state.

But there are limits the usefulness of "civil society" to ground social criticism and articulate alternative visions.

"Civil society" does not capture the complexities of state-subject relations. It is based on a juridical account of power inadequate to the task of analysing modern strategies of goverment.

"Civil society" is tied, in the work of Habermas and others, to an understanding of criticism which contains rather than resolves the antinomies signified by the term "civil society." While basing criticism on "civil society" may have freedom-enhancing effects in certain contexts, it may also be a term which constrains our critical capacities by tying us to what we already are.

Genealogy of the concept

Civil society originally equated with political society.

Civil society "emancipated" from politics with the breakdown of feudalism. I.e. civil society was originally the product of the early modern European separation of state and society.

Eighteenth-century debates concerned the relationship between civic virtue and civil vitue in the context of newly emerging forms of private and commercial life. For writers of the Scottish Enlightenment (Hutcheson, Ferguson, Hume and Smith), "civil society" was a solution to the problem of resolving the tension between the one and the many, unity and diversity, of producing a vision of a unified social order and simultaneously recognising the autonomy of legal, moral and economic spheres.

They turned to the ideas of natural sympathy and moral affections to underpin accounts of a social order based on innate mutuality. This became the basis of the idea of civil society as a spontaneous order, a space of ethical interactions, not simply of market exchange.

[But also cf. Smith's invisible hand, & De Mandeville's "private vices, public virtues"].

Scottish Enlightenment thought: from Montesquieu, they took a modern notion of political freedom in terms of economic progress, social refinement and a balanced constitution. But various degrees of trust in the capacity of modern commercial society to deliver social progress: Adam Smith had considerable faith in it. Ferguson sought to revive the classical meaning of the civic and to balance modern political economy with republican elements.

Eighteenth century German reception of Scottish Enlightenment: civil society tended to remain within the jurisprudential tradition alien to Ferguson and was understood to mean "all political ties which form any kind of goverment." Ferguson's Essay on the History of Civil Society (1768) tended lose its civic activist implications. [Eh?]

With Hegel, "civil society" became a private sphere of trade and social interaction counterpoised to the public realm of law and goverment, the state.

Hegel's account of civil society as comprising the system of needs, the administration of justice and police [?] was a realm of conflict between particular interests in sharp opposition to the state; Hegel's philosophy resolved the tension between the individual and the community throught the subsumption of particular interests beneath the unfolding of the universal, and civil society lost its autonomy.

When Marx took the term civil society from Hegel he focused on civil scoiety as the system of needs, that is, on economic relations. This turned the traditional meaning on its head [?], locating civil society as the realm of individual egoism and self-interest, as "bourgeois society" and as something to be overcome. The Scottish Enlightenment meannig of "commerce" as social intercourse and communication as well as economic transaction as thus lost in Marx's focus on productive relations.

The question of the relation b/w state & society has been elaborated sociologically by Arendt, Bobbio, Habermas & others through a focus on citizenship and the welfare state. These accounts stress how during the 19th and 20th centuries, the bourgeois emancipation of society has been replaced by a reappropriation of society by the state in the shift from a constitutional to a social state.

[The post-war welfare state compromise is part of that reappropriation. Also cf. Adorno & Horkheimer on the dialectic of enlightenment. Cf. also Habermas's distinction b/w liberal capitalism and advanced capitalism].

These accounts suggest that a conflict exists between the protected and the participating citizen. How are we to understand the dynamic established by this conflict?

Two main approaches:

(1) Civil society sometimes refers to the realm of individualism which developed with the Enlightenment and the economic relations of capitalism (see MacIntyre, 1994), associated with the rule of law and markets. The coherence of civil society rests not on common language, conventions or territory, but on market exchange, the rule of law, impersonal means of communication and sometimes even coercive authority. Civil society is the closest of all human groupings to having no substantive purpose [cf. Weber, instrumental vs. value rationality, etc.]. These things are left to individuals and associations, the role of which is therefore enhanced.

(2) More commonly, civil society refers to the non-market, non-state sphere of "social life." Also separate from family. Civil society is the locus for the potential development of critical public spheres capable of generating resistance to forms of unaccountable expert authority and administrative power. Habemas: "the institutional core of 'civil society' is constituted by voluntary unions outside the realm of the state and the economy and ranging from churches, cultural associations, and academies to independent media, sport and leisure clubs, debating societies, groups of concerned citizens, and grassroots petitioning drives all the way to occupational associations, political parties, labour unions and 'alternative institutions.'" It sounds shit.

Habermas: Modern Social Relations, Juridification and the Dilemmas of the Welfare State

The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere (1989) plots the emergence of a "bourgeois public sphere" in eighteenth-century European society as a result of the rise of the modern state and the development of capitalist economic activity. On Habermas' account, the separation of state and civil society which developed with the growth of commerical life facilitated the emergence of a modern public sphere. Zines & Costa.

18th century civil society was the genuine domain of private autonomy that stood opposed to the state. Private people came together as a public. They engaged the public authorities in a debate over the general rules governing relations in the basically privatised but publicly relevant sphere of commodity exchange and social labour. The medium of this confrontation was without historical precedent: it was people's public use of their reason.

But there has been a progressive "refeudalisation" of the public sphere as a result of the emergence of commercial mass media and the welfare state. The former replaced critical public opinion formation with manipulation, the latter development transformed the form of the state from a constitutional to a social state and re-fused relations between state and society.

The functioning of the public sphere has shifted from that of rational debate to the negotiation of interests. [Cf. Schmitter on corporatism].

The welfare state has produced forms of clientelism and a bureaucratisation of everyday life, through which citizens become subjects whose consciousness is characterised by "generalised particularism."

In TCA, using the systems/lifeworld distinction, Habermas nevertheless identifies civil society as a privileged site for the redemption of modernity.

Purposive-rational action distinguished from communicative action. Former oriented to success, latter to understanding. Each form of action has its own separate process of rationalisation.

The modern lifeorld is a reservoir of "taken-for-granteds," replenished through communicative action. The lifeworld is defined as the private nuclear family and the public political sphere.

The concept of "system" refers to mechanisms of modern society that are uncoupled from the communicative context of the lifeworld and are coordinated through functional interconnections via the steering media of money and power. The system is defined as the modern economy and state administration.

Rationalisation of systems is as an increase in their bureaucratic complexity and steering capacity.

We can conceive of society as a system that has to fulfil conditions for the maintenance of sociocultural lifeworlds [?].

The lifeworld becomes mediatised to the extent that de-linguistified media of system integration are used to relate the system and lifeworld. This process occurs through the social roles of employee, consumer, citizen and client which crystallise around these exchange relations. [Cf. Bauman, ambivalence].

This mediatisation takes on the form of an internal colonisation when the delinguistified media of the system take over the essential symbolic reproduction functions of the lifeworld itself, thereby objectifying or reifying social relationships.

He elaborates this thesis in a more empirical mode as the "juridification of communicatively structured areas of action." Juridification refers to an increase in the preponderance of positive law. A web of client relations is spread over the private spheres of life. For example, legal intervention into social life through welfare policies.

The welfare state compromise is not about increasing the density of an already existing network of formal regulations, but rather legally supplanting a communicative context of action through the superimposition of legal norms.

A shift from the class-based explanation of Legitimation Crisis: major channels of conflict in modern capitalist societies arise from the selfdestructive consequences of system growth.

There has been a "selective" or one-sided rationalisation, so that the success-orientation of economic and administrative systems have come to domnate many aspects of the modern lifeworld.

There is a need to retrieve the potiential for rationality of pracitical and communicative activity. Therefore the possibility of an undistorted intersubjectivity "must today be wrung from the professional, specialised, self-sufficient culture of experts and from the system imperatives of the state and economy which destructively invade the ecological basis of life and the communicative structure of our lifeworld.

Guys, we need to erect a democratic dam against the monestarisation and bureaucratisation of life.

Habermas's recent work is an attempt to reconcile and move beyond the limits of liberalism and republicanism through a procedural account of law and democracy which combines liberal constitutionalism with associations in civil society forming "strong" and "weak" publics respectively.

Foucault: Governmentality and the Aporia of Modern Political Rationalities

In Discipline and Punish and The History of Sexuality Foucault develops the theme of biopolitics as an expression describing the general rationality of modern power. Biopower is used to designate what brought life and is mechanisms into the realm of explicit calculations and made knowledge-power an agent of transformation of human life.

The beginning of this period of the exercise of power over life is dated from the mid-seventeenth to the end of the eighteenth century, the period of the formation of the modern prison and concern over, and new knowledges of, population.

[Raison d'etat, priority of population over territory, Hobbes].

Two aspects: body as a machine to be made useful through discipline; supervision and regulation of the species body. A power whose highest function was "perhaps no longer to kill, but to invest life through and through."

Idea of the individual case history and the discipline of statistics emerge coevally.

These individualising and totalising forms of knowledge are made possible and linked by the development of the human sciences and by panoptic and confessional technologies as institutional sites for the emergence of the concern of the "sciences of man."

These forms of knowledge and power link the welfare of individuals with the nation state and forms of political rule in new ways.

In his work on governmentality (1979), Foucault links his general concern with biopolitics as a modern form of power over life to the question of political rationality, of "rationalities of rule" as specific forms of the conduct of conduct. Foucault defines government in a general way as "the conduct of conduct."

Governmentalisation --> techniques of rule emerging in the 16th century, developing as practices of government from 18th century. Shift from raison d'etat [state acts on population, there isn't civil society as such] to modern mechanisms of government, arguing that a new art of government is formed around the problem of population.

Within the recognition of population as an issue and the possibility of its management we see the emergence of a domain of the social and the development of a range of new techniques of government centred on regulating and surveying this domain. Central to this is "the welfare state problem"; the "trick adjustment between political power wielded over legal subjects and pastoral power wielded over live individuals." Juridical or "sovereign" forms of power (power as right, law, repression) distinguished from disciplinary or "normalising" forms of power (power as the capacity to organise, sustain and enhance life). The two are linked: the modern individual is simultaneously a citizen with rights, part of a juridical polity, and a subject of normalisation, part of welfare society. Indeed, the emergence of this nexus of govermental relations is accompanied historically by the development of modern notions of citizenship. In this way practices concerning the management of populations are linked with discourses of sovereignty which remain as their justification. The modern epoch is thus characterised by thtis heterogeneity between a public right of sovereignty and a polymorphous disciplinary mechanism. This analysis opens a space in which to consider liberalism as a mode of government and to explore the ways in which the welfare state and civil society are conjoined in modern society.

Liberalism, as a critique of state reason, involves a political and an epistemological revolution. With its emergence we see first, the idea of economy and society having natural laws, thus the liberal problem of the appropriate boundary between state action and inaction, where, secondly, this boundary is organised through the elaboration of methods of government by which liberty and security are linked, the rule of law and the idea of a realm protected against the state relying upon an ordering and management of social existence. Within liberalis, appropriate roles for the state are defined by reference to an already existing autonomous economy and society, the state's role being to secure the self-reproducing existence of these processes, enforcing "natural" processes with mechanisms of security through "social government."

From his specification of the relation of sovereignty, discipline and government Foucault concludes that we must see things not in terms of the substitution for a society of sovereignty of a disciplinary society and the subsequent replacement of a disciplinary society by a governmental one; in reality we have a triangle: sovereignty-discipline-government, which has as its primary target the populaion and as its essential mehanism apparatuses of security.

Modern liberal political rationalities combine the "city-citizen game" and the "shepherd-flock" game. That is, we are simultaneously citizens with rights produced through law, and subjects of discipline and normalisation produced through partnership and positive knowledge. The "welfare state problem" is that of reconciling "law" with "order", producing "the social" as a governed domain. This process involves a continual negotiation of the public and the private, achieved through the deployment of forms of normalising knowledge and expertise.

It is the tactics of government which make possible the continual definition and redefinition of what is within the competence of the state and what is not, the public versus the private, and so on; thus the state can only be understood in its survival and its limits on the basis of the general tactics of governmentality.

In this way of conceptualising relaionships, "civil society" is neither an ideological construct nor an "aboriginal reality", a natural given repelling government or opposing the state. Rather civil society is a "transcendental reality" at the interface of political power and the government of populations.

Civil society is a ground for a problematisation and for the development o a set of innovative techniques of government; it is both an object and an end of government. As a concept it collectively organises social experience and is a site of governmental organisation concerning the conduct of "autonomous" individuals.

As such, the term "civil society" encompasses the tensions between the natural and the managed within liberalism: it is not the point of their resolution. Thus, Foucault: "I haven't spoken about civil society. And on purpose, because I hold that the theoretical opposition between the state and civil society which traditional political theory belabors is not very fruitful" (Foucault, 1991).

[The "naturalness" of man is civil society.]

Specifying the Welfare State Problem

Habermas and Foucault raise similar concerns relating to the development of technical complexes of knowledge in the name of enlightenment and the accompanying scientisation of politics. Both focus on the implications of contemporary statesociety relations in the context of the development of modern welfare states. However, they frame these concerns in very different ways. Habermas analyses the welfare state in terms of state and society meshing through processes of juridification and colonisation; Foucault discusses the welfare state in terms of the aporia of law and order which this set of relations exhibits.

According to Habermas, the welfare state repoliticises the market and produces forms of clientalism. The welfare state is a central aspect of the monetarisation and bureaucratisation of the lifeworld. Welfare states were designed to produce and maintain social integration but have significantly failed in this task as their juridical-administrative form produces pathological effects by reducing or usurping communicative relations, replacing them with money and power.

In the face of this, Habermas suggests reaffirming the importance of procedures underpinning the constitutional state, coupled with a reinvigoration of the civil associations of the public sphere. This is given sustained attention in BFN. Habermas builds on his earlier analysis of the distinction between the system and the lifeworld to develop a propositional theory of la and democracy which he argues is capable of regrounding the legitimacy of the elfare state by forging closer links between the public spheres of civil society and the state. By briefly examining some features of this later argument, we can see how Habermas recognises but then overlooks important aspects of the welfare state highlighted by Foucault: its normalising character.

Habermas: the dilemma of the welfare state comprises a dialectic of empowerment and tutelage. Built into the very status of citizenship in welfare state democracies is the tension between a formal extension of private and civic autonomy, on the one hand, and a "normalisation" in Foucault's sense that fosters the passive enjoyment of paternalistically dispensed rights on the other.

However, the normalising dimension of welfare states slips from Habermas's account as he focuses on this process as one of juridification. For example, he suggests that we can divide the freedomenhancing from the tutelary aspects of the welfare state. "For the criteria by which one can identify the point where empowerment is converted into supervision are, even if context-dependent and contested, not arbitrary."

That is, Habermas suggests that we can separate legitimate from illegitimate law by examining its sources in relations to processes of democratic will formation.

Habermas suggests that the peculiarly ambivalent effects of the welfare state occur because of the inadequate insititutionalisation of the democratic genesis of law. Law, separated from its sources of validity in autonomous public spheres and the formal institutions of democratic legitimation, is "instrumentalised" and "deprived of its internal structure." The solution to the dilemmas of thewelfare state thus consists in further democratisation: "With the growth and qualitative transformation of governmental tasks, the need for legitimation changes; the more the law is enlisted as a means of political steering and social planning, the greater is the burden of legitimation that must be borne by the democratic genesis of law." In this way the undesirable effects of welfare-state provisions can be countered by a politics of qualifications for citizenship.

This formulation eclipses the tensions between juridification and normalisation such that legitimate law is theorised as banishing power. The constitutional state must evenly distribute political power but also strip such power of its violent substance by rationalising it.

This in turn rests upon the presupposition of a lifeworld that remains substantially free from power.

[Does it?]

For Foucault, the welfare is an expression of the combination of citizenship with subjecthood, legal ith normalising power, hich organised on the plane of the social through the 19th and 20th centuries, and which involves legal determinations of right as well as the development of a range of positive knowledges of the social domain.

Difficulty w/i Western political reason: how to reconcile law with order without subordinating law to order. [Cf. Schmitt, decisionism, the exception.] Scepticism about invoking a politics of resistance founded on the notion of civil society as independent of and opposed to the state. From this point of view, Habermas's critical theory is inadequate to the task of resistance to the increased codification and surveillance of life as this theoretical framework precludes the analysis of the problem of power at the level of government.

Lifeworld is positioned as an arena of potential autonomy and communicative rationality which persists despite the colonising tendencies of the system. Exhibited clearly in Habermas's formula for the solution of legitimation problems in the constitutional states of advanced capitalist societies. He grounds the legitimacy of lawmaking in the idea of spontaneous inputs from a lifeworld whose core private domains are intact. Legitimate law reproduces itself only in the forms of a constitutionally regulated circulation of power, which should be nourished by the communications of an unsubverted public sphere rooted in the core private spheres of an undisturbed lifeworld via the networks of civil society.