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

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