Forms of Democracy Essay (Book Review)
Size and the Two Forms of Democracy
Chapter 20 presents democracy in the society as a component that varies both qualitatively and quantitatively whenever a difference of interest occurs. If there is a conflict of interest, democracy seems to be of a higher value. Stakes are raised at this point with the different lines of argument becoming bolder.
Each group pushes hard for its interests and opinions compared to when it agrees on everything. This case attracts too many assumptions. The writer finds that common interests are easily achievable in small groups because people at this level tend to fine-tune what afflicts them. In large groups, opinion tends to be further divided.
This situation makes it difficult to reach a consensus to a problem. Small groups have a problem since their power is not increased. At the same time, the groups’ power diminishes when brought to the big stage. As the chapter reveals, whereas small groups have the power to control their small civil order, small political units have remarkably a little effect on them. This claim qualifies the sense for having them.
However, it is evident that this decentralization is costly though empowering to the small units due to economic and ecological interdependence. The protection of citizens’ interests in terms of equality between small governments and bigger governments is not definite.
Thus, the size of government cannot be clearly evaluated on this case. The participation gap between the rich and the poor in small constituencies is almost equal due to the narrowed approach and limited consensus between the two groups. The author reveals that self-selection increases the groups’ homogeneity in terms of interests especially in small groups. On the other hand, expanding the group reduces the saliency of common interests during recruitment.
Common interest cannot be viewed as the preserve for original members only in a group. It can also be acquired when members join the group because people acquire interests as they move. However, as the author points out, the strengths of an acquired common interest in a group are inversely related to its size.
Therefore, they will tend to diminish as the size of the group grows. In this case, what seems so fundamental to a small group will tend to become diluted as the group grows with other issues coming in to compete for the same attention from the group. This case leads to further fragmentation of the group since the larger group is divided within itself based on the arising finer common interests.
In the achievement of unanimity, small groups are better off doing this role by producing changes that will influence more on their interests. This move can be attributed to the groups’ ability to find consensus in a disagreement. The ease in the achievement of consensus among small groups is adverted to the placement of a higher value of harmony of the whole group, as well as the ease with which members of the groups move into one direction.
In avoiding conflict, small groups are usually driven by the fact that they are vulnerable when exposed to the large groups. They cannot cope with the sanctions that might be vented on them by the large groups. This strategy becomes a proper survival tactic for self-preservation.
At the same time, lower levels of conflict in small groups enable them find solutions faster due to their ability to allow members enough time to give suggestions from which a solution is found. Therefore, the ability of people in the groups to identify each other face-to-face or to meet face-to-face gives them the feeling of empathy, which is a binding factor.
The Conditions of Modern Democracy
Chapter 6 that addresses ‘The Conditions of Modern Democracy’ presents democracy as a participation of the people in the election of their representatives to govern them. It is also described as a mass consent of the people to be ruled. Although peoples’ representatives are elected to make laws on behalf of the people to govern them, democratically made laws must adhere to the respect of individual liberties, as well as human rights.
At the same time, it is difficult to gauge the true democratic governance compared to gauging undemocratic governance. Thus, democracy is simply a political rule to the author. The writer finds that it is easy to evaluate democracy in governance by comparing its ideals with the worst form of government in relation to when one compares it with the best ideals that are supposed to define it.
In the real sense, true democracy (perfect democracy) is not achievable at any time due to the realities of nature that also govern people’s lives. Democracy flourishes in truth, openness, and criticism when compared to autocracies since a change of governance does not lead to a change of a system when a particular group exits a democratic society.
The systems will undoubtedly remain. Although parliaments elected by the people are supposed to represent them, they are perfect tools for mobilizing consent at the same time besides representing the already existing consent. A democratic society allows a free flow of information as well as its usage. The society has come up with better solutions compared to autocracies because the retribution for making a mistake in a democratic setting is less severe in relation to the same in an autocratic society.
The Trilemma of Democratic Reform
‘The Trilemma of Democratic Reform’ represents democracy as a process that offers a chance for political equality. However, political equality is not the only option to inclusion. A democrat’s perfect belief lies in political equality, mass participation, as well as deliberation as ways to achieving the inclusion.
The author interrogates the credence of democratic institutions that do not give mass participation an equal chance to elect leaders. In this case, he cites the United States of Americas Electoral College system as one of the democratic institutions that do not allow mass participation thus inhibiting mass consent.
The author cites three processes that would make the democratic process complete. Starting with deliberations, the author finds that people will vote from a misinformed point of view without proper deliberation on issues, which negates the purpose of democracy as a way of coming up with the best decisions. The decision of voting in a certain direction is influenced by so many things that the voter does not vote as per his/her intuitions in the end.
The influence of the elite and the chances of ones party winning have been cited by the author as some of the issues that drive voters in certain directions. The author breaks down some issues under reflection that should be used as parameters for measuring deliberation on matters that are subjected to poll.
The author further says that there will be varying issues during deliberation in both the large and the small groups due to perceived competences. Therefore, without information flow in a deliberation, all decisions reached by the voters might be biased due to misinformation.
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