Asked about democracy, many people feel uneasy: Either they consider democracy to fluctuate between splendid goals and disillusioning reality up to chaos, or they completely shift the issue away as too complex to be strictly analyzed. This impersonal attitude sometimes passes to rejection, influenced by interpreting democracy to be a nothing but Western invention. In contrast to these views, a clear general logic of democracy can be identified.1.The logic of democracyAccording to Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Adress (1863), democracy consists in government of the people, by the people, for the people. If we widen the term governmentto governance(for any way of coordination) and consider the three instanced relations (for, of, by the people) to be functionally linked with each other, the following model comes into existence (see figure 1). Figure 1: Democracy CycleAccording to this model, democracy is constituted through a functional cycle of governance for, of, and by the people. Existence and strength of democracy can be explained by the fact that this cycle is practically running. Democratic actors operate bound to the functional needs of the cycle, at least aware of it. Hence an own logic of democracy develops that fundamentally differs from the logic of unlimited power and the logic of war. As to be shown later, the logic of democracy is open for diverse context conditions and may be used in diverse institutional settings. Original sources and historic cradles of it are located all over the Earth. Governance for the peopleIn contrast to how the word was used in ancient Greece and afterwards until the 17th century, today the peopledoes not denote a special class, such as only the poor people, nor a certain gender, ethnicity, race, or religion. It rather denotes all humans in a country or in another socio-political entity. In the final analysis, it comprises all human beings on Earth, with the ongoing globalization the increasingly prevailing socio-political entity.Governance for the peoplethen means working for all citizens, comprising different types of goods:•Public goods (macro level): Collective goods, such as general safety, infrastructure, welfare, freedom, cultural patterns, and chances to develop;•Personal goods (micro level): Personal rights, properties, values, and chances of self-development; •Group goods (meso level): Belongings, cultural patterns, chances of development.Preserving these goods should be optimally combined.So if an airport is planned, there has to be found an optimal balance between the public interest in having an effective traffic system and the interest of the people living near the airport in being optimally protected against noise, pollutants and so forth. Another example concerns the challenge of balancing traditional corporative ways of governance and behavior, such as religious norms and organizational patterns, with strictly protected individual rights. In sum, government for the peopleimplies the search for optimal solutions. At that, strict requirements of protecting civil and political rights of any citizen are to be respected. With all outlined contingency, governance for the people has to be effective- effective to implement decided public policies and able to protect the whole structure of decision-making and implementation. A precondition of such effectivity is a monopoly on the legitimated use of force. That's why democracy needs to have an overarching monopoly on the legitimate use of force - another word for being able to effectively save peace.Governance by and of the peopleUsually actors pursue goals in their own interest. Hence the people, interested in preserving public goods, group goods, and individual goods, are the most reliable and energetic instance of stimulating and controlling the government to act for the people. The logical way to control and to stimulate public policies in this sense is participation.That may be structured in indirectforms, such as electing representatives that choose in their turn the government, and so forth. Aside of those indirect ways, people may also immediately participatein political decision-making, so by public communication, referenda, and so forth. Participation in any way is based on certain forms of empowerment that practically enables the people to take part in politics. That's why there is a logical connection between empowerment (political rights), participation, and policies for the people. Democratic participation, in turn, has to be founded on practically disposable civil rights, such as the right of life and health, the right of free mobility, the right of free opinion, and the right of non-discrimination (equality of all citizens, particularly men and women). Since without those rights, political participation could easily be blocked or even misused as means against democracy: People's sovereignty requires sovereign people, based on protected civil respectively human rights. Human rights, again, are practically realized in fair and free procedures, such as juridical, administrative, or political procedures including parliamentary decision-making and free elections. Also fair and free every-day procedures, such as normal lining up in a super-market and sports games, institutionally frame human rights. Those governance systems can be called bound governancebecause fair and free interaction amongst the involved actors requires strictly valid bonds, such as jointly accepted rules (see figure 2). Figure 2: Bound GovernanceWhat this type of governance is about you can best envisage by the instance of interactive games, from football to any other interactive game: There are two different levels, the superordinate rule level and the interaction level: The rule levelis, in principle, constituted through the acceptance of all involved actors; that's why it represents the whole group respectively the public. In contrast, on the interaction level, single players operate freely on equal terms. Indeed, both levels constitute one system; but in this system, the rule level has to be strictly protected against pressure by single operative actors. In other words: Free and fair interaction is only possible through independently valid rules, possibly represented by arbiters, judges and so forth. This two-level-system is not only valid in interactive games; it also refers to any civil procedure, such as lawsuits, legislation or democratic election. Thereby human rights and bound governance are linked with each other.Output feedbacksThere is also a feedback from the output side: If democracy is supposed to work for the people, governance of (and then by) the people is legitimized. Particularly public safety and economic well-being have this legitimizing effect. But what constitutes happiness (for the people) varies internationally and amongst different cultures.
OverviewIn the following figure (3), the democracy cycle is represented, taking account of all outlined demands. Figure 3: The logic of democracyDemocracy operates in a functional cycle including human rights respectively bound governance, empowerment and participation, effective governance (state) and public policies as well as a legitimation feedback of the whole system. At that, input and output functions are linked with each other.Democratic actors operate bound to the functional needs of the cycle, at least aware of it. Hence an own logic develops that fundamentally differs from the logic of unlimited power and the logic of war, the logic of democracy. This logic may be realized in diverse, context related forms. Original capacities for realizing it exist in many cultures and areas of this Earth - see above all the globally and historically frequently appearing try to do the best for all members of a socio-political entity. This try is hitherto seldom called democratic, but it has essential democratic character, compared with exploiting, cheating, harming, or annihilating minorities or even majorities of a population. Under this aspect, a good king may have a democratic feature, and a formally democratic, but highly corrupt or incapable government may be - so far - undemocratic.In a similar way, you can detect native democratic elements of the people or by the people in any region of the Earth. See the protection of any member of local communities in Africa, Asia or any other region, at least a rudimentary form of human rights and bound governance. Also rudimentary up to highly developed forms of local or regional participation can be observed in old and young cultures all-over the Earth. Even in cultures that usually are associated with strictly hierarchical and authoritative structures, such as the ancient Egypt, functional elements of democracy can be found in certain periods. Therefore we should be aware of native cradles and current sources of democracyall over the Earth - a fundament for developing global democracyin a self-conscious and context sensitive way.2.ChallengesTalking about challenges we recognize not only possible problems, but also necessity and opportunities to cope with them. In that sense, democracies are challenged in different ways, by functional, competitive, and hostile challenges.FunctionsWhenever a democracy function (for, of, by the people) fails, the democracy cycle runs less well, in worst case, it stops or runs wrong, destabilizing the whole system. Therefore both, output failures (of policies, effective state) as well as input failures (of human rights/bound governance, participation) constitute significant challenges of democracies. An example of output failures is the regulatory failure of the international finance sector from the 1990s on: In the leeway of public deregulation, big banks and other mighty actors of this sector developed financial products (of speculation) and rules around them in their individual interests that could hardly or not at all be verified by purchasers. Following a huge wave and bubble of financial speculation in diverse special markets emerged. These bubbles crashed in the years 2007 and 2008, leading to the global financial crisis of 2008 - a process that delegitimized not only the responsible financial actors themselves, but also the involved, obviously incapable (democratic) nation states. Furthermore, also the financial stability of many involved nation-states suffered during the years after 2008, until the so-called Euro crisis from 2010 on. Because such policy failures usually correspond with too big lobby-power respectively ineffective governance, fostering effective governance as well as limiting lobby-power belong to the main options of preserving or restructuring a vital democracy. Deficits of participation, human rights and bound governance seem to characterize above all low developed countries - see frequently occurring riots and sometimes even civil wars outgoing from not accepted results of elections. Distinct input deficits, however, are also to be stated in developed democracies, such as Germany or the U.S. So 50% of the deputies to German federal parliament (Bundestag) are not personally chosen by the voters, but determined by the political parties under strong influence of the party leaders - a quite authoritarian construction of government by the people.Competition and comparisonCompetitive challenges are usually stated in the relationship between democratic and autocratic systems, such as rich autocratic oil states like Saudi-Arabia or Qatar: Those states massively invest in modern infrastructure and spread wealth amongst their population without realizing broad participation, human rights, and bound governance. Also China and other newly industrializing economies often are considered to be examples for attractive matches to (Western) democracies. At that, India is regarded as an old democracy while China counts as completely autocratic country.According to the here presented model, another way of comparing political systems is to be recommended: Any country should be soberly compared regarding its production and distribution of happiness (wealth, chances and so forth for the people), its degree of participation and the status of its human rights/bound governance. Comparing the registered data according these criteria, a comparative image of the status of democracy all over the world arises. A necessary basis for this kind of comparison is a functional democracy index that corresponds with the presented democracy cycle model. HostilitiesA particularly urgent and deep challenge of democracies consists in hostilities against democracy, from diverse forms of extremism up to terroristic networks and states. In order to cope with this kind of challenges, at first police activities and military operations seem to be unavoidable. It would be facile, however, to stop thinking at that point. Since hostility against democracy is produced and reproduced in certain ideological and narrow-minded religious formations in the logic of war that cannot be solved up by military or police actions. In the contrary: As long as extremism and terrorism is only combated by military and police methods as long the logic of war is reproduced - a kind of victory for one-dimensional thinking and organizing in the logic of pure power and war. The foreseeable consequences of that strategy may consist in short-handed local victories over the (terroristic) enemy, but gives rise to a middle range strengthening of extremism and terror. Therefore aside of unavoidable police measures to protect from extremism and terrorism, the main strategy towards hostilities should be the energetic try to stop the production of hate. Significant means of this strategy are deeply analyzing what people need under given preconditions and what sources of hate obscure their minds. With almost eight billion humans, hundreds of different religions and ideologies, and an immense mass of deadly arms, we have to practically develop a consensus about jointly accepted rules of living together on this Earth.The balanced way: ConclusionsAs the logic of democracy results from being interested in stabilizing the whole democracy cycle, different challenges of democracy are to be met in a balanced way.In a case of emergency, such as fighting against a flood or preventing a military threat, needs of centralized meeting an urgent danger may be shortly predominant towards formal requirements of political participation. Already soon, however, democratic hazard defense has to be checked under the question how long it needs to be in force; since special situations of hazard and risk defense tend to be enlarged by interested actors in a precarious way. In other words: After having successfully dealt with a danger, institutionalized input patterns of democracy have to be strictly practiced again. And even during special situations, at least minimal standards of human rights should be respected. Vice versa, in situations of democratic routine, often too much bureaucracy and a deficit of energetic policy-making is the main challenge. Then creative people, good communicators, and innovative actors are the real democrats.Democracy should go on in a balanced manner: Output needs as well as input needs have to be realized in the best possible way, according to the individual situation.A basic orientation may be got by looking at the presented democracy cycle. ------------------------------------- Reworked and complemented version of a lecture given on August 02, 2014in Paris (Mantes-la-Jolie): Greater Europe Forum: http://www.greater-europe.com/#!instagram/c1w7v
The Logic of Democracy and its ChallengesVolker von Prittwitz(August 17, 2014/Worked over January 25, 2015 )
IPAInstitute for Political AnalysisProf. Dr. Volker von Prittwitz