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Multinational Democracies


Éditeur : Cambridge University Press Date & Lieu : 2001, Cambridge
Préface : Charles Taylor Pages : 411
Traduction : ISBN : 0-521-80029-3
Langue : AnglaisFormat : 155x230 mm
Thème : Politique

Présentation
Table des Matières Introduction Identité PDF
Multinational Democracies

Multinational Democracies

This excellent collection explores important new ground. The authors of these chapters examine the constitutive tensions at the heart of contemporary democratic societies.

These societies are in fact the site of two opposite tendencies. On the one hand, they require a new kind of unity and homogeneity which earlier, autocratic or hierarchical societies never needed. On the other hand, they are becoming more and more diverse. The need for unity comes from the conditions of legitimacy which belong to a democratic society. We can see this in a number of ways, three of which are especially evident.

First, democratic societies construe the ensemble of citizens as a `people'; that is, as a unit of deliberation and decision. Yet, in order to sustain what can be recognized as a common deliberation, a people has to have a minimal common focus, a set of agreed goals, or principles, or concerns, about which they can debate, argue and struggle. Once they drift apart, with different segments focusing on different things, it becomes hard to construe the upshot as the answer to a common question. But then this upshot begins to lose legitimacy for those who no longer see it as the answer to their question.

If a minority, for instance, comes to see the majority as concerned exclusively for its good, rather than that of the whole, they will begin to feel that they are no longer included in this `people'. Then, according to the very logic of democracy, they are no longer bound by the decisions arrived at without any concern for them...

Charles Taylor


Foreword

This excellent collection explores important new ground. The authors of these chapters examine the constitutive tensions at the heart of contemporary democratic societies.

These societies are in fact the site of two opposite tendencies. On the one hand, they require a new kind of unity and homogeneity which earlier, autocratic or hierarchical societies never needed. On the other hand, they are becoming more and more diverse. The need for unity comes from the conditions of legitimacy which belong to a democratic society. We can see this in a number of ways, three of which are especially evident.

First, democratic societies construe the ensemble of citizens as a `people'; that is, as a unit of deliberation and decision. Yet, in order to sustain what can be recognized as a common deliberation, a people has to have a minimal common focus, a set of agreed goals, or principles, or concerns, about which they can debate, argue and struggle. Once they drift apart, with different segments focusing on different things, it becomes hard to construe the upshot as the answer to a common question. But then this upshot begins to lose legitimacy for those who no longer see it as the answer to their question.

If a minority, for instance, comes to see the majority as concerned exclusively for its good, rather than that of the whole, they will begin to feel that they are no longer included in this `people'. Then, according to the very logic of democracy, they are no longer bound by the decisions arrived at without any concern for them.

Democracies need to be bonded in a common focus, what one could call a `political identity'. This can be a set of common principles, as in the Republican tradition, but most commonly in the last two centuries, it has primarily centred on the nation.

Second, the need for unity and homogeneity can also be seen from another angle. A second crucial legitimating condition of modern democracy is the equality of the citizens. Any systematic inequality or mode of discrimination in a modern society is seen as a challenge to its right to exist, at least in its present form. Now equality is not homogeneity, although it has frequently been construed as such. In fact, differences frequently can be construed as entailing inequalities, and hence as something to be overcome in the name of democratic legitimacy...

Charles Taylor




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