By David Van Reybrouck
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Extra info for Against Elections: The Case for Democracy
A rebellious citizenry threw off the yoke of the British and French crowns and decided that the people were sovereign, not the king. 47 Voting was familiar as a means of achieving unanimity among a group of like-minded people, such as cardinals, but in politics it would now have to promote consensus between people seen as virtuous within their own circles. For a citizen of the early twenty-first century it takes a certain amount of imagination to conceive of a time when elections were not there to produce arguments but to promote unity.
A blood transfusion is not a guaranteed cure for a body that is at death’s door. Moreover, they are not as enamoured of the cult of the leader as are the populists: it’s far too vertical for them, and it remains a form of delegation. What, then? The efficiency of the technocrats doesn’t appeal to them either. Their own peculiar, roundabout way of conducting meetings shows that they regard legitimacy as a good deal more important than rapid results. If you take a close look at Occupy Wall Street and the Indignados, what is striking is the movement’s strong anti-parliamentarianism.
41 Dutch sociologist Willem Schinkel adds: ‘Occupy is in a sense the simulation of ideological resistance. ’42 Occupy demonstrates the malaise more than it suggests any remedy. Its diagnosis of representative democracy was correct, but the alternative was weak. For participants in the general assemblies it will undoubtedly have been a moving and enjoyable experience, as the sense of being part of a community that discusses things in a calm and adult manner can be extraordinarily intense. There can never be too much cultivation of civic virtues, especially when parliament and the media no longer set a good example.
Against Elections: The Case for Democracy by David Van Reybrouck