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An interesting discussion. It seems to me that there is a tension between libertarianism and democracy, but a healthy one if the contradictions are acknowledged and worked through. While doing a bit of a clear out of old stuff today I came across an old essay I wrote which seems a little relevant to the discussion. In it I argued that while the principle function of most modern day constitutions is to protect fundamental rights, the principle function of the UK constitution has been, and continues to be, parliamentary sovereignty. In essence, while other constitutions safeguard the rights of individuals and establish a separation of powers, the UK constitution puts a great deal of faith in democracy. In a lecture on the subject, J.A.G. Griffith defended this by arguing that 'It is not by attempting to restrict the legal powers of government that we defeat authoritarianism. It is by insisting on open government.' The implication of this to me is that through a well functioning democracy we can work through the contradictions between democracy and libertarianism. But I think if this is to be achieved we cannot rely on representative or direct democracy, we also need strong deliberative democracy. Not sure if any of this makes much sense, I'm still trying to work it through in my own head. Thanks for stimulating the thoughts though.
Thanks for this and previous thought provoking posts Tessy. I've been reading Alinsky recently and have had some nagging concerns about his method - and more particularly how it's being appropriated - that I haven't quite been able to articulate to myself, but your posts have helped. I think my concerns rest on the fact that Alinsky's tactics are - as he himself emphasises - focused on organising communities of interest, not communities of place. Therefore, to an extent I can see that conflict tactics could achieve positive outcomes, and even unite, a community of interest, but like you I am concerned by their affects on communities of place. I'm unsure what the government's intentions are (maybe somebody will be able to tell me), but if the community organisers are to organise communities of place it seems they will inevitably struggle to juggle the many communities of interest that exist in an area. I can see a role for "organisers" to facilitate a collaborative process and develop dialogue between different groups, much as you outline above. But I struggle to see how an adversarial model could operate, particularly as they have no democratic mandate. If on the other hand they will organise communities of interest, I'm uneasy about the concept of government sponsored community organisers that favour particular communities of interest and prompt conflict between them. This is all a very roundabout (and most likely incoherent) way of saying that I like your thinking.
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Apr 26, 2011