Friday, 20 June 2008
Why closing Turkey's AKP would be a liberal act. John Stuart Mill would have agreed.
Theories of Representative Democracy or Republicanism have not been concerned with a a majoritarian theory in which the most popular force in politics has the right to decide everything. That is the path that led to the execution of Socrates in Ancient Athens. In Aristotle, Monteseuiu, Mill and many others, democracy is a means to promote liberty. For Mill, it was quite necessary to push the conditions for secular liberty from above, and democracy rested on those conditions. Like all the Liberal and Republican thinkers, he thought that liberty and law are the necessary foundations of any democracy worth having, that is a democracy that is not mere majoritarianism. AKP are eroding the conditions for secular democracy. The Millian response is clear. The democratic means for liberty can be highly regarded but they are means. Mill followed Tocqueille’s phrase, tyranny of the majority, which itself probably has some origin in the Federalist Papers of Hamilton, Madison and Jay. The point in all case is that momentary majority opinion is a very dangerous thing which can lead to violence and law breaking. Authority is necessary to stop the majority,or the shifting nature of majority opinion, from violating basic freedoms. Previous Liberal and Republican thinkers have said similar thing about majority democracy. Even Rousseau though that the general ill is only formed when citizens are isolated from each other, and engages with the necessity of different parts of sovereignty. AKP is a threat to the secular foundations of democracy and should go.
Posted by Barry Stocker at 00:41