By Robert A. Dahl
Robert Dahl’s Preface helped release democratic idea fifty years in the past as a brand new quarter of research in political technological know-how, and it continues to be the traditional creation to the sector. Exploring difficulties that were left unsolved by means of conventional notion on democracy, Dahl right here examines influential models—the Madisonian, which represents triumphing American doctrine, and its ordinary challenger, populist theory—arguing that they don't correctly painting how glossy democracies function. He then constructs a version extra in line with how modern democracies really functionality, and, in doing so, develops a few unique perspectives of well known sovereignty and the yankee constitutional approach.
For this fiftieth-anniversary variation, Dahl has written an in depth new afterword that reevaluates Madisonian idea in mild of contemporary examine. And in a brand new foreword, he displays again on his influential quantity and the methods his perspectives have developed considering that he wrote it. For any scholar or student of political technological know-how, this new fabric is an important replace on a most effective within the evolving box of democratic conception.
“A Preface to Democratic thought is definitely definitely worth the committed recognition of someone who cares approximately democracy.”—Political technological know-how Quarterly
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Extra resources for A Preface to Democratic Theory (Expanded Edition)
Prudence and Politics, April, 1954. 34 Copyrighted material POPULISTIC DEMOCRACY 35 There is but one law which, from its na ture, needs unanimous consenL This is the social contract. .. Apart from this primitive contract, the vote of the majority always binds all the rest . This presupposes, indeed, that all the qualities of the general will still reside in the majority; when they cease to do so, whatever side a man may take, liberty is no longer possible [Rousseau, Social C01zlract]. All, too, will bear in mind this sacrt-d principle, that although the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will, to be rightful, must be reasonable [Jefferson, First Inaugural, March 4, 1801).
Nevertheless, if I am right in thinking that by "tyranny" Madison meant to include "every severe deprivation of a natural right," then we cannot very well appraise the utility of this definition without considering the concept of natural right. I think, however, that we can get ourselves out of this dilemma in the following way. We do not need to settle the question whether individuals have natural rights or, if they do, what these may be. All we need to know is whether anything roughly equivalent to the definition of tyranny I have supplied (the only alternative seemed to lead us into an essentially trivial defense of Madison's key First Condition) provides a useful concept in Madison's system.
A non-tyrannical republic would therefore be impossible. So U1is meaning of tyranny must be excluded. It follows that tyranny must be defined to mean that severe penalties are inflicted only on some kinds of behavior. How are these kinds of behavior, which it is tyrannical to restrain, to be specified in practice? One possibility is to restrain only those kinds of behavior that every individual (or every adult) in the community believes to be undesirable. But this would require unanimity for governmental actions and would thereby make government impossible.
A Preface to Democratic Theory (Expanded Edition) by Robert A. Dahl