A Preface to Democratic Theory (Expanded Edition) by Robert A. Dahl

By Robert A. Dahl

Robert Dahl’s Preface helped release democratic thought fifty years in the past as a brand new region of research in political technology, and it is still the normal advent to the sphere. Exploring difficulties that have been left unsolved by means of conventional notion on democracy, Dahl right here examines influential models—the Madisonian, which represents triumphing American doctrine, and its routine challenger, populist theory—arguing that they don't effectively painting how smooth democracies function. He then constructs a version extra in keeping with how modern democracies truly functionality, and, in doing so, develops a few unique perspectives of well known sovereignty and the yank constitutional approach.

For this fiftieth-anniversary variation, Dahl has written an intensive new afterword that reevaluates Madisonian thought in mild of modern learn. And in a brand new foreword, he displays again on his influential quantity and the methods his perspectives have developed given that he wrote it. For any pupil or student of political technology, this new fabric is a vital replace on a most useful within the evolving box of democratic concept.

“A Preface to Democratic idea is definitely definitely worth the dedicated cognizance of someone who cares approximately democracy.”—Political technological know-how Quarterly

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This view associated with the name of john C. \ seems to have become a fundamental element in the American ideology, and it is frequently defended in essentially Madison ian language. Copyrighted material JQ A PREFACE TO DEMOCRAT IC THEORY by which such an ingenious proposition could be satisfactorily established. •• Hence the net effect of Hypothesis 9 seems to be this: because majorities are likely to be unstable and t ransitory in a large and pluralistic society, they arc likely to be politically ineffective ; and herein lies the basic protection against their exploitation of minorities.

If we carry one aspect of Madison's argument to its logical limit, then, we can easily place him in the camp of the great antidemocratic theorists. But since ll-ladison recoiled from pushing his premises to their limits, it would be unfair, foolish, and pointless to force his argument so far. Moreover, whatever one may think about the desirability of one or another of the political systems proposed by these theorists, it seems to me that unless we wish to eliminate some very useful distinctions among political systems, we cannot regard these systems, centered on the goal of avoiding majority control, as democratic.

Let us suppose, then, that by "power" we mean to describe a more realistic relationship, such as A's capacity for acting in such a manner as to control B's responses. Then it is plain that "legislative, executive, and judiciary" by no means comprise all the power relations or control processes in a society. For example, electoral processes make it possible for some individuals to control others; certainly they assist non-leaders in controlling leaders. Hence it is not obvious that the mere accumulation of legislative, executive, and judicial power must lead to tyranny, in the sense of severe deprivation of rights.

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