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The borders of democracy

In my first blog about democracy: "A (tricky) question about democracy", I claimed, a bit tricky, that there are issues on which we cannot, or should not, decide democratically. In my second blog about democracy, "Democracy and independence" I concluded that democracy in historical perspective is a relatively new phenomenon that is related to the growing independence of the individual and that democracy can and needs to be developed further.


Where could that take us?


First of all, if democracy wants to build on the independency and assertiveness of the individual citizen, this independency should be taken very seriously. And that means that democracy should not cover matters that restrict the independency of the individual. Whether I, as an individual, want to belong to one religion or the other, or to no religion at all, what school I want to send my children to, what doctor I want to visit when I´m sick, whether I´d prefer pop music above classical music or drama - these are all issues that I can and want to decide about for myself. That means for society as a whole, that education, science, art, religion etcetera should all take place within a ´free zone´ and everything that happens within this ‘zone’, cannot be democratically decided on. Education, art, religion, science and so on must be able to develop in freedom and as a citizen I must be able to make my own choices regarding everything that is developing in this free zone.


Then there is another area that is not eligible for democratic decision-making. That area is the 'inside' of the economy: what a company produces, how the production process in a company is organized, how raw materials or goods are distributed - these are examples of economical matters that should be decided about based on experience and expertise and not by democratic decision-making. This will add to a healthy economy in which labour, capital and raw materials are not wasted but used wisely.


So we can free democracy as we know it from its present miserable state by creating on one side a free zone for arts, culture, education, religion, science and so on. What happens in that zone is a matter that only concerns those who are directly involved. Democracy only needs to ensure that the freedom within this zone remains intact.


On the other hand, democracy stays outside the "inner" area of the economy, the matters that need to be decided on there, are to be answered by experts, not by individual citizens. Democracy, however, needs to monitor very closely the borders of the economy. Economical forces have the tendency, as we see all around us, to control and influence democracy and that is harmful for the assertiveness and independence of the individual.


Quite complicated eh?

We´ll get back to you on this.


John Hogervorst

May 2014

John  |  2014 05 29  |  Permalink  |  Share


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