S.S. Walker ssw11 at cus.cam.ac.uk
Tue Jun 13 03:15:49 MDT 1995

On Tue, 13 Jun 1995, Paul_Cockshott wrote:

> Justin, it depends on what you understand
> democracy to be. I take it in its original sense
> to be rule by the common people - who in the main
> are not rich. In that sense, was there ever
> democracy in the US. Was it not always a state
> in which the legislature and executive were
> in the hands of the rich. Have its special
> bodies of armed men not always protected the
> rich against the poor?
In the Greek formulation of democracy - governance is not by the "common
people" but by the "citizens" of the state. In the "democratic space" of
the polis, the rights and obligations of the citizen were far more
concrete than anything in operation now.

On the American Revolution : Hannah Arendt has some interesting comments
on the "Lost Treasure" of the revolution. She argues that it is precisely
the political "space" that precipitated the revolution - i.e. the meeting
houses in which the every-one could take part in their local politics -
that has been lost. Similarly, she argues that politcal theory, including
Marxism, has been negligent in the attention paid to the federal ideal,
which, she argues, has only been manifest for brief moments in history :
i.e. the initial self development of the soviets (before their apendage
to a party system), the german Rates (1917), and the Italian Factory
councils. While Arendt's Kantianism produces an untenable distinction
between public and private spheres, and while her attack on Marxism
ignores the various models of political and ideological practice offered
by Marx,she makes provocative reading.>

In any case, the discussion of "democracy" has to consider the sites in
which it can flourish - i.e. the sites which can be opened up to politcal
contestation. For those of you involved in the debate over "Radical
Democracy", I think this opening up of potential sites for politcal
action is the key drive, that and the connections that might be forged
between the various sites through the active construction of hegemonic


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