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O P U S General Editors Keith Thomas Humanities J . S. Weiner Sciences

C. B. M A C P H E R S O N

he Lite and limes 01 Liberal Democracy^

Bogazici University Library

Oxford

New York

Toronto

Melbourne

O X F O R D U N I V E R S I T Y PRESS

Oxford University Press, Walton Street, Oxford oxaOXFORD TORONTO IBADAN LONDON GLASGOW NEW YORK CAPE TOWN MELBOURNE WELLINGTON LUSAKA TOKYO

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V

C . B. Macpherson 1977 First published 1977 as paperback and hardback simultaneously Paperback reprinted 1979

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, with out the prior permission of Oxford University Press. This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher's prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a simitar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

B r i t i s h L i b r a r y Cataloguing i n Publication Data

,.-*' pt^tfiSJ /^^Macpherson, Crawford Brough / ' \ 5 i ^ ~ ^ f f i , ^ "roes of'Iiberal democracy. / ^Democracyance

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Set in Great Britain by Gloucester Typesetting Co. Ltd. Printed in Great Britain by Lowe & Brydone Printers Limited, Thetford, Norfolk

Preface

Readers may wonder at the shortness of this book. 'The Life and Times', i n a title, usually signals a book ten times as long as this one. But no such length is required by m y design, w h i c h is to set out i n bold relief the essence of liberal democracy as i t now is conceived, and as i t has been and may be conceived. For this purpose brevity is better than exhaustive detail. I hope however that m y analysis is substantial enough both to estab lish the patterns I have found and to justify the criticism and praise from w h i c h I have seen no reason to abstain. Successive preliminary versions of this work have been pre sented for criticism i n several universities: the earliest, most tentative, version at the University of British Columbia, and subsequent versions, each profiting from earlier criticisms, at the Institute o f Advanced Studies of the Australian National University, the Institute o f Philosophy of Aarhus University, and the University of Toronto. Parts o f i t have also been pre sented and effectively criticized at several U n i t e d States uni versities and some other Canadian universities. Colleagues and students who took part i n the discussions i n all those countries w i l l recognize how m u c h I have benefited from their c r i t i cisms. Some w i l l wish I had benefited more. But I thank them ail.

University of Toronto 4 October igy6

CB.M.

BOGAZICt NiVERSITESi KTPHANESI

Contentspage i I 2 2 6 8 9 9 12 23 23 25 27 34 37 42

I

Models a n d Precursors T H E N A T U R E OF T H E I N Q U I R Y T H E USE OF M O D E L S (i) Why models ? (ii) (iii) Why historically successive models ? Why these models ?

PRECURSORS OF L I B E R A L D E M O C R A C Y (i) Democracy and class (ii) Pre-nineteenth-century theories as precursors II M o d e l i : Protective Democracy THE BREAK I N THE DEMOCRATIC TRADITION T H E U T I L I T A R I A N BASE B E N T H A M ' S ENDS OF L E G I S L A T I O N THE POLITICAL REQUIREMENT JAMES M I L L ' S SEESAW PROTECTIVE DEMOCRACY FOR MARKET MAN III

Model 2: Developmental Democracy 44 T H E E M E R G E N C E OF M O D E L 2 44 M O D E L 2 A : J . S. M I L L ' S D E V E L O P M E N T A L DEMOCRACY 50 T H E T A M I N G OF T H E D E M O C R A T I C FRANCHISE MODEL 2 B : TWENTIETH-CENTURY D E V E L O P M E N T A L DEMOCRACY 64 69

IV

Model 3 :

E q u i l i b r i u m Democracy

7777 2

THE ENTREPRENEURIAL MARKET ANALOGY T H E A D E Q U A C Y OF M O D E L 3

(i) Descriptive adequacy (ii) Explanatory adequacy (iii) Justificatory adequacyTHE FALTERING OF M O D E L 3

83 84 8491

V

Model 4:

Participatory Democracy

9393 94

T H E RISE OF T H E I D E A IS MORE P A R T I C I P A T I O N N O W POSSIBLE?

(i) The problem of size (ii) A vicious circle and possible loopholesM O D E L S OF P A R T I C I P A T O R Y DEMOCRACY

94 98I08

(i) Model 4A: an abstract first approximation (ii) Model 4B: a second approximationP A R T I C I P A T O R Y D E M O C R A C Y AS L I B E R A L DEMOCRACY?

108 112I I4

Further Reading Index

116 118

I

Models and Precursors

THE

N A T U R E OF T H E I N Q U I R Y

I t is not usual to embark on a 'Life and Times' u n t i l th sub ject's life is over. Is liberal democracy, then, to be considered so nearly finished that one may presume now to sketch its life and times? T h e short answer, prejudging the case I shall be putting, is: 'Yes', i f liberal democracy is taken to mean, as i t still very generally is, the democracy of a capitalist market society (no matter how modified that society appears to be by the rise o f the welfare state) ; but ' N o t necessarily' i f liberal democracy Is taken to mean, as J o h n Stuart M i l l and the ethical liberal-democrats who followed h i m i n the late nine teenth and early twentieth centuries took i t to mean, a society striving to ensure t h a t all its members are equallyTree to realize their capabilities. Unfortunately, liberal democracy can mean either. For 'liberal' can mean freedom of the stronger to do down the weaker by following market rules; or i t can mean equal effective freedom of all to use and develop their capaci ties. T h e latter freedom is inconsistent w i t h the former. T h e difficulty is that liberal democracy during most of its life so far (a life w h i c h , I shall argue, began only about a hun dred and fifty years ago even as a concept, and later as an actual institution) has tried to combine the t w o meanings. Its life began i n capitalist market societies, and from the begin ning i t accepted their basic unconscious assumption, w h i c h might be paraphrased ' M a r k e t maketh m a n ' . Yet quite early on, as early as J o h n Stuart M i l l i n the mid-nineteenth cen tury, i t pressed the claim o f equal i n d i v i d u a l rights to selfdevlpmrit, and justified itselflargely by that claim. T h e two

2

The Life

and Times of Liberal

Democracy

ideas of liberal democracy have since then been held together uneasily, each w i t h its ups and downs. So far, the market view has prevailed: 'liberal' has con sciously or unconsciously been assumed to mean 'capitalist'. This is true even though ethical liberals, f r o m M i l l on, tried to combine market freedom w i t h self-developmental freedom, and tried to subordinate the former to the latter. They failed, for reasons explored i n Chapter I I I . Here I am simply suggesting that a liberal position need not be taken to depend forever on an acceptance of capitalist assumptions, although historically i t has been so taken. T h e fact that liberal values grew u p i n capitalist market societies is not i n itself a reason why the central ethical principle of liberalismthe freedom o f the i n d i v i d u a l to realize his or her h u m a n capacitiesneed always be confined to such societies. O n the contrary, i t may be argued that the ethical principle, or, i f you prefer, the appetite for i n d i v i d u a l freedom, has out g r o w n its capitalist market envelope and can now live as well or better w i t h o u t i t , just as man's productive powers, which grew so enormously w i t h competitive capitalism, are not lost when capitalism abandons free competition or is replaced by some form o f socialism. I shall suggest that the continuance of anything that can pro perly be called liberal democracy depends on a downgrading o f the market assumptions and an upgrading of the equal right to self-development. I think there is some prospect of this happening. But i t is far f r o m certain that i t w i l l happen. So I have felt justified i n keeping the sombre title 'Life and Times'. M y m a i n concern i n this short work is to examine the limits and possibilities of liberal democracy. Let me explain now w h y I have done this i n terms of models, and why I have chosen certain models as appropriate and, sufficient. This w i l l lead into a consideration o f certain earlier models which I have relegated to the position of precursors of liberal democracy.T H E USE OF MODELS

(i) Why models ? I am using the t e r m 'model' i n a broad sense, to mean a

Models and Precursors

3

theoretical construction intended to exhibit and explain the real relations, underlying the appearances, between or w i t h i n the phenomena under study. I n the natural sciences, w h i c h are mostly concerned w i t h phenomena not variable by h u m a n w i l l or by social change, successive models (as those of Ptolemy, Copernicus, Newton, Einstein) are successively fuller and more sufficient explanations o f the real, invariant relations. I n the social sciences, concerned w i t h phenomena which, w i t h i n his torically shifting limits, are variable by human w i l l , models (or theories, as we may equally well call them) may have two additional dime