Oct. 11, 2014 at 10:30am with 2 notes
Parties are failing, in other words, as a result of a process of mutual withdrawal or abandonment, whereby citizens retreat into private life or more specialized and often ad hoc forms of representation, while party leaderships retreat into the institutions, drawing their terms of reference ever more readily from their roles as governors or public-office holders. Parties are failing because the zone of engagement - the traditional world of party democracy where citizens interacted with and felt a sense of attachment to their political leaders - is being evacuated.
Without parties, and still following Schattschneider, we are then left either with no real democracy and no real system of representative democracy, or with what is still called democracy, now redefined so as to downgrade or even exclude the popular component - since it is this component that depends so closely on party. Without parties, in other words, we are left with a stripped-down version of constitutional or Madisonian democracy; or we are left with other post-popular versions of democracy, such as Pettit’s republican polity, or those systems of modern governance that seek to combine ,stakeholder participation’ with ‘problem solving efficiency’. These are certainly not unthinkable forms of polity, but they are systems in which conventional popular democracy plays little or no significant role, and in which nether elections nor parties remain privileged.
The renewal of interest in democracy and its meanings at the intellectual and institutional levels is not intended to open up or reinvigorate democracy as such; the aim is rather to redefine democracy in such a way that it can more easily cope with, and adapt to the decline of popular interest and engagement. Far from being an answer to disengagement, the contemporary concern with renewing democracy is about coming to terms with it. In other words, what we see here is a wide-ranging attempt to define democracy’s in a way that does not require any substantial emphasis on popular sovereignty - at the extreme, the projection of a kind of democracy without the demos at the centre.
Far from seeking to encourage greater citizen participation, or trying to make democracy more meaningful for the ordinary citizen, many of the discussions of institutional reforms, on the one hand, and of the theory of democracy, on the other, seem to concur in favouring options that discourage mass engagement. This can be seen, for example, in the emphasis on stakeholder involvement rather than electoral participation that is to be found in discussions of both associative democracy and participatory governance, as well as in the emphasis on the sort of exclusive and reasoned debate that is the hallmark of deliberative and reflective models of democracy. In neither case is much real scope afforded to conventional modalities of mass democracy.
The age of party democracy has passed. Although the parties themselves remain, they have become so disconnected from the wider society, and pursue a form of competition that is so lacking in meaning, that they no longer seem capable in sustaining democracy in its present form.
Jul. 21, 2014 at 7:37pm
Inlander map of Australia (1922)

Inlander map of Australia (1922)

(Source: acms.sl.nsw.gov.au)

Jul. 12, 2014 at 10:08am with 4 notes
Map of Sydney (1853)

Map of Sydney (1853)

Jul. 11, 2014 at 11:07pm with 126 notes
Reblogged from noforeignmatter
There is a compelling case for thinking that something has gone badly wrong when we see ourselves as being ruled by unaccountable, supposedly apolitical experts, but the only prospect of rescue is afforded by populists who promise to hand power back to the people. The former give us identical policies everywhere and no politics; the latter, you might say, give us politics and no policies.
Jul. 5, 2014 at 7:44am with 46 notes
Reblogged from vintagetravelposters

Vintage Travel Poster - Cuba


Vintage Travel Poster - Cuba