Liberal democracy requires liberal-democratic culture. Does this statement tell us anything or is it empty words?In the essay I will ponder on the concept of liberal democracy and more specifically focus on the relationships between liberal democracy and culture. In order to discuss the possibility of existence of liberal-democratic culture in a liberal-democratic state, I will briefly overview the term of liberal democracy, then I will examine the meaning of liberal-democratic culture, and also I will observe relationships between society and culture in the modern democratic world.
At the end of the essay I will draw a conclusion on the following: does liberal-democratic culture really exist in contemporary democratic countries? The main purpose of the paper is to prove that although the statement “Liberal democracy requires liberal-democratic culture” seems to be logically true, it contains some inconsistencies that make it impossible in real life.The concept of liberal democracy contains two parts: liberal, which implies limiting power of the state over civil society; and democratic, with its higher goal of generating structures, which would secure popular mandate.
It is logic to assume that liberal-democratic governance implies some cultural values and ideas that must be developed and transferred from one generation to another by some liberal-democratic culture. Joseph H.
Carens (2000) in Justice as Evenhandedness asserts that “principles and institutions are not enough to sustain liberal democratic regimes. For liberal democracies to work properly and to endure over time, certain norms, attitudes, and dispositions must be widely shared among the population. Thus liberal democracies require a liberal democratic political culture.”So certain culture is necessary for to implant liberal values and to set the minds of people for understanding liberal realities.
This function can be successfully performed by mass media and education. For example, in America, many subjects of civic education have been included into school curricular. Also, the increasing number of schools have been adopting the approach of teaching democratically, in other words, an approach in which the power of students is extended and the role of a teacher is limited. Mark Mattern in Teaching Democratic Theory … Democratically (1996) maintains that democratization of the classroom is necessary to enable the development of democratic dispositions and skills.
He argues that “If students engage routinely in educational practices that teach passivity, difference to elites, acceptance of unaccountable authority, and power and comfort with undemocratic hierarchy, they internalize these traits and accept them as normal.” (p.1)However, in the case of teaching liberal-democratic culture at school, a question poses: can the introduction of liberal-democratic culture through compulsory education be viewed as a mere deprivation of a student’s liberty to choose? And to which extend the education should be dependant on the politics? In the case if any point of such dependence is revealed, can it be seen as a contradiction to liberals’ “freedom of private life from an interference of politics”?In the liberal democracy decision is made by majority. On the other hand, minorities always remain beyond the scope of community attention.
The liberal culture is therefore a mass culture. The freedom of an individual is respected, but individual himself is viewed too simply – as an isolated unit, monad. The collection of such monads is viewed as society by liberals. Liberals do not reckon many other social relationships, which turn an individual into identity.
This mistake causes multiple local and international conflicts.Under the liberal regime, mass culture is more valued than a culture of small groups. Specifically it concerns the phenomena of Americanization and Westernization. Global massive cultures are dominating over local ones.
It has been already a world-known issue that American culture impedes on that of Australia. The national identity of Australian aboriginals has been abandoned for the sake of American lifestyle, pop-culture, etc. In Australia the soap-operas or movies produced by Hollywood are more popular and widely-known than the production of the national film industry. As a result, poverty, lack of chances, illiteracy of national minorities have been less discussed by Australian society than the problems of American teenagers or the news broadcasted by American media.
In its turn, the power of marjory has created the problem of underrepresented minority. In New Zealand, Australia, North America, the administrative offices of the European Union regulatory organizations, universities, government bureaucracies, schools, trade unions, legal systems, professional associations, businesses, and churches are required to “solve the problem of underrepresentation” of women and cultural minorities. Moreover, many of these institutions are pressed to “explain why there are inequalities between white males and minorities and women in pay rates and educational achievement, and, for that matter, in almost every other aspect of life, including access to medical care, rates of incarceration, number of books published, number of computer hours logged, amount of exercise undertaken, and so on.” (Fonte, 1995).
These efforts made to solve the problem are considered to be the evidence of arising cultural democracy, which is supposed to come after the liberal one. (Fonte, 1995). Some political scientists suggest that liberal democracy can not longer fit the aspirations of people. The liberal majority-rule doctrine is becoming obsolete, because, according to Alvin Toffler, minorities are “often ignored or even victimized by a huge middle class,” and the majority rule “does not extend social justice; it may very well restrict it.
” (Toffler in Fonte, 1995).Also according to the postulates of liberal democracy, the point of view of masses or ordinary people must be taken in to consideration during the process of decision-making. Traditionally, the authority of political liberalism is grounded on the responsibilities and rights of individual citizens. The individual citizens under the liberal-democratic law are viewed as equal.
Therefore, the moral and legal authority is formed by a self-governing of free people. However, these principles and values remain empty words and are contradicted by the real state of things: the existence of the phenomena of social stratification and the ruling of elite. In real life the interests of small groups are being pursued when it comes to important matters in politics or economics (for example, the causes that unleashed war in Iraq; monopoly of global companies)Moreover, liberal democracy aims at the equality of individual citizenship, individual rights and freedom of expression, and security of private sphere from political interference. In the center of liberal democracy should be a respect for one’s national, ethnic, religious, cultural identity.
But can the liberal-democratic norms be successful in a society which is getting more and more culturally diverse? For instance, the three hundred speech codes used on the campuses in North America were aimed by liberal democrats to promote the freedom of expression. Instead they created a “hostile environment” in multicultural society, spread racism and sexism, weakened the power of the groups that had been oppressed before.On the whole, the arguments presented in the essay prove that liberal democratic culture fails to fulfill the ideas proclaimed by liberal-democratic doctrine. Does liberal democracy require liberal democratic culture? Yes, it does.
But the culture used in real life by liberal-democratic regimes is far from being liberal-democratic. It was found out that in many cases the culture that exists in many democratic societies is contradictory to the values set by liberal democrats. Moreover, liberal-democratic regime is no longer effective in the modern society, and its ideals, norms and values based on the works of the philosophers of Enlightenment need reconsideration bearing in mind the needs and the development of the modern society.Bibliography:Barry, B.
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