NEW FACES OF DEMOCRACY. IN SEARCHING OF THE GLOBAL HEALTH OF DEMOCRACY
One of the contemporary sages of political science, Norberto Bobbio, considered about four decades before the “pandemic pedagogy” that “Democracy is not enjoying the best of health in the world today, and indeed has never enjoyed it in the past, but nor does it have one foot in the grave.” He preferred to talk of transformation rather than of crisis, “because ‘crisis’ suggests an imminent collapse” and because the process of “becoming,” of transformation, is the natural state of the democratic system. The transformation of democracy have been put by Bobbio in terms of “broken promises” or in terms of “the gap between the ideal of democracy as it was conceived by its founding fathers and the reality of democracy as we have come to experience it, with varying degrees of participation.” He wisely pointed out that the broken promises—among which the survival of invisible power, the persistence of oligarchies, the suppression of mediating bodies, the renewed vigour in the representation of particular interests, the break-down of participation, the failure to educate citizens (or to educate them properly)—some were illusions from the outset, others were misplaced hopes, still others came up against unforeseen obstacles. Accordingly, instead of speaking of the “degeneration” of democracy, it is more appropriate to speak in terms of adapting abstract principles to reality, or of “the inevitable contamination of theory when it is forced to submit to the demands of practice.”
That illusions and temptations can endanger the path of democracy—that “both ordinary and exigent at once is far from easy to find”—Pierre Rosanval lon also warned, the first among temptations being considered that of giving up on the notion of popular sovereignty in favor of a minimalist and negative definition. “The triumph of negative democracy” and “the annihilation of the specter of a sovereignty that might fall into an implacable tyranny”—by “the sufficient ideal” of “the triple rule of the market, human rights and opinion,” consistent with Friedrich Hayek’s view on “no intermediate position between the spontaneous order of the market and totalitarian dictatorship,” and with the position on “the illegitimacy of any positive collective project”—“it does imply the end of a very long cycle of inherited representations of the political.”
On this background, not long after the triumph of democracy as a political regime in the post-cold era and its huge prestige among intellectuals and policymakers, “the theory and practice of democracy fell into disarray” given that in the United States “its practical implications for foreign policy have become disquieting and its institutional content at home has undergone massive shifts.” The value and importance of democracy has been “hollowed out or even perverted, made—as many think—into a cunning apology for imperial advancement,” under the conditions in which the theoretical introspection has been marked by “superannuated approaches.” After September 11, the favored approach of many political elites in Western democracies and in America has become an antiterroristic or “antitotalitarian” liberalism, strongly contested by intellectuals and activists “in the name of radical democracy.” Resonant with the historical anticommunism of the American liberalism and defined itself as foreign policy doctrine, the antitotalitarian liberalism has not been sustained in the academic world and in the antiglobalization movement, but generated beyond the dominant, populist alternative to it, a most popular “archaic” alternative—the revolutionary Marxism. The most plausible response to the contemporary antitotalitarianism—“a confused mélange of revolutionary Marxism, academic postmodernism, and nationalist third-worldism,” constituted after September 11, 2001, as “radical democratic and anti-imperial alternative”—has been considered as sharing with the antitotalitarian liberalism “it abhors a programmatic aphasia on the question of what it means to constitute and regulate a modern democracy.” Thus both approaches, antitotalitarianism and Marxism-postmodernism, propagate “the false belief that the problem of democracy was primarily one of identifying the proper enemy” (the antitotalitarianism by “externalizing the disarray” and “at times by fueling” the creation of democracy’ enemies). This ideological shift produced by antitotalitarianism—that also “works by negation”—and its alternative can be viewed as marking as well the end of a cycle of inherited representations of the political, especially those regarding the established paradigm of non-intervention in the internal affairs of states (replaced by the paradigm of humanitarian intervention to defend human rights, then to defend democracy).
In a different global register, the “the stormy zones” into which democracy has been led by COVID-19 pandemic “exceptional” restrictive measures, unprecedented in peacetime—the imposition of states of emergency (of danger, alarm or epidemic threat)—have been an excessive and disproportionate governmental and administrative overreach and a limitation of citizens’ rights, civil liberties and fundamental freedoms considered unparalleled since World War II. Under the conditions of a strong social polarization, fostered by social media and a widespread media disinformation, and of “grotesque levels of economic inequality,” democracies have lost the citizens’ trust in their institutional ability to respond to social demands and solve problems.
The implications of restrictive measures during the pandemic have been considered as only “accelerating and magnifying” the severe “democratic backsliding” (according to empirical evidence of IDEA’s 2021), especially last decade growing political trends towards “democratic erosion” (decline in democratic quality, even in established democracies), rising of civic apathy and absenteeism, growing erosion of the trust of citizens in their leaders and in democratic institutions; growing erosion of the trust in vote as the most visible and institutionalized form of citizenship. It has been estimated that these accelerated “democratic backsliding” constitute “an episode in a long process of mutation of our societies,” “which has been redefining the grounds for public authority, shining light on the pathologies of capitalism and the unsustainable social contract underpinning its twenty-first-century variant.”
This “grand acceleration” of our age also highlighted the obvious transformations in regard of: the globalization of politics, development of transnational political spaces and organizations, reconsideration “of the fundamentals of the social contract” within nations; the extension of the pattern sometimes called “extraordinary politics” in conditions of crisis which involves the suspense of some or all democratic norms, pro-corporate measures and policies and the persuasion of the population as respects the need to give up social protection and to sustain the financial private sector in order to avoid “economic apocalypse” of society8; the transformation of social media in the “epistemological,” non-institutional space of politics, in the “emotional” space in which populist and demagogic leaders “conduct the nation’s business on Twitter;” the intensification of “informational war” and “strategic communication” by sophisticated methods and techniques of manipulation/public communication, spreading fake news; triumph of technology and population surveillance; decline of culture and of political culture.
Under the conditions that society has become more complex and contemporary life more diversified and specialized, “numerous agencies outside our control—bureaucracies, technocracies, international corporations” or “invisible powers”—have grown, “invaded our everyday life in ways which no amount of parliamentary legislation can check adequately”9 and undermined democratic practices. The discovery of the limits of the political (its “the attrition” and “apparent dissolution or erasure”), “the feeling of a decline of sovereignty, the perception of a dissolution of the will,” the “rise in the power of the lawand the market,” the vagueness of the frontiers of government and administration frontiers, of management and politics, and the “dramatic reconsideration” of relationships between citizens and the state, essentially “remains a privileged way to understand democracy”10 in its “new faces.”
The valuable contributors in this issue dedicated to understanding democracy are professors and researchers from universities and research institutes in Poland, Romania, Russia, Nigeria, USA and Serbia. Their studies illustrate not only the current concerns in the research of democracy, but also different perspective on the development of the central themes of democracy, on the new influential theories of democracy—argumentative and normative—and also on the role of great political mutations and intellectual trends in reconfiguring the theory of democracy.
EPISTEMIC AND POLITICAL ISSUES OF DEMOCRACY
The gist of the debate between the deliberationist and participationist views of democracy is discussed by Professor Adam Chmielewski in his notable paper. In it are illustrated the theoretical and practical ailments of the present-day democracies and is questioned the possibility that “the deliberationist position, with its belief in epistemological or cognitive abilities as necessary legitimation to the exercise of political power, might save democracy from its deficiencies.” Two of the issues of paramount importance which undermine the ideal type of democracy, that the author refers to, are: the gist of the “free mandate” (Sieyès, 1789) in the system of representative democracy—the representatives not bound by a mandate from those who had elected them, but acting and deciding for the welfare of the whole society—that signifies, in Rousseau’s expression, that the moment the people exercised their power through their representatives, they deprive themselves of their freedom; the problem of the tyranny of the majority and of justifying the legitimacy of the controlling mechanisms over democracy. The highlighted practical implications of them are: the organization of elections by political regimes of various kinds, including even despotic regimes that intends to legitimize in this way their power; the anti-democratic actions (even the dismantling of democratic institutions) of some political forces having achieved electoral success that, prevailing of the popular vote, give these actions a democratic legitimacy (what Karl Popper named democracy paradox); the use of democratic mechanisms for various partisan purposes and the degeneration of socially accepted values; the social and economic exclusions of the voting rights or of the full civic rights; “the practical implementation of the view of the people as political patients rather than agents has done much to encourage the atrophy of individual and collective political agency;” the populism, that can transmute into authoritarianism. The author refers to the concept of interpassivity in order to illustrate one of the deeper processes which cause the crisis of democracy: the atrophy of individual subjectivity and agency of the citizens, the abdication of responsibility and of moral ability to cultivate civic virtues by themselves, the replacing of the their inner conscience by external formal control.
According to Professor Adam Chmielewski, “the transformation of civic interactivity into interpassivity, which is a form of alienation and is responsible for the present transformation of democracy into its own façade, seems inscribed in the very nature of representative democracy.” The attitude of withdrawal from political life and abandoning active participation in it is explained also as being caused by the “professionalization of politics,” the representatives considering that their democratic election is a “demonstration of their particular abilities and competence which predestine them for political decision-making” and that “those unsuccessful or uninterested in politics are immature and in need of their guidance.” The author considers that the modern political systems become rather systems of crowd management and have little to do with the normative ideal of democratic governance, in them the interpassive manner in which the people hand over their political agency to the elites and turns into a nonpolitical subject being accompanied by the depoliticization by political elites and their focalization on exploiting the political mechanisms to further their own private interests. The privatization politics and to the despotisation of politics in the conditions of depoliticization of the people is regarded as “the breeding ground for authoritarianism.”
The dilemma between participation and deliberation, which organizes a significant part of contemporary discourse in the theory of democracy, is considered “as a dilemma between pleonasm and oxymoron.” The term “participatory democracy” is a pleonasm since there is no popular rule without the participation of the people in government, while “deliberative democracy,” “especially in the cognitocratic sense” of the opposition between “the cognitarian elite and the ignorant masses” that bars the people from taking part in the exercise of power, “becomes an elitist negation of democracy.” Discussing the views of Richard Rorty and James Surowiecki and concluding that, including the proponents of mixed solutions which combine the emphasis on the epistemic qualifications and widest possible social participation in political power, “the proposed solutions to the dilemma between deliberation and participation tend strongly toward the elitist, deliberative, epistocratic or cognitocratic model,” the author presents several arguments against the elitist cognitocratic or epistocratic model of democracy. As such, “the compelling reasons against the tyranny of epistemological merit” (Sandel) are: the negative consequences of expertisation or even the professorization of politics, voluntary servitude and the servility which affects the objectivity of the experts’ expertise, the inequality in social and political status that determines “often and perhaps usually” the inequality in competence and expertise in such a way that “cognitocratic system turns out to be anti-democratic because it favours the perpetuation of the inequalities that gave rise to democratic systems, ” the ignoring of the extra-cognitive aspects of power, especially emotions in politics. A solution to the opposition between deliberation and participation, beyond those hybrid conciliatory solutions that “resemble attempts to combine deliberative water with participatory fire,” implies, according to Professor Adam Chmielewski, fostering political skill through “nurturing a sense of responsibility for the political community,” the adequate management of human emotions and the education of citizens of a democratic society.
In Professor Janusz Grygieńć’s provocative and prominent paper the opposition between “the cognitarian elite and the ignorant masses” is put in terms of “the relationship between experts and laypeople,” crucial for understanding the contemporary crisis of liberal democracy. The paper argues “the laypeople’s inevitable epistemic dependence on experts” under the conditions of an “epistemic asymmetries between them” and of “citizens’ epistemic deficits.” It also argues that “the concepts of interactional expertise and epistemic dependence explain why understanding between experts and laypeople is impossible” and that this impossibility of understanding “undermines liberalism’s unrealistic assumptions concerning citizens’ decision-making competence.” The whole approach of the paper is meant to infirm the hypothesis of liberal theorists and of the third generation of deliberative democrats: ordinary citizens would be able to have an informed dialogue with experts and one another, ask the right questions, understand the expertise supplied, avoid manipulation and be able to distinguish experts from pseudo-experts and facts from non-facts if they have created the optimal conditions for discussion and if would have enough time to absorb new information and deliberate. The creation (on a small scale), with the help of democratic innovations (DIs), “of spaces of informed, expertiseled discussion” where the “deliberative mini-publics (deliberative opinion polls, citizen panels or citizen juries) [‘small enclaves of deliberation’] … randomly selected, socially representative group of citizens is supposed to come to an informed opinion on a given issue by reading balanced background materials and talking to experts.” The “equally optimistic view of civic competence” of the fourth generation of deliberative democracy—deliberative systems—is “an epistemic division of labour” in which citizens set goals worth pursuing, politicians and experts implement them, and citizens evaluate their work. As such, in these two ways of framing deliberative democracy, misinformation, manipulation and populism can be overcome by creating conditions for access to accurate information, good deliberation (even if limited), or, “at the very least,” by explaining complex issues to the public in simple terms. In explaining complex issues by relating them to the experience of the average person, what Thomas Christiano named “overlapping understanding,” the role of interpreters could be played by politicians, journalists, intellectuals, science popularisers or representatives of NGOs. This “over-optimistic view” is considered easy to challenge “by invoking two additional concepts: that of interactional expertise and epistemic dependence.”
Interactional expertise (IE) (Harry Collins and Robert Evans) is defined as “ability to understand and take part in discussions with expert practitioners who are able to solve new problems in a given field,” the expertise in a particular area being able to be acquired through discussions with experts or through “linguistic socialization” (Harry Collins). “Linguistic socialization” or “pure IE” (in Rodrigo Ribeiro and Francisco Lima’s scheme of types of interactional expertise), along with the “passive” participation in a community of researchers or “special-IE” and “full immersion in research practice” or “typical-IE” are considered as “the only way of securing understanding between those who can solve practical problems and those who cannot, i.e. experts and laypeople,” it enabling and expanding a knowledge transfer. According to Professor Janusz Grygieńć, what differentiates experts from laypeople is “a bottomless epistemic chasm that cannot be bridged,” the only rational course of action” in these conditions being, as Hardwig suggests, the trust in an expert. As such, “a person who has no interactional expertise will never be able to understand an expert or judge the latter’s competence,” “will never be able to conclusively decide whether the expert is right or wrong, or telling the truth or lying,” “will always be epistemically dependent on the expert.” But “just talking to experts will not confer sufficient competence to settle scientific or technical controversies,” the more so as, as Laurel Gleason demonstrated, the norm within DIs is epistemic submissiveness to experts, seldom questioning the expert information provided to them, uncritical acceptance of experts claims, the lack of wish to problematize them and to compare them to alternative opinions, all these steaming “from the fact that laypeople lack the expertise necessary to challenge and understand expert recommendations.”
The author considers that the political implications of the concepts of interactional expertise and epistemic dependence are enormous, both undermining the optimistic picture of rational citizens acquiring decision-making competence by obtaining information from experts or other sources, and both dispel the notion that citizens can be epistemically autonomous and develop an informed perspective on any issue given the right tools. For deliberative systems, the implications of IE and epistemic dependence are problematic, they demonstrating “how powerless a citizen is when faced with experts,” the impossibility to achieve mutual understanding and the fact that “citizen’s chances of epistemic autonomy are negligible.” The author’s conclusion is that “DIs will not give citizens a better understanding of reality, but only make them accept as uncontroversial the positions presented to them by the experts.”
Professor Constantin Stoenescu’s paper represents a meritorious perspective on the social vulnerabilities of science revealed in the Covid-19 pandemic crisis and on the task for scientists and policy-makers to develop policies that may keep science trustworthy. Author’s thesis is that the regaining science’s authority and prestige depends on how science is communicated throughout society.
Attempting to answer the question “Are the sources of these vulnerabilities internal to science or they have sprung up from the social environment itself?,” the author develops his arguments starting from the finding that “the Covid-19 pandemic crisis marks as well as possible the transition from reliable science to robust science and the tension between the two.” In the standard epistemological model of science—based on the presuppositions that natural external world is real and objective, namely, independent of any mind, and that its properties do not depend on any observer, but can be known through impersonal observations—science is trustworthy or reliable if the criteria of logical consistency and empirical confirmation are met by any scientific theory, understood as a system of hypothetical-deductive structured statements, intersubjectively communicable and intersubjectively testable (being in this sense under the control of experience). Author specifies that, according to this model, science was conceived as a social institution with a certain normative structure guided by values such as universalism, collectivity, disinterestedness, and organized scepticism, that are the “pure” source of scientific practice and that ensure the subjective adherence of researchers to the methodology of science in the sense that they believe that only in this way can the goal of describing the world in terms of truth be achieved.
Starting with the New philosophy of science (represented by Thomas Kuhn, Paul Feyerabend or Stephen Toulmin) and The sociological turn in the historiography of science (with the “Strong programme” proposed by David Bloor and Barry Barnes) the standard view of knowledge production has been challenged by the argument that the so-called external social context influences the content of science and proves to be an epistemic factor. As a result, “the old paradigm of scientific discovery,” characterized by the hegemony of theoretical or experimental science and by the autonomy of scientists and their host institutions, the universities, was superseded by “a new paradigm of knowledge production”— “socially distributed, application-oriented, trans-disciplinary, and subject to multiple accountabilities.” If in “the old paradigm” scientists, isolated in the “ivory tower,” free from any social, economic and ideological constraints, have the profile of autonomous researchers, dedicated to the quest for truth and devoted to the values of the universality of science, in “the new paradigm” the research is directed from outside or context driven, in the sense that the urgency of research projects is determined by society, according to institutional rules and various interests, other than the purpose of discovering the truth. Thus, the author cites Gibbons for his rethinking of the relationship between science and society in terms of the social contract: “Under the prevailing contract between science and society, science has been expected to produce ‘reliable’ knowledge, provided merely that it communicates its discoveries to society. A new contract must now ensure that scientific knowledge is ‘socially robust,’ and that its production is seen by society to be both transparent and participative.” The idea of a “robust science” which is transparent and participative generates a new perspective on the burden of responsibility at the level of science as a social institution. Responsibility is no more individual, derived from the ethos of the scientific community and correlated with its normative structure, but “acquires an institutional character, and it is articulated with l’esprit de finesse not only by the so-called “invisible college” but also by the explicit bureaucratic and formal hierarchy of institutionalized science where some procedures are officially recognised at the level of scientific community and the bureaucratic network offer decisional positions and managerial roles for the members of society at large.” Professor Constantin Stoenescu considers that in this type of relationship between science and society can be “understand better why politicians and civil servants are trying to use the relationship between science and society to get useful innovations and technologies, why managers support research to maximize their profit, why managerial universities try to find in this relationship a legitimacy for their own activities.”
The author also highlights the challenging and changing of the so-called “heroic science” by the contemporary industrialized science and the “scientification of technology”, the increasingly strong interaction of science with the economic sector and the subjection of science “to a real assault, because society has some expectations from it and some economic and political interests prevail.” According to Professor Constantin Stoenescu, the pandemic crisis challenged the old principles of science policy and communication that enhance the efficiency and quality of science as a part of society, such that “openness and transparency are critical,” but “the careful communication of uncertainties and alternatives is necessary.”
Assistant Professor Irina Zhurbina realizes a “convincing portrait” of neoliberal democracy in order to demonstrate that, with its establishment, the democratic principle of equal rights turns into its opposite—a radical inequality between transnational elites and the local population, namely between the power of “pure” capital and the idea of “pure” life—and to explore the possibility of modern politics of activism to turn the democracy as the principle of equality. Regarded as the victory of the liberal tradition of individual rights and freedoms over the democratic tradition of popular sovereignty (Mouffe, 2000) and as corporatocracy, or as absolute dominance of the global economy (transnational corporations and global financial markets) over politics of nation state (Klein, 2007), the neoliberalism (as dictate of the global capital) “makes voters’ choice meaningless,” and deprives the citizens of the opportunity to democratically control the government and influence their decisions. As such, “neoliberal democracy,” as completely new version of non-political democracy, demonstrates the lack of a connection between democracy and politics.
The author considers heuristically significant the concepts which consider neoliberal democracy in terms of the limit of ideas about what is traditionally called “the power of the people:” “the end of liberal democracy” (Brown), “post-democracy” (Crouch), “the erosion of Western democracy” (Mair) and “the limit of liberal democracy” (Žižek). The method used is that of philosophical hermeneutics, in its hermeneutic circle of interpretation, neoliberal democracy being “the limiting concept, which brings back the questions of the future of democracy in the post-political world of the global economy, the questions asked by researchers more and more often, e.g. ‘Does democracy deserve to survive?’ (Lasch, 1996, 80–91), ‘Where do we go from here?’ (Crouch, 2004, 104), ‘How to maintain democracy in the face of people’s indifference to politics?’ (Mair, 2013), etc.”
The author specifies that, as a consequence of “the exhaustion of the political meaning of democracy,” researchers return to the original meaning of democracy, which is expressed by the word “equality” (Badiou, 2005, 78–95), case in which “democracy turns out to be a category of politics that arises from outside the state and the system of representation.”
Assistant Professor Irina Zhurbina points out that the equality postulated by democracy turns into an inequality of economic and political opportunities that transnational elites and the local population have. By “the excess of democracy” explanation are aimed the activities of transnational elites who adhere to Milton Friedman’s concept of radical capitalism and unfettered market freedom (Friedman, 2002): The undemocratic privatization of state property, the increase in the number of unemployed, the abolition of state control and the reduction of state spending on the social sphere, which leads to mass impoverishment of the people; the creation of a vicious circle of power including politicians, government members and their advisers, financiers, political technologists, representatives of the entertainment industry, by which the market dictates economic policy to an elected government, by which the government begins to behave like a wealthy capitalist, whose main function is to create favorable conditions for corporations, and corporations take over the functions of the government, and by which the politicians have unlimited opportunities for illicit enrichment. The author cites Michel Surya’s statement “dominance of capital is power without politics” in support of the idea that “the absence of politics becomes a guarantee that there will be no social revolution capable of redistributing the order of the world formed by global capital,” that the institutional elites are motivated not only to minimize the involvement of the people in political life and to reduce the involvement of politicians to the minim, but to eliminate democracy as a political institution, or to preserve “a democratic system without the demos at its center” (Mair, 2013) but with a form of power of a limited circle of persons: the rich, the knowledgeable and the worthy—expertocracy. Given that transnational corporations weaken traditional democratic institutions, the system of representative democracy is unable to represent or reflect the various opinions of the people, from here resulting “a weird gap between what people thought and how they acted (voted)” and the phenomenon of depoliticization of society, seen as “a consciously chosen strategy of state power under the influence of financial and corporate capital.”
On the other hand, as Assistant Professor Irina Zhurbina specifies that the lack of politics reinforces the regime of exploitation of wage workers, which favors the maximum reduction in the cost of labor and the increase in the length of the working day, “proletarianization” and “precariat.” A large part of the work concerns “post-democracy:” the simulation of people’s involvement in the system of democratic representation, considered as compensation for the real lack of democracy, and “politics of equality: projects to renew the concept of ‘democracy’.”
Senior Researcher Gabriela Tănăsescu’s paper aims to analyze what it currently stands for the electoral-procedural legitimacy as a paradigm of democracy. The assumption of her paper is that the paradigm of electoral-procedural legitimation lost its explanatory supremacy in favor of models that put in value the important changes occurring in the contemporary political society. Pierre Rosanvallon’s analytical model of interpreting “the revolution in the conception of legitimacy,” determined by the “decentralization of democracy” and the manifestation of new forms and sources of legitimation, is examined in order to analyse the causes he identified as leading to the decline of the proceduralelectoral legitimacy paradigm, as explanatory paradigm, and to the increase in importance of substantial legitimacy and moral legitimacy. The author preceded this examination by a reference to the model and reality of electoral legitimacy and to the role of the procedural system. “The essential principle of the functioning of the parliamentary system,” defined by Bobbio as “the separation between the representative and the represented” by the provision that the representatives were forbidden to accept any binding mandate (“imperative mandate”) from their constituents, but from the whole nation—formulated by Sartori as “elections do not enact policies; elections establish, rather, who will enact them. Elections do not decide issues; they decide, rather, who will decide issues”—and pointed out by Rosanvallon as “elections now have a more restricted function: they validate a mode of designation. They no longer establish a priori the legitimacy of policies that will be carried out in the future”—is considered as relevant in order to indicate the profile of electoral democracy as democracy of designation. Also relevant is considered that, as Rosanvallon pointed out, in the current conditions, in which supremacy or predominance of governing in relation to representation is widely observed, the direct popular election of the head of executive “amounts merely to establishing a democracy of authorization, a democracy that grants permission to govern.” “The essential point,” in relation to the role of elections in the designation of representatives and in the authorization of governors, is that the election may be considered in general an adequate means of determining the relationship between representatives and constituents, but not in the case of the relationship between governors and governed. As such, as Rosanvallon highlighted, the popular designation of a representative has consisted in principle in expressing an identity and in transmitting a mandate, so that “election […] establishes a representative’s intrinsic status and his functional role,” but, by contrast, the election of a governor, because only legitimize his institutional position, without conferring any distinctive status or quality on him, has an inferior democratic value.
The author emphasizes the value of Rosanvallon’s solution designed in order to avoid a “pathology” specific to the 21st century, namely the identification of the democratic governance with the simple procedure of authorization—the extension of the democracy of authorization by means of a permanent democracy, by mechanisms of vigilance and oversight promoted by community activists and people in many areas of civil society in order to obtain a greater transparency, “the construction of a networked democracy” or “the practice of open government.” Legibility, responsibility, responsiveness are considered the three paramount principles that ought to regulate the behavior of governors toward governed and that outline the democracy of appropriation or the permanent democracy, namely citizens’ involvement in the exercise of democratic functions and duties, in own name and in a deeply decentralized manner, in order to create “a bond of mutual confidence between governors and governed that a democracy of trust requires.” The nodal point of Rosanvallon’s original conception is considered to be the thesis that a political type of legitimacy can be recognized to “the indirect ‘powers’,” morally and substantively legitimized, in so far as they have quality or a “form of generality.”
The second part of the paper comprises an analysis of the “metamorphoses of democratic legitimacy” and the effect of the “decentralization of democracy” that has been mainly a diminution of the role of the electoral process and a counteracting of his decline through new forms of political “investment.”
CITIZENSHIP, HUMAN DIGNITY, RESPONSIBILITY—ACTUAL AND VIRTUAL
The cardinal values of democracy discussed in this section relate to both the theory and reality of actual democracies and the reality of virtual democracies.
Senior Researcher Lorena Valeria Stuparu proposes in her paper a conceptual approach of the joining individual political identity/citizenship and participatory political culture in an attempt to “explore their comprehensive potential, regarding the foundation of any democratic regime, namely the rule of law, civil society, a civilized global political world in which each individual can find his dignity.” As such, the paper realizes a thorough analysis of the citizenship and political identity; of identity, human dignity and the rule of law (as “medium term”); and of participative political culture. “Identity” is understood as a concept that presupposes a dialogical recognition of the other or as a relational concept. This approach, according to senior researcher Lorena Valeria Stuparu, has the advantage of highlighting a concept of identification in the sense that individuals recognize in each other attributes or properties that are interpreted as identical or at least similar, these properties, then, being used as an index of individual position and disposition. The citizen’s identity is defined also as a “relational concept that expresses the fact of specific and unique characteristics based on options rather than inheritances, a conceptual construct that, beyond the biological, psychological, social, civil and civic aspects, refers to the recognition criteria at the scale of a local, national or international community.” The individual’s citizen identity is understood as consisting in the internalization of the founding values of democracy and the externalization through attitudes and behaviors. The increasingly obvious public dimension of the identity of individual as the citizen is considered as pragmatically reaffirming in “every society or community, throughout the game between human dignity and political power.” From the perspective of group markers, the highlighted (Isis, Wood, 1999, 20) difference between citizenship and identity is that while citizenship “carries legal weight,” the identity “carries social and cultural weight.”
Following George Schöpflin, the author emphasizes that identity takes shape through the synthesis of all types of “collective human activity,” in the political area the four significant processes of identity formation being: the “increase in complexity and intensity” of the modern state, the “network of associations” and the activities of civil society, “ethnicity” and “the importance given to the international dimension.
According to the author, the right to identity in all its forms, including political identity, is related to human dignity, a complex notion in a strictly legal sense, but one that belongs to the philosophical attitude towards existence and its junction with other values is defining for the attributes of the contemporary state in terms of the relationship with the citizen. The originality of conceiving the rule of law, political identity and dignity relationship can be illustrated by the author’s idea that “it is obvious that beyond the civic-political and economic-social values that are the basis of the rule of law, its political identity is also defined by the respect for the value of dignity that citizens opt for, projecting their own identity. Therefore, human dignity is measured not only in its recognition and in the rights that derive from this principle, but also in the feeling and fulfilment of human and citizen duties.” Also noteworthy is the idea that “the modern conception of what it means to be a citizen is inextricably linked to the rule of law, but also to the trust in man, based on the universal recognition of his dignity.”
The author approaches also a series of concepts considered relevant for the participatory status of citizenship: functional democratic regime, political culture, civic culture and participatory political culture, civic participation, civic knowledge, indifference and absenteeism, associational life of communities, vitality of civil society, in order to sustain that “citizen participation in community life is an indicator of a strong, deliberative, direct democracy,” possible in the conditions of civic knowledge, which “promotes support for democratic institutions and values, builds trust in government and elected officials, and contributes to greater civic involvement in important areas including voting and volunteering.” The conclusion of this original approach is that “the concepts of citizenship, identity, political culture, respect for human dignity by ensuring rights are operational in conditions where the possibilities of civic participation and public affirmation are in principle more and more favourable (affirmed and legally enshrined), and the individual is more and more tempted to discover his own identity, projecting it in the sphere of culture whose tangents with the political are realized in the name of transpolitical values.”
The examination of the concept of human dignity and the assessment of its potential as a fundamental value for contemporary democracies is the main aim of Professor Maria Sinaci’s paper. Its argument is that the recent global challenges call for a new momentum for the debates on the concept and reality of human dignity. As such, the paper comprises a conceptual analysis of human dignity, following two essential coordinates of democracy, the political and the ethical approach, preceded by a brief historical outline of the evolution of the term and concept, from Roman dignitas and Cicero’s approach based on high social status in the community and the attribute of all human beings on account of their inherent capacity for reason, Thomas Aquinas’ God-given dignity and dignity as intrinsic value of someone occupying its rightful place within God’s creation, passing through Pico della Mirandola’s dignity as linked to human beings intrinsic potential and their capacity for self-determination, Francis Bacon’s dignity as “the pleasure and delight of knowledge and learning,” Pascal’s “All the dignity of man consists in thought,” Enlightenment’s connection of dignity to a legal underpinning, Kant’s rooted dignity in a moral law, up to the post-1848 attempts to connect the concept of dignity to the history of human rights, the conceptual turn around the year 1919, when the International Labour Organization of the League of Nations was created, and 1948 proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The author specifies that, starting from the assertion of “the inherent dignity” that makes possible “the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family” as “the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world”—in The Preamble of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966)—a definition of human dignity can be regarded as a foundational argument for human rights, and that it can act as a bridge towards other major areas of research and practice.
For example of placing the concept of human dignity in political terms in a democratic context there is evoked in a remarkable manner Jürgen Habermas—“human dignity” as constitutive for a democratic legal order, namely, just those rights that the citizens of a political community must grant themselves if they are to be able to respect one another as members of a voluntary association of free and equal persons. The author also refers to John Rawls and his conception of “overlapping consensus” that enable to incorporate both universality and particularism into the concept of human dignity (similar to Joshua Cohen’s “justificatory minimalism”). Besides Hannah Arendt is referred to, in a different line of thought, for addressing the concept of dignity from the perspective of the notion of rights implicitly shared only by the members of a community, but also by those individuals who do not belong to a political community—“a right to have rights,” “a right to belong to some kind of organized community” that, in contrast to the “so-called Rights of Man,” man’s basic right, is “the one right without which no other can materialize.”
From an ethical perspective on democracy, Kant is considered “an unmissable source” and his conception, essentialised in the categorical imperative, as being extended and applied in various ways. Analysing the human dignity in connection to democracy and human rights, Professor Maria Sinaci specifies that “the central element of novelty brought forward by modernity is the recognition and affirmation of the principle of equality for all human beings, secured in international documents, which also has consequences in the legal sphere and shapes the juridical relationships between people and governments.” Thus, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that codified human dignity and transformed the concept into a juridical one, is considered as ushering a new stage in the evolution of democracy: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” Other documents relevant for resting on on the value of respect for human dignity analysed in the paper are Treaty on the European Union, Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The author considers that, given the nature of the link between human dignity and democracy and the essential role of dignity for the recognition of human rights, one of the most significant paradigm shifts of the 20th century could be regarded “the mere recognition of the equality of individuals as bearers of digni ty, a type of recognition that generated important legal consequences.” She cites Sandkühler for his claim that human dignity is an intrinsic condition of democracy and Peter Häberle for his view that human dignity does not simply represent a condition of democracy, but that democracy is an “organisational consequence of human dignity,” but also Dahl, Mill, Michels for their distinctions concerning the ways in which the modern democracies share instruments and procedures that make dignity achievable. The paper also analysis the global challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic that triggered many changes and highlighted new faces of democracy and respect for human dignity.
Senior Researcher Henrieta Șerban introduces into discussion on democracy “the digital democracy,” “the virtual demos” and “the digital togetherness” in order to identify, describe and assess the main implications of the political virtual actions, attitudes and participation of the virtual demos in the emerging digital democracy. The assumption of this approach is that the civic actions pursuing the good and generous causes animating public interest are among the main positive aspects of virtual demos and digital democracy. “Virtual demos,” that sends to the online “we, the people” undertaking socio-political action in this other realm, is, in author’s specification, “a chosen descriptive name for the democratic demos that makes a significant online difference,” its “so lively online” emergence being coextensive, paradoxically, to either “fragile or declining” “democratic online and offline contexts sustained by the democratic systems.” Since it relates to “the possible” and “the potentiality” as dimensions of reality and especially since it is at times actual in its consequences, as the author specifies, the virtual demos is a notion not perfectly opposable to the traditional demos, but a part of the democratic demos, of the same socio-political reality, being also elusive, fluid, shape shifting and less predictable.
It is worth investigating as one of the key aspects pertaining to digital democracy and especially to determine if it “really succeed to fulfil a corrective democratic function, in what concerns the offline problematic democratic realities.” An illustration of a dangerous phenomenon, welcomed by the online and offline demos, of an “alarming twilight of democracy” in which “twitter proved to be a cunning educator about the power of voice and dividing message about hatred for enemies over rights, legitimacy, reasonability and decency,” is, in David Frum’s term, “Trumpocracy,” the phenomenon of a “strong, popular and vocal leaders [that] can render the strong, impersonal, and accountable political institutions of democracy, either secondary or less inefficient (or worse, irrele vant).” Boosted by the fertile environment of online media, importance of Presidency—“creating a reality where all the hopes and resolutions, as well as the [solving] the main problems […] attached to the person of the president”— surpassed “the roles and the importance of the institutions, the rule of law and the check and balance mechanisms.” Furthermore, the “Trumpocalypse,” also in David Frum’s term, has illustrated the power of tweetstorms when they meet the strong will to erect an autocracy manipulating weakness, hate, envy and mean strikes; has illustrated a context in which “the people” “felt noted, nourished and cultivated via their daily tweets from the president” and “a reality further apart from republicanism and democracy than ever before in the USA, characterised by the infusion of pseudo-information and the normalization of cruelty, by corruption via the weakening of the administrative state, as a costly bargain for deregulation and the reduction of taxes.”
Among the findings of the senior researcher Henrieta Șerban’s dynamic study, that valorizes Berg and Hofmann’s as well as Adams and Prins’ studies, is situated the idea that the online situation brings together causes that are beneficial for democracy—mobilization for civic action and voting, activism and encouragement, petitions for good social, political and humanitarian causes, engagement for such causes, creativity in seeing them through—and that “they co-exist in the vastity of the online realm with their opposites in the name of the human need for socialization, communication, togetherness, association and freedom of expression—all, fundamentally positive things.” The author seeks to explore particularly nuanced the new types of engagement and influencing representative institutions specific to “digital democracy,” not only emancipatory ones, but also manipulative or anti-democratic ones.
Professor Columbus N. Ogbujah and Lecturers Charles Berebon and Nympha Nkama propose a paper that “foray into the responsibility of social media in what concerns truth, reason and democracy,” examining the context in which the exponential growth of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. has revolutionized the media industry, giving to an enormous number of people the opportunity to communicate, network, and advertise their businesses, but in which, at the same time, leveraging on the complexity of formulating regulating laws concerning the information to be released to the public, the social media has circumvents most existing norms, “leading to abuse of public trust, credibility deficit and crisis of confidence.” The paper starts from the dynamic environment of social media and the ease with which the platforms provide solution to communication problems, as a result of a huge research investment in the last two decades, and also from the lack of a balanced accuracy, verification and validation system that makes possible the release of unfiltered and erroneous information leading to a variety of dangerous situations. The serious ethical concerns generated by this reality constitutes the general focus of the paper, it subsuming the issues of social media sincerity and accuracy that elicit trust; the relation emotional-rational in social media language; the issue of proper norms to apply to social media, given their potential for fake news and for misguiding voters; the role(s) of social media in the democratic process; the issue of responsible use of social media in order to best serve the interests of the general public.
The work includes a remarkable presentation of “the phenomenal growth of social media in the 21st century,” evoking some the most important sequences of social media revolution, followed by an assessment of the current social me dia practice vis-à-vis the traditional media that, using the analytic method, highlights the gray areas that precipitate abuse. Special attention is drawn to the users that, fabricating profiles by using pictures got from various search engines or plagiarized from others and thus hidden under fake accounts, perpetuate without being detected or punished different kinds of crimes, including hate speech, violence, “fake news”, etc., by which can be ruined individual lives, can be created divisive tendencies and ignite conflict between groups, can be elicit fear and panic and havoc of psychological instability (Infordemic), can exacerbate the lewd behavior and the culture of violence in society. Besides, public’s growing mistrust in social media is explained by titillating, salacious, and shallow character of journalism, because of the poor “quality and content of information (professional incompetence); disregard for the law, people’s rights, and freedoms; a lack of fairness and balance; a lack of independence and conflict of interest; offensive and/or sensational publications; dishonest business practices; and a lack of journalistic rigor are shackles to ethical use of the social media.” The authors believe that under these conditions there is an urgent need of reassessing the ethical standards and procedures to ensure that they apply and are enforced both on traditional and social media institutions.
Authors’ plea for the strict adherence of media to the ethics of responsibility, fairness, truthfulness, accountability and universal democratic values is based on the idea that the concepts of truth, reason and democracy have to be considered together, “since they coalesce and reinforce one another for human and social growth:” “truth has to be rational and reasonable, democratic structures cannot survive in falsehood; they need truth and reason to thrive.” Promoting these values is considered as necessary in order to establish social media as “a mirror to society by reflecting the harsh and stark truths of life,” as a tool for public education, public opinion sharpening and societal transformation.
DEMOCRACY AND THE FACES OF RACISM
Two of the “faces” or manifestations of racism, less discussed in political theory, are presented in this section: racism of democracy and banking racism. Lecturer Ekaterina Churashova proposes an outline for studying the problem of dominance of some states over others in international communications starting from the hypothesis that “one of the reasons for the inequality of states is hegemony of democracy” or that, since “democracy has defined the dominant political race in the last decade,” the “states that do not belong to this ‘higher’ race are recognized as inferior, dangerous for the countries of the ‘democratic race’.” Calling this phenomenon “political racism,” the author essentializes it as transformation of democracy from “the power of people” to “the power of manipulation,” as usage of the rhetoric on democracy for manipulation, and as usage of the “struggle for democracy” like “legitimate excuse for aggression.” As such, this kind of political racism in which nations called “undemocratic” lose a right of development and existence and some nations (“democratic”) dominate over other ones (“undemocratic”) is considered as becoming “the modern face of democracy.”
The author explains political racism referring to Teun A. van Dijk’s theory of dominance in language and communication, to his definition of racism as a system consisting of social and cognitive subsystems and to his definition of domination as “a concept that assumes a negative dimension of inequality, injustice and inequality, that is, all forms of illegitimate actions and situations,” while using elements of the method of critical discourse analysis to identify the political dominance of democracy over other regimes.
The thesis of Ekaterina Churashova’s paper is that the power of dominant “democratic” states or the hegemony of democracy was asserted with the help of rules, norms, habits formed through media discourse, with the help of international legislation and supranational organizations (the ECHR, the Hague Court) and senior officials who interact in accordance with institutional norms and rules, by having control over public discourse and communication that affirm “democracy as a sacred concept,” its untouchability and its authority beyond any doubt, and by defining the disagreement with this concept or noncompliance with “democratic norms” as a threat to humanity.
The discrimination of undemocratic regimes is illustrated in politics and in almost all spheres of international activity: economy and trade (economic sanctions exclusively imposed on states like Russia, Belarus, Iraq, Yemen, Iran, China, North Korea, Cuba, Libya, Syria, or countries sympathetic to them), sport (the boycott of the Olympic Games in Sochi, the prohibition on the use of the national flag and the anthem of Russia at international competitions), medical international organizations decisions (World Health Organization’s notapproval of the vaccine against Covid-19 “Sputnik-V” distribution in the EU), UN (“proposals to exclude Russia from the permanent members of the UN Security Council and to include Germany in their composition” that “are putting at risk a possibility of dialogue between the conflicting states, and create a threat of complete exclusion of ‘undemocratic’ regimes from the international legal field”), culture and science.
In Ekaterina Churashova’s view, the concept of “undemocraticity,” as well as the accusations of human rights violations, illegitimacy, and authoritarianism are used to form the idea of existence of a “lower political race”—insolvent, harmful and inferior—and the stigma that allows the nations of the “higher race” to use any violent methods, up to the destruction of the opposing state itself. This attitude is considered as bringing “the world very close to the situation that was on the eve of World War II, when Germany proclaimed the dominance of the Aryan race over all others, and a number of ethnic groups (Jews, Slavs) were sentenced to complete or partial destruction.” This paper of maximum interest also presents “several signs of fascism in modern democracy,” namely: “(1) The ideology and practice of democracy affirm its superiority and exclusivity over other types of state system. (2) ‘Democratic’ nations incite intolerance towards other ‘political races’ (demonization of North Korea, Iran, Syria, Russia, China). (3) Establishment of the cult of the leader. This role in this case, obviously, belongs to the United States. (4) Violence and terror are used against dissenting states (the destruction of Iraq, Libya, an attempt to overthrow the regime in Syria, the bombing of Yugoslavia, etc.). (5) Justification of war as a means of solving foreign policy problems.”
Professor Earnest N. Bracey’s paper also marks a contribution of maximum interest to the analysis of racial inequities in American banking, “racial disparities and flat-out discrimination” regarding “banking credit and providing business, home, and personal loans to Black banking clientele,” difficulties and failures of Black banks and financial institutions. The paper, highly nuanced, actually seeks to formulate answers to the questions: “Indeed, why were banking and lending disparities structured along racial lines? Or did racial discrimination play a significant part in Blacks not getting home and business loans?” To outline the answer regarding the extent to which “traditional white banks racially and financially discriminate against African Americans, living in Black communities” (or whether “is this financial/banking apartheid”), the author explains “the significance of banking and employment in black communities:” African Americans continually trouble securing personal home loans from traditional white-owned banks (biased even against those Black, upper-middle class professionals with substantial incomes, such that Black families in Las Vegas were denied loans 50 percent more often than white families with the same income, cf. Bowers, 1996, 34); payments of significantly higher mortgage interest rates than comparable white borrowers, when Black homebuyers are able to secure a loan; assessment of homes from in Black districts or Black communities as “more crowded and dilapidated, and less valuable and secure, than other abodes in [a given] metropolis;” the federal housing policy called “redlining” that kept Blacks (for 35 years) from obtaining mortgages in many [white] neighborhoods, including new and growing suburbs (cf. “Closing Racial,” 2021, 7A); the lack of employment opportunities of African Americans (in 1983, the unemployment rate of Blacks in Las Vegas was higher than white unemployment by 50 percent, cf. “Black Pride”) and, accordingly, their serious financial troubles (according to the 2019 Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances, the white families on average are eight times wealthier than black families). The “wealth gap between blacks and whites” is explained as “the direct result of 246 years of [Black] slavery, the federal government’s failure to uphold promises for reparations made as slavery ended, and 77 years of Jim Crow laws that subjugated and segregated Blacks from the mainstreams of [financial] education and employment … [and banking]” (“Closing Racial,” 2021, 7A), “and on-going white supremacist policies.”
The author punctuates the many ways in which African Americans “have been sidelined in the financial, banking industry conversation” because of racial discrimination and the “employment discrimination that actually does and did exist in the United States” and that is coextensive with the banking discrimination. Professor Earnest N. Bracey presents “the rise of black financial institutions” as a consequence of this situation, the creation of Black, Westside Federal Credit Union in 1951, in Las Vegas, before the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and racial integration, meaning the possibility of providing funds “to aid black economic development” without high banking fees. This institution, together with Black banks, credit unions, and other Black financial institutions is presented as filling “a financial and economic void in predominantly depressed, low-income areas, particularly when it came to consumer loans, which assisted Black businesses secure necessary funds, to stay afloat,” always putting “consumer financial health at the center of their business” model (Walster, 2022, 4), without taking financial risk. The failure of Black banks and financial institutions, including Westside Federal Credit Union for African Americans in Las Vegas as a consequence of dwindling financial resources, a lack of funds, and lack of support from the white, financial powers-that-be, constitutes the third part of Professor Earnest N. Bracey’s paper that insists on the causes of their failure, on the lack of financial education of some Black people, but also on the Black banks and financial institutions’ survivability and “financial mettle” in order to “make more revenue, or substantial financial gains, by having more banking customers or patrons so that their monetary investments can take hold, or feed the hungry ‘banking beast’.”
DEMOCRACY IN NATIONAL OR REGIONAL MANIFESTATIONS
The examination of democratic development trends in the countries of the South Caucasus Region, as the Academician Professor Slobodan Nešković realized it, concerns the three independent states: Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, located in the environs of large nations and historically once powerful empires, and today great powers (Russia) and regional powers (Turkey and Iran), marked by “traded contradictions,” ethnic and territorial disputes between Armenia and Azerbaijan (especially in Nagorno-Karabakh province) and along the borders of Iran and Turkey and “connected or burdened” “additionally” by the war separation of parts of South Caucasus Georgia: Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Actually a “buffer zone,” it is seen by Russia in its “enhanced function” as forming an independent area with great strategic role, especially Georgia and Azerbaijan, “according to the influence of the United States and the European Union, and above all the NATO,” by Turkey as an area with which it has to maintain good relations in order to maintain and strengthen ties with the population of Turkish origin, and by Iran as an area, especially Azerbaijan, with which seeks to pre serve and strengthen ties because the majority of the Azeri Shiite orientation of the Islamic religion.
Professor Slobodan Nešković’s geopolitical contextualization is completed by an economic contextualization, the emergence and deepening of the global economic crisis, with implications for the functioning of international financial institutions (IMF, World Bank and other global and regional financial institutions) and financial markets, being presented as needing their reformation or reorganization and “a new global financial architecture, trade and general economic structure.” Thus, the thesis that the democratic development processes in the countries of the South Caucasus Region are threatened by permanent conflicts, frozen conflict phenomenon (as a result of multi-level controversies, territorial misunderstandings and inter-ethnic contradictions), and crisis geopolitical trends (as a result of several-year confrontations of great powers in the area), and that they are marked by “the traditional attempt by Western hegemony to master” these spaces, is completed by the thesis that the democratic development processes are threatened also by the phenomena of the economic crisis, having the pandemic as the peak, and by the radically changed way of functioning in all spheres of human existence. For that matter, within the analysis of the implications of the global crisis and Covid-19 the author makes a series of remarks regarding the own path that the Serbian state has chosen both in economic (and in attracting foreign investments) and political terms and regarding “the art of conducting the foreign policy of small countries.”
The many obstacles related to the complexity of cultural and civilization phenomena, ethnic differences and contradictions, as Professor Slobodan Nešković specifies, stand in the way of self-sustaining economic development, despite the richness in resources and the natural conditions of economic prosperity. The author presents the political systems of the three South Caucasian states, their systems of parties, membership in international organizations, qualifiers in the measurements of democratization degree and their positioning as elements of link between the two continents, Europe and Asia, in ethnic, political, economic and cultural terms.
The contemporary migration generated by the constant increase of socioeconomic inequalities is presented by Professor Anastazija Tanja Đelić as central problem in the present current of globalization and democratization processes with reference to Serbia and the Balkans. The paper examines the migration faced by the whole of Europe, implicitly Serbia and the countries in the so-called Balkan route, through the prism of “a great and serious contradictory dilemma of choice between: the freedom of global movement of people, goods and capital, which is considered to be an advanced democratic practice, and the restriction of the waves of economic migrants and (false) refugees and asylum seekers from the central Eurasia, whose freedom of movement is being limited because they are allegedly threatening the interests of European states, which is contrary to democratic developments.”
Since for Serbia the accession to the European Union is a strategic commitment which implies the acceptance of the adopted European values and standards in a whole range of areas, including migration, the paper follows the process of fulfilling the necessary conditions for regulating strategically, legally and institutionally the migration, the attitude towards migrants that tests the functioning of the proclaimed values and objectives of the EU, as well as the effective management of ethnic and national diversity through interculturalism, or integrative multiculturalism. As such, it indicates how the conditions for the quality, dignified and safe life of refugees and migrants in the Republic of Serbia were actively created, how they were actively assisted in their return to their place of origin, in the terms of Serbia’s commitment to find sustainable solutions for refugees, while respecting the right of each individual to free choice.
The principles followed for solving the issue of refugee specified in the paper are: respect for human rights; respecting the human dignity of every individual; informed and voluntary decisions; partnership of all relevant actors; the availability of rights and services on an equal footing for all; welfare of refugees; active participation of refugees in finding the best solutions. One of the significant observations formulated in Professor Anastazija Tanja Đelić’s comprehensive analysis is that, beyond the harmonization of its legislative and administrative framework with the enlarged EU acquis in the field of migration and its refugee policy—as part of “the transformation of the state and society in the direction of strengthening democratic institutions, the rule of law, freedom of the media and developed human rights and freedoms,” for which “Serbia has been positively presented in the West—for the first time in the last 25 years”— it is “much more important for Serbia’s citizens to see that their attitude towards migrants and refugees is a part of essential changes in society, rather than a smart response to the crisis.” The author points out that Serbian citizens’ empathy or “just humanity” for migrants and refugees is born from their “experienced escape and expulsion” in the 1990s (“bad experience in our past”), from their “personal stories” that “led Serbia to be the only state in the Balkans to receive migrants without any problems in its territory.”
Professor Anastazija Tanja Đelić also points out “the anomaly” that many countries in Serbia environment that “consider themselves democratized to behave extremely undemocratic, not only towards migrants, but, quite unnecessarily, very aggressive towards the states,” among undemocratic behaviors being situated the erection of the wall on the Hungarian-Serbian border (most migrants traveling thus through Serbia to their final destination not because the trip is the shortest but because that is the only way towards Europe), the shooting at the Bulgarian border, trouble with border patrol in Greece, and so on.
The ensuring balanced development of the Balkan countries within the strategy of reducing developmental disparities of EU regions and the challenges of globalization or what could be called the attempt to democratize regional European development through Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) funds and generally accepted international auditing rules and standards is approached in Assistant Professor Marina Protić’s paper. This regional policy is presented as a complement to national policies, as being largely based on the Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund, on the development of the Common Market, the European Monetary Union and the enlargement of the Union, but, to a large extent, also on the political situation. In defining the priorities in funding and the amount of resources assigned in a particular period in the EU, the European Social Fund, the European Regional Development Fund and the Cohesion Fund are specified as having the greatest importance in order to achieve smaller goals that contribute to regional development, reducing regional disparities and the establishment of cooperation between the regions and countries in the EU. As such, for the countries of Western Balkans, a candidate for membership of the EU, the assistance provided to implement reforms in the accession process is understood as a means for achieving the long-term national strategy for effective economic development in order to improve the living conditions of the population.
In addition to the component of assistance that include the regional integration, the author follows another major sphere of public life, namely the service economy as a segment of social development of the countries. The reason for this focus is that in the Western Balkans the service economy has significant implications for economic growth and the formation of economic policy, tends to be labor intensive or to use less capital equipment than processors, within the price increasing is faster than the productivity increasing and the average size of service companies is generally low.
Assistant Professor Marina Protić draws attention to the fact that the regional policy is constantly challenged, the main reasons for its denial being that “it was considered an instrument of the Commission in order to weaken the nationstate, and therefore the adjustment of regional policy has drained the funds in large quantities.” Her analysis thoroughly examines IPA funds according to the Multi-Annual Financial Framework for the period 2007–2013, International Standards on Auditing (ISA), category of external audit as a supreme audit institution, categories distinguished in Lima Declaration: financial audit (audit of the final account and audit of the legality of business) and performance audit.
DEMOCRACY AS WISDOM OR THE PHILOSOPHICAL PEDAGOGY OF DEMOCRACY
Professor Martha Beck’s paper, “Plato’s Dialogues as a Foundation for Universal Dialogue,” stands very well as an epilogue to our tentative to examine the declining democracy of our times given that Plato’s dialogues, discussed for 2400 years and constituted thus in that Philosophy described by the Founders of the International Society for Universal Dialogue as the theoretical foundation of the universal dialogue, “can educate us about how to preserve, and how to lose, free and open societies.”
According to Martha Beck’s thesis, Plato’s dialogues not only decants how “abuses in the economic system, the military, the medical community, the legal profession, the political community, the arts and in education led to social instability and the election of a dictator, in the name of a return to ‘traditional’ values,” but also urges us “to discuss analogies with our own societies.” As such, Plato’s dialogues are not only “cautionary tales about what Athens had and how the Athenians corrupted and lost their democratic society,” but also “lessons” applicable “to leaders and citizens, to rulers and ruled,” namely what we could call lessons of wisdom on democracy and model of philosophical pedagogy of democracy.
The author considers Plato’s dialogues as a model for educating, improving the mind and enabling thus “future leaders to rule their cities more justly and wisely,” and, by default, model of “international and continually evolving dialogue.” With a special professorial serenity is punctuated in the paper “what made Athens great”—the unique Athens’ culture of citizen, the accountability of leaders to the citizens and the institutions, traditions and events designed to encourage the cultivation of practical wisdom, the Agora as center of social life, best place for information, “open space, deliberately designed for citizens to come and talk to each other about current events,” space of “transparency and accountability before the public”—and the way in which various aspects of the culture was corrupted by the Athenians. The Republic (Politeia), the dialogue about the political dimension of life in every city, which “makes explicit a number of patterns that occur in all the dialogues” and “describes many aspects of social and political life that are referred to and further examined in other dialogues,” is examined inasmuch as “provides a great example of how Plato wanted his work to be read and applied to the readers’ own lives.”
Professor Martha Beck specifies that her “method for reading Plato is based on the observation that he uses the same method of education as all the Greek poets,” the education “through purgation” of “the irrational opinions of the leaders in Athens in order to show us what not to believe and what not to do.” This kind of education is considered as important to follow nowadays by purging ourselves of our own “temptation to abuse our freedoms the way the Athenians did or else we will encounter the same fate.” In order to illustrate that the failure of leaders led inevitably to Athens’ fall there are examined the following social sectors: the military establishment and the courage; the religious establishment, the relation of the leadership and intellectual class to the religious tradition, and the moral education; the medical community and the public health; the corruption of education and the informal mentoring. The most important of all these aspects of the culture is considered that concerning “how is language being used or corrupted in ways that prevent citizens from being informed, that enable the privileged to centralize power, and that destabilize a society enough to decline into authoritarianism.” As Professor Martha Beck concludes, reading Plato’s dialogues with students and leaders in every nation— whatever the nation’s trajectory is, “whether from developing toward more democracy or declining away from democracy”—and “sharing analogies would enable us to form a community of life-minded leaders who will work together for a more democratic future,” to cultivate the practical wisdom or the wisdom to make good decisions in the use of power on which every democracy depends.
Institute of Political Sciences and International Relation
of the Romanian Academy
Guest Editor, Dialogue and Universalism, 32 (2), 2022
Martha C. Beck
PLATO’S DIALOGUES AS A FOUNDATION FOR UNIVERSAL DIALOGUE
In the Phaedrus and Seventh Letter, Plato says the spoken word is much more important than the written word. Plato’s dialogues have been discussed for 2400 years. The Founders of the International Society for Universal Dialogue describe philosophy as a universal dialogue. Particularly in this era of a decline in democratic societies, discussing Plato’s dialogues can educate us about how to preserve, and how to lose, free and open societies. Plato was born at the end of the “Golden Age” of Athens. By the time he was 30, Athens had destroyed itself. Abuses in the economic system, the military, the medical community, the legal profession, the political community, the arts and in education led to social instability and the election of a dictator, in the name of a return to “traditional” values. Plato wants us to discuss analogies with our own societies.
Keywords: Plato, democracy, dialogue, tragedy, analogies.
Affiliation: Lyon College, Batesville, Arkansas.
Earnest N. Bracey
RACIAL INEQUITIES IN AMERICAN BANKING: BLACK BANKS AND FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS, AND THE DEMISE OF THE WESTSIDE FEDERAL CREDIT UNION IN LAS VEGAS, NEVADA
This paper is not an indictment of Black banks and financial institutions, but it presents the difficulties and failures of such minority businesses. Unfortunately, some African Americans are naïve when it comes to banking, primarily because of a lack of financial literacy; and such education is not taught in our schools. Of course, financial education is the key for Black patrons who have never had a bank account. Whether this means that African Americans should only bank with Black financial institutions is important to understand, because of the racial disparities and flat-out discrimination when it comes to banking credit and providing business, home, and personal loans to Black banking clientele. In this regard, traditional white banks in the United States simply upset the financial apple-cart, to use the metaphor, when it comes to fairly dealing with Black people—that is, lending to Black entrepreneurs and legitimate borrowers. With the failure of Black banks, because of a lack of capital and high net-worth individuals and white investors, it has been extremely hard for many of these venerable institutions to hang-on when providing maximum loan possibilities needed over the years (sometimes more than necessary).
Keywords: Black financial institutions, racism, housing discrimination, racial inequities, minority business loans, conventional banking, prejudice, redlining, Jim Crow credit.
Affiliation: College of Southern Nevada in Las Vegas.
DEMOCRACY, INTERPASSIVITY, AND THE COGNITOCRATIC FALLACY
Conceptions of deliberative democracy attach a particularly important role to the cognitive or epistemological competence of the agents of the political process. Such competence is viewed as a primary or even exclusive prerequisite qualifying one for the exercise of political power. The belief is amply illustrated by the contemporary debate between, on the one hand, the advocates of the broad participation of the people in democratic governance, and, on the other, the proponents of the deliberative ideal which presupposes that political power should be entrusted only to the people endowed with appropriate cognitive abilities. In my analysis of such cognitocratic conceptions, I stress the perils of the ascription of a prominent role to cognitive competence in the political process. In opposition to the cognitocratic approaches, both in their universalist and egalitarian, as well as elitist or meritocratic versions, I claim that they are marred by what I call the cognitocratic fallacy, and I argue that a more adequate understanding of governance in democratic systems should instead be based upon a political rather than epistemological capital. I also claim that the concept of political ability should be seen as potentially universal and that the potential may be activated through actual participation in democratic politics.
Keywords: cognitive fallacy, democracy, knowledge, power, cognitocracy, political skill.
Affiliation: Institute of Philosophy, University of Wrocław, Poland.
RACISM AS A FACE OF MODERN DEMOCRACY
The paper aims at studying the problem of dominance of some states over others in international communication. The hypothesis of the study is the idea that one of the reasons of the inequality of states is the hegemony of democracy. We can designate this amazing phenomenon as “political racism.” Democracy has defined the dominant political race in the last decade. States that do not belong to this “higher” race are recognized as inferior, dangerous for the countries of the “democratic race.” The danger of political racism lies in the transition to “fascist democracy.”
Keywords: democracy, hegemony, political racism, manipulating, power.
Affiliation: Kazan State Power Engineering University.
Anastazija Tanja Đelić
CONTEMPORARY MIGRATION AS A REPERCUSSION OF ECONOMIC GLOBALIZATION AND DEMOCRATIC PROCESSES, WITH REFERENCE TO SERBIA AND THE BALKANS
The central problem in the present globalization and democratic processes is the constant increase of socio-economic inequalities. This involves modern migrations with overall risks. As a social phenomenon, migration has been presented since ancient times. It occurs in all societies and due to historical, social and cultural differences, the reaction of individuals and communities to migration can be very different. In the contemporary society that emphasizes mobility and information flow, migrations have become an integral part of life and society. Moreover, their scope and patterns become more and more complex. Given the recent increase in irregular migration to Europe, there is growing interest in developing new ways to collect and analyse data on irregular migration. Migration is today more than ever at the centre of global attention. The main goal of internationational organizations in this field is to harness the development potential of migration for individual migrants and societies. The Balkans region has witnessed a sharp increase in the numbers of mixed migration flows arriving in or transiting through its territory, along the so-called Balkan route. My country, i.e. Serbia, is facing a series of political, economic, social and cultural challenges, which this paper examines, explaining why the state still has a high emigration and low immigration potential, as well as to what extent the return to Serbia today is a complex option. In addition to the high numbers, the mixed composition of these flows adds complexity to the task of addressing them effectively and in line with international commitments and standards. This study focuses on the relations between international organizations, migrations and national interests of countries. The author determines that migrations are, to some extent, a challenge for the Balkan region, not only in terms of an increased danger of extremism, but also because of the possible outbreak of regional conflicts.
Keywords: contemporary migration, economic globalization, democratic processes, national interests, society, conflict, Balkan.
Affiliation: Faculty of Law, Security and Management “Konstantin Veliki” Niš, University “Union—Nikola Tesla” in Belgrade.
LIBERAL DEMOCRACY: BETWEEN EPISTEMIC AUTONOMY AND DEPENDENCE
Understanding the relationship between experts and laypeople is crucial for understanding today’s world of post-truth and the contemporary crisis of liberal democracy. The emergence of post-truth has been linked to various phenomena such as a flawed social and mass media ecosystem, poor citizen education, and the manipulation tactics of powerful interest groups. The paper argues that the problem is, however, more profound. The underlying issue is laypeople’s inevitable epistemic dependence on experts. The latter is part and parcel of the “risk society” in which people question the scientific consensus and thus are able to manipulate the facts. It is a powerful weapon in the hands of illiberal democrats, though liberal democrats can make no use of it. The latter downplay the problem of citizens’ epistemic deficits and of the epistemic asymmetries between them. The third and fourth generations of deliberative democrats are a perfect example. The paper argues that the concepts of interactional expertise and epistemic dependence explain why understanding between experts and laypeople is impossible. The said phenomena undermine liberalism’s unrealistic assumptions concerning citizens’ decision-making competence.
Keywords: epistemic dependence, interactional expertise, deliberative democracy, liberal democracy, populism, post-truth.
Affiliation: Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń (Poland).
DEMOCRATIC DEVELOPMENT TRENDS IN THE COUNTRIES OF THE SOUTH CAUCASUS REGION
The Caucasus region includes the North and South Caucasus. The author analyzes only the theme of the South Caucasus, which is also called the Caucasus. Democratic development processes in the countries of the region are threatened by permanent conflicts. This is especially the decades of war in the Nagorno-Karabakh province. The South Caucasus sub-region is characterized by the complex structure of the population as a result of historical circumstances and crisis geopolitical trends, as a result of several-year confrontations of great powers in a given area. These countries are located in the southeastern borders of the European Union and belong to Europe and Asia, while the availability of energy resources initiates conflicts with Russia, which considers this area a sphere of vital national interest. Common to all of these countries is the presence of the frozen conflict which is a result of multi-level controversies, territorial misunderstandings and inter-ethnic contradictions. There is also a traditional attempt by Western hegemony to master the observed spaces.
Keywords: democratic trends, South Caucasus countries, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Nagorno-Karabakh, global crisis, conflict.
Affiliation: Faculty of Economics and Management of University Business Academy in Novi Sad
Columbus N. Ogbujah, Charles Berebon, Nympha Nkama
THE RESPONSIBILITY OF SOCIAL MEDIA TO TRUTH, REASON AND DEMOCRACY
The rise of social media has given a significant boost to the information and communication industry. Prior to now, the common news outlets were the mainstream print and electronic media, domiciled in specific locations, and guided by particular laws of nation states. These laws, for the most part, regulated and enforced decency, compelling practitioners to adhere to the ethics of truth, reason and democracy. But with the rise of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc., that are used by enormous number of people to communicate, network, and advertise their businesses, the determination of information to be released to the public is no longer under the monopoly of a select few technocrats and entrepreneurs. Once the immediate access to these facile communication channels of social media is set in place, everyone with a basic social skill becomes a communicator of news. This phenomenon has revolutionized the media industry, giving everyone opportunity to have information at the snap of their fingers. But by the same token, and leveraging on the complexity of formulating regulating laws, the social media circumvents most existing norms, leading to abuse of public trust, credibility deficit and crisis of confidence. This essay makes a foray into the responsibility of social media in what concerns truth, reason and democracy. Using the analytic method, it gauges the current social media practice vis-à-vis the traditional media, and highlights the gray areas that precipitate abuse. The essay concludes by advocating for strict adherence to media ethics that will promote the values of responsibility, fairness, truthfulness, accountability and universal democratic ideals.
Keywords: social media, accountability, truth, reason, democracy.
Columbus N. Ogbujah — Rivers State University, Port Harcourt, Nigeria.
Charles Berebon — Rivers State University, Port Harcourt.
Nympha Uchenna Nkama —Rivers State University, Port Harcourt, Nigeria.
EUROPEAN UNION INVESTMENT FUNDS IN THE WESTERN BALKANS WITH INTERNATIONAL AUDIT STANDARDS
The European Union conceives IPA preaccession assistance funds as an instrument of support to the countries of the Western Balkans in the process of European integration. The components of assistance include the most important spheres of public life, embracing regional integration and service economy as segments of social development of the countries. The regional interconnection is realized through various forms of cross-border cooperation between countries in their accession to the European Union project. In order to use the funds, joint local and regional initiatives are formulated in the context of achieving sustainable economic and social development. Those projects comprise adequate arrangements for all relevant subjects with the use of modern technologies and modalities of implementation. Funds contribute to the improvement of interstate cooperation, reducing regional disparities and ensuring balanced development of the Balkan countries. The generally accepted international auditing rules and standards recognize financial statements, in order to determine the accuracy of project implementation.
Keywords: European Union, investment, IPA funds, development, country, Western Balkan, international standard audit.
Affiliation: Union—Nikola Tesla” University of Belgrade, Serbia.
DEMOCRACY AND THE VIRTUAL DEMOS
Democracy is currently influenced by the fluxes of information, digitalization, big data analyses and information, as power in general, but also as the power of control over the people. Existing as a double of “the people,” the reality of the virtual demos influences the realities of democracy. Political communication gains a strength online, where both the leaders and the citizens express positions, interpretations and opinions on the state of affairs. The present time is more than ever before the preferred political time. Comfort and relative laziness characterizing the times are consonant with virtual demos and digital democracy, with positive and negative aspects. The civic actions pursuing the good and generous causes animating public interest are among the main positive aspects of virtual demos and digital democracy. The paper aims to identify, describe and assess the main implications of these political virtual actions, attitudes and the participation of the virtual demos in emerging digital democracy.
Keywords: the people, democracy, political communication, virtual demos, digital democracy.
Affiliation: Institute of Political Sciences and International Relations “Ion I. C. Brătianu”; Institute of Philosophy and Psychology “Constantin Rădulescu-Motru” of the Romanian Academy.
HUMAN DIGNITY, DEMOCRACY AND OTHER CHALLENGES OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
Human dignity has been a much-discussed topic in contemporary debate, and it has benefited from numerous approaches stemming from the fields of philosophy, politics, ethics, psychology or the legal, social and cultural domains. Yet, the meaning of the concept can vary in clarity, leading to ambiguity of usage and approach. The aim of this paper is to examine the concept of human dignity and to assess its potential as a fundamental value for contemporary democracies. A conceptual analysis of human dignity was conducted in the first part of the paper, embracing two essential coordinates of democracy, the political and the ethical approach. An extension of the notion of human dignity, with applications on the collective level rather than simply on the individual one, implies a set of obligations and responsibilities for the democratic state, a context that involves exploring the relationship between human dignity and human rights. In turn, democracy is a means for the constitutional state to provide both the opportunities and the adequate framework for the fullest affirmation and realisation of human dignity. The global challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic triggered a growing list of changes that highlighted new faces of democracy and respect for human dignity, aspects that were analysed in the final part of this paper. The author promotes the idea that human dignity emerges as a fundamental value of democracy and that recent global challenges call for a new momentum on debates of this concept.
Keywords: human dignity, democracy, human rights, value, responsibilities.
Affiliation: “Aurel Vlaicu” University of Arad, and Institute for Social and Political Research, West University of Timișoara, Romania.
THE SOCIAL VULNERABILITIES OF SCIENCE AND THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC CRISIS
According to the traditional image of science, if its achievements are reliable, then they will be communicated successfully and the public will trust in their applicability to solve practical problems. The new perspective on science as “socially robust knowledge” (Gibbons, 1999) is based on two other necessary conditions of knowledge production, namely, transparency and public participation. But the recent Covid-19 pandemic crisis has shown that the institutional weaknesses of the relationship between science and society generates an equally endemic mistrust. Should we go back to “heroic science” and the ‘“magic of science” to regain trust? Or the pandemic crisis just highlighted that the death of expertise (Nichols, 2017) is inevitable in the public space?
Keywords: Covid-19 pandemic crisis, reliable science, robust science, heroic science, magic of science.
Affiliation: Department of Theoretical Philosophy, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Bucharest, Romania.
Lorena Valeria Stuparu
CITIZEN IDENTITY AND PARTICIPATORY POLITICAL CULTURE. A CONCEPTUAL APPROACH
Joining these two concepts of political science and philosophy (i.e. individual political identity and participatory political culture) is an attempt to explore their comprehensive potential, regarding the foundation of any democratic regime, namely the rule of law, civil society, a civilized global political world in which each individual can find his dignity, without being considered simply an anonymous in the great mass of people controlled and dominated through propaganda and restrictions by a relatively small number of people. The paper is structured on the main stated aspects: citizenship and political identity; identity, human dignity and the rule of law (as “medium term”); participative political culture. Participatory political culture is defining for the identity of a citizen in a state of law, but when the myths of democracy come into conflict with the political reality, indifference or absenteeism are also part of the cultural practices of citizenship and this is a challenge to political philosophy.
Keywords: political identity, citizenship, rule of law, participatory democracy, human dignity.
Affiliation: Institute of Political Sciences and International Relations “Ion I. C. Brătianu”, Romanian Academy.
ELECTORAL LEGITIMACY AND DEMOCRACY DECENTRALIZATION OR ABOUT A PARADIGM SHIFT
The paper seeks to analyze the causes that led to the decline of the proceduralelectoral legitimacy paradigm, as explanatory paradigm, in favor of the models that have highlighted the significant changes occurred in the contemporary societies. For this purpose the paper examines Pierre Rosanvallon’s analytical model of interpreting “the revolution in the conception of legitimacy.”
Keywords: legitimacy, democracy, electoral legitimacy, substantial legitimacy, democracy decentralization.
Affiliation: Institute of Political Sciences and International Relations of the Romanian Academy.
POLITICAL LIMIT OF NEOLIBERAL DEMOCRACY: THE STRATEGY OF INEQUALITY
The paper studies political consequences of the establishment of neoliberal democracy, which means the onset of a post-political state of the world. It is demonstrated that at the “end of politics,” the democratic principle of equal rights turns into its opposite— a radical inequality between transnational elites, personifying the power of “pure” capital, and the local population, representing the idea of “pure” life. Neoliberal democracy is studied as a limit concept, which shows the exhaustion of the democratic principle of equality. The paper shows that the return to democracy as the principle of equality becomes the driving ambition of modern politics of activism as a subjective process, unfolding in places where a situation of radical inequality arises.
Keywords: neoliberalism, post-politics, inequality, militant, activist, “democracy in daily life,” politics of activism.
Affiliation: Department of History, Theory and Practice of Social Communications, Udmurt State University, Izhevsk, Russia.