L’autorità della democrazia

Perché mai la maggioranza dovrebbe dettar legge? Quale autorità morale ha una democrazia?

Alla domanda cerca di rispondere Michael Huemer nel suo saggio “The Authority of Democracy” senza riuscirvi.

A prima vista non esiste alcuna autorità della maggioranza, ce ne accorgiamo subito, basta andare al bar con gli amici…

… Bar Tab example. You have gone out for drinks with a few of your colleagues and graduate students. You are all busy talking about philosophy, when someone raises the question of who is going to pay the bill… A graduate student then suggests that you pay for everybody’s drinks. Reluctant to spend so much money, you decline. But the student persists: ‘Let’s take a vote.’ To your consternation, they proceed to take the vote, which reveals that everyone at the table except you wants you to pay…

Non esiste alcun obbligo morale di pagare il conto solo perché l’ha deciso la maggioranza. L’uso della forza con chi si rifiuta è palesemente illegittimo.

Di fronte a cotanta evidenza l’onere di provare il contrario spetta ai difensori del principio democratico.

Joshua Cohen e Jurgen Habermas difendono un’idea di democrazia deliberativa che puo’ essere articolata su quattro punti…

… 1.  Participants take their deliberation to be capable of determining action and to be unconstrained by any prior norms. 2.  Participants offer reasons for their proposals, with the (correct) expectation that those reasons alone will determine the fate of their proposals. 3.  Each participant has an equal voice. 4.  The deliberation aims at consensus. However, if consensus cannot be achieved, the deliberation ends with voting…

Perché questo modo di prendere le decisioni sia legittimo non viene spiegato, viene assunto. Sembra che sia necessario accettare una procedura come legittima indipendentemente dal contenuto delle decisioni che si prendono adottandola.

Anche accettando questo assunto problematico, la democrazia deliberativa resta comunque una fantasia. Non esiste niente del genere nella realtà.

Innanzitutto le persone non si sentono vincolate solo dalla politica, sentono l’esistenza di norme a priori…

… Actual people frequently regard themselves as bound by things other than the results of public deliberation. For instance, some believe in natural law, many believe in divinely mandated moral requirements, some believe themselves bound by a constitution that was established long ago, and so on…

Si assume poi che le deliberazioni siano razionali ed emergano da una discussione tra individui votati alla ragione. Habermas parla di “assenza della forza se non quella degli argomenti”…

… In actual democracies, no one is required (by the state or anyone else) to state their reasons for advancing policy proposals. Moreover, the quality of the reasons offered for a policy proposal is only one part of what determines the fate of that proposal, and nearly everyone knows this…

L’interesse non coincide certo con la ragione ma è difficile escluderlo quando si fa una proposta politica!

Poi si richiede ancora che le voci in contrapposizione siano sullo stesso piano. La richiesta è impossibile, basterebbe pensare al gigantesco media bias che affligge le nostre democrazie…

… There is of course no actual society in which these things are true. In any modern society, a small number of individuals – journalists, authors, professors, politicians, celebrities – play a large role in public discourse, while the vast majority of individuals play essentially no role in the discourse…

Cittadini ricchi e cittadini poveri non saranno mai sullo stesso piano, così come non lo saranno i potenti e i cittadini qualsiasi. Un capo di governo può convocare una conferenza stampa in dieci minuti e diffondere le sue parole in tutto il paese.

Si richiede poi che l’obbiettivo della discussione da cui scaturiranno le decisioni sia il consenso. Noi vediamo il politico fare ben altro: puntare sugli indecisi trascurando chi non puo’ essere realisticamente convinto.

Conclusione… 

… Cohen writes that ‘the ideal deliberative procedure is meant to provide a model for institutions to mirror.’10 Perhaps Cohen’s conception of deliberative democracy provides guidance for how society ought to change. While this may provide a useful role for Cohen’s construction, it brings us no closer to deriving political authority. A description of an ideal that our society ought to aim at but of which we in fact fall very far short hardly constitutes an argument that our state has political authority…

Di fronte a queste obiezioni Habermas e Cohen potrebbero ripiegare asumendo che la decisione democratica è legittima se ad essa avrebbero potuto aderire anche i suoi oppositori. Questa condizione è confutata dall’esempio del boxeur… 

… On one reading, Cohen’s principle is absurdly permissive. Imagine that you are walking down the street, when a boxer suddenly punches you in the face. ‘What did you do that for?!’ you demand. ‘Well’, the boxer explains, ‘you could have agreed to be punched in the face.’…

A Cohen e Habermas non resterebbe che ripiegare su posizioni “contrattualistiche”, ma i due problemi del contrattualismo sono ben noti…

… there were two main problems. First, there is no reason to think that the structure and principles of any actual state would in fact be agreed to after ideal deliberation. Second, even if the structure and principles of some actual state would be agreed to, there is no reason to think that this fact would confer authority on that state to coerce people

Ma esiste un altro modo per difendere la democrazia: solo un sistema democratico rispetta l’eguaglianza tra gli uomini.

Eppure nelle nostre democrazie gran parte delle leggi sono varate senza assicurarsi che rispettino il volere della maggioranza. E che dire della differenza tra cittadini ed elettori? E che dire delle regolamentazioni varate dai burocrati? E delle sentenze che derivano da un’interpretazione dei giudici?

Thomas Christiano ha esposto in modo formale l’argomento dell’eguaglianza…

… Thomas Christiano has developed the Argument from Equality as an argument for political obligation, roughly as follows: 1.  Individuals are obligated to treat other members of their society as equals and not to treat them as inferiors. 2.  To treat others as equals and not as inferiors, one must obey democratic laws. 3.  Therefore, individuals are obligated to obey democratic laws…

Anche qui si aspira ad una legittimità assoluta della democrazia e indipendente dal contenuto delle decisioni prese, l’oppressione delle minoranze non sembra preoccupare. Vasto programma…

… Christiano spends the most time justifying (2e). He argues that to truly advance individuals’ interests equally, a social system must satisfy a publicity requirement, meaning that it must be possible for citizens to see for themselves that they are being treated equally. He then argues that only democratic decision making, as a procedural form of equality, satisfies this requirement. There are other, substantive interpretations of equality – for example, that one treats others equally by equalizing their resources or that one treats others equally by granting them the same liberty rights. But these interpretations of equality do not satisfy the publicity requirement, because they are too controversial; only those who accept certain controversial ethical views could see themselves to be treated as equals in virtue of the implementation of one of these substantive forms of equality…

Ma la proposta di Christiano chiede troppo all’individuo. Chiede in modo assurdo. Basta un esempio per capirlo…

… Suppose I have $50. If I spend the money on myself, I would be advancing my interests more than the interests of others. To advance persons’ interests equally, I must spend the money on something that benefits everyone, or divide the money among all the members of my society, or perhaps donate the money to help people whose interests are presently less well advanced than the average…

Non si puo’ vivere avendo in mente solo l’interesse generale, ammesso che si sappia cosa sia.

In genere si pensa che sia il governo ad incarnare l’interesse generale. Ma anche così facendo arriviamo a degli assurdi: c’è una bella differenza tra carità e tasse, eppure i difensori della democrazia non sembrano vederla…

… Consider two examples: Charity Case: I have $50, which I am considering either donating to a very effective antipoverty charity or spending on my own personal consumption. If I give the money to charity, it will reduce the inequality in society and bring society closer to the equal advancement of all its members’ interests. However, I have already given a large amount of money to charity this year and do not wish to give more. I decide to keep the money. Tax Case: Tax laws require me to pay a large amount of money to the government. I am considering either paying all of the required taxes or cheating on my taxes in such a way as to pay $50 less than the legally required amount, in which case I will spend the $50 on personal consumption. Assume that I am certain that, if I cheat, I will not be caught or suffer any other negative personal consequences. I decide to cheat. Advocates of democratic authority would surely wish to deny that my action is permissible in the Tax Case, yet to avoid an absurdly demanding ethical theory, they would wish to allow that my action is permissible in the Charity Case

Se fondiamo l’obbligazione democratica sull’eguaglianza otteniamo un sistema di doveri o troppo esigente (fare ogni scelta pensando all’interesse pubblico) o troppo lasco (verso il governo abbiamo gli stessi doveri che verso una onolus).

Secondo alcuni o si ubbidisce al governo o si finisce nell’anarchia. Questo molto semplicemente non è vero…

… The obvious problem with this inference is that a particular individual’s obedience or disobedience to a particular law has no actual impact on the functioning of the state. For instance, the government persists despite a large number of people who evade a large amount of taxes every year… most modern societies are nowhere near the threshold level of disobedience that would be required for government to collapse; thus, the individual’s marginal impact on the state’s survival is zero…

Il democratico mira all’eguaglianza. Ma ci sono tante eguaglianze: eguaglianza nei diritti, nel reddito… Per il democratico conta solo l’eguaglianza politica.

Per Christiano l’eguaglianza deve avere una dimensione pubblica

… Christiano argues that only the last interpretation – democratic equality, as I shall call it – satisfies the crucial publicity principle, the principle that ‘it is not enough that justice is done; it must be seen to be done.’…

Ma il requisito della pubblicità puo’ convivere anche con altre concezioni di eguaglianza…

.. If we adopt the weak interpretation of publicity, then democratic decision making satisfies the publicity constraint, as do many other conceptions of equality. For instance, suppose one holds that the proper way to treat others equally is by according everyone the same liberty rights (roughly, rights to do as they wish, free of government interference). Individuals would be able to see that they were accorded the same liberty rights…

Se adottiamo una concezione di pubblicità più stringente, allora viene da chiedersi se la democrazia lo realizzi. D’altronde esistono cento forme di democrazia…

… Does equality of decision-making power require direct democracy, or is representative democracy sufficient? Does it require that all citizens have the same chance to stand for public office? If so, is it sufficient that all citizens are legally permitted to stand for public office, or must individuals also have financially and socially realistic opportunities to run for public office? If representative democracy is permitted, must representation be strictly proportional to population, or may some parts of a nation have representation in the legislature out of proportion to their population (as in the case of the representation of states in the U.S. Senate)? Is democratic equality violated if public officials draw districts in unusual shapes for voting purposes (as in the American practice of gerrymandering), with the specific intent of maximizing the representation of a particular party in the legislature? Is democratic equality violated if some persistent minorities rarely or never get their way? If so, what sort of minorities count? Do members of all third parties in the United States (parties other than the Democrats and the Republicans) count as persistent minorities who are not treated equally? These are all controversial questions…

Secondo Christiano chi disubbidisce ad una legge democratica non rispetta la volontà altrui e tratta il prossimo come inferiore anziché come un pari.

Ma puo’ darsi che questo giudizio (il fatto di considerare l’altro inferiore) non sia campato in aria ma molto ragionevole. Noi differiamo per intelligenza, motivazioni, conoscenza, cosicché nel prendere una certa decisione non ha senso parificare le persone…

intelligence, knowledge, time, and effort – affect one’s reliability in arriving at correct beliefs. No one seriously maintains that persons are anywhere near to being equal in any of these dimensions, let alone all of them. It is therefore very difficult to see how one could argue that all persons are equally reliable at identifying correct political beliefs. In violating a democratic law, one may well be treating others as though they were epistemic ‘inferiors’, in the sense of persons with less reliable normative beliefs in a particular area. But there is nothing unjust in this if, as is very often the case, one knows this to be true…

Quand’anche i democratici abbiano ragione, ci si chiede: è giusto che chi ha torto sia sottoposto a violenze fisiche? Di solito noi non trattiamo così chi pensiamo che sbagli…

… You have gone out for drinks with some colleagues and students, and one of the students has proposed that you pay for everybody’s drinks. Over your protests, the other parties at the table vote to have you pay for the drinks. You tell them that you will not agree to do so. They then inform you that, if you do not pay, they intend to punish you by locking you in a room for some time and that they are prepared to take you by force…

Nell’esempio fatto chi fa un’ingiustizia a chi? Chi tratta l’altro da essere inferiore? Bè, il giudizio dei democratici sembrerebbe esattamente capovolto.

D’altro canto è vero che possiamo fare casi in cui la violenza fisica del disobbediente è sentita come meritata. Quello che manca è una demarcazione e i democratici non ci aiutano di sicuro a porla. Giustizia e Democrazia sembrano cose molto diverse…

… One might still worry that the Bar Tab example trades on the apparent unfairness of the student’s proposal and that our intuitions would change if the group had voted for an essentially fair and equitable way of paying the bar tab. But advocates of democratic authority explicitly claim that one must comply with a democratic decision regardless of whether the decision is in itself just…

Per Christiano risalire dall’obbligo alla legittimità è semplice, cosicché gli viene facile fissare il seguente principio 

… If justice requires (forbids) a person to do A, then it is permissible to coerce that person to do (not to do) A…

Eppure l’infondatezza del principio emerge da molti esempi, eccone uno…

… Consider an example in which I appear to violate one of these duties. I am out for drinks with some friends. Several of them are discussing what an excellent President Barack Obama is. I chime in, ‘You people are fools and your opinions are worthless. I do not respect your judgment. You are all inferior to me.’ I then plug my ears so I don’t have to hear what they say and turn my back on them. In this case, I have both failed to respect my friends’ judgments and treated them as inferiors. This strikes me as much more evident than the claim that I fail to respect other citizens’ judgments or treat other citizens as inferiors whenever I disobey a democratic law. But would my friends (or anyone else) now be justified in using physical force to impose punishment on me?…

Eccone un altro…

… Suppose I have recently learned that Amnesty International is working to promote democracy in the little-known country of New Florida. AI is appealing for monetary donations and contributors to letter-writing campaigns. I think AI has a reasonable chance of being reasonably effective in this endeavor, and I recognize that I could support democratic institutions by helping AI at this time.32 Because democracy is crucial to the equal advancement of persons’ interests, I would thereby be promoting the equal advancement of persons’ interests. Nevertheless, I fail to support Amnesty International. In this case, it is very plausible to say that I have (a) failed to promote the equal advancement of persons’ interests and (b) failed to help bring democratic institutions into being. And perhaps I have done wrong. But am I now an appropriate target for threats of violence?…

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