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Radical democracy UPSC NOTE

 What is Radical democracy?

  • Radical democracy is concerned with a radical extension of equality and freedom, following the idea that democracy is an unfinished, inclusive, continuous and reflexive process

  • Within radical democracy there are three distinct strands, as articulated by Lincoln Dahlberg.

  • These strands can be labeled as agonistic, deliberative and autonomist.

  • Before a contour of a radical democratic political economy can be laid out, a scientifically consistent philosophical outlook must be iterated

  • To this end, M N Roy and his colleagues developed the philosophy of new humanism

  • Humanism, the radicals argued, was as ancient as human beings, and could only be enriched by the new discoveries in scientific thought. 

  • A humanism enriched by these new developments in the understanding of the natural world would be best described as ‘scientific’ or ‘new’ Humanism.

  • Human behaviour includes the capacity for rational thought, the radicals argued. 

  • Morality results from man’s intelligent response to his surroundings. Therefore, it can be deduced from his innate rationality. Since rationality is inherent in human nature, it is only necessary to remind him of his biological heritage, and he will regain faith in himself and undo the harm done to him,” Roy writes in his Reason, Romanticism and Revolution. 

  • That is, women and men, cognisant of their own capacity for reason, and driven to reshape the conditions around them, can do so by cooperating with each other to develop a just and free society

  • Democracy, if it is to mean a mere regularised counting of votes is not much more than deception, particularly if the voters have not had a chance to raise themselves up in dignity

  • In parliamentary democratic conventions, demagogues take power, by promising utopia to a hapless electorate; though once in power the demagogue is evidently unable to deliver, and must invariably resort to strongarm tactics to ensure retaining political power.

  • The decay of liberal democracies encouraged the rise of various collectivist doctrines which denied the possibility of individual freedom, ridiculing it as an empty abstraction. 

  • These doctrines, in turn, proclaimed that in order to be free the individual must merge himself in the mass. 

  • This also favoured political demagogues who preferred a mob that acts on appeals to passions

  • It was easier to sway voters by calls to their sentiments than to their reason

  • The more backward a populace is, the more easily they could be swayed by appeals to emotional prejudices

  • A conscious will to freedom, a sense of responsibility and the ability to critically examine the promises and programmes put before the people by parties and politicians are the preconditions for any successful democracy

  • One must become a judge as to whether such conditions exist in a given society. 

  • The radical democratic approach to election begins with people in their localities meeting in local or regional conferences for discussions

  • Having come to understand political questions and economic problems for themselves, the people will see that they need not merely vote for this or that party to solve their problems. 

  • This would also cultivate the ability for independent judgement and as such the people could choose to elect candidates of their own choice, from amongst themselves.

  • These candidates would enjoy greater independence since they would not be dependent on any political outfit; they can rely on their own conscience and be directly responsible to the electorate

  • This would do away with the mechanical nature of party politics and the demagogy and corruption that comes in its wake

  • Such ‘people’s committees’ would not only have the ability to pick independent candidates from amongst themselves but also eventually become the locus of a pyramidical democracy

  • Empowered with the right of recall and the ability to hold referendums, these organised local democracies would wield a direct and effective control of the mechanics of the State. 

  • A progressive democratic movement can occur only with the intelligent and conscious participation of the individuals who constitute a society

  • As such, the more individuals choose to think about and participate in the democratic process the more organically democratic it becomes.

Why radical democracy?

  • The conditions of the contemporary world present a dismal picture for those who desire for freedom and do not see it as a contradiction to justice. 

  • Even as humanity is the most aware it has been about the cosmos and the laws that govern it, it is simultaneously the closest it has ever been to disintegration.

  • The way out must be one that harkens to the principles of scientific thought and humanist philosophy. 

  • Roy writes in New Humanism, “The brain is the means of production, and produces the most revolutionary commodity. Revolutions presuppose iconoclastic ideas. An increasingly large number of men and women, conscious of their creative power, motivated by an indomitable will to remake the world, moved by the adventure of ideas, and fired with the ideal of a free society, can create the conditions under which democracy will be possible



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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Radical democracy UPSC NOTE
Radical democracy UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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