Liberal Democracy 3.0: Civil Society in an Age of Experts (4-5-22)

00:00 John Lott’s ridiculous study on voter fraud, https://statmodeling.stat.columbia.edu/2022/04/05/further-ranting-on-public-choices-terrible-decision-if-uri-geller-submits-a-paper-claiming-to-have-photographs-of-the-loch-ness-monster-you-dont-just-say-hey-the-photos-look-real-lets-go/, https://statmodeling.stat.columbia.edu/2022/04/03/the-journal-public-choice-goes-the-way-of-lancet-and-publishes-a-paper-that-is-riddled-with-errors-but-comes-to-a-political-conclusion-that-they-want-to-support/
05:00 Stephen Turner on critical studies, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJypie2r9PU
09:00 Liberal Democracy 3.0: Civil Society in an Age of Experts, https://www.amazon.com/Liberal-Democracy-Published-association-Culture/dp/0761954694
52:00 Nick Fuentes Deep Dive! Beardson’s Divorce! Special Guest Kraut!, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gB3C4uBFxQo
53:50 Nick Fuentes says Andrew Anglin is one of his favorite writers
58:30 Elliott Blatt joins
1:00:00 Mister Metokur vs Ethan Ralph 2, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckmYNkuYRsM
1:02:00 Virtually You: The Dangerous Powers of the E-Personality, https://lukeford.net/blog/?p=121464
1:07:40 People’s Populist Press (PPP), https://odysee.com/@PeoplesPopulistPress:e
1:14:00 Will Elon Musk take over Twitter and open it up?
1:20:40 Nick Fuentes Documentary Review: A Failed Rehab, A Theroux Cope & An Admission Of Guilt & Lies!, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FdaAzKXOgGI
1:29:50 Is JF Gariepy a leader of conservative thought?
1:31:00 Conservatism and Andy Warski’s downward spiral

From the 2003 book by Stephen Turner, Liberal Democracy 3.0: Civil Society in an Age of Experts:

* In Liberal Democracy 3.0, the slow transformation is from a politics of sovereign citizens to a politics of diffused experts, in which electoral struggle is gradually supplanted by what I call ‘commissions,’ that is to say expert bodies. …the franchise was restricted, to the late nineteenth century form, of government by discussion with full franchise, to the form that I argue is now emerging: a form in which ‘discussion’ is limited to those topics not delegated to experts…

* to be apolitical is a political strategy

* If we imagine a historian in the distant future faced with the task of explaining, in a few lines, the significance of the twentieth century, and specifically the task of identifying what remarkable and consequential transformations occurred within it, two particular changes would stand out. One is the development of science and technology. It would be noted that, for the first time in technical history, science and technology became closely linked.

* The second significant transformation is in the realm of politics. The century began as an age of empires. European empires, with the exception of the French, were run by parliamentary democracies with limited monarchies.
But these were still to a large extent controlled by a persistent ‘old regime’ of aristocrats, and of a civil service that came from similar social strata…

* Our imagined historian would see that the obvious questions to ask would be these: what are the connections between these two developments, and what were the consequences for science and liberalism of having their dramatic turns of fortune occur more or less simultaneously? To answer these questions she might first attempt to study the writings of influential political thinkers of twentieth century liberalism and democracy, especially in the period after the Second World War, to see what they had to say about the connections and about science and science-related technology. What would she find?

The Silence of Political Theory

Our historian would be astonished by the absence of any discussion of science.

* If one instead turns to the key documents of American liberalism, something equally astonishing can be found: the greatest single work of liberal political philosophy of the late twentieth century, John Rawls’s A Theory of Justice (1971), is utterly devoid of any mention of science… Even the influential American critics of Rawls, such as Robert Nozick and the communitarians, find it possible to write passionately and seriously about contemporary politics as though science contained absolutely nothing of relevance to political life.

* In his classic formulation, The Torment of Secrecy, Edward Shils demonstrated how perplexing and ultimately insoluble was the problem posed by the fact that liberal democracies, which were premised on open discussion, were nevertheless also forced to defend themselves and, in the course of doing so, to keep secrets (1956). The detailed measures governing secrecy cannot themselves be subject to public discussion, without making them ineffective. But
if people in authority use the legal powers given to them to classify as ‘secrets’ things that ought properly to be part of genuine ‘government by discussion,’ public discourse quickly becomes a sham, for all that is discussed
is that which governmental secret-keepers permit to be discussed.

The parallels with expertise are clear: experts are needed by liberal democracy, but only experts understand what they are talking about and what is a matter of expert knowledge; to allow them to decide what belongs in the expert domain means that experts might place topics that should be subject to public discussion in the domain of ‘expert knowledge.’

* [Western] politics …emerged out of a conflict over beliefs in God… Liberalism, as government by discussion, arguably is historically bound by its origins to one particular exclusion, one particular way of handling that exclusion, and one kind of convention. The exclusion is religion and it has been handled through a specific means: neutrality. The conventions this requires are of recognizing religions as religions, or the religious as religious. Liberalism in its modern form arose at the time of, and out of, the wars of religion that wracked Europe in the seventeenth century. One issue in these wars was the relationship between religion and the state and particularly the question of state policy in relation to religious minorities or persons whose religion was different from, and offensive to, the religion of the rulers. Indeed, these wars demonstrated that religious controversy and religious diversity were disruptive to the state, threatened social peace, and in many cases led to civil warfare.

Yet religious differences were of a kind that ‘discussion’ did little to resolve, and if anything inflamed. Thus a variety of political solutions to the problem of religion were invented by rulers and by governments, which had
the effect of eliminating the problem of religion. The main response was for the state to disengage from actively supporting religion or enforcing religious practice. This self-removal from the religious took two basic forms.
One was for the state to constitutionally tie it’s own hands: to refuse to be involved in religious questions and to firmly move them to the private sphere. Americans are most familiar with this solution, enshrined in the
First Amendment to the Constitution, in the form of a rule binding Congress to not make any laws that serve to establish religion.

* If the people acclaim and consent out of ignorance or on the basis of what they are allowed by the government to hear, or are prevented from receiving conflicting information, then democratic consent is essentially an illusion.

* The Left has had, historically, a somewhat ambivalent attitude toward expertise.

* The ideal of participatory democracy was embodied, in its most extreme form, by French and Chinese revolutionary tribunals that summarily punished miscreants and hoarders by bringing them to revolutionary justice.

* If we assume that participatory democracy is a form of rule in which every political action is the direct result of discussion by people who are not assembled according to any particular and limiting fixed form, whose sovereignty is boundless and for whom there are no restrictive neutralizing conventions, such as restrictions on political action with respect to, for instance, religious belief, it is obvious why this model conflicts with expertise. If the only weight that expert knowledge has is the weight that it gains by the power of persuasion, one would have to be an optimist to imagine that expertise would be recognized, properly understood and assented to: the ignorant will choose ignorantly. Dire predictions have been made in the writings of those who think that democracy is no longer relevant to a world that requires expert knowledge on the part of political authorities.

* One assumption of meaningful discussion is some degree of mutual comprehension. But in the case of expert knowledge, there is very often no such comprehension and no corresponding ability to judge what is being said and who is saying it, and consequently no possibility of genuine ‘discussion.’ So expertise poses a problem that goes to the heart of liberalism.

* Expertise is a kind of violation of the conditions of rough equality presupposed by democratic accountability.
Some activities, such as genetic engineering, are apparently out of reach of democratic control, even when these activities, because of their dangerous character, ought perhaps to be subject to public scrutiny and regulation,
precisely because of imbalances in knowledge. As such we are faced with the dilemma of capitulation to ‘rule by experts’ or democratic rule that is ‘populist’; that valorizes the wisdom of the people even when ‘the people’
are ignorant and operate on the basis of fear and rumor.

* If the liberal state is supposed to be neutral with respect to opinions, that is to say it neither promotes nor gives special regard to any particular beliefs, world views, sectarian positions, and so on, what about expert opinions? Do they enjoy a special status that these things lack? If not, why should the state give them special consideration, for example through the subsidization of science or by treating expert opinions about environmental damage differently from the way it treats the opinions of landowners or polluters?

* scientific research on the genetic background of criminals has been denounced as ‘racist’ and government agencies have been intimidated into withdrawing support. Studies of race and intelligence similarly have been attacked as inherently racist, which is to say ‘non-neutral.’ A letterwriter to Newsweek wrote that ‘theories of intelligence, the test to measure it and the societal structures in which its predictions come true are all developed and controlled by well-off white males for their own benefit’ (Jaffe 1994: 26). This idea is commonplace, even a matter of consensus in some academic fields, while it is treated as absurd in others. The idea that science itself, with its mania for quantification, prediction and control is merely an intellectual manifestation of racism and sexism – that is to say, is non-neutral – is widespread. A more general problem for liberalism is this: if the liberal state is supposed to be ideologically neutral, how is it to decide what is
and is not ideology as distinct from knowledge?

* The claims about the nature of intelligence to which the letter-writer to Newsweek objected, curiously, produced a similar kind of collective letter signed by a large number of prominent psychologists, designed to correct what they saw to be the alarming disparity between what was presented by journalists and commentators as the accepted findings of psychological research on intelligence and what psychologists in fact accepted, namely that there
were persistent differences in scores. Here the issues were different: the accepted facts were simply not known to the journalists, who seemed to assume that the facts fit with their prejudices.

* liberalism might be characterized as the product of the lessons learned from the wars of religion of early modern Europe…

* Carl Schmitt made the point that parliamentary democracy depended on the possibility of ‘persuading one’s opponents through argument of the truth or justice of something, or allowing oneself to be persuaded of something as true or just’ ([1926]1985: 5). Without some such appeal – if opinions were not amenable to change through discussion and persuasion was simply a form of the negotiation of compromises between pre-established interests –
parliamentary institutions would be meaningless shells. What Schmitt saw in Weimar era parliamentary politics was that this assumption of parliamentarism no longer held. However, the parties of Weimar politics were more than mere interest parties. They were ‘totalizing’ parties that construed the world ideologically, ordered the life experiences and social life of their members, and rejected the world-views and arguments of other parties.
Schmitt believed that the former historical domain of parliamentary discussion, in which genuine argument was possible, had simply vanished. The world of totalitarianism, of the rule of totalizing parties, had begun. He
doesn’t say that the idea of liberal representation was wrong in principle… Stanley Fish claimed that liberalism is ‘informed by a faith [a word deliberately chosen] in reason as a faculty that operates independently of any particular world view’ (1994:134). Fish denies that this can be anything more than a faith, a creed, and concludes that this means that liberalism doesn’t exist.

This is an argument, in effect, for undoing the central achievement of the modern state and unlearning the lessons of the wars of religion.

* If it is true that expert knowledge is ‘ideology’ taken as fact, the idea of liberal parliamentary discussion is, intellectually at least, a sham. The factual claims that determine the direction of parliamentary discussion are exposed as ideological.

* Richard Posner gives the example of United States constitutional law scholars, a group that both speaks to a general audience, and also serves, or seeks to serve, as experts for the judges who apply the constitution and the lawyers who argue cases on constitutional grounds (2001: 198–220). Constitutional law scholars play a role in assessing the qualifications of judges in the public domain, and their opinions are widely reported and often consequential. Are they politically neutral? And in what sense does it matter? After all, the opinions they give are opinions about the law, which presumably is a technical matter. Yet, in examining their behavior during the legal controversy over the Bush-Gore election of 2000, Posner points out that as ‘public intellectuals’ commenting, not (as Noam Chomsky does) on matters other than their professional expertise, but on the areas in which they were supposed to be professionally expert, they routinely presented a highly partisan interpretation of the relevant law.

* Many of the crucial cases of present day constitutional law arise from the details of the administration of reformist programs enacted into law or federal procedure, such as the affirmative action program, rather than, for example, cases involving the responsibilities of ‘fictional’ legal persons or corporations, a theme of earlier constitutional law. But it also reflects what he calls ‘the leftward drift’ of academic constitutional law, by which he means the fact that the ‘discussion’ of academic constitutional law includes few conservative scholars (2001: 209). These would be grounds for questioning the neutrality of particular scholars in the face of questions that are open to alternative plausible answers and the neutrality of a ‘consensus’ on such questions produced by academic discussion of such questions… In the case of this particular dispute even the few conservative scholars in the field were absent from the public discussion, a point seized on by the critics of the court’s decision. But, Posner notes, this was because most of the conservatives were critical of judicial activism on the grounds of their own academic ‘original intention’ theories of constitutional interpretation, and consequently were unlikely to defend a decision that required an ‘activist’ rationale. …constitutional scholars routinely made claims that amounted to a political act ‘masquerading as a statement of professional expertise.’

* The liberalism of the American founding tended to regard the truths relevant to politics as immutable and self-evident, accordingly regarding them as neutral facts in a way that we no longer can.

* Gunnar Myrdal’s An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy (1944) was a classic of social science expertise. It was made possible by lavish funding by the Carnegie Corporation, which conceived the project and paid the researchers whose specialist reports were given to Myrdal to write the text. The promotion of the book was subsidized by the Carnegie Corporation. All this was concealed. Myrdal was chosen because he was not an American, and therefore could not be immediately dismissed as non-neutral, as either a northerner or a southerner. The aims of the funders were not neutral, but they were well-hidden.

* To treat experts as authorities in this sense requires us, in an act of faith, to believe that they do indeed possess some special cognitive powers analogous to those of charismatic leaders speaking prophetically of religious truths. In the case of prophets, of course, the ‘reasoning’ is hidden because it is God’s reasoning – the prophets simply pass on His commands. In the case of science, it is hidden because it is meaningful only to scientists, and, similarly, scientists report the results, not the grounds for them. The results are accepted as the sayings of the prophets are, as a matter of faith in the powers of the scientists or experts, not as a result of the reasoning that led to the results, which is not accessible, because it is not understandable.

* The evidence of risk of contracting HIV from ordinary heterosexual contact in the general United States’ population has always been clear both to epidemiologists and to health care professionals with substantial experience with AIDS cases. The risk level is negligible, in contrast to the risk level in relation to certain
‘homosexual’ practices and IV drug use. But the fear of political pressure from AIDS activists, and the desire of AIDS activists to prevent AIDS from being treated merely as a disease of homosexuals and IV drug users, led the
Center for Disease Control in the United States to endorse propaganda about AIDS and about the possibility of contracting AIDS from heterosexual contact that was highly misleading. What is striking about this case is
not simply that a respected institution would lie, but that it would lie for the higher purpose of preserving the appearance of neutrality.

* The neutral, objective, or scientific facts may be insufficient to be much of a constraint on decisions. However, the desire to move a topic out of political discussion and into the hands of experts may nevertheless be
strong, because doing so may facilitate rational persuasion, and lead to a decision that is accepted as legitimate. Indeed, this is the logical core of the political phenomenon that will be discussed in subsequent chapters. One of the central devices of liberal democracy is to delegate discussion and remove issues from particular institutions of discussion and give them to others. In nineteenth century America, for example, discussions of public health measures against cholera were transferred, by acts of state legislatures, from the
hands of city councils and the boards of health they appointed, to other boards and commissions. In the twentieth century, monetary decisions – an important topic of political debate – were delegated to the Federal Reserve
Bank. In both cases, there was relevant expert knowledge. In neither case were the problems well-structured. They were problems in which the science or expertise at hand were necessary to full understanding of the discussions,
but which were not structured in such a way that the science was sufficient to identify the solutions.

* The physician or expert is not simply acting within a domain of expertise, applying technical considerations in
a scientific or objective way directly to the decision in question.

* Scientists were asked when it would be safe for farmers to return sheep to particular fields that had been polluted with radioactivity. Based on their empirical experience with, and understanding of, the causal process in a particular kind of soil, they estimated that the effects would dissipate in three weeks. In fact they were wrong. The kinds of soil that the sheep were grazing on contained a great deal of clay, and the clay retained the radioactivity much longer than the scientists had predicted (1996: 63-4). Wynne uses this example to make the point that scientists are often ignorant of the truth about the things that they confidently make pronouncements on.

* Climatologists select the variables in their models and analogize and simplify a real world which, it is certain, will behave differently than the model, just as the lawyer simplifies a complex situation to select those features which are legally relevant. It is a further decision – a decision to accept a casuistic extension – to accept these simplifications or their implications and to act politically on them.

* Delegating powers to a body that claims to represent, or is constituted to represent, is a familiar governmental device. Indeed it is a form of rule: in Rome, as Carl Schmitt pointed out, the institution of the dictator was a legal form, in which an individual was delegated dictatorial powers for a limited period to deal with a particular crisis. In this case the dictator’s commission was a means of preserving the form of state that gave the commission…

* Much of what governs our daily life is the product of commissions of various kinds. The labels on the food we eat, the standards for the air we breathe, and much else is the product of collective decision-making by bodies of this sort, and when the standards or practices are contested, they are contested by other bodies. To take a very simple example of the hidden power of these organizations, consider the simple artifact of the child’s playground. In the US, the standards for playgrounds were produced by a knowledge movement subsidized by the Russell Sage Foundation during the first part of the twentieth century. The standards it defined were made an issue in Social Surveys of various kinds promoted by reform groups, promoted by playground associations in each city, and taken up by civic betterment associations, and in a short time accepted by cities as normal (Sealander 1997). This led to a certain uniformity of product, and therefore of experience in the daily life of children – the life-world. Yet this movement was in large part a ‘Commission from Below’. No powerful governmental agency authorized it. Its political success depended on the acceptance and endorsement of local leaders and community activists, who
pressured municipalities to live up to the standards…

* The tropism toward associations taking this form is in a way a genuine political novelty. The associations Tocqueville had in mind seldom were primarily concerned with problems of knowledge. Now, to be an effective
political association it has become necessary to become a knowledge association: to be expertized.

* Is the Bar association of an American state a private voluntary organization or effectively an arm of the judicial system? The powers delegated to the Bar association involving disciplinary powers over legal practice – the ability to represent clients before the courts – are state powers. The organization is not.

* associations can make stronger knowledge claims than individuals by concentrating opinion, by resolving dis
agreements internally, and by answering, in one fashion or another, questions about the credibility of their claims.

* “[Leo] Szilard’s plight as a freelance thinker and policy proponent is poignantly described by his biographer, William Lanouette, who observes that, by the early 1960s, ‘Szilard had begun to realize his limits as a humorist and “outsider” in Washington – a serious and self-important city that squanders laughter and lives by cliques. . .. He was still a professor of biophysics from the University of Chicago. Not a consultant to the Arms Control and
Disarmament Agency (ACDA). Not a member of the President’s Science Advisory Committee (PSAC). Not a fellow at a local think tank or a consultant to a congressional committee. As he discovered during his first months in the capital, Washington is a city where what you do is often less important than where you do it’.”

* The fact that claims made about global warming are subjected to ‘peer review’, for example, does not make them
into facts like those of core science, even if the reviewers and the review process are the same. Peer review is a procedure of evaluation, a decision making device, but it is one that places a (usually low) threshold on what is
to be included in the literature for the purposes of scientific communication.

* So powerful is this political strategy of producing consensus that it has been copied for a tremendously large array of other activities. Chief among these is of course the regulation of medical practice through the standardization of medical training and the creation of certifying bodies that endorse particular medical practices, training regimes, standards, and so forth. The ‘scientific’ basis of these practices is often real and substantial, but also often far removed from the actual practices that are being recommended, so that the
basis of the practice is in fact a combination of the scientific with the non scientific, often with elements that are objective, such as studies of drug effects, or studies of efficacy, which are themselves not simply matters of
facts of science but rather the results of a mishmash of assumptions, commonsense, and statistical results.

* 1 There is an interesting parallel here in Schmitt’s discussion of judicial discretion, in which he argues that the undecideability of legal questions on legal grounds requires a non-legal consensus by judges (cf. Scheuerman 1999)
2 It is perhaps more emblematic of present American uses of expert knowledge than ironic that today in the playground the burden of standards has shifted to the courts. Old style playgrounds still exist, following these old standards. But for new equipment and new types of equipment, the threat of litigation over injuries is the dominant fact, with the result that even simple pieces of manufactured playground equipment come with complex, lawyer-written, warnings. But this is simply another form of the delegation of expert questions to other bodies,
in this cases the courts, which then must hear expert witnesses about the risks of given designs, based on objective measures of injury and on research about the product.

* Schmitt believed that the removal of religious questions from politics was an essential condition for the birth of liberalism in the form of rational public opinion. The moralization of politics, the condemnation of one’s opponents as sinners or tools of the devil was the end of a rational discussion, and the beginning of religious warfare. This indeed was the experience of Europe in the seventeenth century. Religious warfare – the suppression of religious opinion and its expression – was the basic fact of European experience. According to the traditional liberal account that we will discuss shortly taking the state out of the business of religion and therefore separating religion from politics was a solution that created a space for a kind of civility. The advantage of this traditional account was of course that it made sense of the dramatic, and traumatic, political history of Europe during the seventeenth century and the actual phenomena of war, civil war, the diasporas of Huguenots and others, the rise of religious solidarity across national boundaries, and the terms of the eventual end of religious warfare.

* One need only look at the authoritarian solutions proposed by such figures as Hobbes, who considered that the state should regulate all thought, to see how different Europe would have been had not liberalism established
itself.

* [Democracy 1.0]: Clientelism, the name of the system of relations between patrons and their clients, is taken from the explicit legal form of this system in the Roman Republic… The form itself, however, is a kind of pre-political surrogate for politics itself, the default form, so to speak, of the organization of relations of protection and obedience, against which juridical politics is necessarily defined. In the Pacific Islands this came to be described as the ‘big man complex’. Members of the society were characteristically involved in and dependent on relations with a ‘big man’ protector. A more refined version of this occurs in settled Hispanic societies in the form of debt relations. The local landowner is a person to whom one could turn to borrow money, but whose relationship with you was personal rather than a market relation and involved loyalty and subservience. The language of clientelism is familiar to any reader of letters from the European past in which such phrases as ‘your humble and obedient servant’, used by persons who were not literally servants, is characteristic, frequent, and a relic of a relation of clientelism in which a person without such a relationship to appeal to would have found survival difficult.

* [Democracy 2.0]: As populations moved during the nineteenth century another problem emerged, a problem that followed from the religious problem and was in many cases closely bound up with it. Was it possible to have government by discussion in a situation in which communal, ethnic, or tribal solidarity played a significant role?
Weber, for one, argued that the characteristic ‘fraternal’ forms of Western politics that led to modern liberalism were radically distinguished from Eastern traditions precisely because of ‘magical’ prohibitions on social contact
in the East (Weber [1921]1966: 96-8). American theorists of democracy of the nineteenth century were greatly concerned with problems of creating citizens out of immigrants from southern Europe, and saw no point in even considering Orientals as potential citizens.

* …a passage of John Stuart Mill’s Autobiography…provides us with a direct statement of the ideas of Liberal Democracy 2.0. James Mill had, “in politics, an almost unbounded confidence in the efficacy of two things:
representative government, and complete freedom of discussion. So complete was my father’s reliance on the influence of reason over the minds of mankind, whenever it is allowed to reach them, that he felt as if all would be gained if the whole population were taught to read, if all sorts of opinions were allowed to be addressed to them by word and in writing, and if by means of the suffrage they could nominate a legislature to give effect to the opinions they adopted. He thought that when the legislature no longer represented a class interest, it would aim at the general interest, honestly and with adequate wisdom; since the people would be sufficiently under the
guidance of educated intelligence, to make in general a good choice of persons to represent them, and having done so, to leave to those whom they had chosen a liberal discretion. Accordingly, aristocratic rule, the government of
the Few in any of its shapes, being in his eyes the only thing that stood between mankind and an administration of their affairs by the best wisdom to be found among them, was the object of his sternest disapprobation, and
a democratic suffrage the principle article of his political creed, not on the ground of liberty, rights of man, or any of the phrases more or less significant, by which, up to that time, democracy had usually been defended, but as the most essential of ‘securities for good government.’ In this, too, he held fast only to what he deemed essentials; he was comparatively indifferent to monarchial or republican forms – far more so than Bentham, to whom a king, in the character of ‘corruptor-general’, appeared necessarily very noxious.”

* the socialist idea was implicitly an idea that was antipopulist or at least hostile to the notion that untutored legislative preferences, that is to say the opinions held by ordinary people of what laws should be enacted, ought to be paramount, and thus implicitly hostile to a related idea that government by discussion ought to be the center of constitutional order. The ‘collectivist current’ and socialist doctrine emphasized instead the superior wisdom of the state, and the consequent necessity of intrusions into freedoms of individuals.

* But what is electoral politics about in Sweden? Once, upon arriving there during a campaign, I asked a Swedish friend what the election was about. He found this banal question to be sufficiently intriguing to write a news
paper story on it. Why? Because, not only was there no great issue in the election, the phenomenon of elections based on large issues was un-Swedish, and the question itself misguided. The reasons for this are many, and they include a particular tradition of compromise politics. But some of them point beyond Sweden. Like Germany and much of the rest of Europe, there was no protracted period like that in Britain in the mid-nineteenth century, during which a liberal bourgeoisie ruled through discussion. Liberal Democracy 2.0 was a phase that was partly a matter of form, a superficial phenomenon that barely touched the continued power of state bureaucracies.

* ‘everything in Sweden that is not nailed down is a subject for a Royal Commission’ (Austin 1968: 48, my translation). In these, commissions ‘every conceivable public body and interested association is consulted’
(1968: 48). Similarly, when something goes wrong, after ‘a glare of angry publicity. . . . All the experts in the country are mobilized overnight’ and organized as an ‘utredning – a commission-to-inquire-into-something – most
Swedish of institutions!’

* This is a form of politics: a surrogate for liberal democracy. Publicity has its role, but only in a drama of legitimation. The public does not decide. As Austin says, ‘in all things Swedish the expert rules’. He gives
the following example: ‘In 1957 a plebiscite was held to enquire whether Swedes wished to be like other Europeans and drive on the right-hand side of the road, instead of the left. The vote went strongly against. Ten years later the change is made, even so. Public opinion, having evidently made a fool of itself, is not again consulted’…

* Liberal Democracy 3.0…becomes a politics in which expert opinion establishing fact-surrogates alone suffices, and the legal distinctions (and particularly the public private distinction) between commissions, movements, and boundary organizations cease to have significance.

* The American Civil War was an extension of legislative controversy by other means, and taught a sobering lesson that a politics of moralizing intolerance had a price in blood. The English civil war had taught the same lesson. In the nineteenth century, and the first part of the twentieth, the demands of empire made ‘stakeholders’ of those who voted, and it both sobered and hardened them. This ‘political education’ was the tough core of liberal democracy in the English-speaking world.

* In a recent [2001] lecture, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, the Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs, observes that at the root of anxiety about the European Community there is “the feeling that fundamental decisions previously made in a transparent and legally understandable way at the level of the democratic post-Westphalian nation-state, are being transferred to a higher body. A body where decision making is not always clear and transparent or understandable from the standard of parliamentary procedure; where the Montesquieuan division of powers are muddled, and where the connection between the individual citizen’s opinion and his opportunities to make his opinion clear through established means such [as] through his party or through calls to his parliamentary representative is no longer clear. Or to use the famous words of Saint-Simon (or was it Engels?) in another context, the citizen senses Europe is ‘replacing the government of persons with the administration of things’. It is, I believe, the administration of things, that causes unease among European citizens, as does the fear that government of persons is less and less relevant. The democratic nation-state that developed in most of Europe after the Enlightenment and the French Revolution has as its core assumption that the citizen has his say in what happens in his country. It is the absence of this feeling that distinguishes undemocratic countries from democratic ones, it was the failure to
allow the citizen his say that led ultimately to the fall of the Wall.”

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been noted in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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