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Equality As Mutual Controls: A Research On Robert Alan Dahl’s Theory Of Political Equality

Posted on:2016-01-27Degree:DoctorType:Dissertation
Country:ChinaCandidate:Z JiangFull Text:PDF
GTID:1226330461453208Subject:Political Theory
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Robert Alan Dahl is always viewed as a representative scholar of "pluralism Democracy" in post-war USA. He claims that political equality is a kind of intrinsic morale value, and so is the strong form of political equality, which believes that all people are capable enough to take part in the process of making binding decisions. He believes that political equality is the foundation and prerequisite of democracy, while democracy is the only practical way of implementing democracy. Equality,as De Tocqueville wrote, is an unavoidable historical trend, with emotion, rather than ration, as its incentive.Dahl insists that though ideal democracy can’t exist in real world, we can use it as a model, or a gauge to check our political systems. In actual world, direct democracy, which existed in small countries in ancient times in Greece and Athens, and polyarchy or representative democracy, which exists in huge nation-states, do work, if not quite well.Concretely speaking, because inequality in resources is an inherent character of any political system, and inequality in resources can be turned into political inequalities, and consequently, mutual control will be damaged. As a result, political inequality will be enhanced.Dahl rejects Locke’s theory on private property, accusing it of being correct only in simple rural society in 18th century. In modern industrialized societies, however, it is quite naive. Because in industrialized society, properties are not controlled by individuals but by giant firms, which is viewed by Dahl as coercive as a state. So, Dahl concludes that a kind of "economic democracy" must be created co cope with the dilemma of pluralism democracy.Finally, Dahl believes that because human beings are not only a rationale creature but an emotional one, they will pursuit spiritual pleasure after they own adequate material fortunes. As we witness in developed countries, people can’t be more happy simply by obtaining more material resources; on they contrary, they will be more happy by treating each other more equally.Theoretically, Dahl favors Tocquville’s political thought, except the point about "majority tyranny".thinking that governments can play an important role, he disagrees with laissez faire policies supported by Hayek and Nozick. He respects John Rawls, but criticizes Rawls’beliefs about rationality. He doubt the effectiveness of welfare countries. He absorbs Armatya Sen’s methodology, but is indifferent with Sen’s political theory. And he accuses Walzer of being relative culturally. He disagrees with the "participation democracy" of Paterman and Babber. He labeled him as kind of "socialism", but criticize Marxism as a certain "Guardianship" theory. He insists that oligarchy theory of Moska is very weak because it ignores the independence of subordinates.In conclusion, Dahl’s theory of political equality, which is based on the political practice of U.S.A,can be outlined as "political equality as reciprocal control".Dahl thinks, in essence, democracy is a political system in which people can control each other mutually, with participation and opposition as its main features.Polyarchy is the practical way to carry out political equality. It does have some problems, but it can be bettered.However, Dahl’s political equality theory has some drawbacks and restrictions. For one thing, he neglects many important issues such as the cost of equality, the boundary of equality, and so on. Bedsides, because of the restrictions of his fundamental theoretical framework, the pluralism democracy or polyarchy, he can rarely put forward any constructive suggestions to the obstacles of political equality. It seems that as a distinguished political scientist, sometimes he lacks theoretical imagination.Though Dahl is famous for his polyarchy theory for all his life, his theory is not so consistent as many people imagined anyway. The dissertation plans to point out that after 1970s Dahl began to criticize the ability of Polyarchy to realize political equality, and began to count on other factors such as emotions and cultures and virtues, which is not very consistent with his ideas at the early stage.Anyway, we Chinese can learn something from Dahl when we are engaging in the construction of socialism democracy with Chinese characteristics. As a famous Chinese motto goes, "With the stones produced on other people’s mountain, it’s possible for you to turn it into the jades of yourself."...
Keywords/Search Tags:Dahl, Pluralism democracy, mutual control, political equality
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