I’ve been reading about various models of democracy lately, and started to wonder about alternatives to the threefold distinction between the ideal types of liberal individualist, republican and deliberative models. This typology seems to have gained quite a bit of recognition- e.g. by Habermas himself, as well as Held, Elster, Dahlberg and others.
According to the author, Elster’s threefold distinction is based on asking two questions about politics: first, does politics have an intrinsic value, or is it purely instrumental? And second, is the political process (the process of will formation) private or public? Answers to these questions provide us with a matrix of four cells, but Elster filled only three of these cells: he doesn’t pay attention to those models that consider politics to have intrinsic value, and to manifest in a private process.
Now, liberal individualist models consider the process private – but the objective of the political process is not the process itself – it is merely instrumental to achieving the good life. In contrast, republican models consider the political process to have some intrinsic value – but that value is to be pursued in public, informed by a sense of community. How could these be reconciled, in models that consider politics to be of intrinsic worth, yet being private in their process?
Drosterij suggests that this doesn’t really make sense- at least not so far as we understand politics as will formation. Instead, he proposes to redefine politics as “jurisdiction:” dealing solely with the question of how various processes of will formation should be institutionalized; i.e. how and to what extent the formal decision making core of the state could regulate “civil” democracy.
Although it’s an interesting thought, I think it raises many more questions than it answers; the most important being: if we equate “politics” with “jurisdiction,” then what shall we call, and how should we understand, those processes of will formation that the jurisdiction is supposed to govern?
The article closes so:
Deliberative democracy does not encompass [politics as jurisdiction], since it fails to principally distinguish between the civil and the political level of democracy, and therefore unfortunately understands politics as a combination of both: politics as public will formation.
In contrast to Cohen, I would like to understand the procedure from which procedurally correct decisions draw their legitimacy […] as the core structure in a separate, constitutionally [=legally] organized political system, but not as a model for all social institutions […]. If deliberative politics is supposed to be inflated into a structure shaping the totality of society, then the discursive mode of sociation expected in the legal system would have to expand into a self-organization of society and penetrate the latter’s complexity as a whole. This is impossible, for the simple reason that democratic procedure must be embedded in contexts it cannot itself regulate.” (1996: 305)