Can people in a liberal democracy ever feel completely free and equal?

Munnkeyman

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While reading The Shadow of Unfairness - A Plebeian Theory of Liberal Democracy by Jeffrey Edward Green I came across the following statement -

It is just this unadulterated feeling of free and equal citizenship that the shadow of unfairness deems as a false expectation of political life within any conceivable liberal-democratic regime. However admirable the principle of free and equal citizenship in its abstraction, however remarkable the achievements at the institutional level that have been realized as a result of the commitment to this principle, however much these institutions may provide ordinary citizens with some experiential sense of being free and equal, and however much ongoing and future reforms (such as efforts to reduce the effects of socioeconomic status on opportunities for education and political engagement) might further enhance the scope and depth of this feeling, the fact remains that no ordinary citizen in a liberal democracy, either today or in a more enlightened future, can be expected to feel fully free and equal. The structure of the liberal-democratic regime will not allow it. This is what the shadow of unfairness indicates and announces.

For John Rawls a just liberal-democratic regime is one where - "social institutions within which human beings may develop their moral powers become fully cooperating members of a society of free and equal citizens".

Just to state; the term liberal-democracy here may be taken to encompass the the ideas of social liberalism and to a certain extent the civil liberties under the rule of law encompassed by more classical liberalism.


So, do you as a franchised citizen of a liberal democracy feel that you can ever feel fully free and equal?
Under what shadow of unfairness do you reside and what can be done to change this? Or, alternatively, are we limited by the fact that the guarantee and granting of more freedoms is asymptotic, or can there always be a continuous strive and granting of more personal liberty?
 


PC Principle

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Nobody is owed anything.

Nobody should expect anyone else to make your life better.

Drop the entitlement attitude and roll with life.

Shît happens.
 

Munnkeyman

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Nobody is owed anything.

Nobody should expect anyone else to make your life better.

Drop the entitlement attitude and roll with life.

Shît happens.
That's not really addressing the point. You live in a liberal democracy, do you feel you are owed the same respect and treatment as anyone else before the social institutions in your country?
 

Lúidín

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In capitalist society, whether administered as a liberal democracy or not, the power resides with those who own the wealth and their acolytes, their politicians and their journalists.

There is no possibility of fairness where a small group of people have all the power - the power of people's livlihoods, homes and even freedom.
 

Munnkeyman

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In capitalist society, whether administered as a liberal democracy or not, the power resides with those who own the wealth and their acolytes, their politicians and their journalists.

There is no possibility of fairness where a small group of people have all the power - the power of people's livlihoods, homes and even freedom.
Could the same not be said about a socialist system? Is it not within human nature to yearn for power and control over others, or is that nurture only?
Could the shadow of unfairness also exist in a socialist society which was administered as a democracy with respect to social liberalism?
 

eoghanacht

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I blame the Roman's.
 

Munnkeyman

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More from the author here -

The argument I put forward in this essay is a simple one:liberals almost universally conceive of plutocracy as a problem that in principle will be satisfactorily corrected in a well-ordered liberal-democratic regime, when in fact it is an inescapable problem that cannot be fully solved — at least so long as there is private property and the family— and this therefore generates a second-order challenge for liberals committed to social justice: not just how to reduce plutocracy, but how to retrospectively respond to the plutocracy that always will have existed in liberal-democratic states.
https://www.sas.upenn.edu/polisci/sites/www.sas.upenn.edu.polisci/files/Green-2015-Constellations.pdf


Liberals who deny plutocracy usually do so by holding out the promise that reforms — ranging from campaign finance legislation, inheritance and estate taxation, and egalitarian social policies aimed at insuring wealth is widely dispersed within a polity — could create a society where socioeconomic factors would not interfere with opportunities for educational development and political influence. Consider, for example, John Rawls,arguably the most influential political philosopher of the last century. Rawls, to be sure, in at least one key instance in his A Theory of Justice veers in the direction of acknowledging something like the permanent problem of plutocracy, when he briefly admits that similarly talented and motivated children, even in the most well ordered liberal-democratic regime, will always have their life prospects affected by the socioeconomic conditions of the families into which they are born:[T]he principle of fair opportunity [with regard to education]can be only imperfectly carried out, at least as long as the institution of the family exists. The extent to which natural capacities develop and reach fruition is affected by all kinds of social conditions and class attitudes. Even the willingness to make an effort, to try,and so to be deserving in the ordinary sense is itself dependent upon happy family and social circumstances.It is impossible in practice to secure equal chances of achievement and culture for those similarly endowed(74/64 rev, emphasis added).
 

talkingshop

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While reading The Shadow of Unfairness - A Plebeian Theory of Liberal Democracy by Jeffrey Edward Green I came across the following statement -




For John Rawls a just liberal-democratic regime is one where - "social institutions within which human beings may develop their moral powers become fully cooperating members of a society of free and equal citizens".

Just to state; the term liberal-democracy here may be taken to encompass the the ideas of social liberalism and to a certain extent the civil liberties under the rule of law encompassed by more classical liberalism.


So, do you as a franchised citizen of a liberal democracy feel that you can ever feel fully free and equal?
Under what shadow of unfairness do you reside and what can be done to change this? Or, alternatively, are we limited by the fact that the guarantee and granting of more freedoms is asymptotic, or can there always be a continuous strive and granting of more personal liberty?
The quote doesn't explain in what way "the structure of the liberal-democratic regime" does not allow people to feel free and equal?
 

Munnkeyman

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The quote doesn't explain in what way "the structure of the liberal-democratic regime" does not allow people to feel free and equal?

This will give a better reading of what constitutes the most unfair, or main modes of inequality -

These three elements — the differentiation within political life between a select cadre of leaders and a great many with no expectation (let alone possession) of formal political power, the profound unverifiability besetting determinations of representation, and the plutocratic incursion of socioeconomic status into the spheres of educational and political opportunity— constitute the most fundamental elements of the shadow of unfairness. To be clear, these are not necessarily the only nor the worst problems a liberal democracy might face. There are often other important sources of unfairness within any given society. But whereas more familiar and more severe problems— such as corruption, legalized discrimination against racial minorities and women,
religious persecution, and destitution— are in principle solvable, the shadow of unfairness is a permanent mar on liberal- democratic regimes’ capacity to fully realize the norms of free and equal citizenship. The shadow of unfairness, then, is part of the very nature of liberal democracy. It therefore ought to be integrated into the definitional understanding of liberal democracy, not
just in the name of honesty and truth, but also because— as this book aims to establish— confronting the shadow of unfairness can refine and embolden the progressive spirit already at work within our liberal democracies, rather than quell or quench it.
 

ShoutingIsLeadership

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In a country where Mary Mitchell O'Connor feels hard done by after a slight demotion, when she deserved to be locked out of public sight forever, anything goes.
 

storybud1

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The power flow is nuts, we the people should be able to hold the politicians more accountable just like the comments section in the paper that flow after some looney journalist posts an article from his comfortable home and gets ridiculed for his/her opinion (the facts presented by the so called journalsit are always askew to support the journalists agenda) Mullally, Holland, O Toole, etc, pure student union rubbish,,

Example, Merkel (without any consultation to her bosses, the voters) opened up the said voters borders to a million third world immigrants from anywhere but Syria at her whim in one year alone,,

Is it a disaster ? , yes it fooking is, many, many native EU dead, raped, destroyed lives and yet the media and news outlets simply do not see why Brexit happened and link the two.

The same could be said of the German/French bank bailout imposed on the workers here ? its fooking laughable the biggest noise came from the RBB dole voters??

Zappone ?? an American lesbian activist with a mickey mouse teaching course in ultra liberal Trinity is flying thousands and thousands of muslims into our Country despite the 2003 vote by the people here to say NO,, no more,,

There simply is no mechanism to hold the elite to the vote as they find ways around it and do what they are told by the EU and then sail off into Pension heaven,,

Just ask Gimmiemore or the gimp in the Aras,, there needs to be more connection to hold these fookers accountable and sack them without pension or jail them when they are caught redhanded lying to the voters.

The Swiss can pull up a clearly looney member of parliament with a common petition of approx 50,000 signatures, where is the safety valve to stop the Zappones and the rest, it is simply unimaginable that certain politicians seem to just get away with lying their faces off so they are untouchable for 5 years as they do a u-turn or just enact policies that were clearly never on their manifesto.

Don't listen to this sh1te that they need more time to do this and that,,, it is bullsh1t, they are lying to you and delaying until the pension kicks in and they can sail off, Where is Bertie ? trying to get into the Aras and his ex girlfriend got a nice loan off FF to buy a house worth 10 times it is now.

They are chancers sipping at the EU bowl and fooking us over cos it never happens where they live ?

Liberal democracy is only possible when redress, accountability etc in the short term is available to the voters, the current system is unfit for purpose as we cannot stop the loons soon enough,

does anyone remember voting for thousands and thousands of muslims to arrive here in the last year in free housing for life (ignore the reception centre boll1x, they are housing them during a housing crisis) I see it with my own eyes and hear the iman and his booming speakers,, but apparently according to the media and the politicians it is not happening ? (well not where they live)

Must get my eyes and ears checked ?? they are clearly faulty and are not part of the new elite liberal fascist world,,

The ministry of Truth is alive and kicking,, Orwell nailed it,, the fascists are indeed controlling the media here.
 
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razorblade

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Everyone has equal opportunity to better themselves, naturally some are going to be more successful with that opportunity than others.
 

Munnkeyman

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Everyone has equal opportunity to better themselves, naturally some are going to be more successful with that opportunity than others.

They don't.
In a stark reminder of the inequality that lies at the heart of Irish society, fewer than 8 per cent of Leaving Cert students in secondary schools located in some of the poorer areas of the country are progressing to high-point courses at third-level institutions, according to the 2016 Irish Times feeder school list published today.
https://www.irishtimes.com/news/education/league-tables-a-reminder-of-inequality-in-irish-society-1.2893807
 

Orbit v2

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no ordinary citizen in a liberal democracy, either today or in a more enlightened future, can be expected to feel fully free and equal.
Why?
The structure of the liberal-democratic regime will not allow it.
Why?
This is what the shadow of unfairness indicates and announces.
I don't see any argument to sustain the statements made.
 

Nebuchadnezzar

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This will give a better reading of what constitutes the most unfair, or main modes of inequality -
Munnkey.....unfairness and equality are not necessarily the equal opposites and particularly so if one takes a broader view beyond the narrow consideration of the individual. What is wrong with at least some degree 'favour' being passed on from one generation to the next provided it is factored to enable others to benefit from their efforts? Should a family not be entitled or even encouraged to pass on material benefit to their own? However, is'nt this the root of "inequality"? I think that this "inequality" is not a bad thing provided it's affect is limited and regulated. Personally I strive to do best for my children whilst also trying to inculcate in them self reliance and to avoid any sense of entitlement. Why should a meritocratic system apply to just the individual?
 
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talkingshop

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This will give a better reading of what constitutes the most unfair, or main modes of inequality -
1. the differentiation within political life between a select cadre of leaders and a great many with no expectation (let alone possession) of formal political power,

Yeah, but we can't all take the decisions...or maybe we could in future by text/electronic voting every week on every issue - but this is unworkable really. We wouldn't have the knowledge on every issue - finance bills, taxation, etc - to do so. We need the specialisation of elected representatives to concentrate on this stuff. And any of us are free to get into politics, most don't want to. And we have the power to kick them out and select others. So I don't see this as unfair, unfree or unequal.

2. the profound unverifiability besetting determinations of representation,

No idea what this means. :)

3. and the plutocratic incursion of socioeconomic status into the spheres of educational and political opportunity

Not sure at all what this means. But certainly yes, money, inherited wealth, the wealth of the family one is born does lead to an inequality of sorts. But liberal democracies try to ameliorate this through education, equality of opportunity etc. Lots of the disadvantage here though comes from the cultural values of parents, and this will certainly never be rectified (and shouldn't be tried imo) in a liberal democracy.
 

Munnkeyman

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Munnkey.....unfairness and equality are not necessarily the equal opposites and particularly so if one takes a broader view beyond the narrow consideration of the individual. What is wrong with at least some degree 'favour' being passed on from one generation to the next provided it is factored to enable others to benefit from their efforts? Should a family not be entitled or even encouraged to pass on material benefit to their own? However, is'nt this the root of "inequality"? I think that this "inequality" is not a bad thing provided it's affect is limited and regulated. Personally I strive to do best for my children whilst also trying to inculcate in them self reliance and to avoid any sense of entitlement. Why shouldn't a meritocratic system apply to just the individual?

I suppose that is a lottery of birth type of argument to a certain extent as well as a fairness one. Really the idea presented here, and by Rawls before, is that fairness is a product of, or is only attainable, in an equal society. The point in your second sentence is quite interesting as it is a really fair exemplar of the problem - how does an equal society set itself up for this? We already have a fairly hamfisted approach to this idea in the form of an inheritance tax - is there a better way?
 


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