On Norberto Bobbio's Theory of Democracy Author(s): Corina Yturbe Reviewed work(s): Source: Political Theory, Vol. 25, No. 3 (Jun., 1997), pp. 377-400 Published by: Sage Publications, Inc. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/191985 . Accessed: 02/11/2011 23:26Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact [email protected]
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ON NORBERTO BOBBIO'S THEORY DEMOCRACY OF
CORINAYTURBE UniversidadNacional Autonomade Me6xico
of Bobbiois to reflect Oneof thecentral objectives theworkof Norberto the of on contemporary democracy, through criticalexamination boththe and theoriesand democratic redevelopment presentstateof democratic and of whichareas much gimes.In his observations analyses democracy, as we to historical-sociological philosophical, find a valuable contribution of the understanding thepossibilities limitsof democratic and government, out in whichBobbio points "[have] become theseyears common the denomiof theoretical practical nator allthepolitically and Two relevant, questions."' of aspectsof Bobbio'sdiscussion democracy into provide insights his own of and his understanding democratic theoryandpractice, helpdistinguish fromthatof othercontemporary approach theorists Robert like Dahl and GiovanniSartori.The first is Bobbio'sexamination the relationship of and betweenliberaldemocracy socialism.Thereis a tensionin Bobbio's to thoughtbetweenhis commitment liberalism and democracy his and realization and that liberaldemocracy (both theoretical practical) alone cannotguarantee socialjustice.Thesecondaspectof Bobbio'sdemocratic on theoryis his reflection the "unfulfilled promises" democracy. of Bobbio believestheelection democratic of in procedures itselfentails realization the of certain fundamental values. Thesevalues givesenseto democracy, renderingit themostdesired-or atleast,thelessundesired-form government, of and establishits superiority over otherforms of politicalorganization, especiallyits historical counterparts, autocracy dictatorship. or However, to the of according Bobbio, promises democracy notbeenfulfilled, have andAUTHOR'SNOTE:I am most gratefulto the editor of PoliticalTheoryfor commentson earlier versions of this essay; I want also to express my warmestthanksto Mary LyndonShanleyfor readingearlier draftson this essay and makingmanyconstructivecomments. Vol. POLMICAL THEORY, 25 No.3, June1997 377-400 ? 1997SagePublications, Inc. 377
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illuminates continuous to rethink only the thenature thisfailure of need not democratic in theory thelightof thelessonsof democratic itself. practice
I. BOBBIO'SUNDERSTANDING DEMOCRACY OF A. The "Minimum Definition"of Democracy: ProceduralDemocracy
Bobbio's thoseondemocracy, are theoretical-political writings, especially theproduct twofundamental of interests: theoretical, one where philosophy andpoliticalsciencecometogether whichBobbiocalls "political and thethe the of ory"; other, practical and analysis convergent situations participationin ideological debates. writings anattempt onlyto His are not political in conceptualize politicsbut also to participate politics.Even in his most abstract a texts, we find this political"vocation" constant reference a to certaintheoretical-cultural fusion through which he moves his analyses factsandvalues,andbetween feasibleandthedesirable. between the Thus, on one hand,some of Bobbio'swritings theoretical the strictsense, are in wherethe principal of objectiveis the construction a generaltheoryof Bobbiocarriesout this task by definingpreciselythe essential politics.' in philosophical problems thepolitical and and field,byclassifying clarifying the of testing definition theconcepts, wellas byreconstructing as theoretical as models,whichareunderstood instruments the understanding the for of world.3 constantly He tries to recuperate rethink "lessonsof the and the to classics," returning theideasof thegreat writers havebeenconsidered that in sense-from Plato Kelsen-thatis tosay,thosewhose "classic" thestrict to for theoryor modelis indispensable an understanding reality,4 of working themoutanewforthestatement resolution ourownproblems.5 and of Bobbiodealsstraightforwardly practical with concerns his writings in on A specificideological debates. defender individual of political he rights, has becomethe specialinterlocutor the Italian of Left, whichby virtueof its has to particular and history managed attain maintain autonomy an vis-a-vis Withthe withdrawal the Italian Marxist-Leninist of dogmas.6 Communist Partyfrom the international communist and movement, with the fall of so-called socialism, discussion acquired newstrength. the real this has a In new context, understanding whatshouldbe meantby democracy an of has becomea crucial for problem theLeft. on Bobbio's reflections democracy be recorded developments a can as of as theorythatconsiders democracy a formof government which,from and
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(i) the outset,poses two fundamental questions: who governsandhow do and who and whichprocedures? theygovern? (ii) whodecides governs under to to leadsBobbio workoutwhathe calls Oneof theanswers thesequestions definition" democracy. weshallsee,thisdefinition of As a "minimum regards rules of decisions as democracy a set of procedural forthetaking collective of in to andmustinclude, addition thespecification therules,a specification are for of whatsortof conditions required theirapplication. or describes specificform a Inits descriptive analytical "democracy" use, that in of government: democracy designates formof government which in politicalpower is exercisedby the many,or by the greater number, of with and formsof government oneand comparison monarchy aristocracy, This divisionis replaced time, over thefew,respectively. classical tripartite and distinction between Bobbio says,bya "primary fundamental" democracy on no based thenumber rulers, onthedistinction of but andautocracy, longer and This Kelsenmakesbetweenautonomy heteronomy.7 secondcriterion to to decisions are gives priority theprocedures according whichcollective is the are made: distinction basedon whether decisions takenaccording the whichleadsto a distinction or between to anascending descending process, frombelow) and autocracy power democracy powerascending (the (the fromabove). descending that Inspiteof thevasttransformation democracy undergone adapt has to circumstances socialchanges, and for to newhistorical "democracy" Bobbio "As hasalwayskeptits fundamental calleduponto meaning: forthepersons in take(or collaborate the takingof) collectivedecisions,a democracy is this of characterized conferring power... to a largenumber members of by it of the group";8 is thusthe government the manyor of the majority, the of is whoselegitimacy grounded the ascending in government thepeople,9 formof power. in Thefundamental and difference, theanalytical sense,between ancient lies modemdemocracy in thedistinction between directandrepresentative In the weredirectly involved thedecision in participation. theformer, citizens processes,while in the latter,the citizenschoose the representatives to undertake collectivedecisionsin theirname.In otherwords,whathas the is changedover the courseof the centuries the way in whichthe people exercisetherightof governing. Powerin a modern is democracy thepower of of the representatives the demos,who are those charged with making collectivedecisionsby meansof a complexprocess. to According Bobbio the essentialelementsof democracy-a certain and equality a certain libas erty-are thesamein modern democracy in theancient.10 Inaddition theprescriptions theentitlement andexercise power, to on to of are forms of government also distinguished the basis of the ethical on
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principlesthatinspireandjustify them. In its prescriptiveor evaluativeuse, democracyhas been considered,dependingon the historicalmoment,as the best, the least bad, or the worst form of government,with equalitybeing its principle or philosophical foundation.For democracy,equality is defined as fundamentally equalityof politicalpower,thatis to say, as equal opportunity for citizens to participatein the governmentof their society. They are equal from the point of view of politics: being equal before the law, all individualsareequallyworthyof governingandmakingthe decisions which affect theirsociety. Minimalpoliticalequality,for moderndemocrats,occurs with universalsuffrage. The distinctionsthatBobbioestablishesbetweenthedemocracyof ancient times and that of modern times, as well as between the different ways of or understanding conceiving this form of government,enable him to specify the distinctivefeaturesof democraticregimes. However,Bobbio insists that it is necessaryto have an analyticalcriterionthatallows us to decide whether a particularstate is democraticor not. Taking as a point of reference the standpointof jurists like Ross andKelsen who startfroma purelyprocedural as conceptionof democracy, a meansfor makingcollective decisions, Bobbio proposes a minimumdefinition, "butnot a poor one," thatcontrastsdemocracy as a form of governmentto "all forms of autocraticgovernment."'' Aroundthis "minimumdefinition,"the nucleus of his theoryof democracy, Bobbio will weave diverse ways of approaching questionof democracy. the theorieson democracy,Bobbio's work Comparedto othercontemporary accords great importanceto the "juridical" dimension. Democracy is to be understoodas a set of proceduresassuring the citizens' direct or indirect participationalong the different stages of the decision-makingprocesses. Bobbio thus focuses on the so-called rules of the game. In contrast,other theoristslike Dahl and Sartorifocus on the relationsand agreementsof the differentexisting forces or interestgroups.The politically relevantsubjects in the democraticregimes are,fromthis perspective,those relativelyautonomous groups, organizations,or associations that, as competing forces, are able to exert influence and to select authorities.For these theoristscompetition among groups constitutes a democratic regime; thus Dahl refers to insteadof "democracies."'2 "polyarchies" These conceptions democracy notexcludeone another. M. Bovero of do As suggests: "in spite of the diversity of perspectives,of influentialtraditions and languages, . . . none of them puts forwardan image or an interpretation or a re-definitionof the realityof democraticregimes,thatends up rendering it incompatiblewith the otherperspectives."'3 Bobbio himself has considered the results of the theoriesof Dahl and Sartoriin his own theory,while at the 14 same time defendinghis procedural conceptionof democracy. Besides their
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on of agreement the fundamentals the nature democracy, of Bobbio,Dahl, havein common andSartori realistic perspectives. the Theyconsider pheon not nomena democracy fromthe standpoint its idealimage,butfrom of is "the it actual regimes: onlywayto savedemocracy by taking as it is, with a realisticspirit,withoutdeludingoneself or deludingothers."'" Bobbio in fromDahl and Sartori his definition the valuesuponwhich of departs as democracy stands,particularly to the role of equalityas a founding the principle to the ways of identifying empirical and dimensions the of valuesof democracy. As an alternative the conception politicsas antagonistic to of conflict, rules are Bobbio proposesa vision of politics in which the procedural the "To minimum on requirements, necessary pointof departure. embark adiscussion of 'alternativepolitics' . . . it is essential to consider not just
but the possiblenew themesandnew strategies, firstandforemost rulesof the gamein whichthe politicalcontestunfoldsin a givenhistorical situis Our context characterized thevictory democracy, of ation."'6 historical by lies whosepredominant significance in thefactthatit is a setof rules,which of not only governthe members a community also connectthe people but rulesfacilitate widestparticipation the amongthemselves. of Democracy's in of themajority citizens theresolution theconflicts thepolitical of in sphere, in are "thesphere whichthedecisions taken mostaffectthecommunity that as a whole."'7 of Thedefinition theserulesis fundamental it is through since themthat who it is established mustmakethedecisions by whatprocedures and these decisionsshouldbe made:'Those thatwe call the formsof government," "are one Bobbiowrites, distinguished fromanother, thebasisof therules on In wherebythe collectivedecisionsare made."'8 short,the meaningof refers theprocedure to whichdecisions taken not democracy through are and of so to thecontent thosedecisions, thatthrough different social democracy andeconomic on policiescanbe adopted depending thewill of themajority. Twoconditions mustbe metbeforespeaking a minimum of definition of decisions mustbe distributed democracy. First,thepowerof making among a veryhighnumber citizens. of Modern is in democracy "aregime whichall adult citizens havepolitical onein which is universal there rights, suffrage."'9 Whentheyhavea "maximum extension political of all rights," thecitizens havethe rightto participate, or in directly indirectly, the decision-making the process. Second, basicruleof democracy that requires suchdecisions be takenbasedon the majority Giventhatunanimity practically principle.20 is whentherearemanypeoplehavingto makethe decisions, impossible one must seek the consensusof the majority. the case of contemporary In democracies-each the individuals of democracies-representative with a
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in of decisions his rightto participate themaking collective appoints or her elections basedonthemajority to make representatives, collecthrough rule, will tive decisions the which,in turn, be madeunder samerule.2' to Bobbioaddsa third condition thesetwoinitial the conditions, guarantee and of of realalternatives, as a result this,theexistence guarantee the and of of fourbasicliberties themodemworld,freedom opinion, expression, of of of meeting,and of association, whichallow individuals decideamong to political "cannot function options, beyond sortof coercion. any Democracy if it does notpresuppose wholetradition liberalism, is to say,the the of this wholetradition the declarations the rightsof freedom, of of whicharethe of actionitself."22 Besidesthe two fundamental presupposition democratic valuespresupposed democracy-politicalequality(politicalrightsfor by all) andthe rightsof liberty(personal libertyandthe civil liberties)-the definition of procedural the presupposes presence valuesin theprocedures themselves. AmongthesevaluesBobbiomentions tolpeace,nonviolence, and whicharenecessary guarantee eration, brotherhood, to comorganized create possibility resolving the of of munity conflicts interests and existence, and of valuespeacefully, maintain links betweenmembers a specific ofsociety.23
The ultra-minimum definitionof democracy proposedby Bobbiouniversal and suffrage majority rule-has certain basicdistinguishing feait turesthatrender original: it mustbe interpreted thelightof thevalues in (1) in implicit theprocedures; it is based (2) upona clear of recognition thevalue of participation, because guarantee to in participation poweris, forBobbio, a what distinguishesdemocratic regime; it linksdemocracy liberalism (3) and becausedemocratic of libertywill be the guarantor liberalliberty: "While civil liberties a necessary are condition the exerciseof political for liberty, this-in otherwords, popular the control political of power-is a necessary and condition, first,for the achievement, then,fortheconservation civil ofliberties."24 B. Democracy'sNecessary Relationshipto Liberalism
Bobbiohas neverabandoned liberalism, whichholdsthatthe rightsof freedomare the necessary conditionof all possibledemocracies. his In to between attempt stateanewtherelation and democracy socialism, of one Bobbio'sfirst objectivesis to demonstrate possiblerelation the between and This democracy liberalism. relation-that therelation is, between form a of government characterized a certain by distribution power bycertain of and and specificprocedures, a political ideology conceives that reality a certain in
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way andprescribescertainvalues-is for Bobbio a possible butnot inevitable relation:undercertainconditions, the conditionsof developmentgenerated by modem society,democracywouldof necessity-in the sense of "historical necessity"ratherthan "logicalnecessity"-be connectedto liberalism. a Bobbio understands particular By "liberalism" conceptionof the state; the liberal state accordingto which this has limited powers and functions, contrastingwith the absolutestateandthe social state.This conceptionof the state forms partof a particular ideology, thatis, a generalconceptionof the political world, definedby certainmodels for interpreting realityandhistory and by a specific constellation of values or aims proposed for political activity.25The principles of freedom and equality which are shared by liberalismand democracymake it possible to speak of some sort of relation role in Bobbio's between the two. Those principlesplay such an important work thathe prefersto analyzethe relationbetweenliberalismand socialism underthe termsof libertyand equality:we In the faceof theenormous to problems findbefore . . . referring problems of us, and of but may about liberty to problems equality be less pretentious alsomoreuseful: for thosein which democratic liberty thosecountries, namely do governments notexist, to and whichhappens be the case of mostof the countries, about equality, regarding of If that distribution wealth. we wishto consider thefirstproblem turns theliberal to one so I doctrine thesecond tothesocialist and doctrine, beit.Howeverrecognize myself in "Justice Liberty."26 and and better, evenemotionally, theslogan
On the institutionallevel, liberalismconsists in the search for constitutional mechanisms to limit the power of the state and to guaranteecertain libertiesto individuals.The doctrineof the liberalstateis "thedoctrineof the On juridical limits of the power of the State."27 the ethico-politicallevel, a constantof this political doctrineis the defense of the principleof the liberty of the individualagainstthepowerof the stateor of the churchif this impedes the free developmentof the individual'spersonality.The differentcharters and declarationsof the rights of man are the juridical manifestationof the defense of the libertyof the individual. Is therea differencebetweenthe libertydefendedby liberalismandliberty understoodas one of the foundationsof democracy? Bobbio believes thatthe answerto this questioncontainsthe key to understanding sort of liberalany ism andits possiblerelationwithdemocracyandwith socialism;it also shows that the discussion of this political problem is more than an academic exercise: it is a pressingpolitical questionof our day. In political language, the concept of liberty has two fundamental meanings: libertymeaningabsenceof interference, the facultyof carryingout, like or not, certainactions withoutbeing obliged or impededby othersor by the
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and as as of power thestate, liberty autonomy, thepower notobeying of norms on thanthosethatonehasimposed oneself.Liberty thefirstsenseis in other The a constant classicalliberal in of is theory. secondmeaning liberty used in modem democratic theory,where"to be free"does not mean to be governed laws,butto give laws to oneself.Democratic by tendsto liberty of of leadto thecreation organizations self-government. In the first sense, the problemof libertyis, in Berlin'sterm,that of whichdemands therebe limitsto the actionof the that "negative liberty," of state.28 prototypes negative The or of liberty, theliberty modem times,are thosethatmustbe protected thelaw. civil liberties, by the In the struggle against absolute doctrine defends the state,theliberal of state-this is to say,a state principle the ruleof law-the constitutional where not only public powers are subordinated laws (constitutional to state/the rule of law in the weak or formalsense),but the laws are also to subordinated someconstitutional and in "inviorights, therefore principle, rule lable"(constitutional state/the of law in the strongsense).Individual in libertiesare guaranteed accordance liberalthought with only in a state of baseduponthe principle the ruleof law,wherein constitutional mechanismslimitthepowersof thestateandimpede arbitrary illegitimate the and the exerciseof power.29 state socialstate, Against maximum ortheso-called is of liberalism the defender the minimum statewhosefunctions mustbe for limited theminimum to of necessary thesurvival thecommunity. Classiis a cal liberalism therefore specificconception the state,"according of to whichthe Statehaslimited powersandfunctions, as such,[it] opposes and Stateas muchas it doestheStatethattodaywe call social."30 theabsolute Theprincipal of for doctrine therefore liberty is meaning liberty liberal the toconfront state,31 the whosepowers limited theso-called liberties are civil by andthe so-calledeconomic headed therightof property. liberties, by Bobbio's commitment liberalism to the firsttype of liberties not to to is and as liberalism aneconomic that to theory adheres themarket economy.32 is in Democracy a formof government whichpower in thehands the is of this citizens,whoexercise powerin anindirect through way elections based on majority Thefundamental rule. of problem thisformof government does notconsistin thelimitation power, in its distribution. problem of but The is the demandto limit all formsof legislationimposedfromabove:this is the libertyof the ancients,according Constant-andBerlin'spositive to freedom-or liberty understood autonomy self-determination. the as or It is of liberty Rousseau gaveit thefamous who concept accepted by interpretato tionaccording whichliberty coincides withcollective self-determination. In thissense,positiveliberty-politicalliberty-insofaras it meansparticirefersto the individual pationin politicaldecision-making, who is not
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as of at considered anisolated butasa member a community themoment unit, must its Bobbio that whenthiscommunity takedecisions concern members. writes: "For political theory, historically the relevant problem notso much is self-determinationtheological philosophical or or thatof theindividual's (a as the self-determination the socialentityof whichthe of moralproblem) formspart."33 individual freedomare In the historyof the modern state,liberalanddemocratic Without liberties, civil in closelyinterconnected. popular participation politithis to cal poweris a deception, is to say, certainlibertiesare necessary exercise democratic the of without guarantee correct power. Similarly, popuin to theseliberties unlikely last,sincedemocratic are larparticipation power, the and to of poweris indispensable guarantee existence maintenance fundaidealsandthedemocratic "have liberties.34 Liberal method mental gradually havebeen becomeso interwoven if it is truethatthe rightsof liberty that, condition thecorrect fromthebeginning necessary the for of application the rulesof thedemocratic of game,it is alsotruethatthedevelopment democthe in instrument thedefenseof the racyhasbecomesuccessively principal rightsof liberty."35 of havebeendefined political Oncethetwomeanings liberty in language, and liberalliberty democratic liberty becomenotonlycompatible, they but one alsoreinforce another: evolution therepresentative "the of modern State hasbeencharacterized an uninterrupted by struggle, withgainsandlosses, of in favorof theextension civilliberties political and liberty."36 formal, The of procedural definition democracy then,in Bobbio's is, work,linked the to and fundamental rightsof liberty to theruleof law:We can define democracyas that regime that permitsthe taking of decisions witi the maximumconsensus of citizens, foundedon the principlesof liberty,so thatthe citizens can elect theirgovernorsand, at the same time, the principleof the rule of law obliges the governorsnot to go beyondtheirpowerandto exercise it withinthe sphereof a system of writtennorms.37
In history, democratic endsup beingthenatural the state continuation of in theliberal state state, thesensethatonlywiththedemocratic cantheliberal statescontinue beingliberal. C. Liberal and Democracy theProblem Equality of In Bobbio's defenseof procedural democracy, happens regard what with to equality? There a tendency consider is to liberty equality values and as that in areinvariably conflict,so thatthefulfillment oneof themin thesocial of
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sphere appearsto limit the fulfillmentof the other.While libertywould be a value for people as individuals,equalitywould be a value for people as social beings. Accordingto this, the classical liberaldoctrinewould tend to search for a sort of minimumandfornal equality,while the doctrineswhich defend social equalitymight restrainliberties.38 Equalityis compatiblewith the libertyof liberaldoctrineif it is understood as equalityin liberty,in which two fundamental principlesof the liberalstate areinspired:equalitybeforethe law (equalprotection)andequalityof rights. Fromthe point of view of procedural democracy, equalityis definedbasically of as equality of political power, that is, as the equal opportunity citizens to participatein the governmentof their society. It is fulfilled at its basic level by equal universalsuffrage. not Whendemocracyis understood only as theequaldistribution power, of of but as the equal distribution goods, liberalismand democracyenterinto a state of tension: the conflicts between the defenders of liberalism and the defendersof democracyoccur when democracyis understoodas substantial democracy,that is, when it is conceived not only as a mechanismto choose or authorize governments,promulgatelaws and adopt political decisions (political democracy), but also as including a certain economic equality, which presupposesmore thana minimumstate. Historically, the problem of poverty, of those who have nothing, has complicatedthe discussion of democracyas a form of governmentandled to confusion and oversimplification.Democracyis put forwardnow not only as a form of government,but as a definite social order.An example of this is the concept of "social democracy"or the conceptualpair "formaldemocracy"/"substantial democracy,"where democracyis defined by the content and values from which the governmentshould take its inspiration,and not by referringto the "who's"and the "how's"or the "procedures" democof racy. When confrontedwith the sorts of statementsthat are typical of the tradition socialistthought,where"formal of becomes a synonym democracy" of "bourgeoisdemocracy" is contrasted and with "substantial or democracy" "social democracy,"Bobbio does not cease to affirm that democracy is always formal democracy. This means that democracy only guarantees political equality, but not social equality and social justice. Bobbio never gives up his formal,minimum,and procedural definitionof democracyand rejects as erroneousthe concept of "socialdemocracy." However, we also find in Bobbio's writingsa seriouspreoccupation with equalityandjustice, togetherwith the defense of liberalfreedomsandformal of democracy.In his treatment these questions,thereis an oscillationbetween treatingthem as exclusive demandsof socialism or making them demands of liberal democracy,in the sense that a certaindose of social equality and
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for of socialjusticewouldbe necessary thefunctioning anydemocracy. On some occasions,Bobbiohas tendedto considerthe value of equalityas democratic whileon other that as something goesbeyond liberty, occasions, and the thatwhichsustains maintains valueof liberty.39 is with "on that Liberalism compatible democracy condition democracy from is notconsidered thepointof viewof its egalitarian ideal,butfromthe point of view of its politicalformula: popularsovereignty."40 Actually, even if a for democracy Bobbioformally requires only politicalequality, to to particular regimemayneedto attend othertypesof equality function between The liberalism democracy and becomes troubleeffectively. relation of But somein the field of thesepreconditions equality. thisdoes notmean between freedom equality notbe possible and thata certain integration may fromthe pointof view of the procedural of The interpretation democracy. as of in can latter be conceived the "form government whichall arefreein The so faras theyareequal."'41 search equality powerforall tendsto for of sincethewaythatpoweris distributed a societycontribin increase liberty, or of utesto thegreater lesserliberty its members. "While there wouldbe no writesBobbio,"that without freedom thereis no equality, pointin saying," to it is perfectly without to legitimate saythat equality (with respect reciprocal power)thereis no freedom."42
II. BOBBIO'SUNDERSTANDING THETENSIONS OF BETWEEN DEMOCRATIC THEORYAND PRACTICE A. Democracyand Socialism
Up to this point, I have given an outlineof Bobbio'sview on the of to of development the theoryof democracy, pointing the characteristics that the democracy constitute focusof his analysis. Bobbioalso However, the between democratic and analyzes tensions Theseare,on theory practice. one hand,the relation and and amongliberalism democracy socialism, and on theother, comparison thedevelopment actual the of of democracies from the ideal construction democracy. of Bobbio'sreflections these most on of critical and problems philosophical political theircomtheoryelucidate but to plexity, do notpretend solvethem. If there anissuethat is exhibits Bobbio's uneasiness vacillation, may and it be thatof therelation between and Bobbio's democracy socialism. analysis of therelation between and conflicts democracy socialism with occasionally hiscommitment procedural to the of democracy, backbone histheory. Bobbio
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that cannot flourish a socialcontext in assumes democracy other than of that Whilein Sartori's a market view thisrecognition society. playstheroleof a for it value-judgment, Bobbio is simplya historical I shalldealwiththis fact. remark the "moral on pointbriefly.Bobbio'sreplyto Sartori's crisis"of to turns thelogicof themarket themainchallenge be faced as democracy to societies: by democraticThe reasonbehindthe moralcrisiscan be foundin the fact thathitherto political has or democracy lived together, has beenforcedto live together withthe capitalist system.[Capitalism a systemthatdoesnotrecognize law otherthanthatof the a is] is which initselfcompletely market, based thelawof supply demand on amoral, and and on of to consequently, thereduction everything merchandise.43
WhileSartori liberal democracies valueliberty that overequality regards as the only possibleversionof democracy eitherreal or idealterms), (in a Bobbioputsforward version "social of a in democracy,"project whichthe rightsof liberty-the necessary condition anypossibleformof democof with racy-may be brought together a schemeof socialrights, produce to a just society. Bobbioassumes hitherto democracy developed a that Although no has in society otherthanthe market society,he tests this assumption asking by the whether latteris a necessary condition the former. logic of the of The he market, believes,canpervade democracy to the point"where up everyand a thingis tradable therefore merchandise"; means "thevotecan this that alsobeconverted merchandise."" creates tension into This a between democOn racyandthe market. onehand, realist the assumption cautions notto us do awaywiththemarket, there beundemocratic for market may societies but no examples a nonmarket of On democracy. theother, sincewe areaware of the pervasive effectof the market overdemocratic development, must we the guard against market In doingawaywithdemocracy. thisrespect, Bobbio asks whether "vital" the embrace between democracy the market and may turnout to be a "deadly" whether market one, the mayendup suffocating democracy.45 Inthefaceof this,whatshould do as democrats? we Bobbio forward puts a twofold answer: limitthemarket theextent thelogicof themarket (a) to that is keptwithintheboundaries its ownsphere; (b)correct effectsof of and the themarket a of through scheme socialrights. Bobbio's mostambitious project hasbeenthatof bringing formal together democracy socialism, with underthe as standing latter a political a project entailing basicset of policiesand programs socialjustice.However, additional regarding two concerns arise fromBobbio's reflections thelinkbetween on and democracy market society.
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the minimal First,without equality, rightsof liberty-the preconditions of futile.To this extentthe socialpoliciesandprodemocracy-arerendered gramsof the socialisttradition couldbe considered preconditions the as of of of democpreconditions democracy. Second,in the framework a formal for racy,it couldbe the case thatthe demands socialjusticecouldbe met the for to beyond levelrequired democracy work.Insucha caseit wouldno 's longer thetaskof democrats be (concerned withthewho andthehow's only but with the of the allocation process), of the left (concerned pushing aims of socialjusticebeyondthe social minimum) pursue moreegalitarian to a society. In this way,the senseof Bobbio's turns the assumption to proposal that the tradition the necessary are although valuesof the liberal foundations to this a democracy, doesnotmean theycanassure preservation. that its buildup Forthispurpose, democracy needto drawon someof thevaluesof the may on tradition namely its scheme socialrights. Bobbio, of For the socialist too, socialrights employment, are and fundamental in education, health. Bobbio, with calls accordance theItalian between liberaltradition, thisconjunction whichshouldbe understood a ism andsocialism"liberalsocialismo,"' as a betweentraditions, not as a and pragmatic combination, compromise synthesis. at Bobbiohimselfconcedesthatattempts conjoining bothtraditionssuch as "liberalsocialismo" social-liberalism-are and artificial construcvalueis unclear: tionswhosetheoretical "that liberalism socialismare and notincompatible, nothing about forms waysof their the and says yet possible Bobbiosuggeststhatthis conjunction shouldbe seen as a conjunction."47 between compromise politicalliberalism un(liberty rights)andsocialism, derstood a meansto correct effectsof free-market as the activity, means by In he of socialrights.48 short, refers thedefenseof thewelfare to statefrom a doubleperspective: of a democrat that who sees social rightsas the of of preconditions thepreconditions democracy, thatof thesocialist and for whomsocialjusticeis theultimate valueof a well-ordered society. these On Bobbio grounds, rejects Sartori's thatsocialrights meaningless. view are For Sartori modern a and societymustbe competitive meritocratic.49theface In of this,socialrights nothing needs areelevated rights vitiate are but that to that peopleandmakethemoverindulgent. In these terms,Bobbio'sliberalsocialismo mustbe understood his as beliefin a historical movement fromliberty socialrights, aninevitable to as andnecessary of process giventheexpansion thepopular of democracy. base In thefaceof thebreakdown communist of Bobbiois unequivocal regimes, in stating anysocialist that project should basedon democratic be methods: "whenshortcuts towardsocialismare taken,the rightsof libertynever
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of Just and occurred when return."'S0 as theconjunction liberalism democracy individual universal suffrage guaranteed libertyandpoliticalparticipation, with democracy it assuredthe full if so socialismcould be compatible the exercise of libertyrightsthrough extensionof social rights.If real to whileaspiring a freeandjustsocietyinstead socialism, deniedtherights of wouldbethatof finding the "which of liberty, challenge democracy means to the andidealsareavailable confront sameproblems gavebirth the that to On communist challenge."51 these terms,Bobbiochallengesthe Left to advance aimsof socialjustice,underthe rulesof democracy. the Thus,in World countries formal is spiteof the factthatin Third "purely democracy of 'no-men' 'men,',52 andin spiteof thefact into notcapable transforming due thatin these countries, to the absenceof the minimalconditionsof is the social justice,democracy rendered largelymeaningless, democratic still over and over is nonetheless to be preferred anyother, especially option revolution.Promises"of Democracy B. The "Unfulfilled
is Againstthe notionthatcontemporary democracy in crisis-in a crisis thatwouldlead us to expect"animminent of such a nature collapse"to of democracy, Bobbioprefers speakof "transformations" showing that,in of-these transformations, spiteof-or perhaps, rather, virtue by democracy is the in hasa future: "Democracy notenjoying bestof health theworld today, it andindeedhasneverenjoyed in thepast,butnordoesit haveone foot in the grave."53 and the of Tounderstand evaluate significance thechanges undergone by Bobbiotraces profileof variations theconcept democthe in of democracy, the For of is one. racy. Bobbio, concept democracy acomplex Itis constructed of and by way of a network notionsandcategories, definedby a seriesof at untilarriving theminimum a that opposites, definition, formula condenses the formalor procedural of conception democracy. Amongthe minimum that criteria haveto existso thata particular as regimemaybe recognized a are rules democracy certain procedural orrulesof thegamethatlaydownthe the ways in whichcollectivedecisionsareto be taken:answering double who to In of question decidesandaccording what procedures. thefulfillment the that thesecriteria, is to say,in satisfying structural characteristics the of modelin the conceptual democratic are sense,the idealsof democracy at in stake;thatis, the valuesmadeexplicitin the modelof democracy its or call prescriptive ideal sense. Thereare regimesthatwe can properly basedon theirconcrete features. theseregimes-to referto In democracies
Yturbe NORBERTO / BOBBIO'S THEORY DEMOCRACY 391 OF
nucleus theminimum of definition-decisions madeonthe are theminimum with majority rule.Theseprocedures basis of universal suffrage together reflect valuesthatgivedemocracy ownmeaning, the its it rendering themost desirable atanyrate leastundesirable) of government serving the form and (or its over to demonstrate superiority its historical or alternatives, autocracy dictatorship. of is One of the fundamental premises Bobbio'sthought thatthereare valuesentailed therulesof political in The certain democracy. idealor the has the this project democracy developed of throughout modern around age fromthephilosophical set of values,drawing of Rousconceptions Spinoza, and seau, andotherphilosophers thinkers, well as fromthe social and as that movements gavebirth theprocess democratization. to of political Arising of fromthemodern as project democracy-which beconsidered a family may of modern of reinterpretationstheconcept-an idealor a normative image Thisidealof democracy, of democracy whichencompasses emerges. what of to Bobbiocallsthe"promises" democracy, pointed certain evilsthat public of was thedevelopment democracy to correct to thedirection sense and and of democratic itself.54 democratic development However, failed development to satisfymostof theexpectations entailed theseimages. thefaceof this, in In the Bobbioundertakes taskof analyzing expectations the project the of of to modern democracy, assessthe extentto whichrealregimesmighthave He fulfilledsuchexpectations. re-endorses basicvaluesentailed the the in to democratic project, attempting findalternative in whichit couldstill ways the be carried Hisobjectis to correct shortcomings actual out. of democratic mustdeliverits promises, regimes.Democracy not perhaps in the ways expectedby classicaldemocratic theory,but closer to what can still be If reasonably expectedfromthe present. the idealmodelof democracy is Bobbio must redefine model, the implausible, to looking history guidance. for Hisanalysis-in his ownterms-is "neither norlessa realistic more descripin tionof whathappened theprocess democratizationthepastcentury, of in a dispassionate if illustration, disillusioned, bitter, you want,butobligatory, for thosewillingto remain loyalto theethicof science,to thedisinterested of in research the difficulties whichdemocracy, conceivedas 'nobleand has facts.'"55 elevated,' founditselfin thepathof 'brute In thisway,Bobbiohasset himselfthetaskof measuring comparing and the distance betweenidealandrealdemocracy. originality thistask The of lies in the fact thathe does notreducethe pastvaluesandexpectations of to or democracy "wishful thinking" confinethemto a particular historical context.He infersthe "promises democracy," valuesentailed the of the in democratic of the of project themodern from "lessons theclassics." age, And,
392 POLMCAL THEORY/ 1997 June
he unlikesomeof his contemporaries, believesthatthosevaluesandexpecto can of tations be adapted facethepresent The challenges democracy."6 aim is of thiscomparison to explain characteristics we findtodayin the the that so-calledreal democracies (empirically existingdemocratic regimes)that to or the wouldappear contradict betray principles anidealdemocracy. of By at of followingthispath,Bobbioarrives a redefinition theidealmodel. In his 7heFuture Democracy Bobbiospellsoutthe six promises of that werenotfulfilled:57 1. The variation offeredby the different sourcesof modemdemocratic a thought promised societyin which,betweenindividuals collective and neither factions intermediations nor existed: was power, democracy supposed culmination theindividualist of of to be thepolitical conception societyand and of and history, thedefinitive bodies superseding theranks intermediate The that of theancien r6gime. factis,however, inplaceof theoldintermediate of and were bodies,a multitude formal informal organizations bom, interbetween individual thestate.Noneof thedemocthe themselves and posing is raciesactually existing anindividualist democdemocracy; contemporary raciesarepluralist democracies. Rousseau envisioned disappearance had the of the intermediate groupsbut, in actualdemocracies, partiesand other existthatcontradict expectation. this groups 2. Themodemdemocratic doctrine the of promised triumph the general overthe multiplicity particular of publicinterest private interests. this For reasonit hadgradually sketched theproject a political out of representation the mandate: elected the prohibiting imperative wouldhaveto representative listento the collectiveinterest suchanddesistfromsatisfying as only the interestsof his particular electors.But the prohibition the imperative of mandate was avoidedand emptiedof meaningby those manydifferent whoseexistence withthe lackof fulfillment the coincides organizations of firstpromise. Alongwiththat,theideaof a purepolitical representation and the triumph thegeneral of interest a remained project paper, on givingway to theclaimsof individual group and interests. 3. Aimingattheequaldistribution political of power through progresthe of sive expansion suffrage universal until was suffrage achieved, democratic a movements promised formof political in whichpower society 6liteswould But constitution all contemporary of disappear. the material democratic societiesevidencesthe permanence an effectivedisequilibrium the of in distribution power.Leavingbehinda disenchanted of view of reality, the of promise powerfor all wasreplaced thereappearance thepowerof by of thefew in new guises.
Yturbe NORBERTO / BOBBIO'S THEORY DEMOCRACY 393 OF
doctrine for 4. Thedemocratic to decision promised submit, collective by this and all thecitizens(eventhough mightbe indirect takeplacein several that stages),everyimportant question mightbearon theirsociallife andon relations. in thereality thedemocratic But of thecomplexof intersubjective of for regimesthathaveactually existed,onlycertain questions importance or of thelives of individuals, someaspects these,reach arena political the of and to A decision arethussubmitted thedemocratic method. myriad social of aside from and beyondthe politicalscene, continueto make authorities, for decisions thesebeing having important consequences sociallife, without method. democratization the statedid influenced the democratic The of by of notmeandemocratization sociallife. all 5. Fighting of against thepastforms political the subordination, modern doctrine into the democratic projected the future promiseof the definitive of of or of But superseding thearcana imperii, thesecrecy invisibility power. in all contemporary democratic there on levelsand regimes, remain, various in differentforms,centersof invisibleor opaquepowerthat condition, or the of determine, distort process democratic decision-making, preventing or hindering publiccontrol power. idealof transparency had the of The has a relative partial and roomforbroad threatening and realization, leaving areas of opacity. 6. Thedefenders democracy of formulated conviction cultivated the and thehopethattheexerciseof political rightswouldbe distributed equallyor the practice participation democratic woulditselfturnindividuals in of life intocitizens. thepromise thecitizen But of educated through verypractice the in of participation democratic became,in the realityof contemporary life democratic regimes,the disillusionof the uneducated citizen,who, in a number ways,is notcapable exercising of of political rights effectively, and who for this very reasontendsto becomealienated fromdemocratic life. several Furthermore, typesof realpolitical processes seemtoshowdangerous trends toward intermittent, and inefficient, littlemorethansymbolic participationby thetypical citizenin thepolitical process. Bobbio's remark regarding promises that"somecouldnotobjecsuch is tively be kept,andwerethusillusionsfromthe outset,otherswerenot so muchpromises misplaced as hopes;still othersas it turned cameup out, againstunforeseen obstacles."58 wonderswhethercertainunfulfilled He wouldrender democratic a promises regime undemocratic. mayregroup We thepromises fromtwodifferent with perspectives, theaimof measuring the of seriousness theirlackof fulfillment: thepointof view of power, from the and governor, fromthatof thecitizens, governed. the
POLMTICAL THEORYJune1997 /
of if From pointof viewof power, thegovernor, realdemocracy too the is farawayfromits ideal,thisis dueto thefactthata great are manydecisions madewithout This eitherbefollowingdemocratic procedure. can happen have causedemocratic procedures beenconfined toocircumscribed to a space the of orbecause exercise as wellas thestruggle power notyetpublic for are Bobbioradically andvisible.In thisrespect, opposesDahl'sview.Forthe latter,the bulwark againstpowerabuseis the presenceof a plurality of For "independent organizations." thepluralist of the theory democracy, way in whichsuchorganizations theirdecisions of no importance. take is What to one matters their is as of ability curb another wellasthepower government Thusthemainfeature a "polyarchy" its beingconstituted of is agencies. by of whosedecisions affectthepublic, which, centers power, multiple but may and however, escapepublicscrutiny control of (suchas thedecisions corpohas for rations). Onlyrecently Dahlshownhis concern theextension the of to democratic institutions governmental than processes other ones.59 Fromthissameperspective, Bobbioregarded visibility poweras a the of unfulfilled of many crucially important democratic promise Publicregimes. at ityis a minimal foranyserious goal Where failure attempt democratization. to fulfilltheotherpromises renders democratic a regime"lessdemocratic," thefailure fulfillthepromise to the of regarding visibility poweris a mortal threat democracy. to "does transform, corrupts not but Secrecy It democracy. does notmorenorless gravely wound vitalorgans, killsit. Of all the its but unfulfilled it promises, is the one thatoffendsits spirit most,diverts the its its natural defeats aim."60 course, Fromthepointof view of the governed, citizens,democracy in a the is, fundamental sense, a methodthataims to involvethe citizensin public decision-making. however,the citizenslack the minimum If, skills and education participate, assume to to their to citizenship, be agents their of own thendemocracy be rendered will decisions, It meaningless. seemsto be that efforts democratization be sustained efforts education enable at must by at to political Failure provide education thesecond participation. to such is mortal to threat democracy. of Despitetheseriousness theproblems, failure fulfillthepromises the to of theclassical modelof democracy notnecessarily Bobbioto the does lead judgmentthat real regimesno longerdeservethe name of democracy. Bobbio's the of prognosis is regarding future democracy thatits possibilities are by no meansexhausted, spiteof havingwandered far fromthe in so promised model. ideal does Democracy havea future-evenif it is a different one fromthathopedfor by the classicsof democratic thought-basically becausethe answers the questions to who andhow still meetdemocratic criteria. anycase,eachof theunfulfilled In promises suggests apure that ideal
Yturbe/ NORBERTOBOBBIO'S THEORYOF DEMOCRACY
each of is of autonomy not,as such,realizable. Furthermore, instance failure to of that to fulfillthepromises democracy corresponds a genuine problem of In hasto be confronted reformulations thedemocratic by project. oneway in on or another, realityshows a reduction the influenceof individuals The unfulfilled of have collectivedecisions. so-called promises democracy on in decisions affect that todowithlimitations citizens' participationmaking of of are them,thatis, withconditions fact.Theselimitations consequences reduce efficacy the the veryprocessof democratization paradoxically, that, in of Each orpower participation thecitizens thedecision-making by process. of the "promises" reveals,froma different angle,the little influencethat to on that citizensactually manage exercise decisions affecttheirlives.
of in workdoesmorethan The"model democracy" Bobbio's describe the of it that mechanisms thatformof government; pointsto thedevelopments to in musttakeplacein the social structure set democracy motion.In his of Bobbio the identifies prerequisites rigorous analysis democracy, necessary to Evenif democracy supposed satisfycertain is to for democracy flourish. that that is socialandeconomical requisites, doesnotmean there anantithesis and betweenreal democracy the values entailedin the promisesof the Bobbio's realism disenchantment democratic and project. regarding democracydo notdrivehimto reject butto underline obstacles contemit, the that societiesarelikelyto faceon theroadto democratization.theface In porary of these problems, is politicalphilosophy unableto put forward set of a It solutions. is notthetaskof thephilosopher anticipate future, practical to the but to pointto the complexity its challenges: relevance a quesof "the oftion . . . lies not in the answer it brings about, but, precisely, in its being
that that formulated, is, in revealing thereis a problem there,whereit has beenbelieved pretended it doesnotexist."6' a philosopher, or that As Bobbio is reluctant putforward set of prescriptions solveproblems, to a to rather he to showsus where seekthe"polar stars" should we focusonif we arewilling to solvethem: Justice Liberty. and
NOTESin Ifuturode la democrazia 1. N. Bobbio, "Introduzione," (Turin: Einaudi, 1991),IX.
THEORY/ 1997 June POLITICAL2. Cf. Bobbio, Stato, governo, societ. Per una teoria generale della politica (Democracy
The anddictatorship. nature limits state and of power) (Turin: Einaudi, 1980), VIII, (Minnesota: PolityPress,1989)where out the Bobbio points that themes concentrated there upon "constitute fragments a general of of theory politics, to be written." yet 3. Thetheoretical models fundamental are from extracted thehistory conceptual outlines, of thought transformed idealmodels. example, Bobbio,II modelo and into For in giusnaturlistico" (The Natural Law Model), Rivista Internazionale di Filosofia del Diritto (October-
December pp.73-93),thefundamental 1973 of are with concepts Aristode compared thenatural lawmodels fromHobbes Kant. to 4. Cf. Bobbio,"Lateoria delloStatoe del potere" of in (Theory Stateandpower), Max e WeberI'analisi mondo del moderno Weber theanalysis modern and of (Max ed. world), P.Rossi (Turin: Einaudi, 1981). 5. Cf. N. Bobbioy M. Bovero,"Premessa" in (Premise), Societa e statonellafilosofia politica moderna in (Society state modern and political philosophy) (Milan: Saggiatore, nI 1979), clarifies whatthestudy theauthors thepastmeans him:it is notso 7-9, where Bobbio of of for as much historical a to study anattempt determine fundamental the the themes, clarify concepts, analyzethe arguments, reconstruct systems. also Michelangelo their See e Bovero,"Antichi e moderni: Norberto Bobbio la 'lezione classici'"(Ancients moderns: dei and Norberto Bobbioand the lesson of the classics), in Per una teoria generale della politica Scritti dedicati a
Norberto Bobbio(Contribution a general to theory politics.Essaysdedicated Norberto of to ed. and Bobbio), L. Bonanate M. Bovero (Florence: Passigli, 1986). 6. See, forexample, discussion democracy dictatorship, the on and freedom power, and whereBobbio contrasts position thoseof Galvano his with DellaVolpe Togliatti these and on fundamental themes: Bobbio, N. Politica cultura e and (Politics culture) (Turin: Einaudi, 1955). See also the wide ranging debate inspired his essayson the lackof a political by in theory Marxism ontheabsence altematives representative and of to as democracy aform government of in a free society:"Esisteuna dottrina marxistica dello stato?" "Quali and alternative alla in Quale democrazia rappresentativa?" socialismo? N. Bobbio ed. (Turin: Einaudi, 1976)("Is Therea Marxist Doctrine theState?" "What of and Alternatives There Representative Are to in Democracy?" Which Socialism? [Oxford: PolityPress,1986]). 7. Kelsen between extreme two distinguishes forms govenmment: inwhich of that collective decisions autonomous, thesensethatit is thecitizens in are whogive lawsto themselves, and thatbasedon theprinciple heteronomy, of according whichlawscomefromabove,orfrom to Cf. governments. H.Kelsen, Esencia valordela democracia y (Barcelona-Buenos Labor, Aires: 1934).8. N. Bobbio, I1futuro della democrazia (hereafter,FD) (Turin:Einaudi, 1984), 5 (The Futureof Democracy.A Defenseof theRulesof the Game[Oxford:PolityPress, 1987] [hereafter, FD], 24).
9. "The mustnotbe understood a synonym a collective as people" for bodythat"decides" as a whole,forthosewhoparticipate themalingof collective in decisions in everycase, are, each particular individuals, oneof whomin voting, counts one. for 10. In thisway,in opposition Sartori statesthatthereis nothing a "very to who but slight resemblance" between ancient modern and democracy, Bobbio viewsacontinuity between them. that of Considering anoudine modern can from democracy beread Pericle's Epitaph, individual of liberty liberty themodern (the to according Constant), participation thedisapproval and of in whatis oftenrecognized ourdaysas "political and apathy," thesupremacy theLaw(the of ruleof law),see N. Bobbio, democrazia "La realistica Giovanni di Sartori" (Giovanni Sartori'sRealistic Democracy), TeoriaPolitica 4, no. 1 (1988): 155; G. Sartori,Theoryof Democracy
Revisited Chatam (NewYork: House,1987).
Yturbe NORBERTO / BOBBIO'S THEORY DEMOCRACY 397 OF of it is definition democracy:is revised enriched, and and 11.There notoneortheminimum Bobbio's work. formulas in so expressed various throughout of 12. Cf. R. Dahl,A Prefaceto Democratic Theory (Chicago: University Chicago Press,1956);Polyarchy:Participationand Opposition(New Haven,CT:YaleUniversityPress, 1971);
The between main Revisited. ideathatthe difference the G. Sartori, Theory Democracy of of and of lies theories democracy in a difference traditions perspectives contemporary emphaof that of between sizingoneof theaspects democracy, maynotinvolve problems compatibility in "Democrazia Ottantanove" Estudos can them, befound M.Bovero, (Democracy eighty nine), de 4, Avangados no. 10 (Universidade SaoPaulo,1990). "Democrazia 43. 13.M. Bovero, Ottantanove," and of 14. Dahl,Sartori, Bobbiohavebuiltup theirtheories uponthe common ground that of as between definition democracy assumesdemocracy a competition Schumpeter's whoseaim is to obtain and political groups popular support through elections, to face such Socialism and undera certain of rules.See J. A. Schumpeter, set competition Capitalism, AllenandUnwin, Democracy (London: 1976). realistica Giovanni 153. "La di 15.N. Bobbio, democrazia Sartori," 16.FD, 55 (63). 17.Ibid.,45 (55).18. N. Bobbio, Fundamentoyfuturo de la democracia.La visita de Bobbio a Valparaiso
of visit Norberto Bobbio's toValparaiso) and (Foundation future democracy. (Valparaiso: Edeval, 1986),35.19. FD, 33 (46).
that of is 20. Thisdoesnotmean theprinciple themajority exclusive thedemocracies to nor rule fromlimitations thatit alonedefinesa democratic and regime. Majority is notexempted extensive studies thecomplicated to and devotes of rule. defects, Bobbio problem majority See limitee aporie," Democrazia, in N. Bobbio,"Laregoladi maggioranza: maggioranza e and in rule: and minoranze ("The majority Limits problems" Democracy, Majority Minority), C. II ed. N. Bobbio, Offe,andS. Lombardini (Bologna: Mulino, 1981). of 21. Bobbio discusses socialist criticisms "representation," representative democracy (in mandates therepresentationparticular and of and the particular, vetoonbinding interests), direct of of the the democracy particular, inadequacy theonlytwoinstitutions direct (in democracy, of without and See assembly citizens deliberating intermediaries, thereferendum). N. Bobbio,Stato, governo, societa Per una teoria generale della politica, 144-7 (Democracyand Dictae torship. The Nature and Limits of State Power, 152-4); "Democraziarappresentativa de-
in in mocrazia and diretta," FD, 29-54("Representative Direct Democracy," FD, 43-62).22. N. Bobbio, Fundamentoyffuturode la democracia.La visita de Bobbio a Valparaiso,
40. of 23. At the beginning the sectionentitled "TheAppealto Values," Bobbiotakesinto the that consideration fear, set is expressed many, a mere of procedures notenough arouse by to anactiveconsensus toward democratic because haveactive "to institutions, citizens," idealsare alsonecessary: course "Of idealsarenecessary. howcananyone But ignore great the struggles overidealswhichhaveproduced rules?" 41). these (FD, 24. N. Bobbio,"Liberth" del vol. (Liberty) Enciclopedia Novecento, III (Rome:Istituto dell'Enciclopedia Italiana, 1979),998. in 25. Thetermliberal English tendsto be usedin thesenseof "liberal-democratic" and/or and in current Forinstance, use. "progressive," even witha hintof "social-democratic" the toward welfare Rooseveltian policyoriented principles in general, was, considered liberal. We in findthisambiguity muchof American so-called liberal thus notion philosophy: Walzer's of
POLITICAL THEORY/ June 1997
liberalism, for example, tends to coincide with that of social democracy. See M. Bovero, "Liberalismo,socialismo, democrazia.Definizioni minime e relazioni possibli" (Liberalism, socialsim, democracy,minimumdefinitionsand possible relations),in I dikmnu del liberalsocialismo (The dilemmas of liberalsocialism),ed. M. Bovero, V. Mura,F. Sbarberi(Rome: La Nuova ItaliaScientifica, 1994). in Tradizione eredithdel liberalsocialismo," I diknem del libersocialed 26. "Introduzione. ismo, ed. Bovero, Mura, Sbarberi."Justiceand Liberty"was the slogan of the noncommunist and antifascistmovement Giustiziae Liberta,inspiredin the ideas of CarloRosselli, creatorof socialism for its liberalcharacter. the "liberalsocialism" doctrinethat defends an anti-Marxist in Cf. N. Bobbio, "Introducci6n," Socialismo liberal, ed. C. Rosselli (Madrid:Pablo Iglesias, 1991). LD) (Milan:FrancoAngeli, 1985), 16. 27. N. Bobbio, Liberalismoe democrazia(hereafter 28. I. Berlin, "TWoConcepts of Liberty,"in Four Essays On Liberty (Oxford: Oxford Bobbio deals with this distinction,modifies it, University Press, 1969). In his essay "Liberth," and in partcriticizes it. 29. Cf. LD, 25. 30. Ibid., 7. 31. Cf. ibid., 23. 32. It is necessary to distinguishbetween the right to property,understoodas "personal" property,or the rightof individualsagainstthe power of the state, and the developmentof free rightsof enterprise.Only then can one discuss whetheror not the protectionof the fundamental it libertynecessarilyimplies the freedomof the market,or whether,on the contrary, is possible in to distinguishtwo liberalisms,economic liberalismand politicalliberalism.A preoccupation Bobbio's writings is whethera free marketis necessary in orderto protectindividualliberties and develop positive liberty. 996. 33. N. Bobbio, "LibertA," 34. Cf. ibid., 998. 35. LD, 48. 998. 36. N. Bobbio, "LibertA,"
La Fundamento a 37. N. Bobbio, yfuturode la democracia. visitade Bobbio Valparaiso,45. 38. Withoutgoing into the difficultproblemof tryingto define socialism, aboutwhich there seems to be less agreementeach day,it is necessaryto stateat least thatthe principleof equality defended by socialism has nothing to do with the homogenizationof society: politically an equality in everythinghas never been expounded,but ratherthe eliminationof certainforms of oppressionwhich are based upon a certaintype of basicallyeconomic inequality. 39. For example, N. Bobbio, "Eguaglianza" (Equality),Enciclopediadel Novecento,vol. 11 (Rome:Istitutodell'EnciclopediaItaliana,1977) andLe ideologie e ilpotere in crisi. Pluralismo,
comunismo. viae terzaforza crisisof ideologies power. and (The socialismo, Terza democrazia,Pluralism,democracy,socialism, communism.Thirdway and thirdforce) (Florence:Le Monhe nier, 1981). Despite this vacillation,when Bobbio refersto "socialdemocracy," points to the of preconditions the well functioningof the democraticmethodandnot to a specific social order. 40. LD, 45.
e Le 41. N. Bobbio, ideologie ilpoterein crisi,31.42. Ibid., 29. 43. N. Bobbio, "Lademocraziarealisticadi Giovanni Sartori" (GiovanniSartori'srealistic democracy), 157.
Yturbe NORBERTO / BOBBIO'S THEORY DEMOCRACY 399 OF of in di (Problems democracy), Sisifo17(September 44.N. Bobbio, "Questioni Democrazia" 1989): 7. 45. Cf.ibid.,7. text Liberalsocialism: Tradition heritage), and 46. Inhisrecent "Introduzione" (Introduction. of Bobbio shows in M. Bovero, Mura, F. Sbarberi Thedilemmas liberalsocialism, V. and (ed.) liberalism socialism beeneffected twodifferent and has in between ways:(i) thatthisrelation as of to socialism the completion of by by the integration socialism liberalism understanding of as liberalism thecondition by liberal democracy, by therevision socialism understanding (ii) socialism 58). (p. sinequanonof a nonauthoritarian 47. Ibid.,59. to as of Bobbio often referred socialism anextension thedemocratic 48. Inhisearly writings, this the arena. of method beyond parliamentary Butby thetimeof TheFuture Democracy, idea if with of will are is replaced theconcern theproblem howdemocracy survive itsinstitutions by The tradition theoretical disundemocratic. placethesocialist playsin Bobbio's increasingly of of the out shifts from formal course space democracy (pointed asaproblem subject thelimited to than and issue of rather as a solution) thesubstantial of thedefense thesocialrights welfare institutions. is Cosae (What democracy) Rizzoli,1993),Sartori (Milan: 49. Inhis recent Democrazia that should a democracy suggesting from descriptive standpoint putsforwardviewof democracy and the meaning beconsidered electivepolyarchy from prescriptive aselective an one, polyarchy, a must as to meritocracy." thelatter in order be "good," democracy proceed an"elective that "Un Teoria Politica1989, 50. N. BobbioandP. Anderson. cartegio" (Correspondence), on 2&3:293-308 quotefound page295. capovolta (Utopia (Utopia upside down)in L'utopia 51. N. Bobbio,"L'utopia capovolta" La 1990),130. upside down)(Turin: Stampa, "Adesso la democrazia sola"(Democracy nowalone)in Socialismo a is e 52. N. Bobbio,liberale. n dialogo con Norberto Bobbio oggi (Liberal socialism. Dialoguing with Norbert
ed. 1989),91. Bobbio today), G. Bosetti (L'Unith, of of find placein thecontext a particular 53. FD, 7 (17).Thesecomments Bobbio's their to related therealpossibilities democracy's of discussion survival. public idealon the end of socialinequality Tocqueville's and 54. Bobbiorefersto Rousseau's of culture for the throughout bodyof society. expectation thespread thedemocratic and "Un 294. 55. N. Bobbio P.Anderson, cartegio," does-that thenotion democracy a double of it 56. R. Dahlassumes-as Bobbio role: plays is a normative as wellas a concrete whileBobbio this ideal reality. However, draws idealfrom to of Dahlseemsto putforward a the "lessons the classics" face it to the present context, drawn fromthe factual of observation the societiesthatfit his of description the processes This howa society's definition "polyarchy." mayexplain of democratic from departs process ideal from of the"polyarchy" type,butnothowit departs thevaluesandexpectations theideal Sartori modelof democracy. thesametoken, viewstheidealof democracy susceptible as to By from for if must to modification it departs reality, democracy beredefined according thepresent In Sartori seemsto suggest theclosertheidealgetsto thereality that of experience. theseterms, In that the seemsto fitquite puts democracy better. fact,theidealof democracy Sartori forward of wellhis concept "selective oligarchy." 57. Ibid.,27-36. 58. FD, 3 (18).59. Cf. R. A. Dahl, Democracyand Its Critics.
THEORY/ June 1997 POLITICAL
in in capovolta (utopia upside power), L'utopia "Il (Masked 60.N. Bobbio, potere maschera" down),62.61. Qual Socialismo?, 168 (Which Socialism?, 118).
Corina Yturbeis a memberof the Instituteof Philosophical Research in the National AutonomousUniversityof Mexico.She is authorofLaexplicacion de la historia(Mexico: UNAM,1981, 1985) the editor of Teorfade la Historia(Mexico: TerraNova, 1981) and Charles de Montesquieu(Mexico: UNAM,1987) and co-editor of La tenacidad dela poliftica(Mexico: IIF-UNAM,1995).