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  1. #1
    Munnkeyman Munnkeyman is offline
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    Can people in a liberal democracy ever feel completely free and equal?

    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?
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  2. #2
    PC Principle PC Principle is offline
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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.
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  3. #3
    Munnkeyman Munnkeyman is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by PC Principle View Post
    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?
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  4. #4
    Lúidín Lúidín is offline
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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.
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  5. #5
    Munnkeyman Munnkeyman is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lúidín View Post
    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?
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  6. #6
    eoghanacht eoghanacht is offline
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    I blame the Roman's.
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  7. #7
    Munnkeyman Munnkeyman is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by eoghanacht View Post
    I blame the Roman's.
    Is the class system now defunct and are we, almost all of us, plebs?
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  8. #8
    Munnkeyman Munnkeyman is offline
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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/si...tellations.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).
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  9. #9
    talkingshop talkingshop is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Munnkeyman View Post
    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?
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  10. #10
    Munnkeyman Munnkeyman is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by talkingshop View Post
    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.
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