30. November 2010

Gefahren direkter Demokratie (Edmund Burke)

Erstausgabe der "Reflections on the Revolution in France", 1790

"Of this I am certain, that in a democracy the majority of the citizens is capable of exercising the most cruel oppressions upon the minority whenever strong divisions prevail in that kind of polity, as they often must; and that oppression of the minority will extend to far greater numbers and will be carried on with much greater fury than can almost ever be apprehended from the dominion of a single scepter.

In such a popular persecution, individual sufferers are in a much more deplorable condition than in any other. Under a cruel prince they have the balmy compassion of mankind to assuage the smart of their wounds; they have the plaudits of the people to animate their generous constancy under their sufferings; but those who are subjected to wrong under multitudes are deprived of all external consolation. They seem deserted by mankind, overpowered by a conspiracy of their whole species."
(Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790)


naturgesetz hat gesagt…

Burke was a very wise man.

Morgenländer hat gesagt…

Yes, very wise.

I was re-reading Burke at the very day when Switzerland voted for a right-wing referendum which is in flagrant violation of international law. Haven't we seen it before?

Lunario hat gesagt…

Leider ein sehr aktueller Text, der bei den meisten wohl wenig Zustimmung finden würde.

Ich halte das Argument, Volksentscheide seien schon von sich aus richtig, weil sie dem demokratischen Wesen entsprechen, für fadenscheinig. Viele lassen sich einfach zu leicht manipulieren und kontrollieren ihre Affekte nicht. Wozu diese "totale" Demokratie führt, hat man dann ja während (oder nach? ;)) der Französischen Revolution oder um 1920 in Russland gesehen.

Ich kenne Burkes nicht, aber er vertritt anscheinend ähnliche Ansichten wie James Madison sie vertrat. Der 10. Artikel der Federalist Papers gefällt mir sehr.

"[...]The two great points of difference between a democracy and a republic are: first, the delegation of the government, in the latter, to a small number of citizens elected by the rest; secondly, the greater number of citizens, and greater sphere of country, over which the latter may be extended.

The effect of the first difference is, on the one hand, to refine and enlarge the public views, by passing them through the medium of a chosen body of citizens, whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country, and whose patriotism and love of justice will be least likely to sacrifice it to temporary or partial considerations. Under such a regulation, it may well happen that the public voice, pronounced by the representatives of the people, will be more consonant to the public good than if pronounced by the people themselves, convened for the purpose. On the other hand, the effect may be inverted. Men of factious tempers, of local prejudices, or of sinister designs, may, by intrigue, by corruption, or by other means, first obtain the suffrages, and then betray the interests, of the people. The question resulting is, whether small or extensive republics are more favorable to the election of proper guardians of the public weal; and it is clearly decided in favor of the latter by two obvious considerations:

In the first place, it is to be remarked that, however small the republic may be, the representatives must be raised to a certain number, in order to guard against the cabals of a few; and that, however large it may be, they must be limited to a certain number, in order to guard against the confusion of a multitude. Hence, the number of representatives in the two cases not being in proportion to that of the two constituents, and being proportionally greater in the small republic, it follows that, if the proportion of fit characters be not less in the large than in the small republic, the former will present a greater option, and consequently a greater probability of a fit choice.

In the next place, as each representative will be chosen by a greater number of citizens in the large than in the small republic, it will be more difficult for unworthy candidates to practice with success the vicious arts by which elections are too often carried; and the suffrages of the people being more free, will be more likely to centre in men who possess the most attractive merit and the most diffusive and established characters.

It must be confessed that in this, as in most other cases, there is a mean, on both sides of which inconveniences will be found to lie. By enlarging too much the number of electors, you render the representatives too little acquainted with all their local circumstances and lesser interests; as by reducing it too much, you render him unduly attached to these, and too little fit to comprehend and pursue great and national objects. The federal Constitution forms a happy combination in this respect; the great and aggregate interests being referred to the national, the local and particular to the State legislatures.[...]"


Morgenländer hat gesagt…


Dein Hinweis auf Madison trifft es. Die founding fathers - und insbesondere Madison - hatten wie Burke einen klaren Blick auf die Gefahren direkter Demokratie und waren überhaupt Gegner allzugroßer Machtkonzentration. Wie naturgesetz oben schreibt: es waren weise Männer.