Is Civil Society Strong Enough To Withstand the Menace of Democratic Despotism? - Part 4
This is the fourth instalment in a series discussing the problem of democratic despotism through the lens of Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America.
Recap: The Threat of Democratic Despotism and the Need for Institutional Protections for Civil Society
In the first two instalments (find instalment 1 here; find instalment 2 here) of this series on the threat of democratic despotism, we saw that modern governments claiming sovereign authority to regulate social life “in the name of the people” pose a major threat of descending into some form of democratic despotism, that is, democratically legitimated oppression and co-option of civil society institutions.
In the third instalment of this series, I suggested that the danger of democratic despotism might be addressed by remedying the longstanding neglect of the role of non-territorial corporate actors, such as schools, universities, churches, and cooperatives in the constitutional scheme of a modern nation. Because federalism already contains within it the seeds of respect for group life, I suggested that it seems like a very promising starting-point for institutionalizing better protections for the life and reasonable rights and prerogatives of civil society associations.
In this fourth instalment, I begin to spell out in greater detail, a form of “hybrid” (territorial plus non-territorial) federalism, capable of more successfully integrating non-territorial associations into the wider constitutional scheme, in such a way that they are less vulnerable to co-option and hyper-regulation by democratic governments than they might otherwise be.
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