Collusion in Restraint of Democracy: Against Political Deliberation

Ian Shapiro, Sterling Professor of Political Science and Henry R. Luce Director of the MacMillan Center at Yale University, has contributed an article to the new issue of Daedalus, the journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, entitled Collusion in Restraint of Democracy: Against Political Deliberation.” His essay is one of a select few made available for public view.

Abstract: Recent calls to inject substantial doses of deliberation into democratic politics rest on a misdiagnosis of its infirmities. Far from improving political outcomes, deliberation undermines competition over proposed political programs–the lifeblood of healthy democratic politics. Moreover, institutions that are intended to encourage deliberation are all too easily hijacked by people with intense preferences and abundant resources, who can deploy their leverage in deliberative settings to bargain for the outcomes they prefer. Arguments in support of deliberation are, at best, diversions from more serious threats to democracy, notably money’s toxic role in politics. A better focus would be on restoring meaningful competition between representatives of two strong political parties over the policies that, if elected, they will implement. I sketch the main outlines of this kind of political competition, differentiating it from less healthy forms of multi-party and intraparty competition that undermine the accountability of governments. 


The American Academy recently released the Summer 2017 issue of Daedalus, entitled “The Prospects & Limits of Deliberative Democracy,” in which prominent scholars and practitioners assess the current crisis of democratic governance and explore the alternative potential of deliberative democracy.

Thursday, June 29, 2017