Thursday, July 02, 2009

Inequality and Democracy

From Michael Sandel's last Reith lecture, A New Politics of the Common Good, he mentions why inequality poses a danger to the democratic project.
The real problem with inequality lies in the damage it does to the civic project, the common good. Here's why. Too great a gap betwen rich and poor undermines the solidarity that democratic citizenship requires. As inequality deepens, rich and poor live increasingly separate lives. The affluent send their children to private schools...leaving urban public schools to the children of families who have no alternative. A similar trend leads to the withdrawal by the privileged from other other public institutions and facilities...This trend has two bad effects - one fiscal, the other civic.

First, public services deteriorate as those who no longer use them become less willing to support them with their taxes.

Second, public institutions...cease to be places where citizens from different walks of life encounter one another. Institutions that once gathered people together and served as informal schools of civic virtue have become few and far between. The hollowing out of the public realm makes it difficult to cultivate the sense of community that democratic citizenship requires.

On Philippine Democracy, read also:
The Philippines' Low Intensity Democracy
In the Grip of Electoralism
Castrated by Vacuous Argument for the Sake of Vacuous Argument
Simulating Governance

And on the Filipino's withdrawal from the public sphere:
The Depoliticisation of the Filipino and the Marketisation of Everything

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