Wallerstein on Liberalism and Democracy

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* Article: Immanuel Wallerstein, Libéralisme & démocratie: frères ennemis? AGONE, 1999, no 22, pp. 153-174.

URL = http://classiques.uqac.ca/contemporains/WALLERSTEIN_Immanuel/liberalisme_et_democratie/liberalisme_et_democratie_texte.html


Michel Bauwens, reading notes of 2004:

The article points out the two contradictory drives of the representatives of capital

   - 1) the economic drive to accumulate capital
   - 2) the socio-psychological drive to secure inheritance by instituting 'rent'

The 19th cy was marked by 3 political forces:

   - the Conservatives, the party order, opposed to the French Revolution and Napoleon
   - the Liberals, the party of movement, sympathetic to the Girondin phase of the French Revolution
   - the 'Democrats', left liberals who would morph into the socialists after 1948

After 1848, the scared liberals would:

   - 1) turn to the right, beng more afraid of radicalism
   - 2) allow concessions to pacify popular demands
   - 3) adopt democratic discourses to their advantage
   - 4) liberals are egalitarian but also 'developmental'. The two basic criteria are civility and competence, 'in the present' (unlike the aristocrats, who profit from past 

- Meritocracy:

   - liberalism is geared towards a minority of achievers, excluding the rest, which it offers hope for the future access
   - for the democrats on the contrary, the key criteria ws the ability to integrate the excluded
   - democrats are suspicious of the criteria of competence, which leads to the rule of experts
   - according to the author, despite their discourse, liberals are in fact against equality; only democrats say both terms cannot be dissociated (egaliberte, equaliberte)
   - if the classic left is losing popular support, it is precisely because it has abandoned democracy for liberalism
   - neoliberalism, which reneges on the concessions of liberalism, i.e. the welfare state model, is in fact a form of conservatism

- Today:

   - the liberal consensus, born in 1848, died in 1968
   - the emergence of democratic aspirations, expressed in a desire for more health and education, a higher minimum wage
   - the extreme right (i.e. Le Pen), is against both competence (i.e. the liberals), and the excluded immigrants (i.e. the democratic program)
   - with the past collapse of liberalism (1968), the coming collapse of the conservatives (neoliberalism), and within 50 years, of the system as such, if it is not replaced by 
true democracy, it will be worse (extreme right dominance)