chapter  3
25 Pages

Democracy and Fraternity: Towards a New Paradigm for the Comprehensive School

Advocates of democracy include those who mistrust ordinary citizens to the point where active involvement in the political process is so slender and so spasmodic as to effectively disenfranchize them; here the public realm of politics is abandoned for the constant clash of private interests and the invisible hand of market forces fits snugly over the mouth of public debate. The beneficence of the invisible hand central to Adam Smith's vision of early capitalism is ensured in its twentieth century progeny by the sheer noise of raucous acquisition enriched by the occasional 'big bang' announcing a new era of pneumatic opulence for the guardians of radical capitalism. In such a world we are told that democracy resides primarily in a competition between elites for the people's votes (e.g., Dahl, 1956). The credibility and the actuality of the notion of representation is strained to the limit and 'the people', whilst having reality as consumers of goods, became almost spectral in their substance as political agents. In such a world the notion of democratic citizenship is virtually non-existent; insofar as it does have life it is passive, reactive and, because the realm of the public is merely an arena for the clash of private interests, myopic and fitful.