chapter  4
13 Pages

Representative Political Actors

ByAlain Touraine

In many Western countries there has long been talk, increasing in urgency, of the crisis in political representation that is supposedly responsible for the falling level of political involvement. The extreme autonomy of political parties may have positive aspects when their social definition has become outdated and corresponds to rhetoric rather than practice, but the principle of party autonomy is more dangerous than it is useful. Public opinion in these countries speaks more plainly of corruption—a more accurate term, if we accept that democracy must be representative and therefore that political forces, and parties in particular, must serve social interests rather than their own. The link between the notion of a social movement and democracy and the defense of basic human rights becomes even clearer if one contrast it with the notion of class struggle. The democratic liberties are being debased because they are no longer a way of dealing with acute social problems.