chapter  8
Arguments in Defense of Democratic Participation
Pages 42

Perhaps the most vehement criticism of Dahl’s view of pluralism is his presumed negligence of the participa tory, communitarian, and emancipatory ideals of democracy. Some accuse him of outright elitism. This criticism is a bit painful because Dahl, writing in Congress and Foreign Policy and in Politics, Economics, and Welfare, had taken such a strong stance in favor of expanding and deepening political participation and electoral responsiveness. But in his work since then, as we have seen, this ambition has indeed taken a less and less prominent place on the agenda. Due to the political stability and open liberal character of contemporary society, he even seems to worry about an excessive amount of political activity among ordinary people. If a polyarchy is to take shape, he also thinks it would be preferable for the citizens to manifest themselves only gradually on the political stage. Only then could they be sufficiently socialized in the ways and means of polyarchy. He suspects, as a matter of fact, that the preferences of those people who do participate form a reasonable reflection of the preferences prevalent in the entire population. And if that were not the case, there would still be ample opportunity for those who find their preferences being neglected to become effectively engaged in decision making.