Demokrati som ”ren procedur”

Om en demokrati inte ska bryta samman krävs att människor accepterar politiska beslut även när de står på den förlorande sidan. De måste helt enkelt finna beslutsprocessen giltig och legitim, så att deras specifika önskningar om ett annat beslut inte automatiskt motiverar civil olydnad, motstånd och obstruktion. Om ingen finner sig i att “förlora” så bryter den politiska ordningen samman.

Det är i det här ljuset jag tycker man ska se frågan om “substantiella” och “proceduriella” synsätt på demokrati. I dag är det mycket vanligt både i dagspolitisk och akademisk debatt att substantiella värden och rättigheter bakas in i demokratibegreppet. Jag instämmer ofta med dessa värden, och det önskvärda i rättigheterna. Men jag blir likväl oroad när de försvaras i namn av demokrati – och motståndares åsikter stämplas som odemokratiska. Den stora risken är att om demokrati likställs med ett visst utfall eller värde, så finns i dessa fall inte längre den “beslutsaccepterande” mekanismen kvar. Alltså: ju mer som bakas in i demokratibegreppet, desto större risk för underminering av de konkreta demokratiska beslutsprocessernas legitimitet.

Mark Philp har i sin bok Political Conduct ett klargörande avsnitt om olika demokratibegrepps syn på förhållandet mellan beslutsprocedur och utfall, och varför den proceduriella demokratisynen är att föredra:

 

I start from a slightly unusual position for those enthusiastic about the potential of democracy by advancing the case on the basis of a procedural understanding of democracy, rather than relying on the more ideal and deliberative pictures available in the literature. A procedural definition of democracy identifies it with the presence of certain procedures for popular decision making: what makes a democracy a democracy is that there are regular elections which determine access to political office, wide rights to vote in elections, recognized procedures for determining citizenship and the scope of public decision making, and recognized protections for democratic participation in the formation of political agendas, such as freedom of association, freedom of expression, and freedom of the press. To take this as an adequate characterization of what it is for something to be a democracy is to adopt a procedural definition. The attractions of focusing on procedures as central to understanding democracy can be seen if we look at the way which procedures and outcomes are related, and at how far the former serve to justify the latter.

Consider the contrasts among perfect, imperfect, and pure procedures. A perfect procedure is one for which there is an independently defined right outcome, such as the equal division of a cake, and where we have a procedure that always delivers that outcome. In cases where there is a right answer but where our procedures cannot guarantee delivering it, we have an imperfect procedure. The jury system is one example: either Ms. Smith committed a crime, or she did not, but the jury system is the best (but certainly not perfect) procedure we have for determining which is the case. In a pure procedure, there is no independently specifiable right result beyond that which the procedure delivers. A lottery determines results entirely through the play of chance, so that the result is the right one, whatever that may be. […]

If we understand democracy as an imperfect or perfect procedure, we would see it as producing decisions that approximate to some externally specifiable standard. Analogs to guilt and innocence in the jury case might be the general will, the common good, maximum aggregate utility, or the interests of the people. Each is an end or state that the specified procedures perfectly or imperfectly secure. In each case, the value of the procedures (whether perfect or imperfect) derives from their output. […] The alternative to seeing democracy as a good but imperfect procedure is to see it as a pure procedure where the outcomes of the procedures are valid so long as they flow from and respect the procedures themselves. Of course, we have to guard against distortions in the procedure, just as in a lottery we have to specify the procedure so the outcome is wholly a function of chance.

[…]

I have suggested that the procedural account of democracy as sketched here gives substance to the idea that democracy is, by its nature, open ended; that it is best understood not as an attempt to secure certain given ends or to instantiate certain values, but as a decision-making process that under certain constraints, such as political equality, the burden of proof, free and reasoned assessment of alternatives, together with a range of social and cultural background preconditions, can produce decisions that participants accept as binding. They accept those decisions not because they get the outcome outcome they want, nor simply because the outcomes respect certain input rights, but because the procedure is recognized as imposing fair and reasonable constraints upon them.

Referens: Philp, Mark. 2007. Political Conduct. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, s. 207–212.