Recapturing Democracy: Neoliberalization and the Struggle by Mark Purcell

By Mark Purcell

Recapturing Democracy is a quick but synoptic advent to city democracy in our period of political neoliberalism and monetary globalization. Combining an unique argument with a couple of case reports, Mark Purcell explores the of democracy in modern Western towns. while many students concentrate on what Purcell calls "procedural democracy" – i.e., electoral politics and entry to it – he as a substitute assesses "substantive democracy." via this he capability the people’s skill to have a few say over problems with social justice, fabric health, and monetary equality. Neoliberalism, which advocates a decreased position for the country and extending energy for cellular capital, has reduced important democracy lately, he argues. He seems at case stories the place this has happened and at others that convey how neoliberalism should be resisted within the identify of sizeable democracy. finally, he makes use of Henri Lefebvre’s inspiration of "the correct to the city," which encompasses considerable in addition to procedural democracy for usual city citizens.

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In this tradition one need not argue about the proper content of democratization. Rather we must rediscover “real” democracy and make it happen. I argue that this counter-essentialism, while useful for undermining the purported synergy between neoliberalism and democracy, is not the best tack to take. Rather we should reject essentialist approaches to democracy. An essentialist understanding ignores or wishes away the fact of a very real political struggle over the meaning of democracy. It denies that democracy is, in fact, a malleable concept mobilized to pursue a political agenda, and treats it instead as an already-formed entity, one we must rediscover rather than reinvent for ourselves.

The example of the Washington Competitiveness Council is again instructive: their “most imperative recommendation” for increasing local competitiveness was to “fix our transportation problem” (Washington Competitiveness Council 2002, p. 8). Of course such spending requires revenue, and the WCC imagined that revenue would be publicly provided. However, because their agenda is also to reduce existing taxes on business, they called for “alternative financing mechanisms” to raise revenue from sources other than businesses (Washington Competitiveness Council 2002, p.

Goonewardena 2003; see also Luxemburg 1970) and neoclassical economics (Bernholz 2000) argues just that. “Democratic innovation,” John Dryzek (1996, p. 34) contends, must take place “in the face of the structural and ideological constraints” that capitalism, and especially neoliberalism, present. The Many Faces of Democracy • 35 Bowles and Gintis (1986, p. 3) begin their classic book with a clear opposition between democracy and capitalism. This work is animated by a commitment to the progressive extension of people’s capacity to govern their personal lives and social histories.

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