Over emphasized consensus building gets us to dogmatic entrenchement.


When the "goal of consensus building becomes over emphasized" the result is a tendency to favor dogmatic entrenchment of theories, while ironically calling for their immediate and perpetual compromise.

How else can consensus be accomplished in a context of persons holding deeply disparate views?

It would most easily involve the unanimous willingness to compromise on values other than consensus. Alternatively, the goal could be reached through conversion of all dissenters to ideologies which are compatible with some resolution which is close to being within reach.

But I can't agree that consensus stands as a "principle [which] is central to what is known as liberal democracy."

It is given a great deal of starry-eyed attention among the more idealistic apologists for modern democratic theory, but these attentions have precious little to do with actual political resolutions within political institutions.

Not only do the established decision-making structures of government not require achieving consensus, even the loudest proponents of consensus quickly turn to less demanding standards when it comes to taking advantage of actual political opportunities which come their way.

If consensus is, as I assert, irrelevant beyond its status as a utopian goal among certain radical democratic visionaries, how can it rank as the principle which characterizes mainstream establishment democratic ideology?

I say that it cannot. The major ideal in regard to cooperation which guides that democratic vision (which, I agree, is not adequate to the Open Society) must be something else, not identified here as yet.

Tracy Bruce Harms, of Boulder, Colorado
{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Subscribe to our newsletter now!