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Last Updated: 09/16/2005Why Societies Need Dissent
Conformity is imposed on those of us who live in Western style economies in the interest of the producer economy. We are led to believe that we have choices whereas we have what the producers are demanding we consume. Concentration of capital becomes even greater by the day, and thus state power continues to concentrate, too. This is the real threat to democracy, which if it genuinely grew, would see that power would be dissipated, not concentrated in fewer and fewer hands.
Title: Why Societies Need Dissent
Author: Cass R. Sunstein
Dissent is in the air in the
Unhappily, such constitutional and political innovation has been on a downhill path more or less ever since. Especially in recent years, conformity and herd instinct has been increasing in the
Sunstein builds his argument around observed “cascades” whereby people act according to strong trends followed by their fellow men and women. He traces the processes whereby researchers, observers and philosophers have established the process of conformist action. In some ways his sources are themselves somewhat conformist. He does not resort to Durkheimian anomie or Marxist alienation as bases for discussion, instead preferring such research findings as those of Stanley Milgram and finding comfort in John Stuart Mill’s discussion of liberty and the avoidance of the tyranny of the masses.
It would be possible to point to a huge list of dissenting literature in the
How effective is this dissent in preserving liberty let alone extending it? Marcuse observed in the 1960s that whoever ruled in the
Analysis needs to go a bit deeper than we find in Sunstein. For instance, conformity and lack of dissent arises where there is a general acceptance of pluralist democratic theory, which is the case in
Hence conformity is imposed on those of us who live in Western style economies in the interest of the producer economy. We are led to believe that we have choices whereas we have what the producers are demanding we consume. Concentration of capital becomes even greater by the day, and thus state power continues to concentrate, too. This is the real threat to democracy, which if it genuinely grew, would see that power would be dissipated, not concentrated in fewer and fewer hands.
It is good to read that a distinguished professor has been analyzing, justifying and calling for dissent in the
Simon Stander is editor-in-chief of the Peace and Conflict Monitor and associate professor of peace studies at the University for Peace.