Re: [OPE] Unified Socialist Party of Venezuela internal ballot.

From: Alejandro Agafonow (
Date: Thu Apr 17 2008 - 13:46:06 EDT

Gerald, I didn’t suggest that an elite should decide the rules that will govern a democracy. This interpretation depends on who do you think are able to recreate a negotiation taking place in an original position and behind a veil of ignorance. In principle I think that every human being is able to do it –and I suspect that even great anthropoids like gorillas could do it since it is demonstrated that they are able to manage a vocabulary equivalent to an 8 years old child, if I have good memory.
I agree with you that we can’t negotiate with a saboteur and that a reasonable negotiation is not always practical. My reference to Nazi regime intended to point to a practical experience sprang from crude assembly mechanisms.
This theoretical and practical problem revels that democracy is more than a mechanism for making social choices. It is a value system that can be overcome by democratic mechanisms itself.
Kind Regards,
Alejandro Agafonow

----- Mensaje original ----
Para: Outline on Political Economy mailing list <>
Enviado: jueves, 13 de marzo, 2008 14:52:07
Asunto: RE: [OPE] Rv: [correction] Unified Socialist Party of Venezuela internal ballot.

Hi Alejandro A:
Your proposals may or may not have merit (depending on the specific 
circumstances) but I think they are in conflict with the model of 
direct democracy suggested by Paul C and Dave Z. I.e. if "the mob"
was sufficiently large in number, and hence representative of the
population at large, then why should there be a priora rules which 
govern the process of 'negotiation'?  If you think that an elite should 
decide what 'the rules' are going to be, then that seems to me to
be an aristocratic and undemocratic impulse.
Moreover, a 'reasonable negotiation'  is not always practical or wise.
For example, if a member of a group is a saboteur who is intent on 
destroying the group, do you enter into 'negotiations' with that party?
Your raising of the specter of the Nazis in power is an illustration, 
I think, of the dangers of discussing an issue just in the abstract 
and devoid of its historical context and meaning.  It is also grossly
unfair to the Bolivarian revolutionaries in a thread on the PSUV to 
make a comparison to the policies of the Nazis in power. 
This is not to say that there are not important issues and dangers which
the Bolivarian revolutionaries must confront in practice.  You would expect
there to be some division in political perspective since the  PSUV is the result 
of a merger  of several different political parties, including the Movement 
for a Fifth Republic (MVR),  the Homeland for All Party (PPT),  and the
Venezuelan Community Party (PCV).  Nothing wrong with that per se.
But, I think that the majority of the PSUV will need over time to create
a  internal climate which is more conductive to self-criticism.  As part
of that, an authoritarian tendency within the party - which has been known to
chant "lo que diga Chavez" (whatever Chavez says) - needs to be overcome.
Chavez could - if he wanted to - take the lead in arguing against such 
uncritical, hero worship.
In solidarity, Jerry

In my criterion it is not possible to conceive all principles of a democracy from the discussions and negotiations in the ranks. Democracy is not “self-generable” from democratic participation and negotiation.
This is not possible at least for two reasons:
1) Preferences are intransitive in large human groups. Therefore, must be a principle generated out of negotiation that guarantees the respect of an inalienable kernel of rights for minorities. Nazi regime is the best example of the destruction of democracy from its crude operative rules.
2) Discussions and negotiations can not be fully reasonable in real world. That is, people tend to take advantage of privileged information to turn the negotiation over their own favour. A reasonable negotiation only can be run if it were possible to have a “veil of ignorance” upon the parties to negotiation.
The above reasons inevitable carry us to the necessity of thinking at least part of democratic principles out of participation and negotiation in the ranks. This is inevitable if we want to protect democracy.

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