Politics > Spiral of Political Maturation > Stage-2: Democracy Emerges in the Legitimist Mode

Stage-2: Democracy Emerges in the Legitimist Mode

Elites Don't Vanish

Stage 1: Enfranchisement challenges the dominance of privileged elites in the Legitimist mode.

Overturning prerogatives of a few privileged groups in order to be fair to the many—whether peaceful or bloody & whether partial or total—signifies the potential for a new politics.

Potential only—Closedbecause ►

removing some or many of the previous elites from their previous positions does not switch off social habits and long-standing customs of:

Elite groups like the military, priesthood and officialdom commonly persist under any new regime. They are needed. Society would stop or become dangerously vulnerable if they were disbanded.

So the Legitimist Ethos absolutely requires installation of a full set of distinctive institutions and values to bring the dominating elites under some degree of social control.

That is a tough call. Nevertheless, any claim to «democracy» and political maturation must be judged by the effectiveness of the new institutions in controlling former elites.

Values & Institutions of the Legitimist Mode


Integrating Force:
ClosedExtended enfranchisement

A constitution must enshrine fundamental rights and duties of members of the society, especially the right to choose political representatives and leaders. There also needs to be appropriate executive and judicial bodies to protect individuals from abuse by current and future politicians.

Universal suffrage, the right to vote and secret ballots, can develop step by step during this stage as various discriminations—like age, wealth, ethnic group, gender, religion—are removed.

Note that popular voting, democracy, is not in itself sufficient for societal maturation: it is often found in Stage-1 societies.

Socio-political Institution:
ClosedRule of law

Those in government or associated with it must accept the supremacy of the law, equality of all before the law, and society-wide respect for the law. Easy access to the law is also necessary.

There is then an expectation that all members of society will adhere to the law and abide by judgements using the new and evolving legal framework.

New political elites will strive to prevent scrutiny and challenge by the law through force of habit as much as self-interest. However, no person or group should be allowed freedom from scrutiny on the basis of their status, importance, power ('too big to prosecute'), claimed omnipotence, wisdom, benevolence, divine inspiration, or glory. 

Governance Requirement:
ClosedSeparation of powers

The judiciary, executive and legislative arms of government need to be separate and independently powerful institutions.

This aims to allow crucial decisions about right or wrong to be made within a framework that is broadly acceptable to all groups in society:

e.g. arbitrary political decisions, based on whim or following bribery or to support friends (cronyism) or relatives (nepotism), must be confronted in a suitable forum rather than through street protests.

The separation of powers targets the inexorable urge of those with a lust for power to centralize it as much as possible, even into the hands of just one person. It also helps in applying the rule of law to unwilling former or new political elites.

Judicial review and parliamentary review of laws proposed by the executive arm should prevent government by simple decree of any one person or faction.


Personal Benefit:
ClosedRedistribution of wealth and rights

Wealth disparities based on unjust powers and privileges are the basis for the revolution. While enfranchisement, legal rights and basic human rights are necessary for the people, they are insufficient. Severe economic injustices need to be addressed via legislation and organized budgeted programs: land reform, tax reform, educational provision, basic welfare, health care.  Such improvements are often politically difficult and take many years or even decades to be developed.

The necessary changes get their inspiration from current ethical doctrines, religious or humanist, as well as prevailing customs, e.g. laws may seek to counter human frailty like the disposition to exploit the poor, defraud the ignorant or abuse positions of influence.

Social Interactions:
ClosedAvailability of courts of justice

Courts of justice and an impartial legal system must be accessible to all. While differences are mostly resolved informally and pragmatically, now that people have clearer rights, civil and criminal procedures in courts of justice prevent vendettas and resolve serious disputes.

The system must allow individuals to take the State to court if the person suffers arbitrary and illegal or extra-legal interference or harm e.g. confiscation of property, abuse by police, bureaucratic harassment.

Provision of Knowledge:
ClosedSocialization via education

Custom remains a powerful force nonetheless. Politicians still climb up the greasy pole in the usual ways, and often find that their lust for power and wealth is fulfilled via collaboration with criminals.

To counteract the evidence of daily life that custom prevails over law, especially for political leaders, children must be socialized via compulsory education in primary schools. The schools should be regularly inspected to ensure adequate standards.

ClosedChildren, as they grow up...

Personal-Ethical Requirements

Core Value:

Legal equality between people leads to a need to tolerate ideas, interests, perspectives, and activities of many varieties. Emergence of new pressures and conflicts related to changing the distribution of power and goods must be expected. Arbitrary assertions prohibiting dissent and backed by force need to be replaced by reasoned debate.

Radical groups and expressions of diverse views must be allowed to develop. This enables a case to be explained and argued—via the media, public meetings, publications, films and the arts.

Civic Virtue:

Justice is the new value supporting and counter-balancing fraternity.

It relates not only to justice in the courts, but also to fair shares of common social goods, fair-play in social life and fairness in any official process.

Everyone is expected to demonstrate a capacity and willingness to handle situations in accord with the rights, interests and deserts of the various parties.

If justice is ingrained, there will be anger at the perpetrators of injustice wherever it may occur. Popular pressure will emerge for some change in existing laws and regulations or in those administering them.


Originally posted: July 2009; Last updated: 27 Jan 2010

All posted material is part of a scientific project and should be regarded as provisional. Visitors are encouraged to think through the topics and propositions for themselves. Copyright © Warren Kinston 2009-2016.
All Rights Reserved.

comments powered by Disqus