Lecture held on the occasion of the "1st World Forum of Spiritual Culture"
A developed model of democracy, in which these value levels get their correct institutional places
1. Among the multiple deficiencies of our existing democracies (which normally we are not used to regard as developing forms of government, but as once and for all achieved or not achieved), there are two main and principal deficiencies: First, the whole of society depends structurally on economics. The latter one seems to be not one level of the entire society in a serving position, but as the decisive and dominating level. All our democracies of the Western type, in their daily life, are not really based on human rights, on human dignity and ultimate values, as they pretend to do, but on the ruling money system and its stock-markets. The money system would be a discussion of most current interest, but this is not my main topic here.
2. The second main deficiency of all existing democracies until now, is the extremely unsatisfactory functioning of the system of political parties. These parties do not and structurally cannot really organize the political will of the souverain, i.e. of the people. They are not solution finders, but themselves an essential part of the democratical problem. (Not to speak here of the anglo-saxon system of two match-teams which pretend to arrange the common wealth by simple alternance, a view on democracy which seems to me theoretically out of date, even if it provides a pragmatic stability until now).
I take the example of the Green parties in the Western European democracies. They have a highly delevoped ecological conscience, but little of a new perspective on the evolution of democracy, in spite of their initially pronounced “basic democracy”. In addition, they have an underdeveloped sense of the “cultural biotopes”, called nations or cultural communities, at least in Western Europe. So, if you vote “green”, you vote not only for ecology, but at the same time against cultural identities, maybe nations, maybe ethnical units.
This dilemma of voting for a certain political party is only one single example of many. The general situation of the voters is dilemmatic: They can vote for a political party with regard to one certain value, but at the same time, in voting for this party, they implicitly vote for values which they don´t favour at all. This structural dilemma of the actual democracies concerning all political parties cannot be underlined enough. It is suppressed by the “willing” majority of our political scientists – because they don`t and won`t see an alternative solution. As long as you see no alternative solution, you can rarely admit a non-functioning of the existing one.
3. The rest of this paper is dedicated to the question: Is there a realistic alternative to this party-dilemma? My answer is: There Is A Necessary Alternative (TIANA versus TINA!). Necessary, because it is not merely an emergency measure, but it goes back to the very anthropological roots and conscience roots (!) of human community- and society-building. At the same time, by adopting this alternative, the other main problem of present democracies, the illegitime predominance of economics, which is so hostile to ecological standards, can be solved.
4. When I speak of “anthropological roots of society”, the association of “anthropocentrism” must be kept clear off. The so called ecological anthropocentrism would better be called anthropo-egocentrism. Its view on nature is one of a beast of prey, so not a very “human” or anthropological one. When I speak of the anthropological roots of society, I mean the link between individual action and community or social system
5. The link between individual action and social system has been matter of long discussion last century (esp. the debate between J. Habermas and N. Luhmann in Germany, after the American sociologue T. Parsons had failed to give a logical principle of his sequence of subsystems). In the view of a “reflexion theory of society” (delevoped by me since 1975), the evident principle of a hierarchy of social subsystems is that of subsequent reflexion-levels. Reciprocal interpersonal reflexion or practical reflexion constitutes the decisive, socializing link between individuals, and thereby also between each individual and the social system. This is what neither the theorists of social action nor those of social system achieved to clear up.
6. The levels of direct interpersonal reflexion are limited, not at all iterating ad infinitum:
1. simple objective relation:I see the other one like an object.
2. subjective-reflexive relation: I look at the other one as to another looking being, but I reduce him and his activity to my interests (and reciprocally: a reciprocity of strategic attitudes on each side).
3. double and responsive reflexion: I look at the other as someone who is able of “our” reciprocity of looking, that means of a communicative attitude, as I am able to do. (Whether we realize this ability of a communicative attitude, is a further question. But the structural potency is given by this double and responsive reflexion.)
4. To that communicative potential each of us can take position in a metacommunicative relation: I can reject the responsive reciprocity of the 3rd level and devaluate the other one, or I can continue with a communicative life – establishing a system of inner reciprocity or practical mutual reflexion.
In this sense the interpersonal reflexion-circle is constitutive for a social system, the 4 levels of which are reflexion levels.
Figure 1: The unity of horizontal interpersonal reflexion and vertical systemic reflexion-levels
The reflexion circle can begin anew, but structurally it is finished by these 4 levels.
7. If now we change our perspective from that of the individual actors into a perspective of collectivity, we get not only action levels but system levels. This is a very important and far-reaching step of thought. The systemic levels are now:
(1) Interaction system of exchange of goods: the level of economic community. (unifying medium: money)
(2) Interaction in terms of goal attainment and power: from which results a community of law (For law is nothing else than the regulation of power, a more or less just regulation, by the way.) The community of law is: common goal attainment of common interests which are not only economical ones. (unifying medium: law)
(3) The interaction of real reciprocity or mutuality, a community in the proper sense of the word: a community of communication which has its value in itself, not in the goal attainment of something different from the community itself. (unifying medium: language)
(4) The interaction can, finally, direct itself upon the implicit value conditions of the former forms of community. The meta-communicative type of community is an ethical and a spiritual community. (unifying medium: value-axioms like dogmasor principlesand their expressiverites)
All these systemic levels can be regarded as implicit levels of every community, but also as explicit types of community or society.
8. These intentional levels or action-levels defined above, develop themselves as systemic levels, in a modern constitutional nation state, into more or less clearly differentiated subsystems:
Figure 2: Hierarchy and inner division of the subsystems of a society
The historical evolution ofa constitutional state was essentially characterized by the (a least theoretical) differentiation of religion (pars pro toto for the legitimation system) and politics as well as by the differentiation of religion and an autonomous culture. The differentiation of politics (in the narrower sense) and economics/ecologics still remains the task of our days! The pretended neo-liberal autonomy of economics is certainly not the solution.
9. The effective regulation of a democratic society by democratic means becomes possible just by the practical and institutional differentiation of all of these subsystems, namely by the differentiation of the legislative “power”: by independent or interdependent partial parliaments (parliamentary “chambers” or “houses”):
· a basic-value parliament
· a cultural parliament
· a political parliament (in the narrower sense of “politics”)
· an economical parliament
Parliamentarism is the heart of democracy, on the state-level at least. A comparison: We know since William Harvey, the English physicist of the 17th century, that the physical heart of man has four chambers, which are essential for its functioning and which must be differentiated until the birth of a human being. Analogously, we should have to say that our democracies are even not yet completely born, because their heart chambers are not yet (theoretically and practically) differentiated.
Figure 3: The social system as the state with extended division of “powers”
10. More concretely: We need four expert- or better: trustee-parliaments (and respective executive organs), elected independently from each other for each system level. Direct election and responsibility of the affected representatives for their specific field is the remedy. Elections should be held e.g. each year for one of the specific parliaments. The character of the political parties would change by the force of these differentiated elections (and a little bit of juridical aid) from power-oriented into matter-oriented parties (Sachparteien).
11. In this matter-orientation of the new type of parties and of elections lies an inner synthesis of direct and representational democracy. (Direct democracy alone without representative structures, applicated on modern states, is a pure and even insane illusion!)
12. Hierarchical and circular interrelation of the subsystems. Without the correct hierarchy of values (economical, political, cultural and basic values), that means without an inversion of the present “order”, i.e. disorder, a real reversal of the practical (not only theoretical) order of values, our democracies cannot become credible. And without a thoroughly new credibility they cannot be saved in the long run!
But, on the other hand, it is not sufficient, to reverse the materialistic dominance of economics simply into an idealistic dominance of the basic value representatives. Let us take the example of genetic engineering for plants, animals, and human being. You know what a lot of ethical and economic questions is risen by that. The general answer to this kind of interference of ethics and economics, or more generally, inferences of all levels of the social system, is: There must be a feedback between these levels and their respective parliaments. Most democratic parliaments of the world know already the institution of a first, second and third reading of a legislatory draft. Thus, a circular interrelation between the partial parliaments (or chambers) can easily be instituted.
It cannot be but very seldom, that there is dispute over respective areas of responsibility between the parliaments. All the more, as these “aeras” are distinguished not materialiter, but formaliter: by the point of view of respective responsibility or value-level. In the rare cases of competence dispute, the Supreme Court would have to decide about the competence.
Figure 4: The systemic circle of the social as a parliamentary system
13. The ecological valuesare basic values in the double sense: 1. ultimate values of dignity of Nature and Life. Even if ultimate values (as the religious ones) are not negotiable in se, there must and can be found a pragmatical consensus about there “translation” into the political medium of a pluralistic society, which is the law, 2. Today they are basical for human survival.Consequently,a common commission of the basic value-parliament and the economic parliament, i.e. the juridical institutionalization of ecological economics, would bethe most realistic form ofeffectively achievinga sustainable form of economics. But this special arrangement seems to be realistic and effective only in the broader frame of the outlined “four path democracy”.
14. To summon up the essence of this paper: Most of our propositions about ethics, culture, politics and economics are in vain and rest mere wishful thinking, if there is no way of really implementing them in our societies, and that without further delay. We have no lack of value-conscience, as often is states, but rather a huge lack of value-realisation. This lack can – democratically - only be overcome by a compulsory system of legislative priority-rules, a hierarchical “framework” of legislation in a deeper sense of four frames, the most inclusive of which is the basic value frame.
After courageous steps of our forefathers during the last two centuries (and much blood-shedding of those, who didn`t succeed) we have to do a big step today, which could seem relatively tiny. In reality, it is a step as big and important as that of the founding fathers of the United States, the French Revolution, the work of Atatürk e.g. - and the liberation of 1990 with all their pioneers and heroes in each of our countries. I suppose, the “old” and the “new” democracies must take the initiative to prepare an indispensable further step. Institutional thinking is estimated, not emotions alone to give spirituality and ethics a new institutional place in the political field (in the broad sense of politics). The indispensable further evolution of the structures of a democratic society are nothing less than the natural laws of a communicative society, “natural laws” in the modern sense of laws of action and of a common liberty, including spirituality in plural forms!
For further information see: www.johannesheinrichs.de / www. viergliederung.de
J. H., Revolution der Demokratie. Eine Realutopie, 444 p., Berlin 2003 (Maas Verlag)
J.H., Demokratiemanifest für die schweigende Mehrheit, 120 p., München 2005;
The practical resolution resulting from this paper
is contained under No. 10 above
We need four expert- or better: trustee-parliaments (and respective executive organs), elected independently from each other for each system level. Direct election and responsibility of the affected representatives for their specific field. Elections should be held e.g. each year for one of the specific parliaments.
A first step could be the installation of a basic value parliament: the fair communication of all word view groups for finding a pragmatical consensus for translating the ultimate values into effective common law.
Prof. Dr. Heinrichs Johannes, Berlin & Duisburg, Germany Prof. Dr. of science, author – former University chair for philosophy and sociology
A New State Policy – Fundaments for the 3rd Millenium