Even for committed democrats, it has never been obvious how extensive democratic practices should be. What is the appropriate extent of democratic government, and where, other than in the political realm, is democracy the
proper principle of authority?
During the early New Left period, the slogan of “participatory democracy” suggested a maximalist position. Formally democratic structures weren’t enough: many radical activists felt that unequal and hence undemocratic power was exerted at meetings simply because some participants were more verbally agile and competent than others. Procedures were suggested for correcting such distortions of equality, requiring, for example, that everyone speak once before anyone was allowed to speak twice. The face-to-face consensus group was idealized as the best if not the only real democracy.’...
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