Pluralist democratic systems, according to Philipe Braud, do not do what they claim to do, but rather, serve to channel, diffuse, or reconcile society's conflicts. As one reviewer of the original French edition notes, the book can be seen as part of a long tradition in European political thought that sees democracy as a front for capitalism.
Braud asserts that pluralist democracy is credible only because of the complete failure of communism. There is no government by the people; the rule of law is a tautology. What fundamental changes occur happen because of the forces of economics, culture, and labor, and in response to political direction. The efficacy of democracy comes from its ability to manage social emotions, specifically by addressing anguish with promises of security and identity: by meeting the need to be wooed and seduced by constant personalization of politics, offering the illusion of choice; by transposing the frustrations of gender, age, and class inequalities into the political domain; by providing pleasure in the game of politics; and by promising greed, power, and its prerequisites. Pluralist democracies know best how to manage these emotions, and how to use them without suffocating them. A powerful and disturbing vision of pluralist democracy that will be of great interest to students and scholars of contemporary political thought.
About the Author:
PHILIPPE BRAUD is Professor of Political Science at the University of Paris and Director of the Department of Political Science at the Sorbonne. He is also Vice President of the Association française de science politique and the author of seven books, including L'émotion en politique (1996).
JEFFREY REID received his doctoral degree in 1997 after 11 years of philosophical studies at the Université de Paris-Sorbonne. He has written Hegel-L'Ironie Romantique as well as several articles in learned journals. While continuing his philospohical research and writing, he currently teaches at the Lycée français in Toronto.