Democracy was in a coma even before the election of Donald Trump, and power will once again be “for the people and for the people” only under new political structures, explains political scientist Hélène Landemore, professor at the University of Yale.
She defends assemblies of non-politicians chosen by lot, such as the one that decided on changes to the Icelandic Constitution and the one that formulates environmental policy in France.
We must also change the private sphere, said Landemore, 45, who launched the “Work Manifesto” last year, along with eight other researchers. Instead of spreading the idea that managers should be at the forefront of politics, she says, the key is to bring politics to business. “Businesses are too important to be in the hands of business people,” he says.
The professor, who defines herself as a “radical democrat”, believes it is time to change the way decisions are made: “There has been almost a coup d’état in the United States. How far will we have to- get us off before trying something more drastic?
For her, the invasion of the United States Congress failed only because the American president did not stimulate his supporters to the extreme, and the message that will be left to other populist leaders around the world will be that “he There is no need to be afraid to explicitly encourage violence. .
Is Trump’s defeat any relief for anyone who has seen American democracy in jeopardy? I do not believe. Even though Trump is arrested, there is a new form of populism, with new followers and people like [o senador republicano] Ted Cruz ready to follow this path, perhaps in a more dangerous way, however planned.
Why would this be a “new” populism? In the United States, there was no such thing for decades. But, in fact, there is nothing new about demagogues using populist troops. Some of my colleagues, like [o professor de filosofia de Yale] Jason Stanley, called it fascism from the start, under criticism from those who saw Trump as a mere clown wanting to increase his visibility.
Is it too much to see fascism in Trump? I don’t think he had a fascist project at the start. But he thirsts for blood, he’s a “tyrant” [assediador, quem vive a intimidar os que considera vulneráveis]. Without meeting any resistance, especially among the republicans, fascism grew in him. He realized that it would give him more power. Why would he stop? His bossy, chauvinistic, and sexist personality thrived in a Republican environment he thought he could control, but he was not.
How and when do you realize the line has been crossed? With stalkers, it’s never too early to react. We let Trump continue because we were complacent. High alert should have gone up in election debates with Hillary Clinton already, when he said he would not accept defeat in the election. He made it clear that he had no intention of following the rules.
Trump is admired by other leaders, like Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. What message do you get from the invasion of Congress and its reaction? Do they discourage coup attempts? No. What leaders like Bolsonaro will learn is that Trump was not bold enough. As an opportunist, he made a calculation to keep open the possibility of returning in 2024. He incited the coup, but it was not until the end.
The lesson for Bolsonaro is that there is no need to be afraid of explicitly encouraging violence. If Bolsonaro decides the only strategy is to be bold and burn all bridges, as Machiavelli might recommend – pick one goal and go with everything – Brazil will be in trouble, because it is very easy to reclaim power. See how few police officers were on Capitol Hill. How people came together to invade you. The speed with which people were ready to support the coup, which narrowly failed.
Doesn’t the failure of the coup show that the institutions worked? I am very pessimistic. For me, the rebels didn’t go to extremes because Trump didn’t explicitly order it. But, if he had reached the limit, what would have happened? It’s counterfactual, hard to imagine, but disturbing. And what can happen in countries where desperation or tolerance for violence is greatest?
Some politicians speak in dialogue with the other party to heal the polarization. Is it viable in this environment of hate “towards the other” on both sides of the table? This will not happen through classic political structures. Party leaders set gasoline on fire because polarization benefits them.
I would start with a sort of citizens’ assembly with the power to enforce its decisions, for example on immigration policies or on how to get out of the Covid-19 crisis.
I just don’t see how to overcome 40 years of polarization, which almost perfectly accompanies rising inequalities. Reducing inequalities is a prerequisite, because it generates a lot of resentment and it inflames populism.
What do the figures from the US Congress tell us? That it is controlled by the richest 10% for the richest 10%, especially for the 1%. The ideology of the ruling class was to pretend that it remains democracy, when it is a plutocracy, an elitocracy disguised as democracy.
People start to think, “if it’s democracy, I’m not interested; I prefer an authoritarian leader who fights corruption and reduces the chasm ”.
What is mrs. said is that democracy was already in a coma? It’s a step beyond warnings that she might die from the poison inside, as she contends. [o professor de Harvard Steven] Levitsky? Levitsky and [Daniel] Ziblatt [autores de “Como as Democracias Morrem”] have a minimal definition of what democracy is. It comes down to the rule of law and constitutional rules. It is not about the power exercised by the people for the people. They like it to be exercised in the name of the majority and benefit the people.
Perhaps the acceptable obstacle has gone too far. Deregulation and deindustrialisation have been too rapid and brutal. Democracy, in addition to not being for the people, has ceased to be for the people. And the left was an accomplice. They have also become a party for the 10 percent Caviar Democrats. The workers preferred Trump, who speaks at least their language.
Like Mrs. is it politically situated? As a social democrat. Perhaps it is hardly more correct to speak of a radical proceduralist, or a radical democrat, because I no longer focus on public policies and I think that elections are not enough; we have to change the way we decide.
The people we empower will never dare to exceed certain limits. There is no good that comes from a Congress in which 82% of the membership is the richest 10%. I defend citizens’ assemblies with decision-making power, whose decisions are implemented by the government. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s worth a try.
We are at a time when there was almost a coup d’état in the United States. How far will we have to go down before we try something more drastic?
Mrs. he is part of a group which has just launched a manifesto for the democratization of work. Is this another more radical attempt? One of the strongest phrases in [senador republicano] Mitt Romney, when he ran against Barack Obama in the 2012 election, said, “I’m a manager, a businessman. That’s why I have to take control of the government ”. Trump also used this argument: “I know how to run a business, I will know how to run the country.” Neoliberalism has produced businessmen who think they are better able to govern than politicians.
You have to turn around. Companies are too important to be in the hands of businessmen, especially with the impact they have on the public sphere. We need companies to be guided by people who understand the democratic conditions of political life, who oblige companies to assume their responsibilities.
Instead of putting managers in politics, we need to put politicians in business. Democratize the economy. Political democracy is impossible if there are no democratic enterprises in which workers have power, or democratic families in which their members have power.
The criticism will be that you have to be profitable, economically viable. Yes, but society can create the conditions. Laws, regulations, financial mechanisms can support. Our next step will be to work with companies willing to try new forms of governance. There are executives who understand that democracy will only be secure if the corporate world also changes.
You describe yourself as a group of researchers. Does gender make a difference? It wasn’t intentional, but it’s a really collaborative group, not ego driven. Some of us have a certain visibility, but from the beginning it was a collective project. Gender matters, at the end of the day, because women end up, by necessity, being more collaborative.
But would a male member be rejected? I think we’re going to keep the group of nine women because it’s working well, but we’ve already worked with men. We didn’t come to theorize about that, but basically we didn’t want to become hostage to the traditional actors in this field, who are men, and have a man who represents the group. We want no one to represent us. We just want to be a group.
Hélène Landemore, 45,
she has been professor of political science at Yale University since 2009. Franco-American, holds a master’s degree in political science from Sciences-Po (Paris) and in philosophy from the Sorbonne-Paris 1, and a doctorate in political science from Harvard University. Research democratic theory, the philosophy of economics, and democracy in the workplace, among other topics.
She is the author of “Open Democracy” (Princeton University Press 2020, without translation in Brazil), in which she defends new forms of democratic representation based on a drawing, and co-founder of the Democratizing Work movement.