Debate participacion (Habermas) vs technocracy (Niklas Luhmann)

O problema de partida: apatia política nas democracias contemporâneas Nos últimos anos formou-se um consenso surpreendente entre muitos autores sobre a crise do sistema democrático. A surpresa deriva do fato de que, depois da Queda do Muro de Berlim, a democracia ocidental parecia triunfar definitiva e incontrastavelmente. De fato, havia tempo que alguns teóricos já tinham alertado para problemas irresolvidos e dilemas que caracterizam nossas sociedades democráticas. Já na década de 1970, Jürgen Habermas e Claus Offe tinham chamado atenção para os desafios que o Estado democrático de bem-estar social tinha que enfrentar na Europa (Habermas, [1973] 1980; Offe, [1972] 1984). Com o desenvolvimento da economia capitalista e o multiplicar-se das crises econômicas e financeiras, provocadas – na leitura marxista desses autores – pela própria lógica do sistema capitalista, o Estado se viu na obrigação de encontrar remédios para os efeitos negativos de tais crises e para obviar às correspondentes crises de legitimação que ameaçavam o sistema econômico e político. Um dos instrumentos utilizados para esse fim foi a adoção de políticas de segurança social, que foram aprofundando-se e transformando-se em políticas de bem-estar social. Ora, apesar de considerar esse processo em geral de maneira positiva, Habermas em várias obras alerta para um efeito negativo: o cidadão tende a transformar-se em cliente, renunciando à participação ativa e assumindo a atitude passiva de quem se limita a aguardar serviços do Estado (Habermas, 1973, pp. 9 e ss., 2012, pp. 626 e ss.).

Mais ou menos na mesma época, Niklas Luhmann, ao discutir a noção de “democratização da política”, afirmava que as sociedades contemporâneas são tão complexas que as “teorias clássicas da democracia” parecem ultrapassadas e incapazes de entender adequadamente a realidade política (Luhmann, [1965] 1983, p. 153). A ideia de uma vontade popular é inspirada por uma analogia com
os indivíduos, mas não se deixa aplicar a sistemas altamente complexos. Essa complexidade faz com que “o nível de informação do público” seja “extremamente baixo”. Até em casos que dizem respeito ao interesse pessoal dos cidadãos, como no “do direito tributário, ou daqueles relativos aos seguros e às pensões”, é improvável que o indivíduo conheça as leis em questão. Longe de considerar isso lamentável, Luhmann pensa que “ignorância e apatia são
as condições mais importantes para uma mudança das leis, que segue passando despercebida, e para a variabilidade do direito e, portanto, são funcionais para o sistema” (Luhmann, [1965] 1983, p. 191).

Source: http://www.scielo.br/pdf/ln/n89/06.pdf

Experimental governance and pre-scientific knowledge

In a previous post it was addressed the concept of experimental governance, understood “as a means to launch an environmental project in spite of uncertainties and uphold the project without disrupting the overall process” (Gross, M., & Heinrichs, 2010:283). This point, the authors continues “is wholly pragmatic to create and facilitate the building of a community of inquirers who locally deliberate social problems, form hypothesis about appropiate means and ends of practice, and put their assumptions to test”.

In this context, insofar non-scientist community members are enriching the research process with “pre-scientific” knowledge (formation of hypothesis and ends of practics to be test) they are taking actively part of such process. This moves away the experimental governance from the Habermas communicative approach or “participatory paradigm”. The pragmatist ideas developed by Habermas “have trickled down to environmental planning discourse since the 1970s and researchin environmental sociology has examined a wide range of participatory decision processes” (Gross, M., & Heinrichs, 2010:282). However, the authors argue, in the ideal case, it is not enough to bring local actors into deliberation where their varying presumptions and biases will succumb to the force of the better argument (by scientist and practicioners?). Hence, the actual power to have a say in political decision making is easily taken away from the participants (the lack of arguments among local actors and the consistent of the scientifist discourse ultimate take the former ones away from decision making. Public participation is reduced to a information session where scientist show how powerful they are in base of their consistent discourse). Furthermore, the authors suggest that the Habermassian ideal type case could not be further from real-world decision making which is characterized by many unknows and uncertainies that cannot even be fathomed via risk assessment and computer modeling, let alone by mere citizen participation.

But the experimental governance consists of not only bring local actors into deliberation but also allow them to “form hypothesis about appropiate means and ends of practice, and put their assumptions to test”. In other words, the experimental governance consist of allowing local actors for forming hypothesis based on their everyday experience, i.e. pre-scientific knowledge, as a previous step to objetivize the phenomon, it is, to produce scientific knowledge.

Gross, M., & Heinrichs, H. (Eds.). (2010). Environmental sociology: European perspectives and interdisciplinary challenges. Springer Science & Business Media.

Experimentalist governance

We note that although American pragmatism has influenced environmental sociology through the writings of Jürgen Habermas and his influence on the “participatory paradigm”-i.e. the idea that public participation is necessary to create legitimate decisions (Parkins and Mitchell 2005)-the generally negative attitude toward ecological reform in North American environmental sociology has somewhat obliterated the many positive aspects of a sociological pragmatism and its potential for environmental issues. Instead, American environmental sociology is captured by alarming stories about the world inexorably in environmental decline-sometimes marked under the label of “sociological criticism”-engulfed by rising oceans as the inevitable outcome of climate change, the human demand on the Earth´s ecosystem and natural resources, as well as the claim that capitalism is the source of all evils. In contrast, after a similar phase of doom-and-gloom literature in the 1970s and 1980s, today hardly any European environmental sociologist is interested only in, e.g., Marxist musings on ecological degradation or the purely negative stance on anything “modern” anymore. The general goal is to search for possibilities of human adaptation to natural changes, to fathom the resiliency potential of human societies, and strategies to successfully link ecological issues with social development. Along side of the well-known ecological modernization paradigm, in recent years a framework has resurfaced in Europe and elsewhere, which tries to develop a more experimental strategy at solving environemntal problems. This framework, although heavily influenced by North American pragmatism, leaves pessimistic North American environmental sociology behind.

Whereas the faith in total control and full knowledge of ecological system and social processes implies an ability to act only when everything is known in advance, an experimental approach allows us to accommodate different factors in spite of gaps of knowledge. Experimental governance is thus to be understood as a means to launch an environmental project in spite of uncertainties and uphold the project without disrupting the overall process. In this framework, experimentation is a mechanism whose aim is not to overcome or control environmental uncertainty, but to live and blossom upon it.

In particular, the neo-pragmatists lean much further toward the need to supplement ideal speech situations with active public experimentation.

Extracted from: Gross, M., & Heinrichs, H. (Eds.). (2010). Environmental sociology: European perspectives and interdisciplinary challenges. Springer Science & Business Media.

Habermas communicative rationality and how discourse ethics and a vibrant public sphere could break the stranglehold on rationality by elites

Te belief that meaning and reason were social in nature-i.e., required mutual cooperation and collaboration in its contruction-led early pragmatists to belive that an important part of the route to progressive social change lie in democratic deliberative approaches to addressing pressing social problems. These ideas are best illustrated by Dewey´s lifelong commitment to extensive citzen participation in politics as opposed to technocratic decision-making and his emphasis on public education as a means of achieving a more democratic society (Dewey 1927). These pragmatist insights on knowledge, language, and community, inspired Habermas (1987) to develop his ideas of communicative rationality and the public sphere. From pragmatist insights, Habermas saw the possibility that a discourse ethics and a vibrant public sphere could break the stranglehold on rationality by elites, a major concern of the critical theorists with which he was conversant. He argued that embedded in the logical relations of the pragmatist conception of meaning was an emancipatory potential in modernity (Habermas 1987). Namely, that if it is the case that partners in communication agree that communication is legitime, then setting up participatory discursive opportunities where speakers can be challenged to present the reasons underlying a claim and be confronted with competing reasons could liberate more work legitime (i.e., deeply socially justified) decisions. Discourse ethics created the best, in Haberma´s view, potential institutional design to free communication of distortion by strategic elites. Decision made through communicative processes offered, he argued, a more legitimate basis for democratic politics, policymaking and planning.

Extracted from: Gross, M., & Heinrichs, H. (Eds.). (2010). Environmental sociology: European perspectives and interdisciplinary challenges. Springer Science & Business Media.