Promotion of Democracy Principles through Social Movements

By Anthi Ermogenous

”Democracy means by the people, for the people and of the people”.

During recent years have seen increasing tensions between the ideals and the perceptible performance of democratic institutions.  Though there is not actual ‘crisis of democracy’, a lot of people have in mind that is not everything so ideal and fine with the body politic.

The  rethinking of democracy has been encouraged by the global diffusion of liberal democracy as a system of political rule. (Transnational Democracy: Theories and Prospects Tony McGrew )

Video from KISA ORGANISATION (Movement for the Empowerment of Foreigners in Cyprus)

Radical democratic pluralism is seen as a project which eschews the reformism of liberal-internationalism in favor of direct forms of democracy and self-governance alongside the creation of alternative structures of governance from the global through local levels (Hutchings 1999,p166ff). It is rejecting vigorously the liberal-reformist position because current structures of global governance are considered to involve a favor privileging of interests of a rich and powerful cosmocracy while excluding the needs and interests of a large part of humanity. Advocates of radical pluralist democracy, including amongst others Burnheim, Connolly, Patamoki and Walker are therefore concerned with the normative foundations of a ‘new politics’ which involves the empowerment of individuals and communities in the context of world of globalizing power structures (Burnheim 1985; Burnheim 1986; Connolly 1991; Walker 1991; Walker 1995; Patomaki 2000).It represents an essence perception of democracy insofar  its supporters are concerned with the creation of ‘good communities’ based upon ethic principles of equality, active citizenship, the promotion of the public good, humane governance and harmony with the natural environment.
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Radical democratic pluralism is essentially a ‘bottom up’ theory of the democratization of world order. The new democratic life politics, as opposed to the old politics of emancipation, is articulated primarily through the multiplicity of critical social movements, such as environmental, women and peace movements, which challenge the authority of states and international structures as well as the hegemony of particular (liberal) conceptions of the ‘political’.

Radical democratic pluralism reflects a strong attachment to theories of direct democracy and participatory democracy (Held 1996).

By talking about radical-pluralist democracy, which is also known as agonist democracy, we should say that its an attempt to redefine struggle in politics by a more extent and more deep democracy. There are yet, some issues that have  to be more compatible with pluralism that stigmatized modern democracy. It is a direction and an orientation mostly about community and citizen and  how to endorse the highest possible pluralism by not though ruing the ambits of the democratic political community.
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It is anticipated that in politics power, antagonism and conflict will always play the bigger role. The principles of a radical democratic citizenship is mostly that  citizens are connected simply through their “loyalty to one another”(Oakeshott in Mouffe 2005a,66). The principles are mostly related with necessity of liberty and equality. What we see in agonistic pluralism is to retain the perception of “adversary” which should has entity in the between different parts ratio of politics, by the time calls for “common adherence to moral-political principles of democracy” to turning competitors political ratios into agonist relations between “enemies”.

Though most of the population lives in democratic countries, many a time their voice is unheard or they/we remain aloof from information.

The video represents the activities of KISA

What KISA is, is a Movement for Equality, Support, Anti-Racism and it is a Cypriot Non-Governmental Organization and was founded  in response to changes in Cypriot society, which saw large waves of immigration from Eastern European and Third World countries. The chosen media is a video KISA created and promote and it is a Social & Cultural Centre Opening Event Video.

It is an attempt to give voice to the immigrants to promote their way of mixing instead of opposing their differences, contrast and conflicts, and by their fusion, vinculum and fusion, they are trying to stronger their case in an agonist way to claim and vindicate their democratic rights. The video further plays several cultural shows , dances dresses ,of foreign communities leaving or working in Cyprus, as they are getting a voice and talk about their diversities which they choose to use as a “weapon” to fight and peacefully promote their claims and requests.  KISA and the particular video, gives the right of speech  to these foreigners. They appear to defend their rights and the right to a collective demand to solutions .

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Analyses of  the media product

According to the principles stated above , regarding the new concept of radical democracy as a direct and participatory democracy , having in its centre the individuals and communities ,their respective needs, their voice , the need of an equality society  and human governance,  I can make the following remarks on the contents of the video attached .

The very existence of the Organization gives a voice to the foreigners and their human rights as minorities and in their working and leaving conditions in Cyprus .The organization and the video empower these people to defend their identity and claim their rights. They are actually given the right of participation.

KISA is presented as a critical social movement asking for more humane governance regarding these foreign people the need for a more humane treatment from the authorities .

The video works towards creating awareness towards the different identities of these ethnicities and the need for humanity toward them and respect . We can clearly see a notion and a kind of radical- pluralist (agonist) democracy as in the image and the ideals of KISA organization, as in the attached video. People stress the necessity for bonds of social reciprocity such recognition. They try to convert the rejection and the multi-culture differences to a shared and between them agonist, towards a same direction for same, equal rights and recognition as equal citizens. They share common space and common institutions. They frame an ethical relationship marked and characterized by the other person potential neediness, by targeting to democratic justice, democratic rights, and the mediation and resolution of conflict.

By promoting the cultural identities of all different ethnicities  the video and the event presented, promotes the solidarity between multiple cultures .These people are given the opportunity to participate in the functions and events of the KISA making them feel like is their  own organization . By criticizing the governmental policies there is a challenge to the authority of the state.

The study case set out to determine the different aspects of democracy and how democracy can be applied or be a desired and requested right for some groups of people. It also determines and evaluates how many agonies and aspects democracy has and can be exercised.

Closing this article it is worthy to say the valuable role of the media in the process of promoting  the contemporary aspects of democracy and in the agony of different opinions  . The media product that is chosen is an example of the role media can play in the agonist of different views in the process of power relations, by giving a platform to people open up..

BERNARD COHEN states “The media doesn’t tell us what to think; it tells us what to think about.” thus Media tells you what issues are important or creates importance with regards to an issue. (Agenda setting theory.) Media is amalgamation of create public opinion, influence, raise voice etc. Democracy is not exactly a product but it is byproduct of media.

Though the opinions are so non-alike between people speaking of discourse about which form of democracy is better. But as far as people know and fight about their democratic rights, democracy will never die, but can be transformed or even improve.
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