UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A defense of workplace democracy Malleson, Thomas 2007

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A D E F E N S E O F W O R K P L A C E D E M O C R A C Y by T H O M A S M A L L E S O N A THESIS S U B M I T T E D I N P A R T I A L F U L F I L L M E N T OF T H E R E Q U I R E M E N T S F O R T H E D E G R E E OF M A S T E R O F A R T S in T H E F A C U L T Y OF G R A D U A T E S T U D I E S (Political Science) T H E U N I V E R S I T Y OF B R I T I S H C O L U M B I A August 2007 © Thomas Malleson, 2007 11 A B S T R A C T A central component of the debates about workplace democracy is the issue of whether workplaces can be said to be binding associations in a parallel sense that states are often said to be binding. In this paper I look at the case for workplace democracy in terms of 'bindingness', particularly as it is expounded by Robert Dahl, and criticized by Robert Mayer. I argue that 'bindingness', or the lack of free choice, does not provide an adequate justification for workplace democracy. Instead I argue that a better justification of democracy stems from a full conception of freedom to self-develop that extends beyond voluntary choice. This fuller notion of freedom, developed in part by the work of Carol Gould, provides the normative force for the extension of democracy beyond the political realm into the workplace, and even beyond into the social and cultural spheres. iii TABLE OF CONTENTS Abstract ii Table of Contents iii I. Introduction 1 II. Dahl and 'Bindingness' 3 III. Mayer and 'Bindingness' 7 IV. 'Bindingness' and Democracy 13 V. An Alternative Justification for Democracy 17 VI. The Right to Join Non-Democratic Associations? 23 VII. Conclusion 35 Works Cited 37 1 I - Introduction In recent years some of the most famous justifications of workplace democracy have come from Robert A . Dahl, particularly his work^4 Preface to Economic Democracy} The premises that he uses to justify his argument in that book have come to be the cornerstones of the debate. They have largely provided the fodder for both the proponents and opponents of workplace democracy. One of the most interesting opponents of the idea of workplace democracy is Robert Mayer who in a series of interesting and insightful articles has attempted to undermine a key assumption of Dahl's argument - an assumption of 'bindingness' at work - by which he hopes to undermine the case for workplace democracy itself. Since Dahl and Mayer share many of the same assumptions, yet come to drastically different conclusions, their work serves as a fascinating foil for an analysis of the debate. Much of the debate about workplace democracy centers on this issue of 'bindingness', that is, the fact that the decisions of certain associations are said to be binding on their members. 'Bindingness' means that the members are subject to the decisions of the association; they have no choice about whether to be impacted or not. The laws of the land, for example, are binding on the citizenry. Although it may not be intuitively obvious why a notion of'bindingness' would occupy centre stage of debates around workplace democracy, I hope to demonstrate that the reason for its centrality is that it is tied to the idea of free or voluntary choice 2 - an important component of much liberal thought. M y central thesis is that 'bindingness', or the lack of choice, does not 1 Dahl also argued for workplace demo in, After the Revolution?: Authority in a Good Society (1970), his well-known article in Dissent (1984), Dilemmas of Pluralist Democracy: Autonomy us. Control (1982). See also his rejoinder to Robert Mayer (2001). 2 In this essay I use 'free' and 'voluntary' choice interchangeably. 2 provide an adequate justification for workplace democracy. The focus of much of the literature is, therefore, misplaced. I argue that a better justification of democracy stems from a full conception of freedom to self-develop that extends beyond voluntary choice. This fuller notion of freedom provides the normative force for the extension of democracy beyond the political realm into the workplace, and even beyond into the social and cultural spheres. It is thus a radically democratic vision. 3 The argument proceeds by examining Dahl 's argument for the right of workplace democracy. I show that Dahl focuses heavily on the issue of 'bindingness' and its complement of 'free choice'. In the second part I outline Mayer's argument against workplace democracy on the basis that decisions at work are not binding, because the wage-labour contract is voluntary. I argue that his concerns of 'bindingness' are, like Dahl 's, connected to an overly narrow conception of freedom as free choice. Part three works through several examples in order to critique Dahl and Mayer's focus on 'bindingness' and free choice in order to argue that they do not provide an adequate basis for workplace democracy. In part four I argue for a fuller notion of freedom that provides a better basis for democracy, in the polity and elsewhere. The final part five attempts to deal with objections to this radical democratic argument, particularly the question of people's freedom to choose to join non-democratic associations, i.e., how do we know that such choices are autonomous? Just as 'bindingness' necessitates a discussion of free choice, free choice necessitates a discussion of autonomy. 3 By radical democracy, I mean precisely democracy that is radicalized, deepened, and extended. This usage has more affinity with contemporary political activism than with the scholarly technical sense used by Mouffe and Laclau and others (cf. Hegemony and Socialist Strategy (2001)). It is more in line with theorists like Douglas Lummis (cf. Radical Democracy (1996)) and Arundhati Roy (2004). 3 II - D a h l and 'Bindingness ' The arguments for workplace democracy are typically of the form that Richard Arneson calls "parallel case" (qtd in Mayer 2001a, 227). This means that one tries to identify the basis for democracy in the state, and then argue that the assumptions that make democracy valid in the state apply in parallel to the workplace. This is the form that Dahl 's argument takes: "7/~democracy is justified in governing the state, then it must also be justified in governing economic enterprises; and to say that it is not justified in governing economic enterprises is to imply that it is not justified in governing the state" (1985, 111). Unfortunately, Dahl 's argument mA Preface to Economic Democracy is almost entirely a negative one, in the sense that he gives us very little positive justification for democracy. The chapter entitled 'The Right to Democracy Within Firms' begins with the quote above, and then goes on: "I can readily imagine three objections to this argument..." In other words, his argument for workplace democracy proceeds by objecting to the objections against it. The problem with this lack of concrete justification for democracy is that it necessitates considerable reading between the lines to get at the core of his argument.4 The only real positive justification for democracy that Dahl gives us in this work is in a couple of pages where he lists the assumptions that he believes justify democracy 4 In Chapter five of Dahl's On Democracy he gives ten desirable consequences of democratic states -including avoiding tyranny, essential rights, self-determination and human development (1998, 44-61). Although this consequentalist argument for democracy is more 'positive' than that offered in A Preface to Economic Democracy, it is also much looser. It is looser because it doesn't seem to provide the grist for the parallel-case argument: the list does not clearly demarcate the boundaries of justifiable democracy whether in the state, or workplace, or club. Indeed he says he wants to focus on the state which he reminds us is a "unique association" (44). But if it's a "unique" case, how can the argument apply in parallel? A Preface to Economic Democracy provides a clearer exposition of the argument for workplace democracy, which is why I focus on it more. 4 wherever such assumptions hold. He believes that these assumptions justify democracy in the state as well as in the workplace. He lists seven assumptions that he says are contingent on judgments about a specific association as well as the people who constitute it (1985, 61). The first three are assumptions of'bindingness', i.e., the association wi l l need to make decisions that are binding on all the members (1985, 57). There is a weak principle of equality that states that "the good of each person is entitled to equal consideration" (1985, 57); and a strong principle of equality that says that all adults are "roughly equally well qualified to decide which matters do or do not require binding collective decisions" (1985, 57-58). There is a principle of fairness, and a principle of liberty. The principle of liberty is that " in general, each adult person in the association is entitled to be the final judge of his or her own interests" (1985, 57). This raises the question of how to interpret these assumptions? The first thing to note is that the principle of liberty is not a particularly strong one. There is no mention of freedom in the sense of making choices within a context that enables self-development.5 This is a weak assumption because it doesn't provide the moral force necessary to justify workplace democracy. On the basis of this principle - the capacity to know one's own interests - one could just as easily justify a non-democratic workplace. One could argue, as traditional liberal theory has, that workers freely decide to sell their labour and their democratic voice in exchange for a wage - they do this, it might be argued, because they view it as in their best interest (Gould 1988, 152). Dahl 's weak principle of liberty could easily justify non-democratic workplaces. 5 By self-development I mean "the freedom to develop oneself through one's actions, or as a process of realizing one's projects through activity in the course of which one forms one's character and develops capacities" (Gould 1988, 40). This understanding of freedom as self-development is elaborated on in section four. 5 The second thing to note about Dahl 's assumptions is that 'bindingness' is central. Dahl mentions the word 'binding' in four out of seven assumptions. He highlights it in the very first assumption. He also mentions it more frequently than either 'freedom' or 'equality'. A t first glance it might seem to be only a characteristic of how associations function, but this would be to mistakenly downplay the moral force behind the assumption. Dahl puts so much emphasis on 'bindingness' not because he wants to describe what an association is, but because he thinks that the fact of being bound produces a moral impetus. We can see that 'bindingness' has a moral force for Dahl because of the sheer space he devotes to the subject (cf. 1985, 113-116; 1984, 55-57; 2001, 251-252), as well as by his determination to stick with the concept when it is criticized by Mayer (cf. Dahl 2001). Why is it that Dahl gives the seemingly innocuous notion of'bindingness' such central attention? What is the moral impetus behind it? I think that Dahl focuses on 'bindingness' so much because of its connection to free, voluntary choice. A moment's reflection is enough to see that 'bindingness' and free choice are simply opposite sides of the same coin. To be bound to an association means that my choices of exit are constrained. It means that I am not free to decide whether or not I wish to be subject to the decisions of the association. Conversely, to have free choice means to be able to voluntarily decide whether to be subject to the association - one is not bound to it. Dahl believes that one has a moral right to democracy in the state because one does not freely choose whether or not to be subject to the laws. Similarly, one has a moral right to democracy in the workplace because one does not freely choose whether or not to be 6 bound by the decisions of the workplace. For Dahl, democracy starts where freedom of choice ends. But what kind of choice is Dahl concerned with? He is clearly concerned with only certain types of choices. Dahl does not think that I get my right to political democracy from, say, the choice of what neighborhood to live in, nor my right to economic democracy from my choice of what kind of work to do: those choices are obviously not the determining ones. One can imagine that workers might choose to collectively govern their enterprises, to self-develop in a way that required democratic control, if the social context made such choices feasible - but these too are not the relevant choices for Dahl's right to democracy. The only choices that are relevant from the perspective of democratic rights are the choices to enter or exit an association - where these choices are lacking, and only these choices, one has a right to democracy. The point to appreciate is that Dahl's focus on 'bindingness' is motivated by a narrow conception of freedom - the freedom to choose to enter or exit an association; it is unconcerned with other types of freedom that might follow from being able to make choices in different social contexts, or within different arrangements of power - this point will be elaborated on below. As already said, Dahl justifies democracy on the basis of'bindingness': if an association is binding then one has a right to democracy. I think that 'bindingness' is a problematic basis for democracy because one may ask what happens if the association becomes less binding? Does the right to democracy disappear? For example, it follows directly from Dahl's conceptualization that a club need not be democratic. This is because one can choose whether to enter or exit a club; since the decisions of a club are 7 not binding, one has no right to democracy. Since there is no deprivation of choice, there is no necessary compensation of democracy. However, what happens i f one can make an argument that workplaces (or even polities) share certain characteristics of clubs? What happens i f one makes the argument that workplaces (or polities) are not in fact binding? Does it then follow that the right to democracy vanishes? This line of questioning pushes Dahl into a corner because he clearly wants to defend workplace democracy, but just as clearly he cannot do so i f it can be compelling showed that workplaces are not binding associations. This is the corner that Dahl is pushed into by Robert Mayer. I l l - M a y e r and 'Bindingness ' Dahl 's focus on 'bindingness' raises the obvious question: i f an association's decisions are not binding, does that invalidate the right to democracy? Mayer takes up this line of thought thoroughly. He agrees with Dahl 's assumption that democracy is a compensation for the loss of free choice: "the crucial condition [for democracy] is that subjection is imposed within the jurisdiction whether we want to be subjected or not -that we lack what could be called a subjection option. If those who exercise the power deprive us of that option, then we are entitled to voice as our just compensation" (Mayer 2001c, 249). However, he argues pace Dahl that there is no inherent right to workplace democracy because decisions at work are not binding in the same way as decisions of the state (2001a, 236). Unlike the subjection to laws of the state, one chooses to join a workplace, in a similar way as one would choose to jo in a club. There is no injustice done i f one chooses to jo in a workplace where one has no democratic voice, just as there is no injustice in joining an authoritarian club (2001a, 240). According to Mayer, "the manner 8 in which subjection to rules is acquired conditions one's entitlement to voice in an association" (2001a 235). This is not to say that Mayer sees the choice to jo in or leave a workplace as completely free. He is wil l ing to accept the anarchist/Marxist point that there is a degree of coercion in this choice, since most people in society can get by only by selling their labour. Most people are forced to accept the decisions of the workplace because they have no other 'reasonable option'. 6 However, Mayer argues that the correct response to this kind of coercion is not to democratize work, but to provide more adequate choices for the workers: "the proper remedy for this injustice [of coerced choice] is to enhance choice" (2000, 321). This is done, not through democratization, but through an enhanced welfare system that would provide the workers with resources to enable them to avoid choosing bad work options. In a rejoinder to Mayer's work, Dahl argues that he overemphasizes the capacity of workers to choose their workplace; he thinks that the average worker in the U S context is for all intents and purposes compelled to accept the decisions of the workplace (2001, 251). Although Dahl is surely right in this case, his objection misses the point. Mayer agrees with Dahl that there may be a significant degree of coercion about accepting the decisions of the owners or managers at work; their disagreement is over the consequences that should be drawn from this coercion (2001b, 255). For Dahl, the fact that decisions at work are relatively binding implies workplace democracy; for Mayer, the fact that the choices of work are limited implies state support so that the workers have 'better' choices. Mayer is raising a devastating question to which Dahl has no ready answer: i f your basis for democracy is the absence of free choice, yet I can guarantee free choice through welfare redistribution, then on what basis can you still demand workplace 6 For a discussion of what constitutes a 'reasonable option' see Cohen (4). 9 democracy? This is the corner that Mayer pushes Dahl into, which I w i l l look at more closely in the next section. For our purposes, the more germane problem with Mayer's argument is that it employs an overly narrow conception of freedom. I w i l l outline why it's an inadequately narrow conception of freedom here, and then take up the issue of freedom explicitly below. For Mayer, freedom is only freedom to choose a job without external coercion. But while this is undoubtedly an important element of freedom, it completely neglects another kind of freedom - the freedom to self-develop by making choices that demand a different social-material context. His conception of freedom is thus too narrow; all that matters is the initial choice. If I choose to enter a job, and choose not to quit, I may be abused, exploited, dominated, and bullied at work, yet still be called free. For Mayer, workers are free when they don't have to stay at McDonalds - they can choose to work instead at Burger K i n g or Subway. Although this choice is important - I do not deny it -in the sense that it may enable the worker to acquire remuneration of an additional 50cents/hour, can we really say that the worker is more free in the sense of having increased capacity to self-govern? Why is the argument, "If you are in a hierarchy you should have the freedom to leave", as opposed to " I f you are in a hierarchy, the hierarchy should become more free"? Why is the focus on the individual's capacity to leave the hierarchy, and not the context of the hierarchy that delimits the range of possible choices? It seems that Mayer starts from the assumption that hierarchy - understood as an institutionalized and rigid system of unequal power relations - is in certain places natural, or at least unavoidable, and so the best one can hope for is freedom to opt out. This of course begs the question, how is institutionalized inequality natural? 10 I said above that Mayer advocates a strong welfare system. He sees welfare as a structural guarantee of "enhanced choice". But it's necessary to ask: choice in what sense? Welfare would gives workers more freedom to avoid the very worst jobs. It would give them more choice about which hierarchy to enter. So it's clear that Mayer is concerned with choice, but only the choice to enter/exit. Welfare is the social-material condition that he deems necessary to enable the choice to enter/exit. But this choice obviously does not give workers any more control over the hierarchy they're in. It means that the vast majority of workers should continue to have no say over the direction of the economy. Yet surely freedom implies more than simply being able to enter/exit; it must involve as well a capacity to take part in the direction of the workplace; to have a role in its governing, and to self-develop as a person. Imagine i f a more robust welfare system was instituted in the U S . Workers that have worked for years in their jobs might feel a bit more free (in the sense that they would be less scared of being laid off), but this "enhanced choice" does not at all enhance their choices to control their firm, have a say in investment, to decide remuneration, etc. These choices are structurally barred by the nature of the capitalist workplace, and steadfastly ignored by Mayer. There is no hint in Mayer 's work that "enhanced choice" includes choices of things that would contradict the basic undemocratic arrangement of power in capitalist society. He understands freedom solely as having a choice to enter or exit an association: the more such choices means the freer one is. But there is no discussion of choices of a significantly different order. The only kinds of choices that he considers relevant to freedom are those that are delimited by current arrangement of 11 power. This is fundamental point about Mayer: he does not care to enhance choices to self-develop or self-rule. This kind of freedom - to self-develop, self-rule, control the association you're a part of - cannot be chosen by workers in the contemporary capitalist workplace. 7 This kind of freedom requires a change of the social-material conditions of the firm, away from the standard corporate hierarchical structure. What kind of conditions would enable all the workers to self-develop and self-rule? Since joint activity requires common decisions, such freedom would require an institutional structure for aggregating preferences, deliberation, and joint decision-making. The appropriate mode is thus co-determination or shared decision-making among equals (Gould, 85). A workplace that provided the social-material conditions to enable choices of self-development and self-rule would be a workplace that allowed common determination of the direction of the common activity - it would be a democratic workplace. If we think of freedom merely as a function of choice, then we can say that Mayer is intent on increasing the domain of the function, while ignoring the range. This is to say that he wants to increase the domain of choice, so that a worker can choose to work here, or there, or elsewhere, but that all these choices must remain of the same sort of typical market choices; there is no recognition of the possibility of choices of a qualitatively different sort - such as choices of self-development, egalitarian work relations, participatory decision-making, or other things that would require a change of social-material conditions, and their resulting power structures, to enable such choices. This is deeply problematic because i f freedom is autonomously linked to choice, and choice is 71 do not mean to imply that self-determination, self-rule, and control are identical expressions o f freedom. Rather, as 1 explain in section IV, they all point to a fuller conception of freedom than that which can be realized by focusing only on free choice whilst ignoring the context o f that choice. 12 limited by social material power relations, then freedom demands not only the capacity to choose, but the social-material conditions and appropriate power relations, that enable the very possibility of choice. This is what Mayer largely ignores. He is prepared to consider change in social-material conditions to enhance choice of enter/exit, but he ignores the social-material conditions that would enable freedom of a different sort - self-rule, self-development, increased control at work etc. His conception of freedom is thus much too narrow. The last point to make about Mayer is that although he focuses heavily of 'free choice' he doesn't adequately address the obvious question: how free is 'free choice'? In the welfare system that he advocates can we really be as optimistic as he is in thinking that one's choices are genuinely autonomous? This is a question that w i l l be taken up in detail in the last section; for now it suffices to cast doubt on such an idea. A worker faces severe material pressure to choose to work at a non-democratic firm because staying on welfare is hardly a comfortable option. In my city of Vancouver, for instance, welfare is $510/month (including shelter allowance), while an average bachelor suite in the cheap, dilapidated part of town is on average $570/month ( C C A P 2005). The worker faces cultural pressure as well since welfare is for many a source of opprobrium. Finally, the worker has no other reasonable work option in that there are extremely few democratic workplaces available. The bottom line is that a worker's choices might be more autonomous i f the context was less coercive and i f there was a real range of alternatives -13 but in the absence of these things we must remain skeptical about the freedom implied by 'free choice' . 8 I V - 'Bindingness ' and Democracy Both Dahl and Mayer think that 'bindingness' is the crucially important basis for democracy. They disagree, however, about the extent to which work is binding, and therefore about the extent to which democratic rights are appropriate at work. I now want to critique this focus on 'bindingness' in order to suggest that it is not an adequate basis for justifying democracy. The best way to do this is to imagine a couple of examples of associations that are not conclusively binding, in order to see i f the lack of'bindingness' does indeed convince us that democracy is not warranted. Imagine first of all a situation in which the 'bindingness' of the laws of the state was open to question. A situation, that is, where one was not bound to the laws of a state. Would that lessen the right to political democracy? Arneson argues in this way. He gives an example of someone living in a democracy, with other democracies neighboring it. If that person does not like the laws of the first country, he is not bound to obey the laws because he can move; and since he can move (theoretically at least) he has no inalienable right to democracy in his home country. In other words, Arneson believes that i f one has an exit option, then the right to democracy disappears (qtd in Mayer 2001a, 233). Dahl 's argument is similar in that he thinks that one has a right to democracy where there is no free choice of exit (i.e., the association is binding), although obviously he thinks that such freedom of exit from the state is absent for most people. Mayer partially disagrees. He 8 It should be pointed out that Dahl would likely agree with the above that workers are not as free to choose to enter/exit their work as Mayer presumes. However, it should be kept in mind that they both do agree that 'bindingness'/'free choice' is the crux of the justification for democracy. 14 thinks that the right to democracy is not contingent on people being able to exit an association, but on having the option not to enter in the first place. He calls this a "subjection option" (2001a, 236). He thinks that he has a right to democracy in his hometown, for instance, not because he can exit, but because he was 'conscripted' into the association - meaning that he had "no subjection option"; he had no choice about whether to be part of the association or not. However, even though Mayer attempts to reformulate Arneson's point by placing the emphasis on 'entrance' as opposed to 'exit ' , the argument remains very much the same. This is because 'exit ' is inconceivable without 'entrance' somewhere else. What could it possibly mean to be free to leave a state but not free to enter a different one? (We are assuming that we want to talk with some generality and hence not about marginal cases of people wanting to move to Antarctica and escape states altogether). I cannot leave a state without entering another one, nor can I enter one without leaving the first. They are flip sides of the same coin. So what are the implications of this? If I have the resources to move and the free choice of exit, then, according to the logic of Arneson or Dahl, I do not have democratic rights in my home country, or, according to Mayer, I do not have democratic rights in my new country. Consider Europe where citizens are legally free to move from one country to another. These authors seem to imply that in their capacity to move from one European state to another, citizens lose their democratic rights. Whether they get a democratic say is completely up to the discretion of the state - they have no right to demand it. Europe becomes thus a decidedly undemocratic place. The problem with this is that it seems so intuitively false. Even in the context most favourable to Mayer - that I have chosen to enter a new country, and that I have the resources to leave again - don't I still have a 15 right to have an input in the laws that concern me? For I need not be completely bound by laws, in the sense of having no exit, for them to still concern my freedom. In addition, shouldn't I be free, along with my fellow citizens, to choose to participate in the decisions of state, or free to control the direction of state policy? Even i f I can enter and exit a country freely, while I am there should I not be the equal of every other resident? Since the European case is an example where, pace Dahl and Mayer, 'bindingness' does not hold, but democracy seems warranted nevertheless, it should be clear that 'bindingness' is not an adequate basis for justifying democracy. Let us look now at a harder example. Earlier I argued that Mayer is largely incorrect in emphasizing the freedom of choice that workers have in the present economy, he is, however, on to something with the direction of his objection. I f we push his example further we can see that it does undermine Dahl 's case for workplace democracy - though my conclusion w i l l be rather that it is 'bindingness', not workplace democracy, which ought to be reconsidered. Let us imagine a situation where the conditions of employment are indeed much more voluntary than at present. Imagine, for example, a strong welfare state - an even more robustly social democratic Sweden perhaps - where the average worker has much more choice about which workplace to join since (s)he w i l l not starve from opting out. This is the system that Mayer advocates (2001a, 243). The point of this example is that it starts to blur the lines between a workplace and a club in terms of the voluntariness of joining the association. The question, then, is do workers have a right to democracy in such a situation? Mayer 's position is unambiguous: he thinks workers here have no democratic right because they have freely chosen to sell their democratic voice for a wage. Dahl's position is much 16 more ambiguous. Anyone who has engaged with Dahl's work cannot fail to be impressed by his democratic integrity. It is entirely possible that he might want to support worker democracy here, just as he would undoubtedly want to support political democracy in the above example, but he would be hard pressed to justify it. He finds himself cornered because he justifies democracy on the grounds of free choice (understood narrowly as freedom to enter/exit); so i f one can assure free choice on other grounds then his basis for democracy disappears. Remember, the conceptual model that is being used explicitly by Mayer and implicitly by Dahl is that democracy is justified to compensate for the loss of free choice. So, when this freedom is not at risk, the right to democracy vanishes - unless of course we have some other basis for justifying it. Dahl clearly thinks that contemporary American workplaces are not like clubs, in the sense of being associations one is able to join or leave freely (2001, 251). But i f they were, as this example tries to illustrate, we can see that he is stuck between his evident desire to defend workplace democracy, and his conceptual framework that doesn't provide any grounds for its justification beyond 'bindingness' and free choice. Insofar as this welfare state example is concerned, I think that increased choice for the workers is a good thing. It increases freedom in the sense of increased choice about what job to take or refuse in the context of a capitalist society. However, I think that the reduction o f 'bindingness' and the increase o f free choice are largely irrelevant from the perspective of democratic rights. The workers in this example deserve democratic rights on the grounds of freedom understood in a full sense of self-development. 9 This means that they should have the capacity to make choices as well as the social-material conditions necessary to enact such choices. Free choice does not 9 This understanding of freedom will be expanded and defended in the next section. 17 provide an adequate justification for workplace democracy because it ignores the context that makes such choices meaningful. I have argued that 'bindingness' is not an adequate basis for democracy because we can relax the amount of 'bindingness' in an association without (I think) undermining the moral right to democracy. This is because the moral right to democracy depends on a fuller notion of freedom than is given to us by either Dahl or Mayer. M y argument is that Dahl and Mayer 's justification for democracy is inadequate because it gets its moral force from a conception of freedom that is too narrow in that it largely ignores other kinds of choices than enter or exit; particularly choices that may demand a different context to enable self-development. True, Mayer does advocate welfare in order to enable greater capacity to choose - but only to choose to enter/exit. A n adequate justification of democracy needs to be based on a full conception of freedom that extends beyond voluntary choice and includes the social-material context in which fundamentally different choices might be made - particularly choices that would enable meaningful opportunities for self-development and self-government. V - An Alternative Justification for Democracy I have been critiquing the focus on 'bindingness' and 'free choice' because it ignores a crucial element of freedom - the availability of social-material conditions that enable people to choose to self-develop and self-govern. I follow Carol Gould in arguing that a full, robust sense of freedom means seeing freedom as self-development.1 0 Gould argues that a standard view of freedom understood as being able to make choices and 1 0 Gould provides a systematic philosophical grounding for her radically democratic vision in Rethinking Democracy (1988). 18 achieve purposes without coercion, leaves out two essential factors. The first is the complementary requirement that the means necessary for achieving such purposes be available: "the enabling conditions of action, are essential to freedom" (Gould, 35). In other words, freedom requires the existence of certain social-material conditions that make choices feasible. For example, I may choose to visit China; I may be unconstrained by any other person in making this choice, yet without the money necessary to pay for the trip I am lacking a material condition necessary to act on my choice. M y freedom to travel remains purely formal (Gould, 37). The second deficit of freedom seen as 'free choice' is that it takes as its focus immediate, isolated choices, whereas a full notion of freedom should relate these choices to a longer-term realization of plans and purposes (Gould, 35). A s a side note, it should be noted that this second assumption about the realizing of long-term purposes has a slightly ominous overtone, as it might imply that only the 'correct', 'true' purposes make one free; although I don't think Gould is susceptible to such suspicion, I look closer at the issue below. A l l this means that full freedom requires both a capacity to choose which is uncoerced - which Dahl and Mayer conceptualize as 'free choice' - and the availability of social-material conditions for the achievement of one's purposes. Particularly, full freedom requires the power to have a say in shaping the institutions and power relations that render feasible important choices of self-development. Although I do not have the space to fully engage with the debates about freedom, it w i l l suffice for my purposes to simply highlight the fact that this understanding of freedom, which has elements of what might be called 'positive freedom', is significantly different from the way the term was originally understood by Berlin in his "Two Concepts of Liberty". In Berl in 's famous 1 essay he argues that positive freedom - which he defines as self-mastery - tends to lead to a kind of totalitarianism. This is because Berl in thinks that self-mastery implies knowledge of one's 'true' or 'real ' self that must be mastered. And as soon as I believe that I know what constitutes another person's 'true' self, then "I am in a position to ignore the actual wishes of men or societies, to bully, oppress, torture them in the name, and on behalf, o f their 'real ' selves" (Berlin, 133). There are, however, three senses of positive freedom that Berl in tends to conflate C. B . Macpherson identifies these as a sense of self-mastery, meaning living in accordance with one's purposes, a second deformed sense of coercion by the 'rational' self over the 'not-yet-rational' self, and a third democratic sense of a share in controlling authority (108-109). Berlin's thesis of course is that the first sense tends to imply the second one. These senses, however, are actually quite distinct. Although a sense of self-mastery may be prerequisite for a democratic freedom - controlling one's individual purposes may be prerequisite for deciding collective purposes - neither sense of self-mastery or democracy need imply Berlin's sense of 'rational' self. There is nothing in Gould 's sense of freedom as self-development that implies a 'true' or 'real ' self. The purposes that people elect to pursue are entirely up to them (Gould, 59). I mentioned above a possible concern with Gould's account related to her connection o f freedom with long-term achievement of purposes. Could this not be interpreted in an ominously moralizing way, such that one is free only when one is pursuing the 'correct' purposes? I do not think there is any reason to read Gould in this way. If, for example, one chooses to become an alcoholic, or decides to cultivate feeling: of self-loathing, Gould does not think that there is anything inherently 'wrong' about 20 these choices. She would simply say, commonsensically, that insofar as these choices are uncoerced they are instantiations of freedom, but these particular types of freedom are likely to undercut further freedom in the sense of self-development (53). She says that it is not only the 'right' choices, in terms of some notion of self-development, that are free in this basic sense. 'Wrong' choices, choices that are indifferent to or even destructive of self-development, must also count as free if freedom in the first sense, that is, as capacity, is to have any serious meaning or value.... One may be choosing freely, in the first sense, act in such a way as to constrain or inhibit one's freedom, in the second sense as self-development (55). There is nothing in Gould's writings that implies that one has the right to force the alcoholic to stop drinking for the sake of his self-development, but she does give us good reasons for thinking that his actions are problematic - in that they prevent further freedom - which seems to me entirely accurate. So we have seen that full freedom in Gould's conceptualization requires both a capacity to choose that is uncoerced, and the availability of social-material conditions for the achievement of one's purposes, in an overall process of self-development. The next point to make is that this conception of freedom leads to a robust concept of equality. Gould argues that there is an equal right of access to conditions for self-development (60). This is because agents are equal in terms of their capacity for self-development, as well as in their need for the conditions of self-development. So it is immediately apparent that Gould 's full sense of freedom encompasses an equally robust notion of equality. A n equal right of access to conditions of self-development has profound implications for democracy, as well shall soon see. There is not sufficient space here to fully defend Gould's conceptions of freedom and equality, but we can begin its defense by highlighting some of the advantages this 21 full conception of freedom possesses over the narrow conception of'free choice' that underpins most justifications of democracy. It has already been said that 'free choice' ignores the availability of social-material context of choice - it is thus largely blind to distributions of wealth and power. This is particularly problematic in the context of our contemporary society, which possesses enormous disparities of wealth and power, and yet for all that sees itself as based largely on freedom. 1 1 Freedom in capitalism is most often understood as the freedom to choose a course of action, within the standard market context. Freedom is freedom to buy or sell labour, to choose where to work, to choose which of the multitude of different products to buy. Freedom in capitalism is the freedom to prefer Coke over Pepsi. These choices are enabled and facilitated within the capitalist context. This freedom of choice encourages us to think of all people as equal in the sense that they can all participate in market choices. Mi l ton Friedman, for example, says precisely this (1962, chapter l ) . 1 2 This is how the myth of freedom in capitalism works: the possibility of 'choice' is emphasized, while the social-material conditions that enables choice - giving some people wide-ranging influential choices and others limited impoverished choices - is ignored. To talk of choice, simpliciter, is to abstract away from the social context - the real material relations and structures of power - that provide the conditions of the possibility of choice itself. Abstracting from power is problematic because it makes enormous inequalities in wealth and power, and enormous differences of substantive freedom to achieve goals, seem just. It makes it look like the freedom for the owner to 'choose' to " A classic example of this is Friedman's Capitalism and Freedom (1962). 1 2 It is an instructive to compare Friedman and Gould: for Friedman, people are equal because are they are free to buy and sell; for Gould, people are equal because they have equal capacity and need for self-development. 22 command is the same as the freedom of the worker to 'choose' to obey. To abstract from power is to obfuscate it. A n d to obfuscate power is to naturalize the arrangements of domination sustained by such power. So, for example, Mayer does not see the power and domination that stems from the context of a capitalist workplace, he sees only freedom: "agreeing to obey orders is an exercise of the right [of autonomy]" (2000, 312). In abstracting from inequalities of power, 'free choice' conceals the very real fact that present power relations, present social-material conditions, enable some choices and disable others. The owner can choose to cut his worker's wages, yet the employee cannot choose to be paid a living wage - such choices are structurally barred from him. 'Free choice' thus obfuscates the conflict that may reside in power relations. N o one expressed this better than R. H . Tawney, when he said that in capitalism "freedom for the pike is death for the minnow" (164). In other words, whenever there are conflicting power relations, freedom of choice becomes freedom to dominate. Such a conception of freedom is hopelessly inadequate. So i f we take this idea of full freedom seriously, as I think we should, we w i l l see that it leads naturally to a right to democracy in all associations that bear on one's freedom to self-develop. The argument is based on two premises. The first being that full freedom means the availability of conditions of self-development. The second being that equality means equal right to these conditions. From these premises the argument is straightforward. Since common activity is a condition of self-development (because groups in common activity are able to achieve ends which could not be achieved by an individual alone) it is, by the first premise, a condition of freedom. It then follows, by the second premise, that there should be an equal right to make decisions about such common activity; in other words, common activity should be democratically organized (Gould, 84-85). What are the implications of this argument? The most relevant for our purposes is that there should be right to workplace democracy. Yet this right is not predicated on 'bindingness' and 'free choice', but on a full notion of freedom and equality. On this basis the parallel case argument may be reformulated: one has a right to workplace democracy for the same reason that one has a right to democracy in the political sphere -the reason being that people should be equal in their freedom to self-develop. However, this argument has even more radical implications. It implies that there is a right to democracy beyond the workplace, into all areas of common activity - this includes social and cultural institutions, clubs, religious organizations, universities, etc. In the words of Gould, "there is a normative requirement for a right to democratic participation in decision-making in all the contexts of common activity" (85). A full notion of freedom thus leads to a radically democratic world. It is a world where the myriad associations of common human activity are organized democratically and without hierarchy. Without doubt this is a radical vision, but is it an appealing one? That is the question which we must now try to answer. VI - The Right to Join Non-Democratic Associations? Dahl and Mayer agree that there is no case for democracy in associations that people have freely chosen to join; although of course they disagree about whether workplaces are freely joined or not. I have been arguing that people should have democratic rights in their associations regardless of whether they have freely joined or 24 been coerced into joining. People should have democratic rights on the basis of full freedom to self-develop. Freedom requires access to social-material conditions to make choices to develop, and an equal right of access to these conditions implies democracy. The most important objection to this radical democratic vision is that it might be thought to undercut one's freedom to contract and to associate with associations of one's choice -particularly non-democratic ones (Mayer 2000, 323). The flip side of this problem is the worry of paternalism: does the state, or anyone else, have the right to forbid such free association? Does promoting democracy in every sphere mean that people are thus "forced to be free"? We wi l l look at two examples to bring out the complexities of this issue. First, imagine that A chooses to contract with a 'normal' hierarchical business. That is, imagine that she wants to sell her labour and her right to democracy in exchange for a wage. Does she have the right to do this? H o w do we weigh a right to workplace democracy against the free choice of selling this right? The full view of freedom advocated in these last pages enables us to see two important points. It makes us see first of all that in this case different aspects of freedom are conflicting. The freedom to choose to sell one's voice undercuts the freedom to self-develop. Taking this job is thus both an instantiation of freedom as well a limitation of freedom. Because it is, at least partially, an instantiation of freedom, it would seem hard to justify forbidding her to contract in this way, because it is difficult to make an argument that she is hurting others with her choice. However, our full conception of freedom makes us suspicious of why anyone would want to limit his or her freedom in this way. This allows us to see the second important point: that choices never happen in a 25 vacuum. Choices always take place within certain social-material conditions 1 3 that propagate certain power relations. A n d so it becomes important to ask the degree to which a choice is genuine, or what is usually called 'autonomous'. Just as 'bindingness' necessitates a discussion of free choice, free choice necessitates a discussion of autonomy. The literature on autonomy is vast and complex and there are many competing conceptions of autonomy out there. 1 4 One of the most influential definitions of autonomy is Gerald Dworkin 's : " A person is autonomous i f he identifies with his desires, goals, and values, and such identification is not influenced in ways which make the process of identification in some way alien to the individual" (1981, 212). However, this definition, like every other, contains its problems. 1 5 Nevertheless, even without precise definitions we can still get at the core idea of autonomy - which is all we really need for our purposes. John Christman says that this core is the "idea of being one's own person, directed by consideration, desires, conditions, and characteristics that are not simply imposed externally on one, but are part of what can somehow be considered one's authentic s e l f (Christman and Anderson, 3). A n 'authentic self is usually understood to refer to an ideal of "being true to myself and my own particular way of being" (Taylor, 28). For our purposes, probably the clearest way to deal with autonomy is to recognize that the concept involves a psychological component and a contextual (social-material) 1 3 The freedom to choose, but always within certain social-material limitations is what Marx meant when he famously said that "[m]en make their own history, but they do not make is just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances directly encountered, given, and transmitted from the past" (1852, 320). 4 For a thorough survey of work on autonomy see John Christman's "Constructing the Inner Citadel: Recent Work on the Concept of Autonomy" (1988). 1 5 Dworkin's understanding is mainly criticized for the vagueness of the term 'identity', which leads to a problem of infinite regress: is my higher-level identification with a lower-order desire itself autonomous? And is that identification autonomous? And so on. (cf. Christman and Anderson, 5-6) 26 component, although they are obviously deeply interconnected. 1 6 The psychological component of autonomy refers primarily to the agent's capacity for critical reflection. A s well this capacity for critical reflection, an autonomous agent is largely independent, responsible, and doesn't simply act on whims (Christman 2005, 84-85). The contextual component of autonomy refers firstly to the absence of violence, whether as a general threat of physical force, or of severe degradation of one's material level of subsistence.1 7 After all, a threat of poverty is a threat of violence. Violence can also come in cultural form, which involves the deprival of cultural resources that would have ramifications that would be significant and terrible for the agent. The contextual component of autonomy refers secondly to the presence of enabling conditions: specifically the presence of real alternatives, and supportive networks. 1 8 There has been a promising move in the literature in recent years to deepen the social aspect of these components. The traditional view of autonomy, stemming mainly from Immanuel Kant, saw autonomy in terms of an individual, unitary self who engaged in critical reasoning - a view that has been roundly criticized by feminist and communitarian thinkers who argue that our self is not simply unitary, but social and cultural as well (Taylor 1994, Christman 2003, Meyers 2005). 1 9 The criticism amounts to asking, i f we are socially embedded beings, what does individual critical reflection really 1 6 This distinction between psychological/contextual is close to the distinction used by Dworkin of capacity/independence (Christman 2003). 1 71 prefer to talk of 'violence' instead of 'coercion' because I think it is a more honest description of the severity of the social forces surround agent's choices in contemporary late capitalist society. 1 8 For the importance of supportive networks for autonomy see Brison (1996), and Anderson and Honneth (2005, 130). 1 9 Charles Taylor for instance argues the self must always be viewed as socially relational and culturally embedded: "we define our identity always in dialogue with, sometimes in struggle against, the things our significant others want to see in us" (32-33). 27 mean? In the words of John Christman, "to say that we are autonomous (and hence morally responsible, bear moral rights, etc.) only when we can step back from all such [social and cultural] connections and critically appraise and possibly alter them flies in the face of these psychological and metaphysical realities" (Christman 2003). In addition, there has been similar emphasis on the 'social ' along the contextual axis of autonomy. The traditional critical discourses of socialism and anarchism have long emphasized the social context of violence in our society that limit and degrade autonomy. This is important because since autonomy is limited by violence (as basically everyone agrees), then it is obviously vitally important to explore the types and kinds of violence that imbue our society. These traditional critiques, however, have recently and provocatively been supplemented by feminist, post-colonial, and Foucauldian analyses of society, which show violence as much more complex and ubiquitous than had previously been 20 • * * thought, and therefore show autonomy as much more problematic. It is, in my opinion, along this axis of studying the complexities and subtleties of violence that the most progress is likely be made vis-a-vis the study of autonomy. Since I am more concerned with the political nature of autonomous choice than its implications for moral philosophy, I w i l l focus mainly on the contextual component of autonomy. We can safely leave the psychological component of autonomy aside as long as we recognize that people may not be ' ideally' autonomous in the sense of being maximally authentic and completely free of manipulative, self-distorting influences. Yet they are, we assume, 'basically' autonomous in the sense of being independent, responsible, and able to speak for themselves (Christman and Anderson, 2). 2 0 Consider how much a radical view of violence has been challenged and supplemented by, for example, Dwork in ' s Pornography (1989), Fanon's The Wretched of the Earth (2004), and Foucault 's Discipline and Punish (1979). 28 Returning to our example we can ask i f A's choice to contract in an undemocratic workplace is truly autonomous. Is this choice coerced through the violence inherent in the context of capitalist workplaces or is it autonomous? I recognize that talking about 'autonomous choice' brings us perilously close to the moralizing idea of forcing one to be free, in that one might be tempted to say that any choice against democracy is necessarily wrong and could never be made autonomously. But this is not the case. A n autonomous choice need not in any way imply a 'true' or 'right' choice. To say a choice is autonomous has no implication for saying whether it is right or wrong. Autonomous choice is about the context within which the choice takes place, and not about the outcome o f the choice. Autonomy doesn't relate to the choice itself but to the degree of enabling power and disabling violence surrounding the choice. I may decide to marry someone who wi l l bring me nothing but sorrow - this may be a 'bad' or a 'wrong' choice in many ways, but at as long as there was minimal violence surrounding the choice it was still autonomous. In other words, choice is autonomous when it happens within a context of minimal violence, and power relations that enable genuine alternative choices. 2 1 In our example, A's choice is probably not autonomous because of the context in which she is making her choice. A s a worker in a competitive capitalist economy she is faced with the material threat of poverty, the ubiquitous fear of homelessess and hunger, the cultural stigma attached to unemployment, the lack of support structures due to the destruction of the welfare state, and the lack of democratic work alternatives (worker co-2 1 We need to insist that alternatives be genuine or reasonable, to escape the existential objection that choice, like freedom, always exists. 29 ops make up only 0.0017 percent of the American economy ). For all these reasons, it would be absurd to talk of ,4's choice as being unproblematically autonomous, as it is often assumed to be by theorists who base the right to democracy on 'free choice'. So i f A's choice is not in fact autonomous does that imply that it is acceptable to prevent her from joining the association? If a choice is not autonomous can it be overruled? I think not. We cannot force people to be free. Although I think workplace democracy is vital for worker's freedom, I cannot advocate forcing it on people. It is one thing to be skeptical that some people's preferences of non-democratic institutions really are autonomous, yet it is an entirely different thing to overrule their own desires against their w i l l for their own supposed good. I am entirely comfortable with the former position and entirely opposed to the latter. To be a genuine democrat does not mean forcing democracy on recalcitrant 'reactionary' workers, it means believing that the people themselves are ultimately the best judges of what constitutes their freedom. Jefferson said that "I know of no safe depository of the ultimate power of the society but the people themselves, and i f we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion" (qtd in Barber 1984, Preface). This is, of course, not to say that we should be at all satisfied w i t h e ' s choice. Although we cannot paternally dictate what A does, we must not simply accept her choice to forego freedom as a fait accompli. This theoretical discussion of autonomy gives democratic activists a direction for their activism. We should strive to construct a context within with there would be real autonomy for worker's choice. We could begin to build a 2 2 According to the United States Federation of Worker Cooperatives, there are about 400 worker cooperatives in the US (qtd in Ifateyo 2006). There are approximately 23 million firms altogether (US Census Bureau 2002). 30 context of autonomy for workers by for changing the market context (reinforcing the welfare state, democratizing the unions), and making real alternatives (increasing the number of worker coops sustained by worker-owned banks and state subsidies, as well as having increased numbers of public enterprises through strategic nationalization). 2 3 For the second example, consider an individual, call him B, who chooses to be part of the undemocratic, hierarchical, Catholic Church. Does he have the right to associate thus? This example is even more difficult than the first in that it involves an added hermeneutic worry, namely, that religious choice is a really profound choice about one's fundamental way of life. Do we not need to respect this choice even i f we disagree with it? With Gould, I think that the activity of the parishioners in their church is part of a common activity. Since this activity deeply concerns the freedom of the members, each member should be equal in their capacity to influence that common activity. The church should be a democracy. Although I am attributing this position to Gould, it needs to be admitted that she nowhere explicitly deals with the example of a Church. However, she does talk in ways that would seem to suggest that this is her position. In talking about cultural institutions she says that " in the case of voluntary membership associations, fundamental authority should be understood as shared equally among the members, who have a right to participate in decision-making concerning the association, for example, in such matters as the election of the directors and representative and the determination of rules and procedures" (Gould, 227). These ideas of building economic democracy through democratic workplaces, worker-owned banks, worker-controlled pension funds, and strategic nationalization come from Carnoy and Shearer (1980). 31 Furthermore, the fact that B chooses to enter the church hierarchy and be subservient to the priest raises questions about the autonomy of such a choice. One should inquire about the degree of violence surrounding the choice. If B were ever to choose to leave the church would he be cut off financially from his family? Would he be emotionally cut off from his friends and community? Would he be banned from their houses and shunned from the neighborhood? In other words, would he be deprived of vitally important cultural resources? I imagine that such is the case for many people -particularly young people - who dare to make choices to leave the religious authority of their family. Furthermore, we need inquire about the existence of real alternatives - for instance is there a general culture of tolerance that would make exit bearable? Are there supportive networks that would enable difficult choices to be at all practical? It is well known that in countries like Canada where religious choice has become more autonomous - meaning less risk of outright violence, more tolerance for diversity, etc. -Catholic participation has dwindled. 2 4 This is partial evidence that the free choice of parishioners might not be very autonomous. I think that democratizing B's church would create a context where his choices about the activities of the church and the direction of his faith, would enhance his freedom. A s Gould says, " i f an individual were to take part in common activity, without having any role in making decisions about it and under the direction of another, then this would not be an activity of self-development, since such self-development requires determining the course of one's activity" (Gould 85). However, we must not be blind to the dangers here. This is an extremely tricky case because democratizing the church 24 The percentage of Canadians who are Catholics fell from about 45.7% to about 43.6% of the population between 1991-2001. This trend has been consistent for several decades. Taken together, all Christian groups have experienced a decline of 8.3% 'market share' in the decade (Statistics Canada 2001, 18). 32 would conflict at a profound level with many of the deeply held beliefs of the parishioners. After all , what right does one have to implement democratic bottom-up authority on a organization and a group of people that believes that authority comes ultimately from up on high? This is such a hard case because democracy embodies a set of beliefs (about equality, authority residing in people, etc.) that are foreign if not antithetical to orthodox Catholic doctrine. This is an important point and deserves reiteration: for Catholics, in the church, democratic authority would be seen as simply illegitimate. To impose it on them, even in the name of their freedom, would be to impose a form of authority on them that they did not choose and in fact firmly reject. Thus once again we're faced with the conundrum of reconciling a right to democracy in an association, with a free choice to choose non-democracies. Which set of beliefs should win out? A n d who should decide? M y argument is similar to the above case. In both workplaces and churches, I think there is a moral right to democracy that I 'd hope people wi l l come to recognize and respect, but I would refrain from implementing a legal prohibition to non-democracies, in the sense of using state power to enforce democratic rights. In both associations we should strive to create a context for real autonomous choice; we should try to reduce violence and increase empowering alternatives. But at the end of the day i f people choose to join hierarchical work, or undemocratic churches - so be it. We can persuade, but not force, them to do otherwise. A possible objection might be raised at this point that workplaces and churches are not really analogous, so it's problematic to treat them the same way. Dahl, for instance, might argue that the level of 'bindingness' at work is so much more profound than at a church. Even with a guaranteed income and welfare support, it could be argued 33 that there would be a significant need for people to work, which would continue to dominate a large part of their lives. Workers would thus continue to be governed by their firm's decisions in pretty stark ways. Don't people enter work and churches for such different reasons that they really form different 'spheres of justice', to use Michael Walzer's phrase? The objection boils down to this: aren't workplaces much more binding than clubs (notwithstanding Mayer's caveat of welfare), and therefore have much more claim to democratic rights? I think this objection is partially correct and partially incorrect. I agree with the premise - that workplaces, even those in social-democratic countries, are relatively binding, and probably more so than churches. I also agree that people enter these associations for different reasons. However, I disagree with the conclusion that this means that there is a right to democracy in one but not the other. M y whole argument has been to say that democracy does not stem from fact of'bindingness'; it stems rather from a full conception of freedom. So what is relevant is not the different degree of 'bindingness' of the assocations, but the similar degree to which they enable freedom. It is this similarity that forms the basis of the analogy of democratic rights. Both workplaces and churches are power structures that determine people's freedom to self-develop (whether materially or spiritually). Both are institutions that I doubt people would freely choose to enter i f the context of their choice was non-violent. This is because I doubt that many people would autonomously choose to enter associations that denied them their freedom to self-develop in whatever capacity such associations facilitated. If workers could choose to work in egalitarian, democratic workplaces, without the threat of poverty, or the fear of being called a Communist, or a terrorist - 1 2 5 Draft legislation of Patriot Act II, section 503, defines a threat to the "economic interests" of the US -which could plausibly include attempts to democratize large American corporations - as a threat to national 34 suspect they would. Likewise, i f people could choose to practice their faith in a manner that gave them some control over their own spirituality, without the threat of cultural expulsion or isolation - 1 suspect they would. I suspect it, but my suspicions are not worth much here. Neither are the suspicions of those who think and hope that capitalist firms and Catholicism wi l l last forever. The only way we wi l l ever really know is to begin to build a society where choices to join such associations are truly autonomous, and then see what happens. To sum up, I have argued that people should be seen to have a moral right to democracy in their associations because without it they are not free to have a role in controlling those associations and institutions that largely govern their lives. Should they choose to forfeit this freedom and associate in undemocratic associations, we must immediately ask ourselves about the autonomy of such choices. I have been arguing that this means examining the social-material context of such choice. I have focused on the context of choice because it is not sufficient - as liberals like Mayer tend to do - to simply say that someone has made a choice, and that's all there is to it. A s i f the act of choosing itself is enough to guarantee freedom. But choices wi l l never be genuine and autonomous until our social-material context is substantially altered - until we have rooted out the physical violence of imperialists, patriarchs and bullies, 2 6 the material violence of capitalist wage-relations and poverty, and the cultural violence of sexism, racism, and homophobia. What would such a society look like wherein one could be optimistic that people's choices really are autonomous and free? Obviously we can only vaguely gesture towards such a society: it would be liberal with respect to tolerance, security. This follows the definition of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA §§ 219(c)(2)). 2 6 See Meyers, for a discussion of how patriarchy limits autonomy (2005). See Fanon, for a discussion on how colonialism limits autonomy by enforcing a colonial mindset of inferiority upon the colonized (2004). openness, and diversity of opinions about the good life; it would be Habermasian is its goal of creating an ideal speech situation - a society with the possibility for nonviolent communication; it would be socialistic with respect to its attempt to mitigate class violence and material coercion; it would be anarchistic in the attempt to remove hierarchies of all kinds. Overall, I think this radical democratic project is at root closely homologous with the anarchist aspiration of creating a society without violence, for as Malatesta said, "the chief plank of anarchism [like radical democracy] is the removal of violence from human relations" (53). V I I - Conclusion This paper has tried to make the case for workplace democracy but on very different grounds than those that are usually used in the literature. The standard justification for workplace democracy focuses on the issue of 'bindingness' and its flip side of 'free choice'. This justification of democracy is inadequate because it derives its moral force from a conception of freedom that is too narrow. Those who are concerned only with free choice need not be overly concerned with democracy; this is because free choice can be acquired by removing constraints to choices, quite independent of granting popular power. For radical democrats, however, the conception of freedom as free choice is hopelessly inadequate because it is largely blind to the availability of social and material conditions that make such choices meaningful. The real basis and justification for democracy is a full notion of freedom: the belief that everyone should be entitled to access the material and social conditions for achieving their purposes and self-developing. 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