Democracy and dissent

53hpeng Nadia Urbanati in Reset DOC:

Dissent mitigates the tendency to cultural uniformity inherent to democratic society and strengthens acceptance of majority rule as a method for making decisions based on the acknowledgment of the equal fallibility of citizens. Having equal rights to review opinions and decisions is the same as acknowledging that no one is infallible and can therefore demand to have irrefutable opinions. It is no coincidence that Albert Hirschman defined the attitude of those attempting to “win an argument rather than… listening and discovering that one can at times learn something from others” as that of someone with a predisposition for authoritarian rather than democratic policies.

Instead, precisely because the measure of democracy lies in opinions and not in the truth, dissent is not an indication of subversion or disharmony; on the contrary it is a sign of humble acknowledgment that every decision can become the object of revision, even that which is accepted and voted by a vast majority. Democracy is the only form of government conceived so as to result in a constant process of amending laws or decisions taken without jeopardizing the stability of civil and legal order. Dissent is hence set within the decision-making process. It is one of its fundamental elements.