To some, the word populism suggests the tyranny of the mob; to others, it suggests a xenophobic nativism. It is often even considered conducive to (if not simply identical to) fascism. In Democratic Theory Naturalized: The Foundations of Distilled Populism, Walter Horn uses his theory of "CHOICE Voluntarism” to offer solutions to some of the most perplexing problems in democratic theory and distill populism to its core premise: giving people the power to govern themselves without any constraints imposed by those on the left or the right. Beginning with explanations of what it means to vote and what makes one society better off than another, Horn analyzes what makes for fair aggregation and appropriate, deliberative representation. Through his examination of the American government, Horn suggests solutions to contemporary problems such as gerrymandering, immigration control, and campaign finance, and offers answers to age-old questions like why dissenters should obey the majority and who should have the right to vote in various elections.
Walter Horn received his PhD from Brown University.
Chapter One: Axioms, Paradoxes, and Alleged Deficits of Democracy
Chapter Two: Individual Values Naturalized I: Objective Voluntarism
Chapter Three: Individual Values Naturalized II: The More Good, the Better
Chapter Four: Equal People or Equal Votes?
Chapter Five: Who May Vote I: Interest or Inhabitancy?
Chapter Six: Who May Vote II: Residence, Age, Criminality, and Competence
Chapter Seven: Votes and Their Aggregation I: Majority Rule and Majoritarianism
Chapter Eight: Votes and Their Aggregation II: Minority Representation and How it Must be Combined with Majority Rule
Chapter Nine: Political Representation I: Direct Participation, Delegation, or Controlled Trusteeship?
Chapter Ten: Political Representation II: Deliberation, Camerality, Term Limits and Judicial Review of Legislative Procedures
Chapter Eleven: A Stouter, but More Minimalistic Constitution: Other Teachings of Naturalized Democratic Theory
Chapter Twelve: Last Words on Distilled Populism: Objections and Responses
Walter Horn's, Democratic Theory Naturalized: The Foundations of Distilled Populism, is a brave, serious, scholarly yet approachable treatise on populism, both in theory and in practice. In the current moment when populism is too easily and readily associated with the unfettered and uneducated rule of the masses, Horn works tirelessly to defend its democratic bona fides while displaying the many ways in which what passes for democratic rule fails to represent the will of the people. It is impossible to read this book without finding one's own views repeatedly challenged and positions that one has dismissed out of hand resurface in stronger form, arduously defended. The general thesis is out of fashion from a theoretical point of view, but the joy and excellence of the book resides in the quality and character of the arguments brought to bear in its favor. It's the kind of book that even a critic of the main thesis, as I am, cannot help but admire and would be a fool not to appreciate. A timely book and quite an enjoyable read: hardly common features of serious works in political philosophy!
This book combines rigorous philosophical analysis with normative political theory. It provides a bold and well-argued defense of democracy conceived basically as the government by majorities. It is stimulating reading, challenging for those who have started to doubt the relevancy of democratic values.
Walter Horn provides a tour de force of ideas related to democracy, from a theory of value that leads to a conception of the purpose of democracy, to implications for the extent of the franchise, to ideas about the best ways for democracies to aggregate preferences and to implement representative government, and finally to a potpourri of recommendations for constitutional improvements. It is worthwhile food for thought for anyone concerned with how we ought to govern ourselves.