The mass society of pluralistic democracy is a sharp contrast to the Frankfurt School critical theory. Sociologists Edward Shils had said that the Frankfurt School theory were actually romanticising the past and criticising the present by saying that how modern technology had produced the sameness in the production , in which the large mass of people will sit passively before cultural content produced by the capitalist and seldom engaged with one another like they had in the past, in other words, the society is controlled by the industrial capitalism.
Instead, pluralistic democracy is the reformation of bourgeois in which it has become the collective power and this power is influential to the political system and the future of the state. In other words, people in ‘ below ‘ are now have the right to involve in making up the modern societies, cultures and participate in it. It is the diffusion of dictatorship and splintering of sovereignty.
The theory of pluralistic democracy argued that the technology can actually promote the human initiative , development and freedom because in the past, only a small group of educated people who were privileged to participate in cultural activities. But in this modern society, everyone are educated, and therefore they are able to watch the tv, listen to radio , read the book and they will combine the knowledge they learn and they will learn to think critically and eventually they came up with something new.
If we look at our country , we are practising parliamentary democracy , in which citizens elect representatives to a legislative parliament to make the necessary laws and decisions for the country and the parliament are directly represents the people. although Malaysia is not fully pluralistic democracy because of constitutional monarchy, we are still considered as pluralistic democracy country in a sense that people have the freedom to sound their voice. With the fourth goal of Rukun Negara, the term ‘ liberal ‘ appears , it is obvious that the Rukun Negara regards “ freedom “ and “ the right to choose “ as essential. But look at our country today, our “free” press is not free. We can see in the year of 2015 , our Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib utilise his power by imposing Sedition Act to arrest and charge journalists who reported on the alleged misuse of 1MDB scandal. The problem is why is the government imposing restrictions on the press by putting harsh criminal laws on those critical journalist if we are really practising democracy that are free of press?
Other news happened on August this year is that the ban on book “ Breaking the Silence “ authored by G25, reason being is that it contains elements promoting pluralism and liberalism while once again, the fourth goal of Rukun Negara speaks of a society that is free to choose religion, culture and custom when they are in line with the interests of country.
To me , pluralistic democracy are not just about having regular election, other than that , pluralistic democracy are still consists of the protection of civil liberties , the freedom of press , the right to assemble , the transparency and checks and balances in which no one group wields dominant power . Pluralistic democracy is not just about the right of people to vote , not to mention that for the election, the apportionment of seats to state are not based on their population, and the rural votes have more weight than urban votes.
To sum up, mass society today is the result of pluralism and democracy in a sense that social integration flows naturally within the social structure and is not forced upon a pliant population, it is then leads to post industrial society in which the old-ruling class have been superseded by “ professional “. It is a completely different concept with Frankfurt School Critical theory of capitalist society.
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