This shows how different interpretations can be given to one concept. These different interpretations of liberal principles form the basis for various democratic theorists. Deliberative theorists like Habermas try to eliminate this pluralism of ideas by developing a rational consensus while theorists like Laclau and Mouffe insist on agonistic democracy whereby pluralism is appreciated. These interpretations of ethico-political principals lead to different political groupings such as the liberal-conservatives, neo-liberals, social-democrats, and radical-democrats among others. The big question here will be whether conflict is bad for democracy hence should be eliminated or whether conflict is essential for growth of democracy. This essay will discuss the idea of conflict as constituted by Mouffe using his agonistic model of democracy. I will argue that conflict is an inevitable and important element of democracy as it allows for politics of pluralism hence liberty.
When we hear of the word liberalism what comes into mind is freedom or to do whatever one pleases without any constraints. In line with principles of the constitution, one should have liberty to enjoy the fruits of democracy and to pursue happiness. This was based on the conception of individuals as rational beings who pursue self interests. But what if such freedoms result in constraining others from enjoying their rights? Should our liberties be limited for the sake of common good? This leads to the conception of liberty as negative, that is, citizens are prohibited from pursuing their interests if such pursuits are to the detriment of others in the society. In a democracy, the citizens choose representatives to the government in free and fair elections and these people are supposed to represent the interests of the community or of the people who choose them.