During these times, individual citizens find political participation increasingly paradoxical. Traditionally both citizens and political observers have thought of political participation in terms of such concepts as the Greek agora (“forum”) in which the citizens of the polis met together to discuss and take action regarding political issues affecting the community. Or in the West they may have thought of political participation as taking action in pursuit of interests, which were then registered and aggregated by established institutions of political representation, the political participation of Robert A. Dahl’s Who Governs? (1961). Yet, often the individual citizen finds him-or herself in the situation of one of the group of hunters in Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s (1984) metaphor of the stag hunt. Rousseau posited just two hunters, but I will expand this to a group of hunters. The group of hunters seeks to stalk and surround a stag, to shoot it, and to divide up the prize venison. However, along the way the hunters constantly surprise numerous fat rabbits, an easy kill. The hunters must cooperate to pursue and surround the fleet stag, which they are not certain to accomplish. On the other hand, at any time, any one of the hunters can readily kill a rabbit and return home with meat for a nice meal, although not as desired as a slab of venison. As Rousseau notes, the hunters are caught in a paradox of participation. Each may himself be willing to reject a rabbit for the uncertain prospect of venison, but the individual hunter cannot be sure that all of the other hunters think the same way. If a single hunter shoots a rabbit, the stag, forewarned, will rush away at high speed, as will the other rabbits, except for the victim. Accordingly, the incentive for an individual

hunter is to shoot a rabbit immediately before some other does and drives away all the other rabbits, let alone the stag. The individual thus settles for the sure acquisition of a smaller self-interest rather than cooperating with all the other individuals to obtain a much greater common good, stalking and surrounding the stag. And better to shoot a rabbit, before someone else does, thereby leaving the first individual with nothing at all-no rabbit, no stag. The individual is caught in a paradoxical system of participation in group action.