Advantages and Disadvantages of Democracy
Advantages and Disadvantages of Democracy
The term ‘democracy’, like many other political terms, was first discovered in Ancient Greece. It consists of two short words: ‘demos’ which means either ‘a citizen in a particular city-state’ or ‘the lower orders’, and ‘kratos’ which means either ‘rule’ or ‘power’ – but these two are not of the same meaning. The original meaning of democracy is the rule by the poor or by the rabble. Aristotle had a clear argument stating that a rich majority would not be able to govern fairly (Arblater, 2002).
This essay aims to identify advantages of modern democracy-based governments, such as equality for men and women, free press and media and totalitarianism as well as provide criticism in terms of the two systems. Democracy has become the subject of various debates, with the supporters claiming that it is the most appropriate form of government nowadays because it guarantees constitutional rights for people.
Moreover, democracy can create a positive structure for economic development as it provides free trade relationships between countries. The main purposes of democracy are presented in the way of core constitutional rights, such as a right to vote, equality of rights for men and women, freedom of speech and expression and, last but not least, personal sovereignty. All these elements are required for the modern society. For this reason, a democratic government aims to meet these requirements in order to satisfy its people.
A governmental structure based on the principles of democracy, which is established well enough in the Western countries and Europe, has been developing for more than four centuries and has been absorbing and leaving essential requirements, for instance constitutional rights for all citizens, for further evolution of democracy. Today, democratic countries, for example Great Britain, provide sovereignty to all citizens regardless of their religion, race or social status.
The main way of providing population with the elements required for a democracy is a straight dialogue between the government and people and apprehending the latter’s needs and desires. (Arblaster, 2002) Furthermore, press and media is one of the most important aspects of the modern democracy. However, there are still some countries with a democratic status but with issues in this particular field. These areas are partly or totally controlled by governmental agencies and authorities. The leading position in the non-democratic behavior is held by the Arab countries.
The information released by Freedom House in October 2010 demonstrates that the closure of the Nichane newspaper, one of the most open-minded Arabic language weeklies, was another strong blow to the freedom of press in Morocco. The main reason for the closure was a systematic multi-year boycott as a result of controversial reports about the company run by the Moroccan Royal family, Omnium Nord-African Group. The Freedom of Expression Officer at Freedom House, has emphasized the issue in this area by saying that: “Authorities are increasingly using economic manipulation to punish and intimidate independent or critical media”.
Currently, the impacts of democracy play an integral role in active economy. Aspects such as private property, competition, and fair market – which are guaranteed to the society in democratic countries today – create stable economic markets. Additionally, democracy makes trade and market relationships between countries easier in comparison to communistic countries, for example China, where regulations on export and import are still much stricter (Zuzovski, 1998).
After the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the way Czech Republic managed to recreate from the situation in a quick and positive manner is a great example of economical benefits in democracy-based states. The principal changes, like privatization of businesses, liquidation of monopolized external trade and regulation of the market prices took place in Czech Republic between 1989 and 1992. Moreover, willingness to open the door to investments from abroad in Czech Republic led to redevelopment of industries and infrastructures in just 20 years.
Thus, for example, United States have been investing in to Czech Republic economy since 2008 and in 2011 a contribution worth $5. 41 billion was made. These investments have hepled in support of infrastructure and industry within the country, and allowed the Czech Republic to become one of the strongest economics in Western Europe (U. S. Departament of State, 2012). An example like this could make a nation more faithful in democracy-based government structures.
However, opponents argue that total democracy can face issues like fascism and discrimination purely because some people might think that it is in their right to divide people by race, nationality or religion. In addition, the opponents claim that an alternative political structure for democracy can be totalitarianism, which establishes a society with paper-based democracy but no dignity of an individual rights in practice. Totalitarianism has been cited as totally opposite system to democracy. The supporters claim that totalitarianism creates an ideally structured government and society.
The philosophy of totalitarianism simply rejects the independence of an individual and instead substitutes it with the notion of collectivity. It only targets needs and interests of the society as a whole. However, the totalitarian regime controls private lives of people, which includes belief, tastes, and many other parts of the life. In the times of the Soviet Union, private life of all citizens was totally controlled by the governmental agencies. The rights of the people were complied, but only on paper and not in practice.
However, in reality, citizens’ dignity was hijacked. Salient features of Soviet Union society was illusory and fictitious nature of the represented world. Members of some social groups had privileges, but members of other groups did not have a right to a passport, to walk on particular streets, or to use holiday resorts (Todorov, 2003). In addition, Todorov (2003) argues that the totalitarianism in post-communist Commonwealth of Independant States republics led to corrupt political institutions, and it had ravaged the economy, the environment and human souls.
To demonstrate corruption rate in one of post-communist countries, Holmes (2009) claims that in the first decade after collapse of the Soviet Union, the corruption rate in Russian reached 2. 7 per cent. Moreover, there have been widespread concerns that democracy might have influenced people’s behavior towards each other. This might be based on difference and unequal treatment in terms of race, gender or ethnicity.
U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (n. d. ) reported statistics, which claims that in the beginning of 21st century race discrimination was 36. %, however in 2011 this figure decreased for almost one per cent and became 34. 5%. Furthermore, the fact Benhabib (1996) suggests that the discrimination rate in the United States has decreased in the past ten years, and it works because of the positive treatment of people regardless of their gender, race, background or ethnic identity within the country. However, the core definition of democracy, which was mentioned above, sometimes cannot be used as a plain and uncompleted term. One of the problems is the relation between the idea and reality.
The contemporary reality sometimes does not correspond with the idea of the classic notions of democracy. For instance, does the fact that the government is elected by the people mean that the system is a democratic one? Thus, when Hitler became the Chancellor of Germany, he did it through a constitutional process, as the leader of the Nazi party, who gained 43. 9% at Reichstag. Few people could complain about legitimacy of the German elections in 1933 but yet not many would be able to describe the Third Reich as a democratic governor.
Arblaster (2002) argues that the best remedy for this might be to revise the concept of democracy itself to suit it to real modern society. In addition, Arblaster (2002) suggests that society should not follow these mistakes, committed in the past. Moreover, Modern democracy is, in fact, capitalistic. It is rule of the capitalists. Electioneering is carried out with money. The rich candidates purchase votes. Might of economic power rules over the whole process. The net result is that we get plutocracy under the garb of democracy-democracy in name and form, plutocracy in reality.
It cares a fig for the common man. The rich hold the media and use it for their own benefit. Big business houses influence dailies and use these dailies for creating public opinion to their favour. Influence of moneyed people over politics is probably clear in England, America and India. Consequently, communists don’t accept it democracy at all. Socialist democracy is democracy in the right sense of the term because the welfare of the labour class and farming community can be safeguarded properly only under socialist democracy. (Tusha Jupta, 2012)
In conclusion, for reasons identified and described above, democracy should be viewed as a prosperous and useful way of governing a country because it is also relatively peaceful for co-existence of individuals, society as a whole, and the government. In comparison to totalitarianism, democracy has significant positive factors, such as economic structure, easier trade relationships, constitutional rights, which in totalitarian countries are stricter and more limited. Nonetheless, it should be pointed out that democracy still has problems that need to be addressed, especially the ones in press and media sector.
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 21 November 2016
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