Exploring Democracy: Definitions, Forms, and Critiques

Categories: Democracy

Democracy, it is generally believed, had its roots in Ancient Athens. We know it spread its stems to most of Europe and later to parts of Asia by mid 19th century , mostly in the form of parliamentary democracy. But in the context of this paper,we are not interested in the histrocity of the idea or concept of democracy, but in the idea itself. That is to say we want to analyze the meaning of democracy and its different forms, study its efficiency (so to say), ponder over its limitations and compare it to other forms of government.

Whether democracy was conceived of in Athens, Sparta or India is not a topic of interest in this paper (although there may be references to historical events in the evolution of the idea when pertinent). What does democracy mean?

Democracy comes from the greek “rule of the people”. But as I searched for a definition of democracy in the course of research for this paper, a consistent defintion of it seemed to elude me.

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So we must examine some of these definitions and try to find a core to the idea of democracy, if there exists one. Bunch of different ideas and quotes are out thr on internet ...put about 4-5 of them here and discuss if them from a current or historical perspective..ive written down one for u: “The right to dissent without repercussions to one's personal well-being is the core value of Democracy“ * Nathan Sharansky

Discuss quotes such as this to evaluate how these ideas are implemented in practice.

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. All this should take up about 500 words.. The only core value seems to be people get to elect their governement..how much of the peoples rights are respected after that greatly varies.. Forms of democracy
Representative..constitutes parliamentary and liberal(most democracies are these)
..discuss all thse...about 300 words..
A critique of democacy

An illusion
"There was no stone-pelting, nothing.There was no curfew ... They fired indiscriminately." (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/kashmir-burns-again-as-india-responds-to-dissent-with-violence-2045905.html). The above was said by Abdul Rashid, a Kashmiri youth whose friend was gunned down by Indian army officials for holding a peaceful, nonviolent, anti-government rally in the summer of 2010. But this was not an anomoly in the process of democracy in India. Kashmir still remains the most militarized zone in the world with about a half a million troops on active duty (for the sake of comparison, the United States had about 165,000 troops in Iraq at its peak)(i read these figures on cia.gov..i dont remember the exact link ). How is that a government for the people is killing its own citizens for holding a nonviolent demonstration? How is such a huge militarization of a province in a democracy justified? Even a basic understanding of the ideas of freedom and liberty that democracy entails shows how abhorrent these actions are.

But these things happen, not just in India, but in other developed counties like the United States (Japanese americans in 1942), where the rights of their citizens are violated just when they would want to exercise them. So one must ask, are democracies really for the people? A study of history of goverment brutality in countries like India and the United States seem to suggest otherwise. The almost forceful takeaway of land by the Indian goverment in eastern India from farmers (actions which directly led to the Naxalite-Maoist insurgency, something the current prime minister of India called "the single biggest internal security challenge ever faced by our country."( http://www.ploughshares.ca/libraries/ACRText/ACR-IndiaAP.html)), seem to suggest otherwise. The locking up of Japanese Americans in internment camps in 1942 by Franklin Roosevelt and the Unites States government seem to suggest otherwise.

The indiscriminate shooting of unarmed, nonviolent Kashmiri youths (some as young as 9 years old)shouting “azadi!azadi!”(“freedom!freedom!”) by Indian security officials seem to suggest otherwise. One gets the idea. So maybe people like Vilfredo Pareto and Gaetano Mosca are correct after all. The masses are always characterized by apathy and division, the powers to be by drive and unity (Femia, Joseph V. "Against the Masses", Oxford 2001). Maybe all democracy does is shift the power scale, from domination by a despotic leader to manipulation by a democratic government. Maybe the people don’t really have much of a say after all. Maybe it’s just an illusion.

Majority rule

Majority always gets its way..discuss gay rights..civil rights in us..womens rights historically..religious parties like shiv sena in Mumbai..rising intolerance of secularism in india..majority rule can get tyrannical and the minority issues ignored when people get to decide resolutions to minority issues.

The irrational voter

“The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.” – Winston Churchill

Talk about how the common man is largely ignorant about serious issues and hence can vote against his/her interests..u can greatly discuss the recent midterms in us to make this point...basically ur sayin if we must solve economic issues we talk to economist..if we must solve environmental issues we talk to climate scientists..if we are talking abt what to teach in science class we take the consensus of scientist not what the common people of the state think (talk abt teaching creationism in schools..a lot of states in us have majority of it people wanting creationism be taught as science even though almost no scientist believe it to be science)...not everything should be up for a vote.....

Ur a better person to write abt this
Show how its hard to apply democratic principles in practice...corrupt officials..apathetic citizens..uprisings etc.. Instable
Frequent elections make the government instable...shitload of examples on the internet abt this.. Best we have?

“It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.”- Winston Churchill Compare democracy to other forms of governments like dictatorships, communist states, anarchist, socialist,etc..define and discuss each with respect to western liberal democracy..ive done some of it for anarchist Anarchist - Anarchists are those who advocate the absence of the state, arguing that common sense would allow people to come together in agreement to form a functional society allowing for the participants to freely develop their own sense of morality, ethics or principled behaviour. (from wikipedia).

One such current society is Somalia, and it would not be hyperbole to suggest they are not doing very well. The lack of a state and police have led to nationwide lawlessness, violence and spiralled the country into utter chaos. I think Somalia really characterizes the severe consequences of not having a state and is not a direction one would want their country to go in. Giving people all the power has resulted in the most powerful and the most brutal of them to take power and the rest of people losing all freedom(ironically).

Updated: Nov 20, 2023
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Exploring Democracy: Definitions, Forms, and Critiques. (2016, Jun 11). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/democracy-3-essay

Exploring Democracy: Definitions, Forms, and Critiques essay
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