IS DEMOCRACY THE RIGHT FORM OF GOVERNMENT?

 

 

12308357_1210856788941088_5291736397306891757_nBy Elena Chobanian, Journalist, Radio Editor-in-Chief, TV/Radio Presenter

 

 

 

Democratization is an evolving process and one which adapts to specific circumstances. The exact form of democracy can therefore differ, but it has three central principles: non-violence, popular control and political equality.” (Archibugi)

Congresses, meetings and forums of democracy (as The World Forum for Democracy, an annual gathering in Strasbourg) are taking place in many places of the modern and globalized world which are designed for debating the challenges facing democracy. However, is democracy really the positive answer to people’s life, and a healthy political atmosphere? And what is democracy?

When most of us hear the word “democracy”, understand a form of government when all citizens participate equally in political elections, have the freedom of speech, it may help to solve conflicts easily, it respects the human rights. Some believe that democracy is the best form of government since there is no other form of government which might work well. Others argue that democracy is equal to chaos since it may lead to totalitarian regime as it happened in case of Nazi Germany, under Hitler’s rule. But let’s begin from the beginning.

 

The democratic countries today

Democracy is considered to be traced back from the present day to Athens in the 6th century B.C.E. Later John Locke, a political philosopher and the father of liberalism, contributed to democratic theory and practice. It might sound strange, but democracy, not the modern one, is based on Mao Zedong’s “Bloc of Four Social Classes” theory upon which democracy in China would be different than the liberal capitalist and parliamentary democratic systems. The democracy index, which first was produced for 2006 and compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit, measures the state of democracy in about 167 countries. Thus, the full democratic countries are considered Norway, Iceland, Sweden, New Zealand, Denmark, Switzerland, Canada, Finland (although it is considered as the most stable European country), Australia, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Malta, the UK (although, there is more conservatism which acts between libertarian and traditional forms, and perhaps it may contradict somehow to democracy), Spain, Uruguay, the USA, etc. The US is officially claimed to be as the most democratic country, but according to the index it situated in the last pace of the table. Is not that curious?

 

The types and forms of democracy

 

Most democracies are parliamentary or presidential, and most democracies in the world are based on British system. Moreover. Specialists in the field divided democracy in two main types: Direct Democracy, in which every citizen of a certain state has equal right in participating in the governing and law-making processes (Athens), and Representative Democracy, which allows citizens to elect representatives who make the law, such as legislators (the US, where even the president is not elected directly). Although, the pure form of direct democracy exists in the Swiss cantons of Appenzell Innerrhoden and Glarus, some scholars argue. Pure..? Maybe. But the Switzerland is the right example of direct democracy.

There are other forms of democracy as well, such as Semi Democracy, Protective Democracy (a theory proposed by William Hudson, which safeguards liberty rather than national security, where citizens play a passive political role, but an active role in economics), Deliberative Democracy (in which citizens participate in decision making process), Pluralist Democracy (which features competition among different interests in a society where diversity is the norm, hierarchical order dominated by economic elites), Developmental Democracy (the government focuses on the development of citizens, not modern economics or political systems, essential for progress, prosperity and stability), Participatory Democracy (in theory, not in practice, direct democracy is when citizens decide all major questions of public life. Participatory democracy stresses citizens active participation in politics, and it could work in a community of a hundred people only), Social Democracy (Sweden), Constitutional Democracy (Poland, South Africa, France, Brazil, Mexico, India, etc. Here government derive authority from the consent of the governed, are important citizens liberties, political equality, and it imposes limitations on majority rule protecting majority rights. The Leaders can’t do whatever they wish thanks to checks and balances in the constitution which defends basic organization and operation of the government). Parliamentary Democracy (which has multiple political parties competing for votes in national elections, and multiparty systems don’t produce a clear majority in the parliament. However, in British elections nearly always produce a clear majority in Parliament, although the winning party rarely garners more than 45 percent of the popular votes, since the plurality vote system is still in use there, like in the US). Liberal Democracy (a democratic theory developed by political scientist Richard Katz, which means free, competitive elections between different districts of political partiesseparation of powers into different branches of government, citizens voting rights for socialistic policies, the rule of law in life as a sign of an open and fair society). And, finally, Cosmopolitan Democracy, a democracy of the future, an ambitious project for a globalized world, whose aim is to achieve a world order based on the rule of law.

This new theory of Contemporary Democracy was developed by a political scientist named David Held, which draws a global system of multilevel governance with the rule of law. Here the cosmopolitan person is a frequent traveler who is comfortable with values, cultural differences of other nations. The European Union, for instance, is a real attempt to develop a democratic system of multilevel governance, therefore cosmopolitan democracy. What refers to the US, argue specialists, from the second half of the 20th century has undertaken a role of world distributor of democracy stabilizing the political-economical life. Whereas many states, having selected the democratic way of development, have become hostages of the capitalism, therefore instability. The modern democracy concept’s goal is to overthrow feudalism escaping from colonialism.

Contra arguments

Even if dictators might not let democracy to develop, many realists argue that most people, even in developed countries, due to their families, careers and other issues, do not become politically active (this was one of the European Parliament’s (EP) low turnouts reasons). However, the coalition is subsumed under the leadership of the working class (Marx and Lenin).

Democracy as a pure form of government may not exist alone, since most political systems are a mixture of different political systems. For example, the US is more libertarian system, de facto is oriented to the totalitarian direction. In Switzerland and West Germany the political system is libertarian-democratic (libertarianism is the political formula for those who oppose to state power), in Communist China totalitarian, in the UK more of a libertarian-totalitarian mixture. In Egypt and Syria it is totalitarian-authoritarian oriented, in Brazil and Lebanon more libertarian-authoritarian, and the list may continue. Hence, the political systems, democracy as well, are not independent (although, must remember that no political system is both totalitarian and authoritarian, because they are different and cannot exist together at the same time). Democratic socialists, for instance, believe that socialism and open political systems are compatible. Though, democratic socialism severely limits regulating citizens freedom. In political scientist Joseph Schumpeter’s opinion, democracy cannot live without capitalism in order to spur economic growth. On the other hand, because the masses perceive capitalism as a major cause of inequality and democracy is based upon majority rule, the answer becomes pessimistic on the future of liberal-democracy. Here comes the paradox.

The economic basis  of  democracy  is  private property and capitalism. And when  there  is  private  property,  people develop their businesses for their own benefit, which brings to social disruptions and war. Therefore, in the modern life the democratic political  system  is not concentrated on humanization,  but  rather on  the monopolization of  all  spheres of life, geopolitical issues, and control  of the world market, where famous cartoons and fairy tales remind us: “I am the most powerful! Who else is more powerful than me? No one, but me!” Sounds narcissistic, isn’t it? And very familiar to totalitarianism?

 

CONCLUSION

 

Without an effective political system, even contemporary democracy cannot function properly. Besides, even if democracy may seem a very positive perspective, it is quite idealistic when it is put in practice, like libertarian democracy, since many understands this term differently, therefore expectations and reactions turn out to be different as well. On the other hand, what democracy if there is no accurate information and education on it? Where citizens are offered specific types of “products” of democracy (eg. during presidential elections) and the choice has to be taken from those specific and limited types.

An individual within a democratic state has to achieve his goals by any means, contributing to a property split in society, and  the  state  must  create  conditions  for  maximum  autonomy  of citizens,  marginally limiting a person by legislation, free media, freedom of speech. The classical mass media must be a watchdog between society and politicians contributing to the feedback of democracy, whereas the reality mostly proves otherwise, even in so-called democratic countries, and states are spending budgetary funds for the development of arms to ensure their own security by selling weapons to other countries. Hence, due to these political decisions societies become more suspicious, and democracy seems to lose its classical facet.

Thus, the entire transformation of the homo sapiens world will lead to changes in economic and political institutions (the EU, just to name a few). And due to so-called globalization, increases flow of services, goods across borders, one of the most powerful countries, like America, will have less control over their own fiscal, monetary policies. And as the economic and political changes of the word (tax cuts, botched health care reform, unemployment rate, state budget deficits, pollution, global warming, energy security, nuclear proliferation, terrorism conflicts and endless civil wars) will call democracy into question. Perhaps human kind will witness another type of democracy, a more sophisticated globalized democracy, or another form of totalitarianism.. or perhaps people will witness no “ism.”

 

 

 

 

Posted by on Sep 2 2016. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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