Monday, May 3, 2010


"Government is an unnecessary evil. Human beings, when

accustomed to taking responsibility for their own behavior, can

cooperate on a basis of mutual trust and helpfulness."

-Fred Woodworth

Even as Fred Woodworth declares the government an unnecessary evil, its

existence is truth of the modern world. Be it any place on the planet, the

government exists in one form or the other. And the place where it is not present

either had it in some point of time in history, and a common consensus would

prefer to have one still running the show there or are those where only polar bears

or penguins make the population.

A form of government, or form of state governance, refers to the set of political

institutions by which a government of a state is organized in order to exert its

powers over a body politic.


(3) of (10)

There have been many forms of government which have ruled and/or served the

people of their respective states. The reason of classification in the type of

government is the difference in ideologies and preferences that these governments

in various part of world have employed in time. The various types of government

that exist in the world today are very much different from one another. Some of

them, for e.g., do not give any citizen the right to own property and consider the

complete state as government's property available for the people's use, while

others practise no such law. Where some of the government think that market

should be given adequate freedom to operate, others may not and do not think the

same way. While some of them may say that deciding the prices and other

important decision must be in the hands of the government others may share the

view of allowing competition do the task. What ever may be the type of

government the bottom line remains that they exist for the people and their wellbeing,

an objective that many of them failed to have live up to.



Democracy is a system of government in which either the actual governing is

carried out by the people governed (direct democracy), or the power to do so is

granted by them (as in representative democracy). The term is derived from the

Greek in the middle of the fifth-fourth century BC to denote the political systems

then existing in some Greek city-states, notably Athens following a popular

uprising in 508 BC.

In political theory, democracy describes a small number of related forms of

government and also a political philosophy. Even though there is no specific,

universally accepted definition of 'democracy', there are two principles that any

definition of democracy includes, equality and freedom. These principles are

reflected by all citizens being equal before the law, and having equal access to

power. Additionally, all citizens are able to enjoy legitimized freedoms and

liberties, which are usually protected by a constitution.

There are several varieties of democracy, some of which provide better

representation and more freedoms for their citizens than others. However, if any

democracy is not carefully legislated to avoid an uneven distribution of political

power with balances, such as the separation of powers, then a branch of the system

of rule could accumulate power and become harmful to the democracy itself.

The "majority rule" is often described as a characteristic feature of democracy, but

without responsible government or constitutional protections of individual liberties

from democratic power it is possible for dissenting individuals to be oppressed by


(4) of (10)

the "tyranny of the majority". An essential process in representative democracies is

competitive elections that are fair both substantively and procedurally.

Furthermore, freedom of political expression, freedom of speech and freedom of

the press are essential so that citizens are informed and able to vote in their

personal interests.

Popular sovereignty is common but not a universal motivating philosophy for

establishing a democracy. In some countries, democracy is based on the

philosophical principle of equal rights. Many people use the term "democracy" as

shorthand for liberal democracy, which may include additional elements such as

political pluralism, equality before the law, the right to petition elected officials for

redress of grievances, due process, civil liberties, human rights, and elements of

civil society outside the government.

In the United States, separation of powers is often cited as a supporting attribute,

but in other countries, such as the United Kingdom, the dominant philosophy is

parliamentary sovereignty (though in practice judicial independence is generally

maintained). In other cases, "democracy" is used to mean direct democracy.

Though the term "democracy" is typically used in the context of a political state,

the principles are also applicable to private organizations and other groups.

Democracy has its origins in Ancient Greece. However other cultures have

significantly contributed to the evolution of democracy such as Ancient Rome,

Europe, and North and South America. Democracy has been called the "last form

of government" and has spread considerably across the globe. The Right to vote

has been expanded in many Jurisdictions over time from relatively narrow groups

(such as wealthy men of a particular ethnic group), with New Zealand the first

nation to grant universal suffrage for all its citizens. Suffrage still remains a

controversial issue with regard to disputed territories, areas with significant

immigration, and countries that exclude certain demographic groups.

Today India is the largest current democracy in the world. 20th century transitions

to liberal democracy have come in successive "waves of democracy," variously

resulting from wars, revolutions, decolonization, religious and economic

circumstances. World War I and the dissolution of the Ottoman and Austro-

Hungarian empires resulted in the creation of new nation-states from Europe, most

of them at least nominally democratic.

In the 1920s democracy flourished, but the Great Depression brought

disenchantment, and most of the countries of Europe, Latin America, and Asia

turned to strong-man rule or dictatorships. Fascism and dictatorships flourished in

Nazi Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal, as well as non democratic regimes in the

Baltic, the Balkans, Brazil, Cuba, China, and Japan, among others. World War II

brought a definitive reversal of this trend in Western Europe. The successful

democratization of the American, British, and French sectors of occupied Germany


(5) of (10)

(disputed), Austria, Italy, and the occupied Japan served as a model for the later

theory of regime change. However, most of Eastern Europe, including the Soviet

sector of Germany was forced into the non-democratic Soviet bloc. The war was

followed by decolonization, and again most of the new independent states had

nominally democratic constitutions. India emerged as the world's largest

democracy and continues to be so.

In the decades following World War II, most western democratic nations had

mixed economies and developed a welfare state, reflecting a general consensus

among their electorates and political parties. In the 1950s and 1960s, economic

growth was high in both the western and Communist countries; it later declined in

the state-controlled economies. By 1960, the vast majority of nation-states were

nominally democracies, although the majority of the world's populations lived in

nations that experienced sham elections, and other forms of subterfuge (particularly

in Communist nations and the former colonies.)

A subsequent wave of democratization brought substantial gains toward true liberal

democracy for many nations. Spain, Portugal (1974), and several of the military

dictatorships in South America returned to civilian rule in the late 1970s and early

1980s (Argentina in 1983, Bolivia, Uruguay in 1984, Brazil in 1985, and Chile in

the early 1990s). This was followed by nations in East and South Asia by the midto

late 1980s.

Economic malaise in the 1980s, along with resentment of communist oppression,

contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union, the associated end of the Cold War,

and the democratization and liberalization of the former Eastern bloc countries.

The most successful of the new democracies were those geographically and

culturally closest to Western Europe, and they are now members or candidate

members of the European Union.

The liberal trend spread to some nations in Africa in the 1990s, most prominently

in South Africa. Some recent examples of attempts of liberalization include the

Indonesian Revolution of 1998, the Bulldozer Revolution in Yugoslavia, the Rose

Revolution in Georgia, the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, the Cedar Revolution in

Lebanon, and the Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan.

Currently, there are 123 countries that are democratic, and the trend is increasing

(up from 40 in 1972). As such, it has been speculated that this trend may continue

in the future to the point where liberal democratic nation-states become the

universal standard form of human society. This prediction forms the core of

Francis Fukayama's "End of History" controversial theory. These theories are

criticized by those who fear an evolution of liberal democracies to post-democracy,

and other who points out the high number of illiberal democracies.

Today Democracy has taken a number of forms, both in theory and practice. The

following kinds are not exclusive of one another: many specify details of aspects

that are independent of one another and can co-exist in a single system.


(6) of (10)


Representative democracy involves the selection of government officials by the

people being represented. If the head of state is also democratically elected is also

called a democratic republic. The most common mechanisms involve election of

the candidate with a majority or a plurality of the votes.

Representatives may be elected or become diplomatic representatives by a

particular district (or constituency), or represent the entire electorate proportionally

proportional systems, with some using a combination of the two. Some

representative democracies also incorporate elements of direct democracy, such as

referendums. A characteristic of representative democracy is that while the

representatives are elected by the people to act in their interest, they retain the

freedom to exercise their own judgment as how best to do so.


Parliamentary democracy is where government is appointed by parliamentary

representatives as opposed to a 'presidential rule' wherein the President is both head

of state and the head of government and is elected by the voters. Under a

parliamentary democracy, government is exercised by delegation to an executive

ministry and subject to ongoing review, checks and balances by the legislative

parliament elected by the people.


(7) of (10)


A Liberal democracy is a representative democracy in which the ability of the

elected representatives to exercise decision-making power is subject to the rule of

law, and usually moderated by a constitution that emphasizes the protection of the

rights and freedoms of individuals, and which places constraints on the leaders and

on the extent to which the will of the majority can be exercised against the rights of



Direct democracy is a political system where the citizens participate in the

decision-making personally, contrary to relying on intermediaries or

representatives. The supporters of direct democracy argue that democracy is more

than merely a procedural issue (i.e. voting). Most direct democracies to date have

been weak forms, relatively small communities, usually city-states. However, some

see the extensive use of referenda, as in California, as akin to direct democracy in a

very large polity with more than 20 million in California, 1898-1998.

In Switzerland, five million voters decide on national referendums and initiatives

two to four times a year; direct democratic instruments are also well established at

the cantonal and communal level. Vermont towns have been known for their yearly

town meetings, held every March to decide on local issues. No direct democracy is

in existence outside the framework of a different overarching form of government.


A Parpolity or Participatory Polity is a theoretical form of democracy that is ruled

by a Nested Council structure. The guiding philosophy is that people should have

decision making power in proportion to how much they are affected by the

decision. Local councils of 25-50 people are completely autonomous on issues that

affect only them, and these councils send delegates to higher level councils who are

again autonomous regarding issues that affect only the population affected by that


A council court of randomly chosen citizens serves as a check on the tyranny of the

majority, and rules on which body gets to vote on which issue. Delegates can vote

differently than their sending council might wish, but are mandated to

communicate the wishes of their sending council. Delegates are recallable at any

time. Referenda are possible at any time via votes of the majority of lower level

councils, however, not everything is a referendum as this is most likely a waste of

time. A parpolity is meant to work in tandem with a participatory economy.


(8) of (10)


"Democracy cannot consist solely of elections that are nearly always fictitious and

managed by rich landowners and professional politicians."

Socialist thought has several different views on democracy. Social democracy,

democratic socialism, and the dictatorship of the proletariat (usually exercised

through Soviet democracy) are some examples. Many democratic socialists and

social democrats believe in a form of participatory democracy and workplace

democracy combined with a representative democracy.

Within Marxist orthodoxy there is hostility to what is commonly called "liberal

democracy", which they simply refer to as parliamentary democracy because of its

often centralized nature. Because of their desire to eliminate the political elitism

they see in capitalism, Marxists, Leninists and Trotskyists believe in direct

democracy implemented though a system of communes (which are sometimes

called soviets). This system ultimately manifests itself as council democracy and

begins with workplace democracy.


Anarchists are split in this domain, depending on whether they believe that a

majority-rule is tyrannic or not. The only form of democracy considered acceptable

to many anarchists is direct democracy. Pierre-Joseph Proudhon argued that the

only acceptable form of direct democracy is one in which it is recognized that

majority decisions are not binding on the minority, even when unanimous.

However, anarcho-communist Murray Bookchin criticized individualist anarchists

for opposing democracy, and says "majority rule" is consistent with anarchism.

Some anarcho-communists oppose the majoritarian nature of direct democracy,

feeling that it can impede individual liberty and opt in favour of a non-majoritarian

form of consensus democracy, similar to Proudhon's position on direct democracy.

Some Anarchists such as Murray Rothbard criticize what they see as the dangers of

majority rule, believing that morality should not be dependent on the majority

because, as they see it, history has shown majority rule to be fallible. Henry David

Thoreau, who did not self-identify as an anarchist but argued for "a better

government" and is cited as an inspiration by some anarchists, argued that people

should not be in the position of ruling others or being ruled when there is no



Iroquois society had a form of participatory democracy and representative

democracy. Iroquois government and law was discussed by Benjamin Franklinand

Thomas Jefferson. Though some others disagree, some scholars regard it to have

influenced the formation of American representative democracy.


(9) of (10)


Sometimes called "democracy without elections", sortition is the process of

choosing decision makers via a random process. The intention is that those chosen

will be representative of the opinions and interests of the people at large, and be

more fair and impartial than an elected official. The technique was in widespread

use in Athenian Democracy and is still used in modern jury selection.


Consensus democracy requires varying degrees of consensus rather than just a

mere democratic majority. It typically attempts to protect minority rights from

domination by majority rule.


Qualified majority voting (QMV) is designed by the Treaty of Rome to be the

principal method of reaching decisions in the European Council of Ministers. This

system allocates votes to member states in part according to their population, but

heavily weighted in favour of the smaller states. This might be seen as a form of

representative democracy, but representatives to the Council might be appointed

rather than directly elected.

Some might consider the "individuals" being democratically represented to be

states rather than people, as with many other international organizations. European

Parliament members are democratically directly elected on the basis of universal

suffrage, may be seen as an example of a supranational democratic institution.


Cosmopolitan democracy, also known as Global democracy or World Federalism

is a political system in which democracy is implemented on a global scale, either

directly or through representatives. The supporters of cosmopolitan democracy

argue that it is fundamentally different than any form of national or regional

democracy, because in a Cosmopolitan Democracy, decisions are made by people

influenced by them, while in Regional and National Democracies, decisions often

influence people outside the constituency, which by-definition can not vote.

In a globalised world, argue the supporters of Cosmopolitan Democracy, any

attempt to solve global problems would either be undemocratic or have to

implement cosmopolitan democracy. Cosmopolitan Democracy was promoted,

among others, by physicist Albert Einstein, writer Kurt Vonnegut, columnist

George Monbiot, and professor David Held.


(10) of (10)


Aside from the public sphere, similar democratic principles and mechanisms of

voting and representation have been used to govern other kinds of communities and


• Many non-governmental organizations decide policy and leadership by voting.

• Most trade unions choose their leadership through democratic elections.

• Cooperatives are enterprises owned and democratically controlled by their

customers or workers.

With so many kinds of government existing in the modern world many people

believe that democracy is not the best form of government. There are varying

views about democracy such as:

Democracy is the recurrent suspicion that more than half of the people are right

more than half of the time.

- E. B. White

When great changes occur in history, when great principles are involved, as a rule

the majority are wrong. The minority are right.

- Eugene V. Debs

Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we


- George Bernard Shaw

Democracy is only a dream: it should be put in the same category as Arcadia,

Santa Claus, and Heaven.

- H. L. Mencken

Democracy is a process by which the people are free to choose the man who will

get the blame.

- Laurence J. Peter

A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people

may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.

- Thomas Jefferson

No comments:

Post a Comment