What is Democracy?

Over the past few decades and especially in recent times, there has been a lot of complaining about democracy – that it does not work, or that it is not a good system for government, or that it is only good for the rich or that it is just plain useless.

Democracy is neither a good thing nor a bad thing, it is just one type of decision making process used by communities for governing communities. But like any other process it can work well, or not work at all, or be manipulated.

The word “democracy” is derived from the ancient Greek words “demos” meaning “people” and “kratis” meaning “power”, which means “power to the people” or “people power”. Democracy therefore means power to, or of, the people. Democracy is therefore a generic name for the many democratic ways by which a community makes decisions using people power. 

There are combinations of more or less democratic processes and methods adopted in practice by most if not all countries of the world. For example, there are constitutional democracies, managed democracies, representative democracies, republican democracies, monarchical democracies, socialist democracies, pluralist democracies, federal democracies, national democracies, community democracies and all sorts of other democracies.
Sometimes the biggest issue for a country is not the democratic process itself, but how that process is implemented. Democratic processes can be manipulated to put self-interest ahead of community interest as we all know. Democratic processes are also easy to misrepresent and be misunderstood.

Some democratic processes are clearly better than others. For example, it is preferable for communities to adopt a written constitution rather than rely on convention. And written constitutions based on the lasting principles of freedom, equality and security for the people are also preferred to those serving only to protect a temporary regime. (I wrote one for you)

So now I hope you can see that “democracy” is not at all a dirty word, but is a generic term for the many democratic processes and methods adopted by communities for making decisions affecting those communities and the people who live in them.

Any sensible debate about democracy will not be about democracy itself, but about which democratic processes are best for the community and how they are to be implemented for the benefit of the community. 

Any democracy that adopts the most suitable democratic processes and methods for the community will effectively reduce the impact of personalities over the people in the community. Good processes will beat bad personalities for control over communities.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s