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The Problems And Drawbacks Of Democracy.

Reader comment on item: The Freedom Crusade, Revisited

Submitted by Seamus MacNemi (United States), Jan 14, 2006 at 02:12

One of the biggest problems with democracy in my own estimation is that the term is entirely too open to interpretation. It can mean something different to every man who thinks about it.

Ostensibly, it means the individuals right to self determination but that presupposes a consensus within a group about what is acceptable and what is not within a society. If there is no consensus then what you have is anarchy and anarchy hardly can be a guarantor of individual rights.

The Greeks tried to create a pure democracy and the results were disasterous. The Athenians basically undermined the government organized under Heracles and set the stage for their own defeat and conquest in so doing. I can see the same process taking shape here in America and quite frankly it frightens me.

I think the real problem is that many (or most) people think that America is a democracy when it isn't. America is a democraticaly elected republic based upon law and the constitution. That's a far cry from a democracy.

In any society there has to be some power structure. This is so even in the most basic of social elements, the family. It is the nature of the power structure to limit the right of the individual to express him or her self to those behaviors (and to some lesser extent those thoughts and attitudes) which the general consensus agrees are acceptable. Thus it must perforce limit freedom.

Thus, the idea of democracy immediately presents us with a paradox. How can you have freedom and be restricted at the same time? Personally, I do not believe in the idea of democracy. I believe in responsibility and priveledge based upon the acceptance of responsibility. If I carry a certain burden of responsibility within the society then I'm entitled to a certain degree of priveledge as a consequence. As I see it, priveledge and responsibility go hand in hand. If I fail or abdicate in my attendance upon my responsibilities then my attendant priveledges are forfeit as a result. This seems to me to be only reasonable. Why should I be granted something I did not earn any more than anyone else?

Prehaps I might have an advantage in being a member of a certain social class but that does not excuse my from my responsibilities. In any event, the higher my social status the greater my responsibilities within the society as a whole.
And this brings another question to mind. It seems to me that the idea of democracy assumes an absolute equality between all individuals. Such a situation is a natural impossibility. Though it might be possible to guarantee an equal representation of all individuals before the law it cannot guarantee an absolute equality of outcomes in all situations. Social rank and priveledge run contrary to the idea of democracy. I know of no society where social rank and priveledge are not determining factors in outcomes of events in any case.
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