Democracy. Defining Democracy. The origins of the term democracy can be traced back to Ancient Greece. It means rule by demos or people. There are different meanings of democracy: It is a system of poor and disadvantaged
It is a system of welfare and redistribution aimed at narrowing social inequalities.
There are models of democracy that are built on the principle of “government for the people”.
An alternative view of democracy is developed by socialists and radical democrats.
A Council consisting of 500 citizens acted as the executive committee of the Assembly, and a 50 strong Committee, in turn, made proposals to the Council.
The weakest point of Athenian democracy is that it could operate only by excluding the mass of the population from political activity such as slaves, women and foreigners.
The concern of uncontrolled or unchecked power was taken up by J. Locke in the 17th century.
In short, we can say that protective democracy is a limited and indirect form of democracy. In practice, the consent of the governed is exercised through voting in regular and competitive elections. This brings accountability of those who govern.
This idea offers support for the more radical ideal of direct democracy.
The main aim was to create a society in which each citizen is able to achieve self-development by participating in the decisions that shape his/her life. This aim can only be achieved only through the promotion of openness, accountability and decentralization within all the key institutions of society.
Mill also was aware of the danger of democracy. He rejected the idea of formal political equality and proposed a system of plural voting. Unskilled workers would have a single vote, skilled workers two votes, graduates and members of the learned professionals five or six votes.
The form of democracy that was developed in 20th century communist states.
The most influential modern thinker of pluralism is Robert Dahl who argued that although the politically privileged and economically powerful exerted great power than ordinary citizen, no ruling or permanent elite was able to dominate the political process.
Another problem is the danger of “pluralist stagnation”. This occurs as organized groups and economic interests become so powerful than they create a log jam, resulting in the problem of government “overload”. In such cases, a pluralist system may become ungovernable.
Modern elitist theorists, on the other hand, have tended to highlight how far particular political systems fall short of the democratic ideal.
As a model of democratic politics, competitive elitism at least has the virtue that it corresponds closely to the workings of the liberal-democratic political system. Democracy, then, is seen simply as a political method: as a means of making political decisions by reference to a competitive struggle for the popular vote.
As government sought to manage economic life and deliver an increasingly broad range of public services, it recognized the need for institutional arrangements designed to secure the cooperation and support of major economic interests where attempts have been made to shift economic policy away from state intervention and towards the free market, the impact of corporatism has diminished.
In effects, corporatism allows well-placed interest groups to dominate and dictate to government. As a result, there is an irresistible drift towards state intervention and economic stagnation.
Marxism therefore offers a distinctive critique of pluralist democracy. Indeed, in many respect, the Marxist view parallels the elitist critique of pluralism. Both views suggest that power is concentrated in the hands of the few, the main difference being whether the few is conceived of as a “power elite” or as a “ruling class”.
Modern Marxists have been less willing to dismiss electoral democracy as nothing more than a sham.