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In this essay there are a number of topics that I will consider and elaborate on. First of all I believe that it is useful to briefly state that democratic governments are preferable to non-democratic governments. After this I will outline what liberal democracy is and what it is supposed to achieve. Following this will be whether or not direct democracy is an alternative. After this will be criticisms levied on liberal democracy and why, starting with Karl Marx' critique and then an Anarchist's. Finally I will conclude whether liberal democracy is the best model of democracy and if not, which one is. Although many famous political thinkers have disagreed on the concept of democracy itself, most will be consistent that any democratic system of government is better than a non-democratic system of government. I do not intend to put forward this argument because it is not required, but it is nevertheless good to state. Robert A Dahl in his book 'on democracy' gave a number of plausible reasons for this case. Today liberal democracy can be found in almost all advanced capitalist societies and now extends, in one form or another, into parts of the former communist world and the developing world. An important question to ask in the light of this, is what is liberal democracy? Liberal democracy is a form of representative and indirect democracy that operates through elections that in theory should allow all individuals within a sovereign nation state the right to choose who is to rule on their behalf. Liberal democracy came into existence with the emergence of the liberal state as well as law and order. Its basis was upon the principle of limited government with checks and balances to ensure that individuals were protected from the state, such as an independent judiciary or a written constitution. Fundamental to liberal democracies is respect for freedom, rights (especially property rights), and civil liberties. The 'democracy' part of liberalism is the notion of popular rule or consent, which is demonstrated through the act of voting. This idea or concept can be dated back to ancient Greece although they adopted direct democracy, and not everyone was considered eligible to vote. There are a number of conditions for liberal democracy to work. Firstly there must be political equality and universal privilege of voting, i.e. 'one person one vote.' This means that no matter what gender, race, religion or economic status everyone abides by the principle of equality in elections. Secondly elections must be open for all to view, be on a regular basis, and allow for strong competition. This means that everyone within a nation state is given the chance to observe elections and make an informed choice, or be able to form a political party to represent certain views and values and therefore compete in the elections. The essence of liberal democracy is the ability by the citizens of a country to pressure politicians to respond to their demands. This means that politicians and political leaders are held accountable by the electorate and are restricted to setting the final agenda to how they desire or see fit because otherwise they risk losing support and therefore power. Joe Schumpeter in his book 'Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy' stated liberal democracy as that "institutional arrangement for arriving at political decisions in which individuals acquire the power to decide means of a competitive struggle for the people's vote." Not only does the electoral process affect the politics of a country. Interest groups or pressure groups allow individuals to come together when they share particular views or interests, so that they are able to exert pressure onto government to give into their demands. Competition or conflicts of interests in theory would be handled by government in relation to the number of members in each group and other important factors (and should therefore be fair). Other examples of plurality include equal access to education such as in universities and a balanced media. Most democracies today are indirect and representative for a number of well-argued reasons. That does not mean however that there has not been a case for direct democracy. Indirect democracy as discussed above is based upon a notion that government is for the people and should benefit the people, regardless of whether or not the public rule. Direct democracy is the idea that the public directly participates in government, or in other words the government is run through popular and direct participation. Arguments for direct democracy are as follows. It is less likely for a powerful politicians or individuals to become corrupt, i.e. furthering one's own interests rather than society as a whole. It allows government to be more in line with the microcosm of society because it gives those that might have been excluded from government under indirect democracy the chance to have a say in political affairs. For example in Britain the average MP is white, old and relatively well off, even though there are an overwhelming amount of non-whites and relatively poorer people in the country. Direct democracy ensures or at least enables members of a nation state to allocate resources of government among them in a fairer way since every individual in theory are able to argue collectively. This would be achieved via regular town meetings and/or referendums in such a way that the people choose how to govern themselves without the need for representatives and elections. However given the fact that most countries are in access of populations more than one million it is time-consuming, inefficient and unpragmatic. There are other arguments for direct democracy but most of them are about the disadvantages and problems of indirect democracy, which will be discussed below from different perspectives. Of course what has been described above is what liberal democracy should be about in theory, and unfortunately during the past century or more there have been many problems associated with this model of democracy. The most well known criticism came from Karl Marx and his followers, which centered a round the capitalist natures of liberal democracy. This is a question between liberal democracy and capitalism. Karl Marx strongly believed that liberal democracy was a way in which the bourgeoisie were able to legitimize their economic power over the working classes. According to Karl Marx the 'owners of the means of production' controlled and exerted power over the 'relations of power'. This meant in other words that the government acted on behalf of the ruling classes rather than the total population. Democracy gave the working classes a false sense of importance and recognition. At the time his evidence would have been restrictions on who could vote and continuing government support for the elite. Only those who were educated were eligible to vote on the grounds that the ill informed i.e. working classes would not be able to make the right choice. Therefore it was the duty of the educated to vote on behalf of the proletariat. He also refused to accept that inequalities were only due to a consequence of innate and natural differences of ability. He argued that liberal democracy did not address many important problems within societies such as 'accident by birth' such as a lord or landlord, and significant differences in 'nurture' between the rich and the poor from an early age primarily education. Socialists alike supported social democracy where public ownership of the means of production would ensure material equality among all individuals. The state would organise and plan all economic activity so as to achieve social equality. Although Marx's predictions were wrong, him and his supporters have had a profound effect on liberal democracy. The main contributions have been the idea of welfarism, universal suffrage in elections (which can be debated upon on the extent to which Karl Marx had an effect) and substantial increases in the intervention of the state in the economy and other areas. Therefore in relation to whether real social democracy is a better model than the liberal model of democracy the answer is simply no. Communism and the Soviet Union proved that socialism and public ownership did not work and was too idealist. However it has to be noted that socialism has contributed massively in creating and changing liberal democracy for the better. It has come to my attention whether I should include an anarchist's perspective on liberal democracy. What I have found interesting with anarchism is its complete rejection of the need for a state and its support for direct democracy and radical decentralization. Anarchists maintain that electoral or representative democracy is in fact deceptive in that it conceals elite domination and oppression of the masses. In their view the state conditions human beings to be self interested and egoistical. On the contrary to liberal thought, we are creatures that have the capacity for rationality if the environment in which we live in promotes peace and harmony. Natural order is the idea that individuals can interact in a calm manner without resorting to violence and abuse if a disagreement takes place. Their model of democracy is based on continual participation in communal affairs and extreme decentralization into small-scale communities. They believe that face-to-face interaction is better than depersonalized and bureaucratic processes. When I ask myself whether the anarchist model of democracy is better or more importantly more practical than the liberal model of democracy there is an almost automatic response, definitely not. Anarchism is renowned for being utopian and very idealist. Their concepts on human nature are drastically over optimistic and very unrealistic. You only have to look at post war Iraq to see what anarchy is really like. On a more positive note some would argue that anarchism has helped to show the evils of state power and colonialism, as well as other issues. However to claim that liberal democracy is without its problems would be a false premise. Alexis de Tocqueville mentioned two problems of liberal democracy. 'Massification of culture' is about how in a democracy the cultural standards of the majority will be the dominant ones and that these standards will be culturally debased. He argued that for example classical music would be replaced by pop music, the theatre replaced by Hollywood etc. However some people have disagreed on the way in which he came to his conclusions on popular culture and high-class culture. What he is most famous for is his idea of 'tyranny of the majority' in which "people with proclivities, not to mention political beliefs, out of accord with the majority will be marginalized or otherwise mistreated by a majority with alternative views and (according to him debased views)." (Frank Cunningham). There are varying degrees to which democratic theorists have claimed this to be a problem in liberal democracies. Another problem with liberal democracy is ineffective government. This occurs when a government changes on a regular basis to the extent that the efficiency of government to get things done decreases. In Argentina political leaders have changed so frequently that government is virtually useless in its policy implementation. Even if a government changes over a relatively shorter period of time, reversal of policies implemented by the government before is time wasting and uses up a considerable amount of resources. For example New Labour introduced the top up fees, Charles Kennedy has promised to reverse this policy if they win power, and if this happens then a huge amount of effort has been wasted for nothing. Another problem is the allegation that liberal democracy is ill suited to head off or contain violent conflict. "Ethno/national confrontations like those that have plagued Eastern Europe since the fall of authoritarian communism were made possible by the removal of this very authoritarianism, which kept ethnic violence in check." (Frank Cunningham). Conflicts can happen within a state internally where there are a number of ethnicities or groups of people that share the same ancestry, and as a result of competition for power and resources, conflict occurs. Bosnia and Kosova are prime examples of where liberal democracy has failed to prevent fairness in the political system. Another type of conflict is when liberal democracies are able to go to war with (in most cases a non-democratic state), even if the majority of people within the country are against it such as in Britain, Tony Blair and the war in Iraq. International politics and the issue of globalization illustrate a lot of these arguments of conflicts and competition. An issue of concern has been with electoral systems, which differ considerably around the world. In England first-past-the-post has led to wasted votes, which reduces the legitimacy and 'government by the people'. Although proportional representation has been introduced, there are still problems. Rigging of elections such as in Iraq and Zimbabwe are very common in authoritarian states or those that have ineffective institutions to prevent abuse by the state. A lot of nation states claim to be legitimate through rigged elections however the international community is quick to distinguish between genuine and false election results. In answering the question I believe there are no realistic alternatives to the liberal model of democracy. I found that the other models are either over optimistic, unpractical, inefficient, ineffective, or all. However I do not agree with those that believe liberal democracy is perfect without any difficulties because as mentioned above there are a whole array of problems associated with liberal democracy. Having said this it is still the most realistic of them all. On completing this essay I feel that it is still unfinished for a very important reason. I have understood that today in the modern world and in relation to governments it is not about trying to find alternatives to liberal democracy because there aren't any. Instead it is more beneficial to concentrate on another question that is 'In what ways can liberal democracy itself be improved'. This would involve many factors such as whether one form of liberal democracy is best for all, or if certain forms suit certain environments and needs.
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Introduction
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Overall Essay
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An essay on the history democracy in our world
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An Essay On The History Democracy In Our World

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              In this essay there are a number of topics that I will consider and elaborate on. First of all I believe that it is useful to briefly state that democratic governments are preferable to non-democratic governments. After this I will outline what liberal democracy is and what it is supposed to achieve. Following this will be whether or not direct democracy is an alternative. After this will be criticisms levied on liberal democracy and why, starting with Karl Marx' critique and then an Anarchist's. Finally I will conclude whether liberal democracy is the best model of democracy and if not, which one is.
             
             
              Although many famous political thinkers have disagreed on the concept of democracy itself, most will be consistent that any democratic system of government is better than a non-democratic system of government. I do not intend to put forward this argument because it is not required, but it is nevertheless good to state. Robert A Dahl in his book 'on democracy' gave a number of plausible reasons for this case.
             
              Today liberal democracy can be found in almost all advanced capitalist societies and now extends, in one form or another, into parts of the former communist world and the developing world. An important question to ask in the light of this, is what is liberal democracy?
             
              Liberal democracy is a form of representative and indirect democracy that operates through elections that in theory should allow all individuals within a sovereign nation state the right to choose who is to rule on their behalf. Liberal democracy came into existence with the emergence of the liberal state as well as law and order.
             
              Its basis was upon the principle of limited government with checks and balances to ensure that individuals were protected from the state, such as an independent judiciary or a written constitution. Fundamental to liberal democracies is respect for freedom, rights (especially property rights), and civil liberties.
             
              The 'democracy' part of liberalism is the notion of popular rule or consent, which is demonstrated through the act of voting. This idea or concept can be dated back to ancient Greece although they adopted direct democracy, and not everyone was considered eligible to vote. There are a number of conditions for liberal democracy to work.
             
              Firstly there must be political equality and universal privilege of voting, i. e. 'one person one vote. ' This means that no matter what gender, race, religion or economic status everyone abides by the principle of equality in elections.
             
              Secondly elections must be open for all to view, be on a regular basis, and allow for strong competition. This means that everyone within a nation state is given the chance to observe elections and make an informed choice, or be able to form a political party to represent certain views and values and therefore compete in the elections.
             
              The essence of liberal democracy is the ability by the citizens of a country to pressure politicians to respond to their demands. This means that politicians and political leaders are held accountable by the electorate and are restricted to setting the final agenda to how they desire or see fit because otherwise they risk losing support and therefore power.
             
              Joe Schumpeter in his book 'Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy' stated liberal democracy as that "institutional arrangement for arriving at political decisions in which individuals acquire the power to decide means of a competitive struggle for the people's vote. "
             
              Not only does the electoral process affect the politics of a country. Interest groups or pressure groups allow individuals to come together when they share particular views or interests, so that they are able to exert pressure onto government to give into their demands. Competition or conflicts of interests in theory would be handled by government in relation to the number of members in each group and other important factors (and should therefore be fair). Other examples of plurality include equal access to education such as in universities and a balanced media.
             
              Most democracies today are indirect and representative for a number of well-argued reasons. That does not mean however that there has not been a case for direct democracy.
             
              Indirect democracy as discussed above is based upon a notion that government is for the people and should benefit the people, regardless of whether or not the public rule. Direct democracy is the idea that the public directly participates in government, or in other words the government is run through popular and direct participation.
             
              Arguments for direct democracy are as follows. It is less likely for a powerful politicians or individuals to become corrupt, i. e. furthering one's own interests rather than society as a whole.
             
              It allows government to be more in line with the microcosm of society because it gives those that might have been excluded from government under indirect democracy the chance to have a say in political affairs. For example in Britain the average MP is white, old and relatively well off, even though there are an overwhelming amount of non-whites and relatively poorer people in the country.
             
              Direct democracy ensures or at least enables members of a nation state to allocate resources of government among them in a fairer way since every individual in theory are able to argue collectively.
             
              This would be achieved via regular town meetings and/or referendums in such a way that the people choose how to govern themselves without the need for representatives and elections. However given the fact that most countries are in access of populations more than one million it is time-consuming, inefficient and unpragmatic. There are other arguments for direct democracy but most of them are about the disadvantages and problems of indirect democracy, which will be discussed below from different perspectives.
             
              Of course what has been described above is what liberal democracy should be about in theory, and unfortunately during the past century or more there have been many problems associated with this model of democracy. The most well known criticism came from Karl Marx and his followers, which centered a round the capitalist natures of liberal democracy. This is a question between liberal democracy and capitalism.
             
              Karl Marx strongly believed that liberal democracy was a way in which the bourgeoisie were able to legitimize their economic power over the working classes. According to Karl Marx the 'owners of the means of production' controlled and exerted power over the 'relations of power'. This meant in other words that the government acted on behalf of the ruling classes rather than the total population. Democracy gave the working classes a false sense of importance and recognition.
             
              At the time his evidence would have been restrictions on who could vote and continuing government support for the elite. Only those who were educated were eligible to vote on the grounds that the ill informed i. e. working classes would not be able to make the right choice. Therefore it was the duty of the educated to vote on behalf of the proletariat. He also refused to accept that inequalities were only due to a consequence of innate and natural differences of ability.
             
              He argued that liberal democracy did not address many important problems within societies such as 'accident by birth' such as a lord or landlord, and significant differences in 'nurture' between the rich and the poor from an early age primarily education.
             
              Socialists alike supported social democracy where public ownership of the means of production would ensure material equality among all individuals. The state would organise and plan all economic activity so as to achieve social equality. Although Marx's predictions were wrong, him and his supporters have had a profound effect on liberal democracy.
             
              The main contributions have been the idea of welfarism, universal suffrage in elections (which can be debated upon on the extent to which Karl Marx had an effect) and substantial increases in the intervention of the state in the economy and other areas.
             
              Therefore in relation to whether real social democracy is a better model than the liberal model of democracy the answer is simply no. Communism and the Soviet Union proved that socialism and public ownership did not work and was too idealist. However it has to be noted that socialism has contributed massively in creating and changing liberal democracy for the better.
             
              It has come to my attention whether I should include an anarchist's perspective on liberal democracy. What I have found interesting with anarchism is its complete rejection of the need for a state and its support for direct democracy and radical decentralization.
             
              Anarchists maintain that electoral or representative democracy is in fact deceptive in that it conceals elite domination and oppression of the masses. In their view the state conditions human beings to be self interested and egoistical. On the contrary to liberal thought, we are creatures that have the capacity for rationality if the environment in which we live in promotes peace and harmony. Natural order is the idea that individuals can interact in a calm manner without resorting to violence and abuse if a disagreement takes place.
             
              Their model of democracy is based on continual participation in communal affairs and extreme decentralization into small-scale communities. They believe that face-to-face interaction is better than depersonalized and bureaucratic processes.
             
              When I ask myself whether the anarchist model of democracy is better or more importantly more practical than the liberal model of democracy there is an almost automatic response, definitely not. Anarchism is renowned for being utopian and very idealist. Their concepts on human nature are drastically over optimistic and very unrealistic. You only have to look at post war Iraq to see what anarchy is really like. On a more positive note some would argue that anarchism has helped to show the evils of state power and colonialism, as well as other issues. However to claim that liberal democracy is without its problems would be a false premise.
             
              Alexis de Tocqueville mentioned two problems of liberal democracy. 'Massification of culture' is about how in a democracy the cultural standards of the majority will be the dominant ones and that these standards will be culturally debased. He argued that for example classical music would be replaced by pop music, the theatre replaced by Hollywood etc. However some people have disagreed on the way in which he came to his conclusions on popular culture and high-class culture.
             
              What he is most famous for is his idea of 'tyranny of the majority' in which "people with proclivities, not to mention political beliefs, out of accord with the majority will be marginalized or otherwise mistreated by a majority with alternative views and (according to him debased views). " (Frank Cunningham). There are varying degrees to which democratic theorists have claimed this to be a problem in liberal democracies.
             
              Another problem with liberal democracy is ineffective government. This occurs when a government changes on a regular basis to the extent that the efficiency of government to get things done decreases. In Argentina political leaders have changed so frequently that government is virtually useless in its policy implementation.
             
              Even if a government changes over a relatively shorter period of time, reversal of policies implemented by the government before is time wasting and uses up a considerable amount of resources. For example New Labour introduced the top up fees, Charles Kennedy has promised to reverse this policy if they win power, and if this happens then a huge amount of effort has been wasted for nothing.
             
              Another problem is the allegation that liberal democracy is ill suited to head off or contain violent conflict. "Ethno/national confrontations like those that have plagued Eastern Europe since the fall of authoritarian communism were made possible by the removal of this very authoritarianism, which kept ethnic violence in check. " (Frank Cunningham).
             
              Conflicts can happen within a state internally where there are a number of ethnicities or groups of people that share the same ancestry, and as a result of competition for power and resources, conflict occurs. Bosnia and Kosova are prime examples of where liberal democracy has failed to prevent fairness in the political system.
             
              Another type of conflict is when liberal democracies are able to go to war with (in most cases a non-democratic state), even if the majority of people within the country are against it such as in Britain, Tony Blair and the war in Iraq.
             
              International politics and the issue of globalization illustrate a lot of these arguments of conflicts and competition.
             
              An issue of concern has been with electoral systems, which differ considerably around the world. In England first-past-the-post has led to wasted votes, which reduces the legitimacy and 'government by the people'. Although proportional representation has been introduced, there are still problems.
             
              Rigging of elections such as in Iraq and Zimbabwe are very common in authoritarian states or those that have ineffective institutions to prevent abuse by the state. A lot of nation states claim to be legitimate through rigged elections however the international community is quick to distinguish between genuine and false election results.
             
              In answering the question I believe there are no realistic alternatives to the liberal model of democracy. I found that the other models are either over optimistic, unpractical, inefficient, ineffective, or all.
             
              However I do not agree with those that believe liberal democracy is perfect without any difficulties because as mentioned above there are a whole array of problems associated with liberal democracy. Having said this it is still the most realistic of them all.
             
              On completing this essay I feel that it is still unfinished for a very important reason. I have understood that today in the modern world and in relation to governments it is not about trying to find alternatives to liberal democracy because there aren't any. Instead it is more beneficial to concentrate on another question that is 'In what ways can liberal democracy itself be improved'.
             
              This would involve many factors such as whether one form of liberal democracy is best for all, or if certain forms suit certain environments and needs.
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