Essay on Democracy – Its Merits and Demerits
Essay on Democracy – Its Merits and Demerits (free to read). The English word ‘Democracy’ is derived from two Greek words ‘Demos’ and ‘Kratia’ or ‘cratos’. Demos means crowd and ‘Kratia’ or ‘cratos’ means power.
This is why the critics of Democracy have described it as Mobocracy. But in reality Democracy is not mobocracy but rule by majority of the people according to certain rules and regulations which are accepted by the people of a country.
In the beginning there was direct Democracy. For example, in our country the villagers used to elect their representatives for village ‘Panchayat’ by raising their hands in favour of their candidate. But now people cast their votes in favour of their candidates who stand for Parliament or Legislative Assemblies of states. The most famous definition which is generally quoted is of Abraham Lincoln, the great President of America. According to Lincoln, “Democracy is a government of the people, by the people and for the people.”
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The system of Democracy has the following merits:
1. It gives equal opportunities to make progress to all the people.
2. It is above any kind of undue favour to any religion, caste, creed or colour.
3. The people are supreme and cannot be exploited by any dictator or group of persons.
4. It gives freedom of expression to the masses. It develops the intellectual level of the country.
5. In a democratic country a citizen is free to follow ‘ any kind of religion, trade etc. This helps the citizens to develop their inherent capabilities which contribute to the progress of the country.
Demerits of the Democracy:
1. Government by popular majorities means rule by the average man, who is generally unintelligent, controlled in his conduct more by emotions than by reason and of limited knowledge. What standard of judgment can make us believe the opinion of 51 per cent of the people to be wiser than 49 percent?
2. It is necessary to make long-range plans and policies to achieve any great success. But in a democratic system the representatives of the people are bound to face the electorate after 5 years. The general public does not want to make sacrifices for the good results, which will be available only in future. So a country cannot make real progress by following democratic system.
3. The capitalists, industrialists, bosses of mafia type groups and religious leaders play a dominant part in influencing voters in general elections. So honest and capable leaders do not get an opportunity to form the government.
4. Democracy needs educated, enlightened and patriotic people to make it a success. So in a country where the percentage of literacy is less than 50, a democratic system is useless and harmful for the welfare of the people.
In a democratic system of government, the principle of balance of power is used and consequently legislature, judiciary and executive—the three branches of government—are separated. So the power of the government is limited by the laws of the constitution. It helps in smooth running of the system. But only a state of literate, well disciplined and patriotic people can enjoy the real fruits of Democracy.
Democracy: Meaning, Forms, Merits and Demerits of Democracy
Category: Blog On February 13, 2015 By Ajit Sen
Meaning of Democracy
The word ‘democracy’ has a Greek origin. ‘Demo’ means ‘people’, whilst ‘cracy’ means ‘power’. Thus, a democracy is a type of government system where the people of the country have the power to make decisions about their country and the government doesn’t simply impose its decision on the people.
Herodotus, the Greek writer, defined democracy as that form of government in which the supreme power of the state is vested in the hands of the community as a whole.
The most modern definition of democracy was given by President Lincoln, who said that ‘democracy is the government of the people, for the people, by the people’.
In the modern world, democracy has been accepted as the best form of government, although its successful working depends on certain pre-requisites.
Democracy has been defined variously by different writers. It has been described as a form of society, as a form of state and as a form of government.
As a form of society, democracy has been regarded to exist where all citizens are socially equal, irrespective of their material wealth and social status.
As a form of state, democracy means that in a democratic state every section of the people is equally represented in the legislature through election, on the basis of adult franchise.
As a form of government, democracy means that in a government people participate directly or indirectly through their representatives.
Merits of Democracy
Real democracy repudiates all privileges of a special class or men. In a democracy, the principles of liberty and equality are very important factors, because it is only the people, who possess the right of vote for selecting their representatives entrusted with powers to run the government of the state.
In a democracy, all are equal before law. The people themselves make the rules and policies of the state through their representatives for the welfare of all classes of people, but not for a particular class. The rights and interests of every section of the people in a democratic state are adequately safeguarded. It can command the resources of all, because it stands for the benefit of all.
Democracy casts an ennobling influence on the minds of the people, because every citizen knows that it is his own government. It broadens the vision of all, neutralizing the inherent selfish tendencies of human mind.
In a democratic regime, a sense of public spirit and responsibility develops in the mind of every citizen. Above all, democracy offers greater personal freedom to every citizen of the land. It stands against any suppression of thought, speech or association. There are the very fundamentals, which constitute a real democracy.
Democracy does not accept the idea that the state is an end in itself. The state is a means for the welfare of the people. The greatest virtue of democracy is that it stands for the unfettered development of the human spirit and free expression of the human mind.
Demerits of Democracy
There are many critics of democracy who condemn it on various grounds.
It has been said that the ideals of democracy are not capable of fulfillment. They say that for being a success, a real democracy requires a highly conscious social element possessing high civic qualities.
Intelligence, self-control and good conscience are pre-requisites for citizens to have a successful democratic society.
A majority is devoid of the capacity to understand the interests of the community. As a whole self-interest is generally pre-dominant and a majority of the people is unwilling to subordinate it to the general will of the community.
Some critics have said that it is a system of government by the poorest, the most ignorant and the most incapable.
Democracy has been characterized by these critics as mobocracy, as the ignorant people are easily led away by unscrupulous demagogues. According to them democracy produces quantity rather than quality. This rule of majority has at times proved to be the most incompetent and worthless. Some have also charged democracy of arousing class passions and a sense of intoleration.
The world has been experimenting with so many systems of government, but no other system could satisfy the basic needs of the people. So, democracy has been accepted as the best form of government where a man can really enjoy equality of opportunity, liberty and freedom.
Essay on the Demerits of Democracy
Here is your essay on the Demerits of Democracy !
(1) Democracy is the rule of incompetent person:
Democracy is considered the rule of fools, incompetent and illiterate persons. According to Plato, administration is an art which cannot be acquired by the common man. Only intelligent and competent persons can fully understand the administration, but democracy is the rule of illiterate persons.
Aristotle has called democracy as perverted form of government. Lecky says.» A decision upon the basis of a popular vote is ultimately the rule of ignorance. History shows that intelligence resides with the few and not with the many. Where ignorance rules, liberty is curtailed.
Democracies are un-favourable to intellectual progress and the advance of scientific truth». Sir Henry Maine observes, «Experience tends to show that popular government is characterised by great fragility and that since its appearance, all forms of government have become more insecure than they were before. The doctrine of liberty being irreconcilable with that of equality again adds to the weakness and paves way for the domination and operation of wire-pullers».
Professor Barker is of the opinion that efficiency deteriorates in democracy and only a few clever persons succeed in securing majority votes in their favour and thus run the administration. Sir Sydney Low says, «A youth must pass an examination in Arithmetic before he can hold a second class clerkship in the Treasury but a Chancellor of the Exchequer may be a middle-aged man of the world who has forgotten what little he ever learnt about figures at Eton or Oxford and is innocently anxious to know the meaning of those little dots».
(2) Democracy hinders the progress of civilization and culture:
Henry Maine, Lecky and Treitschke criticise democracy because it hinders the progress of culture and civilization. They are of the view that common people are generally of orthodox views and oppose the progressive measures. According to them, civilization and culture develop in Aristocracy.
According to Burns, «The civilization which a democracy produces is said to be banal, mediocre or dull». Sir Henry Maine says. «It seems quite certain that if for four centuries there had been a very widely extended franchise, there would have been no reformation of religion, no change of dynasty, no toleration of dissent, not even an accurate calendar. The thrashing machine, the power loom, the spinning jenny and possibly the steam — engine would have been prohibited».
In the words of Le Bon, «If the democratic governments had powers like today in those days when the power looms and steam — power had not yet been invented, either these inventions had not taken place or they were possible only on the destruction of mankind».
(3) Democracy gives more importance to the quantity rather than to quality:
Democracy is also criticised for giving importance to quantity rather than quality, because in democracy the decision of victory and defeat lies on the number of votes one secures. The value of the vote of a highly educated person is similar to that of a fool. While enacting laws in the Parliament, all matters are decided by majority votes and no importance is given to the views of the educated persons.
(4) In democracy administration is very costly:
In democracies elections are a very expensive luxury. The huge amounts spent on elections could be put to better use in many other ways. Besides, elections cause much excitement, dislocation and disorder. The numerous bodies of legislature and ministries are also very expensive. The democracies have no motives to economize. They are liable to misadventure at the hands of financial adventurers and mountebanks. That is why we hear of so many financial scandals.
(5) Capitalists exercise a dominant influence upon democracy:
The capitalists exercise a great influence in democracy, because they give donations to the party which is expected to win the elections and later on influence the law-making in the country. The capitalists influence the press as well as the economy of the country, because a majority of newspapers and industries are their property.
The American brand of democracy is called «Dollar Democracy». Indian, English and other democracies are also dominated by the capitalists. The socialists call capitalist democracy as useless and the real freedom of labourers is only guaranteed in a socialist democracy.
(6) Political parties spoil the harmonious atmosphere and corruption becomes rampant:
During elections moral considerations are subordinated to securing the largest number of votes. Election propaganda misguides and mis-educates people. After elections, the ruling party becomes autocratic and the elected representative owes responsibility to the party on whose ticket he contested the election.
He must say and do what he is told to do. The ruling party also tries to please the voter by going out of the way. Thus, dishonest persons dominate the society and the moral standard of the country deteriorates owing to widespread corruption.
(7) In the Democracy there is the rule of majority which becomes unjust sometimes:
In democracy majority becomes autocratic and does not care for the minorities. This helps in the establishment of a tyrannical rule. For instance, the interests of minorities (Hindus, Buddhists and Christians) have been completely ignored in Pakistan and they have been pushed out of that country.
(8) Sometimes the Government is not stable in a Democracy:
In a multiple — party system, the government is not stable as was the case during the Third and the Fourth Republics in France. In Kerala, the government could not become stable and several times the President-Rule had to be imposed there. Though there is Bi — Party system in England, yet in 1964-65 the Labour Party had a very little majority in the House of Commons, which made the functioning of the government very difficult.
(9) Democracy is only an imagination and does not exist in practice:
Many writers like Oswald Spangler and Burke say that «Government by the people is sheer impossibility» or «Democratic equality is a monstrous fiction». Common people lack the ability needed to understand complicated problems of administration.
Representatives are elected by the masses that are amateur, incompetent and inexperienced. A small group rules the country in democracy. In England the entire administration is carried on by the Cabinet and the Parliament has a secondary position.
Ramsay Muir has rightly said that in England dictatorship of Cabinet has been established. After elections, the leaders of the ruling party become autocratic and not much consideration is given to the views of the people. People cannot remove them before the expiry of five years.
(10) Local conflicts are predominant in democracy which harm national interests:
In the scramble for power and patronage the welfare of the nation as a whole suffers. Representatives compete with one another in securing maximum benefit for their own constituencies. Thus, the general interest of the nation is ignored for the sake of local advantages. In India, several communal riots took place at the time of the States’ reorganisation.
(11) It lowers the moral standard of the people:
Moneyed people dominate in democracy. They purchase votes and push out of the enlightened but poor persons from the arena of elections. Millions of rupees are spent by the capitalists to win the elections. Besides, there is red-tapism and corruption in the administration and the common man has to bribe the government officials in order to get favours. Recruitment to the services is made in a partial way and nepotism is seen everywhere. This lowers the moral standard of the country. All these evils dominate the political scene in India.
(12) It proves weak in times of war and crisis:
Generally a democratic government is weak in war and crisis. In 1940, Hitler smashed France only in three weeks. South Vietnam was weaker than North Vietnam, because there was democracy in South Vietnam and Communist Dictatorship in North Vietnam. Similarly, South Korea is weaker than North Korea.