04
Jul
08

On air: Is democracy for all inevitable?

In the early 1970s only 40 countries were democratic, today that has trebled. At this rate every country in the world will be democratic by 2100.

But is this realistic? And would this make the world a better place? In your country do you believe the achievement or maintenance of democracy is the most important objective?

Or are there more important issues? Or would you prefer a non democratic regime if it meant your more immediate concerns were addressed?

Despite the historic proliferation of democracy, it is often said that there are ‘challenges’ to it’s expansion. For example Islamic sharia law, the Chinese ‘People’s Democracy’, other styles of political development in Africa, and of course the misuse of democratic processes, for example in Zimbabwe.

Is the real ‘challenge’ simply the fact that western style democracy is not always suitable for non-western countries?

We should be airing this tomorrow (Friday)

 


103 Responses to “On air: Is democracy for all inevitable?”


  1. July 2, 2008 at 19:45

    Democracy is not right for all circumstances. Some democratic countries today would benefit greately from a non-democratic regime in order to solve their problems.

    The transition from democracy to another regime is relatively easy; the transition back, bloody and long.

    The success of democracy also depends on the culture in which it exists. Some cultures are not used to democracy and it would take generations for the national culture to adjust to it.

    But I disagree with democracy simply for the sake of democracy.

  2. 2 Julie P
    July 2, 2008 at 20:24

    While in college I had a sociology professor from Paraguay. She grew up in what she referred to as a benevolent dictatorship, although she did not extol the virtues of it, she felt it had a stabilizing impact on the country. I could see that she felt quite strongly about it as her posture would become very erect, her head would would tilt back and her gaze would follow her nose and then out onto the class. The dictator she talked about has left a divisive legacy within her country for obvious reasons. Paraguay has since become a democratic country since that dictatorship, and the professor has since returned. I do not do know if democracy is inevitable, but it seems to be the choice some make for themselves.

  3. 3 Janet T
    July 2, 2008 at 20:27

    what is your idea of democracy?? The United States is a representative republic
    ///////////////////////////////////
    from Wikipedia:
    Even though there is no universally accepted definition of ‘democracy’,there are two principles that any definition of democracy is required to have. The first principle is that all members of the society have equal access to power and the second that all members enjoy universally recognised freedoms and liberties.

    ///////////////////////////////////////////

    The United States is NOT a democracy based on the definition above- Is any country??

  4. 4 Julie P
    July 2, 2008 at 20:30

    Excsue me, I meant to write “I do [NOT] know if democracy is inevitable, but it seems to be the choice some make for themselves.”

  5. 5 nelsoni
    July 2, 2008 at 20:32

    Until Authentic Psychiatric Tests are administered to aspiring Political Office holders, to separate the mentally stable from the loons, Democratic governmet WILL NEVER be achieved world wide, it will just remain a myth. Just take a look at some of our so called ” democratic leaders or democratic countries”. You will find the answers there.

  6. 6 Anthony
    July 2, 2008 at 20:38

    “Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others that have been tried”

    -Winston Churchill

    “Communism: One billion Chinese can’t be wrong”

    -Some drunk guys shirt at this bar up the street

  7. 7 Des Currie
    July 2, 2008 at 20:50

    I am all for a nonarchial society. I give no-one the right of control of any sort whatever over me. Getting there, will not be too easy, I would imagine, but we walk.
    Des Currie

  8. 8 Zainab
    July 2, 2008 at 20:53

    Salam alycom,
    Well this is a very good TOPIC. Since a long time I just wondered WHAT IS DEMOCRACY???
    First of all, i want a realistic definition of Democracy with example, to see whether to believe in it as a better way of rule, or not!! And to see does Islamic Sharia really challenge democracy, and if it does, why so??
    yours truly,
    Zainab from Iraq

  9. 9 graceunderfire
    July 2, 2008 at 20:57

    No. No way. Never happen. No examples of pure democracy exist. None ever will. Functional democracies are fundamentally dishonest: Equality is constitutionally enshrined, some free speech is allowed; but very few voices are heard. Control is always more secret than open. Dialectic is never the norm. Far more efforts are directed toward silencing citizens with conflicting views than in objective evaluation of these views. The right and left would rather murder than listen to one another. Infant democracies always morph into constitutional republics employing various kinds and mixtures of governance. They work best because most citizens are just not that bright or energetic These systems are more common, stable, and long-lived, precisely because they are less egalitarian, but more street honest (The document’s contents are less important than the fact few ever read it.). Almost everyone relies on hearsay. Challenges are met and dispatched with spit and epithet, then everyone goes home and has beer.
    The US, and most European nations fit with these confines (Come on now, you didn’t actually believe you were destined to be president of prime minister, did you?). People like knowing where they fit. If fed, watered and burped sufficiently often, with the occasional holiday thrown in, they’ll fit themselves into surprisingly boring niches, and die more or less happy people. Democracy is only for the patient, the clever, and the very awake. No nations of which I am aware meet even one of these requirements.
    guf

  10. 10 Mohammed Ali
    July 2, 2008 at 21:10

    Democracy can work for every country provided that the people and their leaders are willing to live to its tenets. In Liberia we now have a leader in Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who is making democracy to work as in the truth meaning of it where as during the regime of Charles Taylor it could not work.

  11. 11 Pangolin Hussein-California
    July 2, 2008 at 21:29

    Democracy in the US would be an interesting start. Right now, at the Federal government level where the most important laws are made the government is NOT democratic.

    The voters in Red states such as Montana can have as much as ten times the weighted value given for their vote as voters in ‘Blue states’ such as California.

    Due to this inequity the policies favored by rural welfare kings in the farming, mining and timber industries are bleeding the US dry.

  12. 12 Will Rhodes
    July 2, 2008 at 21:37

    Democracy:

    What we look at today as a democracy is what? Some see it as simply voting for a certain party ever four or five years. That isn’t it.

    Where does democracy come from? It doesn’t come from outside who we are or is imposed upon us by others. Where is does come from is the very bottom of society and then as a society that wants change enough to fight for it.

    Is it inevitable – I believe that it is, but as a natural process.

    Can it be circumvented? Most certainly not, because once it has been it is no longer democracy.

    The whole of society must keep it implemented – no matter if you are from the right or the left, those who truly believe in democracy will fight along side each other to keep that democracy.

    From democracy can you then devise those rights and privileges. All democracies should have a fundamental base – those who are elected to represent the people should fear the people the most.

  13. 13 Colleen
    July 2, 2008 at 21:58

    No, Democracy is just a theory about a method of governence. Just like Communism. There will be more theories….

  14. 14 Roberto
    July 2, 2008 at 22:02

    The voters in Red states such as Montana can have as much as ten times the weighted value given for their vote as voters in ‘Blue states’ such as California.
    ——————————————————————————————

    —— My dear chap, that is because the US is more to the republic governance than a pure democracy.

    This can be seen in the democratic parties own primary rules where Hillary can win the popular vote in Texas, yet Obama wins the delegate vote based on winning the most counties. See Bush/Gore/2000 to see how this works.

    Facts are, if you weren’t being so disingenuous, California has a huge advantage in House of Representative votes and any Presidential election. The only time they have to toe the parity line is in Senate votes, yet you assign Montana 10x the value of Cali? Is this new math?

    Getting back to point, no, democracy is not inevitable. What is without question, power rules, whether democracy, monarchy, dictatorship, caliphate, it is military might and money, with few exceptions, these tend to rule.

    The individual vote of the people is still in developmental phase, a prospect in boxing terms. They have a some good revolutions in their records, but need much more consistancy needed to advance to the unified championship.

  15. 15 ayo
    July 2, 2008 at 22:41

    To be honest I do not believe every country will be touched by democracy. Democracy has its merits and it is certainly better than most governing systems, but its not sustainable on the “world budject” given to us by mother nature. There are countries where democracy would be too crazy to realize. The world is constantly changing and one day it might just be better to restrict everyone from having equal opportunities due to limited resources, or some kind of catastrophe. For instance with the way America is going, this country might someday become something I can call a democratic dictatorship where power is handed to a few people elected by a few influential people to represent a larger group of people who are less influential collectively. Sorry Obama may have won the delegate vote but he sure lost the popular vote of his party. I thought this was government “BY THE PEOPLE” not by “SOME PEOPLE”.and with the increase in tuition costs costing more people to opt out of further education and also the fact that a further education does not even translate into a better economic future, I doubt we will have enough educated masses who will see democracy as their way out. Needless to say, My view is not very optimistic because the American economy is affecting me too much. I have nearly $30,000 in debt from school loans, I have a job where I make less than many burger king cashiers, yet My company only hires College graduates, The price of gas has risen over 200% whereas my salary increased by 0.08 % over the past 2 years and despite being frugal and shopping only walmart, discount shops and thrift stores, I am struggling to make ends meet. I have only Hope in My God. Yes religion is what keeps me sane. It is what keeps a lot of people I know sane and one day people may just dispense with all this logical democracy nonsense and revert back to a holy monarchy.

  16. 16 Carolien from the Netherlands
    July 2, 2008 at 23:34

    Democracy is certainly not the best option for everyone. If you look at unstable countries with no functioning economy, no (human) security and barely any infrastructure, being torn apart by civil war, your first concern has to be addressing these issues rather than making sure everyone can vote first thing. A benign dictatorship can come a long way in making this happen and keeping a country together. Perhaps there are also some societies in which such a form of rule is simply more appropriate, culturally or otherwise. Just because countries in the West are democratic does not mean it’s the ultimate form of governance or that the rest of the world should follow by example. Such arrogance is quite misplaced, and a little bit of cultural relativism can come a long way. If people decide they want to have democracy in their country in the long run, (as pointed out before, it can be a process) they are usually also more inspired to be truly democratic (eg orange revolution in Ukraine) and find a form of democracy that truly fits them, rather than one that was imposed.

    Democracy, let’s not forget, was also a process in many Western countries, like my own. We were ruled by kings and queens for quite a number of years before we decided to slowly transform them into ehm, well, whatever ceremonial function they hold today. We can’t just go around and ‘spread it’ to other countries without any history of democratic rule. There has to be a certain level of support in society for democracy to truly ‘catch on’.

    Although I will admit it’s all very easy for me to say, living in a democratic country like the Netherlands…

  17. July 2, 2008 at 23:46

    @ Colleen who writes:

    “No, Democracy is just a theory about a method of governence. Just like Communism. There will be more theories….”

    That is true, but democracy is a much more effective method of governance than Communism. Political theories, just like those of science, become obsolete. And after the grandiose experiment of the USSR, Communism has clearly become obsolete.

    I hope by capitalizing the D in democracy you are not refering to the American political party, because they and democracy have nothing in common.

  18. 18 viola
    July 3, 2008 at 00:46

    Well, Abraham Lincoln called it “…government of the people, by the people, and for the people.” That definition sounds good to me.

    Here in British Columbia, the provincial government appointed a panel of people to study different voting systems after which the panel recommended the replacement of the current “first past the post, winner take all” system with a system of proportional representation. It was placed before the voters by referendum and narrowly rejected.

    So it can be seen that there is more than one way to “skin a cat” or exercise democracy. It is not always a simple matter of “There are more of us than there are of you so we win the election.”

    I don’t know if democracy is inevitable for the whole world. What I think is inevitable is that those in power will seek to stay in power, as is happening right now in Zimbabwe. If the governmental system allows it, those in power will always be in power and that is not democracy.

    The framers of the constitution of the United States understood that very well; hence, the built-in balance of power between the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government. Even with those safeguards in place, there was a civil war when the Southern states sought to secede when they felt their State’s Rights had been abused. Clearly, democracy is not a cut and dried, perfect form of government that everyone is going to love and want to keep in one form only until the end of time.

    My feeling is that religion’s role should be a moral one. The religious world’s expertise at instilling values such as honesty, charity, and the Golden Rule that each person would then carry into the governmental sphere would go far towards creating fairness, justice, and equality in the world.

  19. 19 Colleen D
    July 3, 2008 at 00:50

    @ Admiral

    I’m pretty sure politicians will find a way to corrupt any theory — and that may be the whole challenge of making any theory actually work in practice.

    But yes, as some of the other posts pointed out: what is the real definition of democracy and have we ever truly seen it in practice? The Cold War was more a battle between Capitalism and Communism, not Democracy and Communism… In a way capitalism is economic survival of the fittest — implying inate inequality between indiviuals but democracy implies equality and freedom for all individuals. Today these two concepts are basically synonymous…. something is going to give eventually (or very soon). And here lies a new theory!

  20. 20 Mark
    July 3, 2008 at 03:31

    If America is successfully attacked by terrorists with a nuclear weapon, democracy in America will be replaced by a military dictatorship which will have unfettered access to the worlds most dangerous arsenal of weapons and won’t be accountable to the one restraint that exists on the current government, it’s own people. Heaven help the entire world if we ever see that day dawn.

  21. 21 Count Iblis
    July 3, 2008 at 04:12

    I think that information technology will lead to the entire world becoming one democratic superstate in a few decades from now.

    As the capacity of the internet continues to increase and the connection speeds become ever faster, new opportunities arise. It becomes possible to outsource more and more types of work.

    A decade ago only programming work was outsourced. Today a student can get online tutoring. A few years from now you’ll have fully fledged virtual universities (virtual universities already exist but they are not yet the same as real universities).

    At some point in the near future companies will go online for real. I.e. instead of real offices they’ll have virtual offices. People from all around the world can then be hired. They can log on from home, enter the virtual office and do their job as if they were in a real office. The company profits because they don’t have to build/hire office space.

    The advancements in robot technology will lead to other types of jobs that involve people being physically present at a certain place to be automated. So, we’ll be dealing with an infrastructure of machines that do all the physical work that can be remotely controlled. It then doesn’t really matter from what location it is controlled.

    So, the place were people actually live will become irrelevant. The governments will lose more and more power and will ultimately become totally irrelevant.

    People will organize themselves by creating virtual communities in the internet which have their own rules. Some of these communities will become very powerful organizations, e.g. if they are organizations of virtual companies.

  22. 22 John in Salem
    July 3, 2008 at 04:31

    Democracy – as a concept – is a utopian ideal, like communism or socialism, and utopias don’t exist in the real world. Those whom we in America call our founding fathers knew that what they were creating was not a perfect system and never would be. It’s simply a framework. That it has lasted this long may be a testament to it’s flexibility, but 200 years hardly qualifies it as the last word in government.
    If our species is going to survive we’ll have to either figure out some way of working cooperatively or hand over all authority to one group that acts on behalf of the whole.
    I’d prefer democracy myself, but – bottom line – I’ll go for whatever can get us through the next 1000 (or even 100) years.

  23. July 3, 2008 at 04:53

    @ Colleen D

    You can call me The Admiral.

    I believe democracy and capitalism are inseparable not because they have been made so by history, but because they are two dimensions of the same notion. Democracy represents the struggle for political power between many political interest groups, while capitalism represents the struggle for wealth by many economic stakeholders. They are truly “joined at the hip”, especially since wealth often translates to political power and political interest holders also serve as economic competitors as well.

    I disagree that democracy represents equality, freedom or egalitarianism of any kind. I believe it is political Darwinism just as you implied capitalism is Darwinism economic. It simply allows for more competition among political interest groups which often spread the message, for the sake of accomplishing their goals, of “freedom and equality” for those who want to hear these things.

    Democracy can often be more cruel to the individual than other forms of government. It still leaves many groups, who either lack representation in the struggle for political power or have failed at the game, pushed to wayside, forgotten and lacking any freedom or equality.

  24. 24 Tom
    July 3, 2008 at 06:56

    I’ve learned in Sid Meier’s Civilization, a mix of monarchy and communism is much more productive during the country’s growh stage. Once the country has achieved economic stability and external/internal peace would it benefit from the efficiency of a democratic government. Implementing democracy in a country before it has reached certain level of maturity can cripple its growth – imagine all the greenies complaining at the chopping of every tree! While in times of conflict, wars are easier to wage when democracy is given way to a more restrictive form of republican government.

    All these seem valid in the real world. China is enjoying explosive growth, while freedom in the US is curtailed somewhat (not quite a revolution) in its war on terror.

    Bring on the barbarians!

  25. 25 Katharina in Ghent
    July 3, 2008 at 11:29

    Well, the question is whether democrazy for all is inevitable, and, over the long run, Yes, it is! Irregardless of how long it will take and which system a certain country comes from, once it reaches a certain treshhold where the citizens are fairly well educated and financially more or less secure, they will demand the ability to influence the decision making process. I’m sure that we’ll see in China some major changes within the next 10-20 years, and as far as the Islamic countries go, some of them already have some democrazy in place and others will either crack up soon (revolution of some kind) or get their act together, spread the incoming wealth from the oil revenues more evenly and then democrazy will take hold there, too.

    I think it’s wrong to ask “what’s democrazy”, it comes in many different forms and flavors, but as long as the people have legitimate means to show their will (and those in power have to respect it), then it has to be considered to be a democratic process. It doesn’t matter whether there’s a monarch on top or some “leader”, for that the distictions are different (monarchy vs. dictatorship vs. republic).

  26. 26 Nassar from Kuwait
    July 3, 2008 at 11:59

    It is said that Democracy has been sweeping the globe for the past 60 years (your introduction at least seems to mention that).

    Many of these so called democracies are often not considered democratic by the west, western governments and western NGOs. The most important question to ask is, why does this paradox exist? Hasn’t being “undemocratic” become a label placed on “unfriendly” and potentially threatening countries.

    By threatening i mean posing a direct or indirect threat to the geo-political and economic interests of the west (mainly america). But also a threat posed by a possible alternative ideology or ideologies.

    After all, democracy was described by Churchill as ” the worst form of government except for all those others that have been tried ”, it seems he just stopped short of highlighting how democracy is replaceable. I believe this quote to be even more interesting if we remember that capitalist democracy along with communism and fascist ultra-nationalism are the only ideologies that appeared during the young age of nation states, which arguably only started in the 19th century.

    Please note that these three ideologies are all European created ideologies and systems of governance.

    The west is narrowly focusing its scope of possible systems of governance and “ideologies” on its own history and applying that to the rest of humanity. I believe the word for that is ego-centrism… or is it euro-centrism ?

    The west has to understand that the hellenic dogmatic dichotomy of the civilised west and the barbaric east is in no way compatible with its “democracy”.

    70% to 80% of humanity cannot be wrong.

    Please stop being so concerned with our “freedom”.

  27. 27 parth guragain
    July 3, 2008 at 12:08

    democracy is the best form of governace.But what is the problem in developing and under developed countries is that demotrsctically elected leaders become dictators when they get power.

  28. 28 Nassar from Kuwait
    July 3, 2008 at 12:27

    Democracy has become synonymous with justice, freedom and tolerance amongst other things.
    If this is not the understanding of democracy, then it is at least a “system” of governance that values the values mentioned above. Either way it seems, in my humble opinion, to be a focal, if not the focal viewpoint through which westerners and the west views others (the rest of the world). Often making way for the demonisation of “the” other and what some like President Musharaf of Pakistan called an “obsession with human rights by the west”.

    I am not sure if this black and white view of others, that the west has, is based on the fundamentalist teachings of a European based christianity that has existed from the Roman empire all the way to the french revolution; or whether it is fundamentally implanted in the dogmatism of hellenic culture that has always viewed the east as barbaric or primitive.

    Either way, i believe it is very dangerous for others to be demonised and to be viewed an inherently evil. Especially when this is done through reason and a supposedly coherent, logical and “scientific” method of deriving truth.

  29. July 3, 2008 at 14:21

    @ Katharina & Nassar

    We are all throwing the notion of “democracy” around and yet none of us had truly tasted its true flavor.

    True democracy, like many isotopes, can exist for only a short burst of time, after which one interest group or another takes hold of it. Although citizens may have some representative power, that power is often illusory. In all states which call themselved democracies, or democratic republics, the natural process of competition has manifested itself in that one group or another dominates the country, and grows stronger as it absorbs the ideas and followings of smaller groups.

    We must be cautious how we use the word “democracy” because in many cases it is simply the face of an interest group’s dictatorship.

  30. July 3, 2008 at 14:30

    Democracy has only increased in name, in reality the only actual democracies are really those within the West. In the Islamic world for instance, many so called “democracies” are just dictatorships called democracies and supported by the West. The problem with democracy is that it is being used in the world today as a tool to control nations rather then to liberate and grant rights to ordinary people.

  31. 31 Nicholas in Orstraylea
    July 3, 2008 at 16:08

    For the Admiral…please get a grip….Capitalism and Democracy are mutually exclusive. Have a look at Nehru’s ‘History of the World’…written whilst in a British jail.

    Big money always protects big money…….Parliament & Neighbours are the floor show we enjoy while the big deals are quietly done in the ante room…where we hardly ever see…..and are terribly affronted when we do.

    As the Brits would know it took over 60 years, from the Boer War to Macmillan’s 1960 South Africa tour, heralding the ‘last hurrah of empire’ to break up the British Empire,introducing a ‘democratic opportunity’ where the sun never set was like pulling teeth, mostly because the country was broke after wrestling with Herr Hitler & Co….had to repay the Yanks for lend-lease, now that was a deal.

    Didn’t stop neo-imperial addiction re Biafra, Diego Garcia or Iraq. tut tut ….thank heaven this was never about morality.

    China is the last surviving multinational empire, who have spent a generation scooping up everyone elses spare readies, hence far from broke….although smiling & charming, the Imperial Centre is inflexibly determined. Totalitarian Capitalism…..

    About time ‘The West’ got what is left of its game together….before 1840 China was about 30% of the World’s GDP…..do the sums.

    While we are chatting the USA is pouring $3,000 per second down the toilet in Iraq……we watch Zimbabwe implode whilst China want to supply munitions in the true spirit of ‘non-interference’………..but it has stopped raining at Wimbledon.

    Who you going to vote for Brown or Cameron?
    SNAFU

  32. July 3, 2008 at 16:57

    For Nicholas in Orstraylea,

    Please critically look at the way history, culture and economics intertwine. If democracy and capitalism are “mutualy exclusive” why is that every democracy is based upon a system of capitalism? Yours is the most misinformed view on this thread!

    Besides, who cares what Nehru wrote and where he wrote it? One must look to reality and not to the loony theories of some political dissident in order to critically assess today’s sociopolitical and economic atmosphere.

  33. 33 viola
    July 3, 2008 at 16:57

    A democratic system that uses the voting system to change regimes is surely superior to a system that relies solely on coups, revolutions and replacement by death of unpopular regimes.

  34. July 4, 2008 at 15:08

    Democracy doesn’t work without an educated electorate. You have to have a nation able to understand the important issues at hand and choose its representatives accordingly.

  35. July 4, 2008 at 15:28

    @Ayo,

    Before the topic at hand, one thing must be set straight. Obama did get the popular vote in the states that followed the rules. The problem is wealthy established elitists that have been in power for 20 years think they can (and have proven their ability) to adapt the rules to their favor, in turn damaging the democracy. The ruling of the democratic party established a little of the lost faith many of us have felt since 2000 and before. Obama was a nobody and Hillary was the presumptive nominee in November of ’07. As Obama visited each state himself, one by one the votes shifted to make states that were close swing to his side, and states that were out of reach close enough to call a tie. He did not visit, and his name was not even on the ballot in one of the states in question. The voters were told their vote would not count. Florida was used to that. If you believe in science and trends, then you must believe that had Obama visited the states in question he would have continued the same outcome as the other 48 states. He would have made it too close to matter. Following the rules is the only sure way to ensure a democratic outcome. The people if those states should have sued their state government for infringing on their civil rights. Ask the people of Zimbabwe about “democracy” when the rules are not followed.

  36. July 4, 2008 at 15:29

    @ The issue of Democracy for all.

    There are two parts to a governmental structure. The way the laws are assigned (in the US it is via a representative democracy) and the way the wealth is distributed (in the US that is done via free enterprise.) Even those two concepts have various degrees of purity. There is forever the human factor in both. Consider the following question. Would you rather be the resident of a dictator in a communistic country where the dictator is kind, fair, and just? Or would you rather be a resident of a pure democracy such as that found in Rwanda during the genocide where the majority of the people believe the minority of the people had no right to live?

    The U.S. Democracy started out as a genocide of the Native Americans. Then it followed with an insurgency against it’s own government. It encompassed the owning of other humans as slaves. A civil war had to be fought to set our practices in line with our constitution. Even that took another half of a century to rectify. In the mean time women were still considered second class citizens.

    Today, you have to have access to millions of dollars, a job that lets you take at least a year off, and some political insiders to run for the highest offices in the land. About one quarter of a percent of American actually meet those qualifications. A child starting out in the ghetto doesn’t have the same opportunities as the kid in the posh neighborhoods. More and more we see the voice of the people is not the message delivered by the government.

    The only thing that has tripled in the last 40 years is the changes in the definition of democracy. It seems to most Americans that the fact that we don’t get shot or tortured when we say bad things about the government, that we have a democracy. I am about to go participate in the only true democracy. A sailboat, a fishing pole, and a wind.

  37. 37 Dan
    July 4, 2008 at 15:44

    Kudos to all those that recognize and better still understand that the United States is a Representative Republic.
    However as many pointed out a true Democracy soon degenerates into the tyranny of the majority and ultimately the entire society falls as the majority not only turns on itself but understands it can loot the country’s treasury.
    So te answer is a resounding “NO” but the future must be a Government where people can enjoy self determination, religious freedom, free speech and the ability to travel internaly in their own country unfettered by Government.

    @Dwight in Cleveland
    I am distressed that you would place the morality and values of today upon the people of over 200 years ago who came to North America to start a new world. The Indains of that time were not peaceful Kumbaya chanting innocents. Those people that landed in North America forged a new society that ultimately kept the world out of the abyss and changed the world for the better.

  38. 38 Count Iblis
    July 4, 2008 at 15:48

    Actually, expanding on my earlier comment a bit, by the year 2100 computers will have become so powerful that humans (which are ultimately just biological machines) may have become obsolete. see here for a Horizon documentary on this topic

    The society our great great grand children will be living in will be so completely different from the society we are living in now, that many of our political concepts will no longer apply.

  39. 39 Everyman
    July 4, 2008 at 16:01

    Not to be the cynic, but I believe most people want order, stability and security. That these can be achieved in a democracy is not questioned. The long arc of violence, conflict and instability which preceded the western democracies, and arc that ended only in the last 100 years, must be part of the discussion when looking at the current state of Africa or the troubled years on South America. Not all countries should follow the western model as spread by imperialism and globalization. There are local traditions that can guarantee order and security and allow people to control their political lives.

  40. July 4, 2008 at 16:16

    @ Dan,

    So what you are saying is that often through acts of immorality and ruthlessness can come a better worlds? Then why are we so intent upon stopping them today? Everybody seems to be an evil dictator. How do we know that the evil dictator of today isn’t ultimately making a better world for the future? China has been one of the biggest violators of human rights in recent history. They make Saddam look like a Nursery school teacher. Yet their economy is emerging. I would assume by your criteria of their people ability to buy more stuff that you would think their world is getting better.

    The world got better for whom? Not the Indians. And despite your westernized version of the Natives, they were a very peaceful nomadic culture. There were a few tribes that profited by being aggressive; however most were very much tree hugging hippies that felt the land belong to nature and even the life of a deer must be asked for from their spirits before taking it for food.

    The world is a better place because of it? How? What is this “Abyss” you refer to? It seems the happiest cultures in the world are the ones that still live in this environment. Poverty, starvation, world pollution, ability to destroy the world, global greed, corruption, and “World Wars” are all a result of this emergence.

    I agree this evolution would be a very good thing if the human races mentality and “morality” had kept pace with our technological advances. However we are now resemble monkeys with a jar of nitroglycerine.

  41. 41 Will Rhodes
    July 4, 2008 at 16:34

    Well, the question is whether democrazy for all is inevitable, and, over the long run, Yes, it is! Irregardless of how long it will take and which system a certain country comes from, once it reaches a certain treshhold where the citizens are fairly well educated and financially more or less secure, they will demand the ability to influence the decision making process.

    Couldn’t have said it better myself, Katharina!

    Education leads to all forms of government, but as a whole, we are all democrats who believe in democracy. Even those who speak of a benevolent dictator are democrats, they just see the benevolence as the deciding factor – he can lead (as chief/tribe leader) until his kindness wears thin and he is not performing his civil duties to the populace. He may have an army to keep him in power – but even that will come to an end because the fear will take over and as humans do – we will ask that someone, some nation, bring about our suffering and allow that benevolence once again.

    If that should be the form of a monarchy, which it is without the crown and baubles, he will be changed until a new benevolent leader is chosen by those who choose.

    Democracy is inevitable – which form of democracy is the real question.

  42. 42 Katharina in Ghent
    July 4, 2008 at 16:39

    @ Admiral Akbar:

    Sorry for my late response, but at least sometimes my work has to have priority…

    Anyway: I’m not denying the facts, that democrazies usually become “hi-jacked” by (rich) interest groups, but that doesn’t change the fact that they are still democratic. My basic understanding of a democrazy is that there are free elections and referendums and that the government has to accept (grudgingly) the decision of the electorate. When this is fulfilled, I’m happy.

  43. July 4, 2008 at 16:45

    Democracy is a word. Please remember Hitler was elected in a Democracy, as was good ol Saddam.

    Some Kings were good and took great care of their people. Thailand is a particularly good example of that over the long haul only the Jappanese invaded and stayed a short while.

    troop

    Oregon coast.

  44. 44 Luz Ma
    July 4, 2008 at 16:51

    Sorry to say this, but democracy cannot be truly exercised in countries where part or the majority of the population does not have education.

    Regretfully, in these cases, the politicians take advantage of this to gain power without caring one inch about their electorate. They only have to appear in the media saying that they are the “saviors” of the country because the others candidates will only “lead them to ruin” (or something along those lines). The people, who are uneducated, do not question these statements and vote for the one that “speaks better” or “looks better” or “have a nicest wife” or “have the fanciest ads” or who gives them money/food during their campaign or make them believe that, in fact, voting for the other will be the end of the world.

    I am not telling that democracy is not a good tool. It is, but only when it is truly exercised, without manipulation -or at least not mass manipulation- and the majority of the electorate truly understands and think for themselves before voting. Sadly, it is a vicious circle, because the lack of education is a consequence of governments that are corrupt and bad managed by crappy politicians who will not do anything to educate the population.

    Luz Ma from Mexico

  45. 45 Colleen D
    July 4, 2008 at 17:07

    @ Dwight

    I agree with most of what you have said in your comments. The one problem with the communist coutry that has a fair and just Dictator is that it puts too much faith in that one person. There would have to be some kind of check just in case that person becomes consumed in greed and power like so many politician in history have. I am in agreement that today “spreading democracy” is just a tool of imperialism. If you look at the trends in the US that you have nicely pointed out — increasing inequality, poverty, severe pollution, etc. — clearly this is not what democracy is about… and if it is, then it simply will not last.

    Oh and Happy 4th of July!! haha

  46. 46 Everyman
    July 4, 2008 at 17:08

    Is democracy realistic?

    “Yes, but …” Can be the only answer. As Dan points out, the United States is a republic. I believe it was Madison who wrestled with how to square the circle of people having control over their political lives with the reality of a continent-broad country. He thought that a federal system splitting powers between state and national governments and a balance of power within the federal government was the best way to prevent the tyranny of factions. All this gets to the point that democracies, or any political system, has very real foundations. Even Athens, the bed of classical democracy, struggled with how to guanantee an effective franchise to a growing citizenry and how to maintain the economic foundation of effective citizen independence.

    It’s useful to revisit these issues as they fade but do not disappear.

  47. 47 Dennis
    July 4, 2008 at 17:30

    Being in a democratic society is evitalbe.

    Dennis
    Onondaga Community College
    Syracuse, New York
    United States of America

  48. 48 Anthony
    July 4, 2008 at 17:32

    HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!!! I love America and I love Democracy :)

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  49. July 4, 2008 at 17:40

    Democracy above all means the respect of equality, justice and individual rights. However, democracy in many countries is just a term used to make people believe they’re living under the best political system. The lack of democracy becomes apparent in face of great disparities, injustice and the monopoly of an oligarchy that gets elected and re-elected by whatever means.

    It seems that in many countries ruled by dictators, the transition to democracy will take generations as what is needed for the implementation of democracy is a democratic mentality on the part of the voters and the elected.

    There are “semi-democratic” countries like Iran in which the candidates for any election, from local to presidential, should be approved by the Iranian religious authorities.

    When there is just a struggle to get to power through rigged elections just for personal gains, elections are just a political market in which the biggest bidder get a seat in elected bodies.

    Democracy can be flourishing when everyone knows their limits and have a chance to exercise their rights and to perform their duty with integrity. Then democracy will be a second- nature globally. Currently, the majority of the countries are still struggling to define the best democracy for them and feel flattered when international organisations or powerful countries like the USA praise their democratic process.

    All regimes in power deny being a dictatorship. They all claim to be democratic despite evidence of the lack of democracy in their countries, including freedom of speech. For them stability is far better than multi-party elections which would lead just to bloodshed and chaos.

    The question that remains to ask, are prosperity and stability linked to democracy? If so, how comes that the Gulf States, particularly Saudi Arabia, are the richest and yet they fall far short from the “standard” democracy?

  50. 50 VictorK
    July 4, 2008 at 17:41

    The ‘inevitability’ of democracy is a figment of the Western imagination.

    What we have in the West is not ‘democracy’ – which would be unworkable and quickly descend into anarchy – but constitutional government, with a significant electoral component, buttressed by the rule of law, which means government requires the consent of the governed. The moral, political, cultural and social habits necessary to make that kind of government work are, for all we know, specific to Western civilisation and not capable of being recreated by fiat in any non-Western country. Because democracy works for us is no reason to think that it can or should work for anybody else. Zimbabwe is a case in point.

    The two basic purposes of government are to secure the well-being of the governed and to maintain the viability and existence of the nation. Any political form that achieves those is legitimate, including non-democratic ones. At the very minimum a political system must produce order and stability. If it can’t, even if ‘democratic’, it ought to be thrown aside. A country like Iraq clearly requires a Saddam Hussein and it is increasingly clear that removing him was wrong (or removing him and not replacing him with a political clone). Only democratic fantasies obscured this obvious fact in the minds of those who planned the invasion of Iraq. I have no problem with the government of a state like Saudi Arabia since – for anything I know to the contrary – that is the best regime for the people of such a country.

    The West must learn to stop making a fetish of democracy and then using its politically bigoted notions as an excuse for invading other countries and forcing upon them political arrangments that have no roots in their history, values and culture. Westerners had also better prepare themselves for the collapse of democracy in parts of the West. France and Holland are just two Western countries that in the next 50-100 years are going to have non-European and non-Christian majorities. Some would argue that this should be accepted as a kind of demographic democracy. I think that before that happens the French and Dutch are much more likely to discover that democracy is a means, not an end, and if it is to become the means by which they lose their country then they will wash their hands of it. Such Western bastions of democracy will sooner turn to fascist and quasi-fascist leaders, or the military, once it dawns on them that securing the continued existence of your country is a much more important consideration than democracy. It will be amusing, when that day comes, to recall how the West once bullied the rest of the world for not being sufficiently democratic.

  51. 51 Lamii Kpargoi
    July 4, 2008 at 17:46

    Democracy is a concept that has proven to be better to use for governance than most of the other methods. But whether it is going to permeate the entire world in 92 years is a very debatable assertion. I wish it would. But equally, I wish that before it becomes so pervasive, the vast majority of every citizen in every country would be enlightened. Anything otherwise would just be a recipe for tyranny. The good thing though is that barring some miracle, as an over 30 year old man, I definitely would not be around in 92 years to know whether this theory worked or not.

  52. July 4, 2008 at 17:58

    Rob in Texas

    No. Democracy is not inevitable. Democracy is a reaction to oppressive governing: witness King George III and the American Colonies. The same phenomena can be seen when union movements arise in response to exploitative management. But Tito in Yugoslavia was a decent dictator. What happened when he died? Chaos. Do we need democracy? Goddamn right we do because look what George Bush has done to set democracy back in the United States: spying on our own citizens, making war because he just felt like it, abrogating rights like habeus corpus at Gitmo. A total disaster. Democracy is the only alternative to oppression. But it just wouldn’t work in cultures where might makes right like Iraq and all of the middle east, most of Asia, all of Africa, and most of South America.

  53. July 4, 2008 at 17:59

    Guaruv

    Just one line sums up my though in this “GAP between Theory and Practice”
    Democracy may look really good in paper,sometimes it is only an end product! like in my country which is Nepal.We are the youngest Republic in the world and for a small country like ours its amazing that we have 600 representatives in our Constitution assembly. Lawlessness dwells high! our roads get blocked just because there was an accident and someone is demanding something. RULE OF LAW is distant dream in our country and i think democracy will not solve that! it will be solved and then democracy will prevail!

  54. July 4, 2008 at 18:00

    @ Coleen D

    The point you made about needing checks is exactly why I would answer the question I posed about dictatorship or democracy on the side of free choice. In free choice there can be hope. A good hearted dictator will eventually die. Historical trends imply that his replacement will not be so just. A good dictator is kind of resembles that of a self made millionaire and his children. Give me an outside chance of picking people who might hold a common interest.

    Oh yah, and thanks, Happy forth to you too. Through all my dissent about our history and our government, I still believe it offers hope of a better future. Again, our morality and logic has to catch up with our technology or we will surely not sustain.

  55. 56 Elias Lostrom
    July 4, 2008 at 18:05

    The Athenians, my countrymen, invented Democracy but, guess what, only Athenians had the vote. The rest of the population, non-athenians, slaves etc – most likely, the majority had no say. Makes one wonder, hey?

  56. July 4, 2008 at 18:10

    Kathleen England

    Whilst I do not support a mad despot, Mugabe has a point when he makes reference to the fact that Prime Minister Gordon Brown refused to enter into a democratic election in New Labour and in the country.

  57. 58 Vijay
    July 4, 2008 at 18:10

    Is democracy for all inevitable?
    No,no one should be so complacent as to think that
    democracy in it real sense is inevitable.
    The USA since its victory over the russian soviet empire has been rightly working to shape the world in it own image although they have got bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan.
    How many of these new democrarcies are really”democratic”.
    For developing countries democrary is overated,you can’t eat democracy .
    Infrastructure ,health education,security, food and shelter are more important than merely having the right to put a ballot paper in a box.
    Democracy too often means the tyranny of the majority.
    North European democracy represents the zenith of human development(checkout the un indices)

    Democracy means the tyranny of the majority,so
    No it is not inevitable

  58. July 4, 2008 at 18:13

    Democracy can be a reality worldwide if every country attains political maturity. But as many countries are still suffering from vote rigging, the monopoly of a political class and corruption, it is hard to see how democratic rule can be a daily practise.

    Even in democratic countries, the voters are indifferent disappointed with their leaders. When there are elections, only a minority take part.
    Democracy can have weight when there is massive and active participation before, during and after election campaigns.

    Those elected should keep their electoral campaign promises. If not, any group elected will be just an elected dictatorship with a popular mandate to act according to their own views without taking the views of the majority into account.

  59. July 4, 2008 at 18:14

    Rory in Qatar

    Democratic countries do not guarantee democracy rather they given freedom for corrupt practices to flourish. Look at the world largest democracy India where 40% of world’s poor live and where corruption is rife. India has managed to democratise corruption.

  60. 61 Tom D Ford
    July 4, 2008 at 18:15

    Global Corporations will overthrow governments and install whatever form of government they think is most useful to them in extracting that countries resources and keeping cheap labor oppressed.

    They know how to corrupt democracies to their own ends, so democracy is the current preferred government du jour.

  61. 62 Everyman
    July 4, 2008 at 18:17

    Chicken or Egg?

    Does democracy come before stablity or stability before democracy?

    What is meant by stability?

    The case of Zimbabwe is illustrative: Born of imperialism it bears the stain of an imposed democracy. This is not to say that the people of Zimbabwe aren’t capable of self-government that respects the rights and dignity of it’s citizens and creates a stable system for the talents of the individuals and businesses.

    Stability is a necessary condition for democracy.

  62. 63 Vijay
    July 4, 2008 at 18:18

    Since it is July 4th
    I suppose we should be grateful that the UK after it defeat in the American colonies was able to focus more time and attention on civilising
    India, Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Canada spreading democractic values,administration and trade.

  63. 64 Tom D Ford
    July 4, 2008 at 18:22

    Here in the US, Bush/Cheney and their Conservatives had Supreme Court Judge Rehnquist suspend the part of our Constitution applying to federal elections and just appoint Bush/Cheney as President.

    When our version of democracy can so easily be corrupted who else has a chance?

    How do you make an essentially foolproof democracy?

  64. July 4, 2008 at 18:23

    Democracy is the very best way a man can live his life.But why i doubt it will be a success in these of our generation or the next 1000 years is because those who are the leaders of the most democratic world are reluctant to stand by the innocent people of other parts of th world where these people has whole heartedly acceped it only to see one corward like Mugabie hold them at ransom and no one from these so called dmoractic leaders especially in the west refuse to come to their in regaining the right in the name of soveignty.If only these present stupid and greed so called U.N could be desolve and a new one is form code name members of democracy i am sure we will witness real democracy before we depart these world.

  65. July 4, 2008 at 18:23

    Andrew in Australia

    Whether you have democracy or not in any state there will always be in any system, any nation, any culture, one person who will want power or to hang on to power irregardless of democracy or not and use it as smokescreen. As we see in many supposedly democratic nations this day and age, leaders who have constitutionally limited terms will change the rules or change their roles to maintain power with a veneer of democracy.

  66. July 4, 2008 at 18:23

    Lamii in Liberia

    I normally get quite agitated when people decide to speak so condescendingly about us Africans. Why in the world would we (Africans) be so adverse to the best thinks in life? Why would someone take an anomaly, like what is happening in some parts of the continent and generalize it as the normal of all Africans? The problem with the continent is that most of its people are unenlightened, not that they are adverse to progress.

  67. 68 Vijay
    July 4, 2008 at 18:26

    To spread democracy it would have been better if NATO had liberated Belarus instaed of Iraq.

  68. July 4, 2008 at 18:28

    In countries claiming to be democratic but where the democracy is failing the majority because of flaws in the constitution ,the incompetence and the impunity of corrupt leaders, they have as a democratic option is to boycott the elections.

    The question to ask after all is, ” which is worse to have a one-party system or a multi-part system, but neither delivers good results?

  69. July 4, 2008 at 18:30

    another interesting question is does democracy lead to capitalism. if so, will all countries become driven by capitalism if you believe they will all be democratic in this century? if this is true then greed will be the controlling behavior and the gap between HAVES and HAVE NOTS will continue the tension we live with today. There is no perfect world order and that includes democracy. what we do need an open and honest understanding that we are all human beings and deserve to be respected and recognized in the decisions that govern this planet.

  70. July 4, 2008 at 18:33

    Per in Portland, Oregon

    You don’t seem to understand. “Democracy” is a word that has been copywrited by the United States Government. In short, we own it. If you wish to use it under a franchise agreement, please contact the White House.

  71. 72 Virginia Bruce
    July 4, 2008 at 18:33

    Successful democracy is dependent on a certain level of education among the population. Only a relatively well-informed people, with developed reasoning skills, can maintain a democratic society. Uneducated people are too easily led by those who would turn the government to their purposes.

  72. July 4, 2008 at 18:33

    Josimar in Jamaica

    Democracy can inevitably be felt throughout the world. However, will it remain as the ideal system throughout all cultures and countries? Maybe not.

    In Africa the Village Chiefs and Man of the House mentality says: “Give me the first, the best and the most,” while the village commons suffer under this philosophy. In Russia and some parts of Europe there is a revival of Czarist Iron Fist Rule and nationalism among leaders. Certainly this does not reflect a concern for equality of all.

    I still believe in historical predisposition, so there will be some countries where democracy will survive. Anything else is communism and/o totalitarianism.

  73. July 4, 2008 at 18:37

    Susan in the US

    I am enjoying your dialogue on air right now. It is apparent that the definition of democracy is not a given but rather defined by the individuals who subscribe to it. It is difficult to conceive of one from a well-developed “efficient” democracy (good concept as espoused by one of your speakers) weighing in judgment on a new democracy- somewhat akin to a Monday-morning quarterback. I dare say, that if Thomas Jefferson and the founders of American Democracy were to view the form of democracy that exists in the U.S. today, they would be somewhat taken aback; what they conceived of in theory is not how it has necessarily been executed in reality.

  74. July 4, 2008 at 18:38

    Rory Qatar

    The west only wants democracy in other countries if democracy produces power bases that support her. but if democracies and related popular elections produce results they do not like they ignore the will of the people e.g. algeria and hamas in palestine.
    however the 2 greatest proponents of democracies, uk and usa have as it closest allies the two most undemocratic powers in the middle east, notably saudi arabia and egypt indeed saudi arabia’s leader was welcomed on a state visit by gordon brown of uk, the supposed mother of democracy. what hypocrisy

  75. July 4, 2008 at 18:41

    Johnra in the US

    My question is: Can you have democracy without capitalism? It seems that we are really talking about African and Asian countries becoming more capitalist.
    Democracy as an ideal is possible assuming one agrees that democracy stands for the eequity and freedom of all peoples. This would suggest that each nation would have the freedom to organize as they see fit and not have to fit into a Western definition. However, capitalism dictates that culture shifts for a particular economic outcome. This is what
    we seem to be really talking about.

  76. July 4, 2008 at 18:42

    Rajkumar

    Democracy simply means rule of the people or their chosen representatives.

    Democracy is only good when the masses are enlightened and use their discretion in a wholesome manner. Politicians or rather elected representatives of today ensure that people are kept ignorant – socially, culturally and educationally. It behoves us to inform their discretion.

    Democracy/ Dictatorship can be and is imperfect if the society is not enlightened.

    Society is the heart and soul of a country and the leaders are mere representative.

    Democracy is on the rise for people think “majority” is better and more informed; this to me is more false than one man rule. Democracy has never worked if the leaders are not representing the society’s interests.

  77. July 4, 2008 at 18:42

    Jesse in Portland, Oregon USA

    I think the idea that democracy is a universal desire is incorrect. Even in the United States voter turnout for elections hovers around 50% and a turnout of 60% or more is almost unheard of. Since 40% – 50% of the US population are content with not having a say in their political system I am not able to see the entire world population eventually evolving to this political system.

  78. July 4, 2008 at 18:43

    Peter in Singapore

    As long as imperialism and hegemonism is currently praticed by some countries is only cosmetic.

  79. 80 Michael in Grand Forks, ND
    July 4, 2008 at 18:44

    You asked if Russia and Belarus were on the way to democracy and your speakers from Minsk and Moscow said they were. Most observers, even in Russia, would say they are not. While they were more democratic in the early 1990s, they have moved away from it under Putin and Lukashenko respectively. In addition to having elections, one benchmark of democracy is that the ruling party loses power and peacefully hands power on to the opposition. This happened when Lukashenko was elected in 1994, but has not since then and he has changed the constitution so it is not going to happpen anytime soon. It has not happened in Russia yet. Besides this, the treatment of the media and opposition in Russia and Belarus indicate that they are moving away from, not toward democracy.

  80. 81 Rajkumar Khurana
    July 4, 2008 at 18:46

    Dear All,

    Democracy simply means rule of the people or their chosen representatives.

    Democracy is only good when the masses are enlightened and use their discretion in a wholesome manner. Politicians or rather elected representatives of today ensure that people are kept ignorant – socially, culturally and educationally. It behoves us to inform their discretion.

    Democracy/ Dictatorship can be and is imperfect if the society is not enlightened.

    Society is the heart and soul of a country and the leaders are mere representative.

    Democracy is on the rise for people think “majority” is better and more informed; this to me is more false than one man rule. Democracy has never worked if the leaders are not representing the society’s interests.

  81. July 4, 2008 at 18:53

    Kim from Richmond, California

    I love your show but this discussion is a sick joke. Questions like, “Would you live with democracy if your immediate needs were met” are not worthy of the BBC. Take it from a US citizen who is losing more rights every day while my standard of living takes a nose dive. They are turning cameras on us, reading our email, and look for every loophole it can to torture people or imprison them indefinitely.
    Security? Forget it. They just let a couple of terrorism suspects go because they were afraid their torture policies would be revealed in a trial. Please, everyone out there, don’t fall for it! Democracy is the only security you have.

    It is a privilege to be part of a discussion on this program. Thank you for your work.

  82. July 4, 2008 at 18:53

    W N
    Madison, WI, USA

    There is plan afoot to use democracy as an excuse to interfere in the internal affairs of a country. Of course, we saw the Western hypocrisy, when it was stated that the US invaded and occupied Iraq in order to spread democracy and things today are worst than ever.

    The famous Indian writer Arundhati Roy has said this of US democracy: “Democracy, the modern world’s holy cow, is in crisis … every kind of outrage is being committed in the name of democracy. It has become little more than a hollow word, a pretty shell, emptied of all content or meaning.”

    On a cynical note, the West would never push the oil-producing Gulf States to adopt democratic reforms because if the natives ever have their say, they would demand that the level of oil produced be scaled back and the fruits be spread out more equitably among the citizens, a far cry from what is happening today.

    So, the West is being hypocritical is pushing for democracy only when it suits them and where there are tangible gains.

  83. 84 Katharina in Ghent
    July 4, 2008 at 18:59

    Let’s try to get something straight here: “Democracy” is HOW a country is governed, “Republic” is WHO will be on top – in a Republic it’s a president, in a Dictatorship it’s he dictator, in a Monarchy it’s the King. Democracy just simply means that the citizens can legally influence the government and the government has to follow, like it or not.

  84. 85 Tom D Ford
    July 4, 2008 at 19:10

    That guest who would overthrow all dictators. Would he overthrow Bush/Cheney? They have been acting like dictators, ignoring the legislature by making up “signing statements, ignoring the Constitution, abrogating treaties, illegally invading other countries, etc.

    Where do you draw the line? Who gets to make that decision?

    Like the Founders of the US in our Declaration of Independence, you better justify to the world what you propose, in writing and citing your evidence and proof. And cite what you propose as the new government in that country.

  85. July 4, 2008 at 19:38

    “Is democracy for all inevitable?”

    There is no democracy! There should be but it isn’t. It is said to exist but doesn’t..

    A arrangement of choices does not promote a democracy. The only logical choice is going to be addressed and that is not a democratic choice, Democracy is when you are allowed to think for your self, express your thoughts and do not have to do or say things you personally knows is not correct or true.

    The salt of understanding has become dogma presented that may or may not be true, good or correct but, it has gone further than that. A whole lifetime of thought exist that is controlled by a government censored mass media that 24/7 bombards it’s society.

    Humanity synchronises to that greater than they are, to exist within that enviroment. The same is having to be said about the frequency of knowledge that is being produced at all wave lengths by that control of information.

    It is alarming, because subordination has taken out evolution. People like cattle stampeed but like horses have blinders on hurrying to maintain their actions as a majority, even though it is detrimental to their and others existance.

  86. July 4, 2008 at 19:39

    “Is democracy for all inevitable?”

    There is no democracy! There should be but it isn’t. It is said to exist but doesn’t..

    A arrangement of choices does not promote a democracy. The only logical choice is going to be addressed and that is not a democratic choice, Democracy is when you are allowed to think for your self, express your thoughts and do not have to do or say things you personally knows is not correct or true.

    The salt of understanding has become dogma presented that may or may not be true, good or correct but, it has gone further than that. A whole lifetime of thought exist that is controlled by a government censored mass media that 24/7 bombards it’s society.

    Humanity synchronises to that greater than they are, to exist within that environment. The same is having to be said about the frequency of knowledge that is being produced at all wave lengths by that control of information.

    It is alarming, because subordination has taken out evolution. People like cattle stampede but like horses have blinders on hurrying to maintain their actions as a majority, even though it is detrimental to their and others existence.

  87. 88 Roberto
    July 4, 2008 at 20:10

    How do you make an essentially foolproof democracy?
    ——————————————————————————————–

    ——– In America you can start by relocating the fools.

    Republican and Democratic parties and all the kneejerk supporters of their policies shipped out to another planet for them to endlessly squabble over and destroy.

    Every problem that existed 16 yrs ago is worse and new ones created. Absolutely nothing has been accomplished in spite of record revenues in the treasury, yet these fools have been in charge.

    One thing that has improved is that the new American ex-president pay scale has spiked. The last one went from being a pauper prez to being a quarter billionaire, and the next new ex well poised to do the same.

  88. 89 Dan
    July 4, 2008 at 20:36

    @ Dwight in Ceveland
    You are very clever but still the simple and unmistakeable fact remains that you cannot apply the values and morals of today to events of over 200 years ago.
    What we fight against today is based upon the values, morals and norms of the 21st Century and not the 18th Century.
    Now I also know that t is tough for some people to look at a bigger picture but China needed to be brought into the civilized world in an orderly fashion. It is hard to ignore a billion people. President NIxon understood this and that is why his administration “opened” China.
    Despite your desire for immediate perfection, t ave never and will never happen so we have to ake vaue judgements based upon a larger goal of how we want to shape the world.
    China will have a Democracy but not one like we have in the United States. Their present form of Government is evolving as Communism is unsustainable.
    I annot fathom the darkness that would cover the Earth without the United States. The world and yes the Indians are the better.
    Your statement about Indians being peaceful and romantic they were in reality brutal savages wo brutalized and conquered their neighbors.
    The romantic hippie version you espouse is simply not supported by credible sources and proven facts.
    The abyss I refer to is the evil that would have enveloped the planet. Hitler could not be stopped by treaties or diplomacy. Similarly Tojo fet that all other people were there to serve the Japanese empire.
    I am amazed that you seem guilty that western Democracy’s are successful and try to beat people over the head with your guilt about continued poverty, starvation, pollution, greed, corruption. Those are uman characteristics and are not easily changed.
    It was the United States that put an end to World Wars, but perhaps that was forgotten as part of political correctness.
    We do not resemble monkeys in a jar of nitroglycerine as the world has always been on the edge. It is the influence f the United States and the institutions we put in place that has kept us from destroyng ourselves and advanced Democracy….which answers the original question.

  89. 90 Zainab
    July 5, 2008 at 05:47

    Salam
    There are many definitions of Democracy in all the above posts. They are all good and the best i think is What Lincoln said” “…government of the people, by the people, and for the people.” But does this apply in any of the world countries? It is said that America is the biggest democracy? do people govern themselves there?!!
    Let me give these two examples: one of a dictatorship, and the other is a democracy.
    1- Iraq: in 2003 under Saddam’s regime. before the american invasion we were afraid we did not want the war, at the same time we wanted to get rid of Saddam. But we could say nothing, we were unable to tell Saddam “leave us we don’t… want war.” we were even unable to go on marches to protest. At the end Saddam did what he wanted …”WAR”
    2- America: in 2003 before the American invasion of Iraq. Because America is a democratic nation, millions of the American people went on marches asking their government to not start the war. )These marches are there till now, the American people want the sons out of Iraq). But the result was the “war”

    In both cases the government did what they want, they don’t care for what people want.
    Well maybe the true definition of DEMOCRACY is “people have the right to say what the want or what they don’t want… but their is no response to them”

    yours truly,
    Zainab from Iraq

  90. July 5, 2008 at 08:42

    @ dan

    200 years, Slavery only ended a little over 150 years ago. The Jim Crow laws were abolished only 50 years ago. There are many people today that feel that they shouldn’t have been abolished. Israel just celebrated it’s 60th birthday. Propped up by the US and Western powers it reestablished itself after being vanquished from the are for over 2000 years. “The darkness that would exist if it weren’t for the US?” Ask the people of Afghanistan who lived under the thumb of the Taliban if they think the policies of the US have been enlightening? Ask the people of Iraq that have lost family first to Saddam Hussein that was propped up by the US and then are now suffering the invasion to remove him if they have been so enlightened. Ask all of the populations of the oil bearing countries that live under a regime that commits atrocities against its people but go unchecked by US because of our lust for their treasure. This ain’t 200 years ago this is now. Why are we so high and mighty that we get to say when the time has come to be moral? What darkness happens without the US. Vlad III the Impaler was one of the most ruthless dictators to walk the earth, yet the population survived.

    Again history doesn’t support you assertions about the Indians. Even if it did, it was their land, their society to work out its conflicts. The African tribes still trading dogs teeth for wives are much happier then the Americans loosing their houses to foreclosure. The ability to destroy ourselves came from this democracy. The only people to ever use a weapon of such power was our democracy. Millions of people lives were destroyed at the hands of us monkeys. Ask the people of Hiroshima if they are happy the US so enlightened the world? That was only 60 years ago we unleaseda weapon that made the Rwandan genocide like a playground scuffle.

  91. 92 Dan
    July 5, 2008 at 13:05

    @ Dwight in Cleveland
    I am proud of you. During the Cold War the Soviet Communists always held up America’s imperfections to world scrutiny not understanding that above all nations we have the ability to make corrections and we did.
    You demand perfection. Please illuminate us and list those enlightened nations that live up to the standard of perfection and have never made any mistakes.
    Dwight my friend I do not know what school you went to but perhaps you be happier in one of those progerssive countries that trade dog’s teeth for a wife.
    Oh yes…the people of Japan are horrified that their leaders drove America to drop a nuclear weapon on them but understand what you cannot and that is that had we invaded the Japan Islands and given the mindset of the time the Japanese people and culture would have been obliterated.
    Japan like over 120 countries now enjoys DEMOCRACY and is all the better for it.

  92. 93 TW
    July 6, 2008 at 04:54

    I was born and raised in the U.K. and understood that I was brought up in a ‘Democracy’ that was fought for in two World Wars.

    In Europe, we seem to be moving away from Democracy as the Un-elected European Commission seems to be making a large proportion of our new legislation.

    An Irish Government embeded a right to a Referendum for the Irish People in the Constitution most of the other EU members are trying to ignore or change the result of the Irish Referendum rejecting the Lisbon Treaty after the French and the Dutch rejected the Lisbon Treaty when it was called the ‘Constitution’.

    No other European Country was ALLOWED a referendum, simply because their respective Governments, knew that they would not be able to get it passed the Voters.

    I HOPE we return to Deocracy in Europe before 2100!.

    Africa is different. I lived there for 10 yrs and Government in Africa is obtained by Bribes or Threats.

    In Kenya, Ex Pres Moy would arrange for his ‘supporters’ to give villiagers a left shoe(or similar) before an election, and give them the right shoe(or similar) when they had voted for him.

    Mgabe is even worse!

    Pres. T. Mbeki is not living in the real world. He denied HIV/AIDS connection and told everyone to eat beetroot rather than accept the reality of A.R. Drugs. (Or accept the causes of HIV/AIDS.)

    All the current African Leaders, with a few welcome exceptions, Elected or Imposed have one thing in common. STATUS!

    Ian Smith said of Rhodesia/Zimbabwi; Democracy? One man, One vote, ONCE!! Magabi has proved this to be correct!

    Mgabi has destroyed any sympathy that the ‘West’ had for Africa!

    Africa has to get rid of these OLD, SELF OPINIONATED, IGNORANT, UN-EDUCATED, GREADY Leaders and let the young run Africa Democratically.

    They will! Just give them a chance.

    China, The Middle East and other repressed Countries, will eventually see through modern Communications what is going on in the rest of the World and revolt against their Governments.

    Turkey today: Women protesting over the ‘dress code’.

    DEMOCRACY, is supossed to be “For the People”

    When will Elected Politicains respect the views of the people that elected them and act for the electorate and not their own personal gain???

  93. 94 TW
    July 6, 2008 at 04:57

    “Your comment is awaiting moderation.”

    If we live in a Democracy, why does my comment need ‘moderation’.

    Democracy is freedom of speech and expression.

  94. 95 Bob in Queensland
    July 6, 2008 at 05:10

    @ TW

    Regarding your question about moderation, perhaps the WHYS team at the BBC may give you a fuller answer when they’re back at work on Monday, but….

    As the volunteer moderator who “pushed the button” to approve your post, what I can tell you is the following:

    The “quick guide to moderating” they give us is pretty specific that nothing is off limits in terms of topic or opinion. There are only three reasons a post might not be approved:

    1. It’s “spam”. The WHYS blog gets 20-50 posts a day from ‘bots sending out ads for everything from porn to viagra to gambling sites.

    2. The post contains a personal attack on another blogger (as opposed to just arguing your point robustly). “I disagree with your opinion because…” is fine. “You’re an idiot” is not.

    3. The post contains language that may be considered offensive. In this case we’ll probably just remove the word the put the rest of the post up.

    Hope this helps.

  95. 96 Syed Hasan Turab
    July 7, 2008 at 00:36

    Founder father of Democracy accepted Deah Plenty with pride, because of inappropriate exploring problem, this is why so many societies feel little shaky & reluctant to adopt this theory.
    Kingdoms & communist structure’s are not ready to giveup & it is real hard for public force’s to fight against these regeems exazetly like efforts to take back power from UN SECURITY COUNSIL.
    This is a challage with multipal perspective’s, dont make Democracy as an issue of superiority or inferiarity otherwise we have to face a big mess.

  96. 97 Nassar from Kuwait
    July 7, 2008 at 02:48

    Admiral Ackbar… I have lived in a democracy.

    The problem with democracy is that it allows for senseless arguments to be widespread and have to deceiving appearence of being true.

    Too often there seems to be a simple recipe for the worlds most complex issues.

    For example, a participant on this discussion from the U.S. mentioned how democracy in the gulf states would lead to an equal distribution of wealth in the arabian gulf states.
    The problem with this statement is it shows how arrogant and how unaware one can be through his statements merely because he lives in a democracy… Those comments came from an American, a person living in the richest country in the world and where Universal healthcare doesn’t exist !! Talking about the “unequal distribution of wealth” in countries where employment is guaranteed by the state (not unemployment benefits but actual employment), where university education is free and basic commodities are subsidised !!

    It seems to me some people assume that if you live in a democracy you live in paradise, where everything absolutely everything is necessarily better then everywhere else.

  97. July 7, 2008 at 14:41

    Yes, it is possible, but it can only make the world a better place only if every nation in the world does not carve her democracy according to the dictates of the US which is becoming the norm. Every nation with its own cultural heritage, so to abandon it and go for that of the us will surely amounts to failure.

  98. July 7, 2008 at 14:51

    @ dan,

    You are missing the point as you will continue to. Perfection, like paradise, is a moving target. People idea of it is often 180 degrees opposed. I might think that 70 women virgins is paradise. You may be a gay male eunuch and the thought to you is maddening. One mans paradise is …….

    Perfection is something to be strived for. Of course, before you have a set of directions, you have to have a destination. Mistakes along the way are to be expected. What is not to be accepted is repeating the same mistake over and over again. It is deplorable to repeat it knowingly for the sake of personal profit. You have already called colonization “200 year old morality” and said it was a “mistake”. That doesn’t logically fit into your argument that we have changed. Because, that is what we are doing today. We have to bee sneakier because the world can se us now. We use less guns and less of our own soldiers and more greed and exploitation of a delicate balance. (Kind of like the difference between a street mugging and the stock broker stealing your money, your money is still gone.)

    The people in Japan you would have to ask are, well, the dead ones. Ask them how their life is going. Or you might find a few remaining live ones that are utterly disfigured. I would hope that you are not still clinging to that old myth about the Japanese committing suicide if the allies invades. There were so many options at the end of WWII. Many would have taken more time and compassion. Most importantly it wouldn’t have granted access to the Japanese people to promote our own “colonial like” interests. Again “200 year old morality”.

    The US is by far not the happiest place or people on earth. Japan is on the list near the top of the “unhappiest people on earth”. If quality of life is your goal, then this is not it. I can not unlearn what I already know. (I used to work in a steamy hot factory with a guy who taught me to resist going into the air conditioned break room at lunch. It made coming back to the floor and going to work that much harder.) However, I would love to not have to worry about car payments, mortgages, cell phone, repair bills, health insurance, car insurance, life insurance, latte, global warming, WMD, or cholesterol level. I would love not to be concerned with getting the kids to school, to the sitters, or to do their homework. I would like to see them more then 2 hours a day just to yell at them for not learning the lessons I have no time to teach them. I don’t ant to have to worry about marriage therapy, sex therapy, financial counseling, counseling from my religious figure, or therapy from all my therapy. If I could give it all away to be some undiscovered tribe in South America, I would. But I was born into the air conditioning. I would not even know how to survive or accept my fate in that world. Because trading dogs teeth for a wife is way less stressful then buying her booze, anniversary presents for the day we met, booze, anniversary presents for the wedding, booze, sweetest days, valentines day, booze, mothers day, just because every now and then, and then some more booze, just to make me look good. Give me some dogs teeth and let me drag her back to my hut. (I am impressed that you knew you couldn’t trade a few chickens for a woman. That is just silly.)

    This weekend I was member of one of the last true healthy democracies. It was just me, my best mate, and my dog on the open water, with a wind full of sails and a couple of bottles of rum. We stormed a few Islands only to get overwhelmed by the generosity, and the booze, that beat back our advances to rape and pillage their homeland. We were at the hands of Mother Nature and not human nature. A much less stressful situation.

  99. July 7, 2008 at 18:57

    As have seen and experienced,majority of the opinion is better than individual review.

    Different kings ruled over subcontinent,India and Pakistan but have always a intelectual group consisting of good number.they were called advisers.

    United kingdom,appearently a kingdom but there is parliment,called mother parliment,it mean it is a first parliment in the world which choose miniisters,advisers, and the chief executive of the country.Nothing can be done without granting the parliment,s permission.

    History is witnesse,states were soon destroyed having no repersentation of peoples.Consultation with people is a essential part of good ruling and governace.

    Dictatorship is cures on the forehead of every system run under the personal dictation of few persons.

    Recently we have seen some countries has victimised by dictatorship which has created large number of problems especially in the field of economy.

    In fact,
    democracy is the government system which has great similarity with human nature. Every sky book show us way that is realy democratic and according to human nature.

    India is greatest democracy in the world,
    and in the same way,
    United states is the strongest democracy in the world.

    All kings,
    including of Middle East or Arb,
    are dictatores ,
    in fact,
    they have lost the way ,
    shown by Him (God)
    to them.

  100. 101 viola
    July 7, 2008 at 21:56

    @Zainab:

    I watched a tv show the other day that showed an Iraq war veteran who was in a wheelchair and obviously not healthy. The purpose of the show seemed to be to give this man’s antiwar message which was, in essence: He enlisted immediately after 9-11 with the expectation and wish to go to Afghanistan and defeat Al Queda there. Well, like such disappointments that tend to happen in everyone’s lives since none of us has any guarantees, he was sent to Iraq instead where he was grievously injured and sent back home. He seemed bitter because he didn’t get to do what he wanted to do and because he was injured in a war he didn’t approve of. Listening to him, I was was reminded of a cartoon I read and laughed at during the period of time when my sons were amateur boxers.

    This cartoon showed a cartoon dog who was in the boxing gym getting ready to spar with another boxer. He says, “I got a right, I got a left. I’m gonna punch that guy out.” His trainer says, “And Daddy Dog can take a punch, too.”

    Daddy Dog, stricken, looks at his trainer and says, “He’s gonna hit me?”

    Not to be insensitive to that veteran’s plight, I still think he is on the wrong track to be bitter against his trainers (the military) and his country.. And I think everyone who goes to war and then is bitter and antiwar because the enemy hit him back is on the wrong track also. If they become antiwar because they realize the horror of war and want to find other solutions to such things as 9-11, they are on the right track.

    I put that in to make the point that people become antiwar marchers for a lot of different reasons, not all of them valid.

    Keep reading the definitions of democracy, Zainab, and reading about democracies in history. You will discover that democracy is not so simple as going on a march. Marching is only a way of expressing an opinion. Where that opinion counts and has an effect is in free and fair elections. And if you vote and the ones you voted for don’t win the election? Well, that’s how it works. “Daddy Dog” whose opinion is different from yours is going to hit back by exercising his right to vote, too.

  101. 102 Leon
    July 12, 2008 at 13:32

    Democracy means mob rule. unfortunatly the mob can be manipulated by mass media. People are under the ilusion that they have the freedom to choose when in fact the choices have been pre-determined. People have been fooled into believing that ignorance is better than inteligence. This is how the mainstream media is able to misinform its audience and continue to be a successful industry.

  102. 103 selena
    July 12, 2008 at 13:45

    @Leon

    Is there an answer to the willingness of individuals to buy into anything that is presented as fact?


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