This is an article published in the December edition of northcork.ie.
The terrorist attacks in Paris by reactionary fascists reminds me of the importance of democracy. By John O Brien.
The terrorist attacks in Paris by reactionary fascists reminds me of the importance of democracy. They seek to live as slaves in a slave state. I for one seek to live in freedom. Democratic states do have their problems but the alternatives are worse.
National democracy should be based on local democracy.
A strong local democracy would strengthen national democracy. It would also put greater power into the hands of elected politicians who represent the people instead of unelected managers. Strong local democracy would help local businesses and local communities to grow and develop.
Democracy must be based on individual liberty. Unless we are free as individuals any talk about democracy is meaningless. Democracy is about power to the people. Democracy is about the clash of ideas. It is about people themselves deciding how society should be run. In a democracy the leaders are the servants of the people. My outline of a functioning democracy may sound like an ideal. Someone may say that the reality of democracy doesn’t live up to my ideal of a good democracy.
Democracy like other aspects of life is a work in progress. We need to examine how our democracy works in practice if we want to improve society. I believe that the principles that I have outlined of liberty, local and national democracy are the building blocks of a functioning democracy. Yes our democratic institutions needs to reformed in order to make them more democratic. Go to a dictatorship and see people enslaved by the state and you will see the value of democracy. The worse type of democracy is better than an efficient dictatorship.
Throughout human history 3 types of government have emerged. Two of these types of governments have contempt for the people. Only one type, democracy respects the people.
Absolute monarchies like the reign of Charles I of Britain and the modern dictatorships are examples of societies where all power is in the hands of one person. This person rules the rest of society through and awe. Only one person, the dictator or the King, is free. The rest of society are his slaves.
The second type of government is rule by a minority. It is rule by an elite. The medieval republics of Italy like the Republic of Venice are examples of this type of government. In this type of government a minority which is based on property, education and/or money rules over the people. There is greater freedom in elite rule than there is in the rule by a dictator. But freedom is in the hands of a minority. The majority of the people are excluded from power.
In a democracy the people are free. Democracy guarantees greater freedom than other types of governments. The only type of government that can guarantee freedom and power is a democracy.
There are well meaning people who seek to improve society by reforming its political structures. Sometimes reforms can make matters worse. We are human after all. I ask anyone who seeks to improve society to insure that democracy is strengthened by reform. Democracy is the only form of government worth living under.