Theocracy, Plutocracy, Oligarchy, Monarchy
The term 'democracy' in Greek is literally rule by
the people. In the Greek world, political organization was usually centered around
city states and male citizens had equal rights to participate in government.
The Greek concept of citizenship
in 'democracy' implied that citizens must become actively involved in government, not just
vote for representatives. In modern usage the term 'democracy' has become narrowed to mean
a system of government where citizens have equal legal rights to vote in free elections.
Most studies of the origin of democracy focus on one or a
number of important factors and circumstances that seem to be associated with its
emergence. A more comprehensive approach that views all the contributing factors as
expressions of a more fundamental process of change in the society is necessary. Society
must acquire the capability to promote the successful adoption of democratic institutions
in different social and cultural contexts.
A survey of nations that refer to themselves as
democratic makes it evident that the term is applied to widely divergent forms
of government. There is not and may never be a single formula for what constitutes
democracy. However, underlying these different forms is a common principle. Democratic
governments are those in which fundamental human rights of individual citizens are
protected by the collective and in which the views of the population-at-large, not just a
ruling elite, are reflected in the actions of government.
The genesis of democracy can be traced back to the Greek
city-state of Athens. The democratic idea of a government responsible to the governed, of
trial by jury and of civil liberties of thought, speech, writing and worship have been
stimulated by Greek history. Emphasis on liberty and the studies related to man were the
main tenets of ancient Greece. It was their sense of liberty and independence, individual
and collective, which inspired them to accomplishments in philosophy, politics and
science. The Greeks gave to mankind the idea of politics as the business of citizens as
against the arbitrary rule of the despots.
The democracy propounded by the Greeks enjoyed a short
span of life. The Romans, successor to Greek ideas and institutions, at first seemed to
embrace Athenian democratic principles. The regime of the Romans was a mixture of
kingship, aristocracy and democracy. - Social Origins of Democracy -
Democracy, Plutocracy, and Liberalism in William Graham
Sumner - Byrne, William. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the MPSA Annual National
Abstract: This paper examines William Graham Sumner's views on plutocracy and democracy,
tensions within those views, and their relationship to his understanding of liberalism, in
an effort to better inform contemporary political-philosophical discourse.
Democracy or Plutocracy? The Case for a Constitutional
Amendment to Overturn Buckley v. Valeo - JONATHAN BINGHAM - The ANNALS of the
American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 486, No. 1, (1986)
In the early 1970s the U.S. Congress made a serious effort to stop the abuses of campaign
financing by setting limits on contributions and also on campaign spending. In the 1976
case of Buckley v. Valeo, the Supreme Court upheld the regulation of contributions, but
invalidated the regulation of campaign spending as a violation of the First Amendment.
Since then, lavish campaigns, with their attendant evils, have become an ever more serious
problem. Multimillion-dollar campaigns for the Senate, and even for the House of
Representatives, have become commonplace. Various statutory solutions to the problem have
been proposed, but these will not be adequate unless the Congressand the
statesare permitted to stop the escalation by setting limits. What is needed is a
constitutional amendment to reverse the Buckley holding, as proposed by several members of
Congress. This would not mean a weakening of the Bill of Rights, since the Buckley ruling
was a distortion of the First Amendment. Within reasonable financial limits there is ample
opportunity for that "uninhibited, robust and wide-open" debate of the issues
that the Supreme Court correctly wants to protect.
Human Rights and Global Democracy - Ethics &
International Affairs, Volume 22.4 (Winter 2008) - Michael Goodhart, December 30, 2008
Abstract: Human rights and global democracy are widely assumed to be compatible, but the
conceptual and practical connection between them has received little attention. As a
result, the relationship is under-theorized, and important potential conflicts between
them have been neglected or overlooked. This essay attempts to fill this gap by addressing
directly the conceptual relationship between human rights and global democracy. It argues
that human rights are a necessary condition for global democracy. Human rights constrain
power, enable meaningful political agency, and support and promote democratic regimes
within states, all of which are fundamental elements in any scheme for global democracy.
The essay explores the normative and conceptual bases of these functions and works out
some of their institutional implications.
Democracy, deliberation and design: the case of online discussion forums, Scott Wright, De
Montfort Univ, New Media & Society, Vol. 9, No.5 (2007)
Within democratic theory, the deliberative variant has assumed pre-eminence. It represents
for many the ideal of democracy, and in pursuit of this ideal, online discussion forums
have been proposed as solutions to the practical limits to mass deliberation. Critics have
pointed to evidence which suggests that online discussion has tended to undermine
deliberation. This article argues that this claim, which generates a stand-off between the
two camps, misses a key issue: the role played by design in facilitating or thwarting
deliberation. It argues that political choices are made both about the format and
operation of the online discussion, and that this affects the possibility of deliberation.
Evidence for the impact of design (and the choices behind it) is drawn from analysis of
European Union and UK discussion forums. This evidence suggests that we should view
deliberation as dependent on design and choice, rather than a predetermined product of the
Democracy and Fascism: Class, Civil Society, and Rational Choice in Italy
E. SPENCER WELLHOFER, Professor of Political Science, University of Denver - American
Political Science Review (2003), 97:1:91-106 American Political Science Association
Abstract: The origins of fascism remain a major concern to social scientists. Because
fascism emerged in societies seeking transitions to democracy, a better understanding of
these failed attempts at democratic transitions improves our understanding of both
democracy's possibilities and the strengths and weakness of democratic theory. Indeed,
theoretical arguments employed to explain fascism have their analogues in theories of
democracy. Three arguments have been advanced to explain both democracy and fascism:
class, civil society, and rational choice.
Presidentialism, Multipartism, and Democracy: The Difficult Combination
SCOTT MAINWARING, University of Notre Dame
Comparative Political Studies, Vol. 26, No. 2, 198-228 (1993)
Starting from recent analyses that have argued that presidentialism is less favorable for
building stable democracy than parliamentary systems, this article argues that the
combination of a multiparty system and presidentialism is especially inimical to stable
democracy. None of the world's 31 stable (defined as those that have existed for at least
25 consecutive years) democracies has this institutional configuration, and only one
historical exampleChile from 1933 to 1973did so. There are three reasons why
this institutional combination is problematic. First, multiparty presidentialism is
especially likely to produce immobilizing executive/legislative deadlock, and such
deadlock can destabilize democracy. Second, multipartism is more likely than bipartism to
produce ideological polarization, thereby complicating problems often associated with
presidentialism. Finally, the combination of presidentialism and multipartism is
complicated by the difficulties of interparty coalition building in presidential
democracies, with deleterious consequences for democratic stability.
Deliberative Politics. The Public Sphere, Democracy and Political Participation - Bettina
Abstract: In present debate modern theories of democracy prevalently appear to define
conceptions of democracy by stressing adjectives as for example elitist, participatory,
economic or associative suggesting that this may also be the case for a conception of
This raises the question whether deliberative democracy can claim to be more than only a
recent trend in political theory and whether a conception of deliberative democracy can
rightly be described as substantial and contributing to an understanding of the political
which focuses on emancipation and participation.