Democracy has been criticized for perceived weaknesses that include irrational voters, wealth disparity, political instability, and potential oppression by the majority. The Greek philosophers Socrates and Plato, as well as U.S. President James Madison, voiced complaints about democracy.
Both Socrates and Plato shared similar criticisms of democracy, suggesting that it gives an equal voice to those who do and don't deserve to be heard. Socrates went even further, implying that the very nature of democracy makes the system corrupt. Irrational voters, those who are uninformed about political and economic issues, can poorly interpret information presented to them and thus make ignorant decisions when they vote.
Socrates also argued that a majority would inevitably do a poorer job of governing than a few capable people with the necessary knowledge. This situation would result in government policies being influenced by non-experts, compromising their effectiveness. Plato favored a form of aristocracy called "Kallipolis" that would be led by philosopher-kings, wise men who governed unwillingly.
U.S. President James Madison suggested that republics were superior to democracies, as they safeguarded against the tyranny of the majority. In the Federalist Papers, he attests that democracies aren't compatible with protecting property rights or personal security. Madison goes on to say that they are generally short-lived and end violently.Learn More
A government creates and enforces the laws that protect the rights and lives of citizens and discourages crime by punishing delinquents. Government provides an ordered, systematic way to ensure the safety of the citizenry. Without a government, people would be less likely to respect contracts and agreements with one another due to the lack of an objective way to settle disputes.Full Answer >
The term "oligarchy" refers to a form of government that concentrates power in the hands of an elite group, rather than a central figure, an elected assembly or the people at large, and the primary advantages appear to exist for the benefit of that elite group, while the disadvantages apply to the rest of the citizens who have to follow laws written to benefit that small group. Oligarchies often come about as a response to social disaster, such as the fallout in Germany after World War I or the ruling group in the fictitious country of Oceania that emerged in George Orwell's novel "1984."Full Answer >
A constitutional parliamentary democracy is a political system in which parliament selects the government through elections and is limited by constitutional laws. Through this system, the government is responsible to both the people and the parliament. Examples of constitutional parliamentary democracies include Papua New Guinea and Jamaica.Full Answer >
Bureaucracies operate on many levels in government, and agencies such as social services or the census bureau are good examples of bureaucratic leadership. Bureaucracies work through hierarchies where people with higher positions make decisions on policy. In bureaucracies no one single person is in command, and group think mentality is an approach to procedure. Bureaucracies often have private owners, a division of labor and a business-first attitude.Full Answer >