Is democracy the answer to all of our problems?
With everything that’s happening around the world right now - the Covid-19 pandemic ,increased tensions between countries and the prejudice against people of colour - it seems fit for anyone to offer a solution. Many
With everything that’s happening around the world right now – the Covid-19 pandemic ,increased tensions between countries and the prejudice against people of colour – it seems fit for anyone to offer a solution. Many liberals would argue that problems such as these, would not have occurred in such a substantial way if we followed the notion of the Democratic Peace Thesis.
The basis – What is Democracy?
The origins of democracy can be traced back to Ancient Greece – when it was first introduced by the Athenian leader, ‘Cleisthenes’. It was the first known democracy in the world – and although it crumbled two centuries later, the invention of democracy led to Cleisthenes being known as “The Father of Democracy.” His legacy is still prevalent in the 21st century as many countries have opted to take up a democratic style of government.
What is the Democratic Peace Thesis?
It is the idea that democracy and peace are closely linked with each other. Many liberals strongly support this idea as it ensures federalism and hence avoids tyranny.
Liberals argue that democracy promotes values such as compromise and negotiation, through which rival countries may find a way to cooperate. This encourages the government to handle domestic – and international matters through means that avoid coercion.
In addition, democracy also ensures that cultural relations can also develop between countries that opt to have a more democratic society. This results in a mutual and respectful relationship with not only the government and its citizens but also with the international world. Liberals implore that democracy can be built on the moral foundations of respect and compromise, which promote tolerance that can significantly reduce prejudice and racism.
Democracies offer a medium through which oppressed groups can voice their opinions and support the political leader and the policies that they believe. These marginalised groups are likely to vote for leaders who fight for equality and eliminate prejudiced policies that exist in the government and society.
The Downside of Democracy
Realists believe that it is in the nature of humans to act solely due to self-interest, ego and greed. Thus they contradict liberals by highlighting how the notion of all democracies being peaceful is not only unnatural but also unrealistic to hope for. They highlight how the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as evidence that democracies go to war for a bigger purpose than just self-defence and protecting their citizens.
The contradiction does not end there. Realists add that democracies are made up of politicians, all of whom act in the favour of probabilities that ensures their job security. Thus, they conclude that democracies are vulnerable to massive corruption, as the individuals leading them are prone to avarice.
Lastly, Realists further mock the idea of democracy by highlighting how the very first one fell – due to the nature of man. Around 460 B.C, Greece transformed from being a democracy to an aristocratic society under the rule of General Pericles. This highlights how, although democracy has evolved, the nature of man remains the same. Self-seeking. Resentful. Materialistic.
This is the only explanation that could possibly begin to explain the violence and prejudice that is present in our society, even thousands of years later. Perhaps the reason why democracies don’t survive is due to the principles of the individuals who rule them. As Woodrow Wilson so famously said: “Democracy is not so much a form of government – it is a set of principles”