Death of Democracy

Democracy is rule by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by their freely elected representatives.  The English word “democracy” comes from the Greek demos “common people” and kratos “strength.”

Societies in which bribery and corruption are endemic cannot operate effectively as democracies.  This is because a true democracy requires free and unforced individual participation in the electoral system to give an accurate indication of the will of the people.  Rigged elections and corrupt officials undermine democracy and nullify its benefits.  Additionally, effective democracy depends on the principle of losers’ consent – the losers must accept the result of the election.

Ben Franklin said, “Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.  True democracy is not possible when free speech is limited and the communications media are controlled by the government.  This results in a mind-controlled population and is a form of intellectual dictatorship.  Such countries may also attempt to suppress or control religious belief.  

“Political correctness” is frequently the enemy of free speech.

In order to operate effectively, a democratic society must be a disciplined society.  Ideally, this discipline should come from its individual members internal self-discipline.  Alternatively, it can be enforced externally through laws, regulations and security measures.  Usually there’s a combination of both internal and external discipline.

An important characteristic of the best democracies is an increased reliance on individual internal self-discipline - rather than on an imposed external discipline.  Freedom works best if people are good!

In the past, the main source of internal discipline has been individual morality and acceptance of law based on religious belief – in the West most notably Christian belief.  This has been evident in the most successful democracies such as the UK, the USA, the Nordic countries, Holland, Australia and New Zealand – all countries that once had a strong Bible-based Protestant heritage.

As Christian influence on morality in has faded, churches have emptied, suicide, abortion and crime rates have risen, and prisons have filled.  The need for external security measures to counter civic disorder has grown exponentially and individual freedoms have been suppressed. 

Taken to an extreme, the extensive application of external security measures can result in a society that’s no longer free.  Individual freedom is replaced by a form of totalitarianism.  

The democracy of the people has died!

Lindsay Smith, September 2019