Our opinions and advice to the world. Updated whenever we get around to it.

Does Democracy have Weaknesses?

Seeing as Hizbullah has had a successful showing in southern Lebanon during the recent election, I have decided to reread a book I own about the politics of the group. The book is written by Amal Saad-Ghorayeb and in the book, she says that there are three features of democracy that make it inferior to an Islamic government. Here are the three features,
"First is the oppression implicit in the much vaunted principle of majority rule. The tyranny of the majority is even more pronounced when the minority in question repudiates not just the majority's opinion, but the social contract as such. The failure of the democrats to adequately resolve this predicament is considered a significant flaw in democracy."
"Second is the tendency of democratic systems to be dominated by the will of the majority. The existence of certain social, economic, political and religious elites in society often culminates in the manipulation of the system. The vast capabilities at the disposal of this majority, either by buying votes or distorting public opinion, thereby negating the very purpose of democracy."
"Third is the defectiveness and injustice of a system that only claims to represent the current generation of the voting age and completely disregards the rights and interests of those who are currently under age and of future generations. In the first place, the present population cannot designate itself as the representative of future generations without their consent. In the second place, it cannot assume the future generations can later change law to their advantage simply by constituting a majority, when the damage inflicted by many of these laws is irrevocable. The very weakness of democracy lies in its investiture of sovereignty in the 'people', whose 'ignorant' and 'capricious' nature hinders their ability to know where their true interests lie, let alone the interests of future generations."
In my opinion, no government system is perfect, but democracy is the closest thing we have. People that hold utopian views of any government system, whether it be democratic, Islamic, communist or a dictatorship are not being realistic and are cheating themselves by thinking that any system can be perfect.

The being said, it never hurts to discuss ways to improve on the system we have in Canada, so would anyone like to comment on these supposed weaknesses of democracy? Or perhaps you might have a suggestion on how to strengthen democracy as we know it here in the western world, if in fact you think that Saad-Ghorayeb has made a valid point or two. Please discuss.

crossposted to The Shotgun


Noel M said...

Democracy could be almost perfect, if we didn't have political parties...

That is where the problems occur. The average voter must choose between electing either the candidate or the party that best represents their views.

If you vote for the candidate, he/she may belong to a party which, as a collective, may or may not represent you.

If you vote for the party, you could be voting for a candidate who has his/her own agenda, with little regard for your views or, indeed, the party's agenda.

If you look at the Liberal and Conservative parties, for example, they each contain left, center and right wing members, making clear and consistent idealogical policy development almost impossible.

In fact, all parties engineer their election platforms to appeal to the majority of voters, in order to "win" the election.

As an example, remember the Free Trade debates? Both the Liberal and the Conservatives at different times (depending on who was in power) were alternately in favour of, or opposed to, NAFTA.

Perhaps what we need is for every MP to be independant. Eliminate party politics. Remove the ministerial responsibility for government departments, making the Deputy Ministers reponsible for the day to day running of them, following the direction of the majority of MPs.

The Prime Minister could be elected by a popular vote among the MPs.

Just my 2 cents.

The Tiger said...

Yes, of course there are weaknesses. In Canada, for instance, I would rewrite a good portion of the Charter -- I'd make it less open-ended and include property rights.

And I'd put in some pretty strict rules about budget reporting.

But this all is finetuning the system -- the principle of one person, one vote stays the same, of course.

Anonymous said...

I am a Canadian living and working in the USA for 5 years. I dare not give my name in a Country that claims freedom od speech for fear of retaliation. Of course the USA claims a lot of things that are not true.

Democracy does have its weaknesses. Democracy depends on voters: 1)knowing the facts 2)being able to think. Americans don't know the truth and most of them have had their thinking ability robbed.
Most Americans are also like little children for whom the world revolves. They don't see anything except from their own viewpoint.
Why do a few of Iraqs people hate them?(Most of Iraqs people love America because Bush said so) After all, the Americans say, they are at war to help Iraqs people and why would anyone distrust Americans. See how they beat their chests in rightous indignation. All the oil is just a side benefit. America deserves to have the oil because America is the keeper of holy freedom and Iraqs people had better serve America or else. Americans do not see injustice in this because USA is the greatest country and deserves the profit and benefits of anything they want, because they ARE Americans. To put it mildly, Americans have been brainwashed into blindness of everyone elses viewpoint except their own. Like any 2 year old the World owes Americans.
However the real reason Americans have lost or are losing their democracy is because of lies(silence is just a lie without a lot of hooplah). A majority of Americans would have been against the war in Iraq if they had been told the truth about WMDs etc. A substantial number would still have rationalized a purpose for the war.(I still don't know if these people actualy believe their rationalizations) Without the facts the USA went to war. Thus this decision was dictated by people who told the lies and not the American democracy. Now Iran can't be dealt with because the US is stretched too far in Iraq. Iran is bolder now because of the insurgent sucess. Thus the the USA has lost the war no matter the final outcome. Lost because of stupid and grasping decisions by a dictatorial group telling the lies.

America has no democracy unless the power of wealth is democratic. Wealth buys opinion in the USA(In a number of differnt ways). Wealth buys what news is or isn't published. Wealth buys truth. Weatlth buys justice. (If Jackson had been poor do you think he would have gotten off, innocent or not?). Wealth has no-ones interest at heart except for itself. Just run down the list of legislation aimed at protecting wealth in the US.

America has lost its democracy and even capitalism will fail the same way communism has failed for many of the same reasons. Good ridance to both. Weep for Democracy, a Lady in chains.

Anonymous said...

the biggest problem with democracies around the world is that they do not give enough emphesis on education and especially educating about the government's structure,about other structures and about politics.People need to know how democracy works to the last detail,they need to know its weaknesses as well,atleast those than can be tought about.Many people study to make a lot of money thus the studies of democracy and politics must be more influancial on university admissions.If the people is to take the desicions it must through the government educate itself to critisize and investigate the government,treating it like the enemy of the people,cause that is what it eventually becomes.Best way to educate people is through mass media.people must be as encouraged to be as political as possible,having knowledge of politics government economy and basic principals of the law system.
Instead of trying to push the fact democracies are corrupt to the side we must imbrace and understand this idea.You must know your enemy as good as possible if you want to beat him.The enemy is the government and people with money and power..we must know them and we must know how to fight them and other like them .

Anonymous said...

It is not democracy which is the problem, it is "the tribe" that wrote and promote democracy that the world is ignorant of.

Read this little excerpt...

6. Political freedom is an idea but not a fact. This idea one must know how to apply whenever it appears necessary with this bait of an idea to attract the masses of the people to one's party for the purpose of crushing another who is in authority. This task is rendered easier if the opponent has himself been infected with the idea of freedom, SO-CALLED LIBERALISM, and, for the sake of an idea, is willing to yield some of his power. It is precisely here that the triumph of our theory appears; the slackened reins of government are immediately, by the law of life, caught up and gathered together by a new hand, because the blind might of the nation cannot for one single day exist without guidance, and the new authority merely fits into the place of the old already weakened by liberalism.

The problem is who will eliminate that tribe!

Anonymous said...

...we are not in an economic crisis, we are in a spiritual crisis. Stay in the Word please. Especially as days get tougher..

Mahalo for listening,
from Hawaii