What is democracy?
How can Democracy be bad for you?
The term "Democracy" is often used as an ideal which promises to bring peace, prosperity and happiness to all. Observe the way Clinton and Blair repeat the word as if it's a magical phrase which dispels critics and rallies support. I defined democracy in the political systems section, here I shall discuss some issues that surround it.
To recap. There are3 basic types of democracy. 1) You vote to have a representative act (supposedly) on your behalf, 2) you vote directly on specific policies, or 3) you discuss policy and arrive, by consent, to an agreement. The first system, called representative democracy, is that which operates in Britain and most western countries. The second system is supported by various groups, would become more possible with technology and is implied in referendums. The last system, consensual democracy, works well in small groups but is difficult. Have you ever seen a dozen people agree on something let alone millions? I discuss why voting doesn't seem to work here.
A limited democracy is one where you may only vote for those things which are acceptable within the framework of a constitution. The USA was intended to run along those lines but their constitution is largely in tatters and their democracy (like ours) has largely become an unlimited democracy. Without limitations regarding what may be voted for the door is open to having majority rule in the truest sense. Anything the majority wants goes, even if that includes racism and war. Naturally, I support a democracy limited by the principle of individual liberty and criticize unlimited democracies.
Of course free speech should not be limited. I would like to offer a JS Mill quotation to explain this;
"If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, would be
justified in silencing mankind." (On Liberty, 1859)
Where the democratic selection of laws is concerned the same rule must be followed. Just because a lot of people want something to be enforced does not mean it should any more than if a minority wanted it.
Put bluntly, just because 99 people want to burn the remaining 1 it does not become right to do so. In agreeing to have a majority decide and regulate what some variables in a persons' life are to be, you have made it impossible to effectively argue against the regulation any other thing - and that way lies tyranny. It doesn't matter if the tyranny is done by the majority to the minority or by a dictatorship to millions, it is still tyranny.