Modern Democracy Essay

1926 words - 8 pages

In 1947, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Sir Winston Churchill, articulated a scathing opinion of the global political spectrum in the post-war era after witnessing the fall of European fascism in Germany and Italy as well as the impending rise of communism. He remarked, “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.” This essay agrees vehemently with Churchill’s assertion that democracy – for all of its faults – was, and still is, the world’s preeminent form of government when compared with all other alternatives, notably fascism and communism. By analyzing modern democracy in theory and in practice, this paper elucidates how democracy is at an intrinsic advantage in protecting individual rights and freedoms, securing a safe and fair nation, as well as facilitating economic and personal growth when compared to other systems. In order to demonstrate this advantage, it is necessary that an argument be made for the inherent benefits of modern democracy’s fundamental tenet. Individual freedom is not only objectively good; it is necessary for a government to work effectively. Democracy provides a protection and safety that the totalitarian states of communism and fascism do not. Safety and confidence in the system preclude political participation on an individual level, which leads to a more fair and representative government overall.
In his lecture The Liberty of the Ancients Compared with that of the Moderns, Benjamin Constant enumerates some of the reasons democracy has emerged as the world’s preeminent form of government. Whereas in antiquity, “the condition of the human race… made it impossible then for [representative government] to be introduced or established” (Constant 1), modern times have demonstrated that the evolution of democracy coincides with the evolution of humanity. This parallel growth is due to the fact that democracy is inherently malleable, which allows it to be altered to best serve the needs of the people. A level of guaranteed individual freedom which was not necessary in antiquity is now required by humanity because of changes in progressive social views, technology, and the division of labor. For example, the abolition of slavery has had a measurable affect on modernity’s opinion of human rights. Professor Jeffrey Kopstein of the University of Toronto identifies the difference between modern and ancient liberties as an issue of “freedom to vs. freedom from”. Modern democracies guarantee individuals’ freedom from oppression, under the government or other individuals, which allows for the freedom of mobility. The modern citizen is entitled to,
The right…to express his opinion, choose a profession and practice it, dispose of his own property and even to misuse it; the right to come and go without permission, and without explaining what one is doing or why; the right of each person to associate with other individuals – whether to discuss their...

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