Theocracy, Plutocracy, Oligarchy, The iron law of
oligarchy, Monarchy, Constitutional
The term 'democracy' in Greek is literally rule by the people. In the
Greek world, political organization was usually centered around city states
and male citizens had equal rights to participate in government.
The Greek concept of citizenship in 'democracy' implied
that citizens must become actively involved in government, not just vote for
In modern usage the term 'democracy' has become narrowed to mean a system of
government where citizens have equal legal rights to vote in free elections.
Most studies of the origin of democracy focus on one or a number of important
factors and circumstances that seem to be associated with its emergence.
A more comprehensive approach that views all the contributing factors as
expressions of a more fundamental process of change in the society is necessary. Society
must acquire the capability to promote the successful adoption of democratic institutions
in different social and cultural contexts.
A survey of nations that refer to themselves as democratic makes it
evident that the term is applied to widely divergent forms of government. There is not and
may never be a single formula for what constitutes democracy. However, underlying these
different forms is a common principle. Democratic governments are those in which
fundamental human rights of individual citizens are protected by the collective and in
which the views of the population-at-large, not just a ruling elite, are reflected in the
actions of government.
The genesis of democracy can be traced back to the Greek city-state of Athens. The
democratic idea of a government responsible to the governed, of trial by jury and of civil
liberties of thought, speech, writing and worship have been stimulated by Greek history.
Emphasis on liberty and the studies related to man were the main tenets of ancient Greece.
It was their sense of liberty and independence, individual and collective, which inspired
them to accomplishments in philosophy, politics and science. The Greeks gave to mankind
the idea of politics as the business of citizens as against the arbitrary rule of the
The democracy propounded by the Greeks enjoyed a short span of life. The Romans,
successor to Greek ideas and institutions, at first seemed to embrace Athenian democratic
principles. The regime of the Romans was a mixture of kingship, aristocracy and democracy.
- Social Origins of Democracy - icpd.org/democracy/index.htm
Democracy, Plutocracy, and Liberalism in William Graham Sumner -
Byrne, William. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the MPSA Annual National
Abstract: This paper examines William Graham Sumner's views on plutocracy and democracy,
tensions within those views, and their relationship to his understanding of liberalism, in
an effort to better inform contemporary political-philosophical discourse.
Democracy or Plutocracy? The Case for a
Constitutional Amendment to Overturn Buckley v. Valeo - JONATHAN BINGHAM -
The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 486, No. 1,
In the early 1970s the U.S. Congress made a serious effort to stop the abuses of campaign
financing by setting limits on contributions and also on campaign spending. In the 1976
case of Buckley v. Valeo, the Supreme Court upheld the regulation of contributions, but
invalidated the regulation of campaign spending as a violation of the First Amendment.
Since then, lavish campaigns, with their attendant evils, have become an ever more serious
problem. Multimillion-dollar campaigns for the Senate, and even for the House of
Representatives, have become commonplace. Various statutory solutions to the problem have
been proposed, but these will not be adequate unless the Congressand the
statesare permitted to stop the escalation by setting limits. What is needed is a
constitutional amendment to reverse the Buckley holding, as proposed by several members of
Congress. This would not mean a weakening of the Bill of Rights, since the Buckley ruling
was a distortion of the First Amendment. Within reasonable financial limits there is ample
opportunity for that "uninhibited, robust and wide-open" debate of the issues
that the Supreme Court correctly wants to protect.
Human Rights and Global Democracy - Ethics & International
Affairs, Volume 22.4 (Winter 2008) - Michael Goodhart, December 30, 2008
Abstract: Human rights and global democracy are widely assumed to be
compatible, but the conceptual and practical connection between them has received little
attention. As a result, the relationship is under-theorized, and important potential
conflicts between them have been neglected or overlooked. This essay attempts to fill this
gap by addressing directly the conceptual relationship between human rights and global
democracy. It argues that human rights are a necessary condition for global democracy.
Human rights constrain power, enable meaningful political agency, and support and promote
democratic regimes within states, all of which are fundamental elements in any scheme for
global democracy. The essay explores the normative and conceptual bases of these functions
and works out some of their institutional implications.
Democracy, deliberation and design: the case of online discussion forums, Scott
Wright, De Montfort Univ, New Media & Society, Vol. 9, No.5 (2007)
Within democratic theory, the deliberative variant has assumed pre-eminence. It represents
for many the ideal of democracy, and in pursuit of this ideal, online discussion forums
have been proposed as solutions to the practical limits to mass deliberation. Critics have
pointed to evidence which suggests that online discussion has tended to undermine
deliberation. This article argues that this claim, which generates a stand-off between the
two camps, misses a key issue: the role played by design in facilitating or thwarting
deliberation. It argues that political choices are made both about the format and
operation of the online discussion, and that this affects the possibility of deliberation.
Evidence for the impact of design (and the choices behind it) is drawn from analysis of
European Union and UK discussion forums. This evidence suggests that we should view
deliberation as dependent on design and choice, rather than a predetermined product of the
Democracy and Fascism: Class, Civil Society, and Rational Choice in Italy
E. SPENCER WELLHOFER, Professor of Political Science, University of Denver -
American Political Science Review (2003), 97:1:91-106 American Political Science
Abstract: The origins of fascism remain a major concern to social scientists. Because
fascism emerged in societies seeking transitions to democracy, a better understanding of
these failed attempts at democratic transitions improves our understanding of both
democracy's possibilities and the strengths and weakness of democratic theory. Indeed,
theoretical arguments employed to explain fascism have their analogues in theories of
democracy. Three arguments have been advanced to explain both democracy and fascism:
class, civil society, and rational choice. This research examines the rise of fascism in
Italy, 191921. The evidence contradicts the class theory of fascism and offers mixed
evidence for the civil society theory, while supporting the rational choice theory.
Fascism will always be a minority movement. It cannot move beyond the cities.
Presidentialism, Multipartism, and Democracy: The Difficult Combination
SCOTT MAINWARING, University of Notre Dame
Comparative Political Studies, Vol. 26, No. 2, 198-228 (1993)
Starting from recent analyses that have argued that presidentialism is less favorable for
building stable democracy than parliamentary systems, this article argues that the
combination of a multiparty system and presidentialism is especially inimical to stable
democracy. None of the world's 31 stable (defined as those that have existed for at least
25 consecutive years) democracies has this institutional configuration, and only one
historical exampleChile from 1933 to 1973did so. There are three reasons why
this institutional combination is problematic. First, multiparty presidentialism is
especially likely to produce immobilizing executive/legislative deadlock, and such
deadlock can destabilize democracy. Second, multipartism is more likely than bipartism to
produce ideological polarization, thereby complicating problems often associated with
presidentialism. Finally, the combination of presidentialism and multipartism is
complicated by the difficulties of interparty coalition building in presidential
democracies, with deleterious consequences for democratic stability.
Deliberative Politics. The Public Sphere, Democracy and Political Participation - Bettina
Abstract: In present debate modern theories of democracy prevalently appear to define
conceptions of democracy by stressing adjectives as for example elitist, participatory,
economic or associative suggesting that this may also be the case for a conception of
This raises the question whether deliberative democracy can claim to be more than only a
recent trend in political theory and whether a conception of deliberative democracy can
rightly be described as substantial and contributing to an understanding of the political
which focuses on emancipation and participation.
Considering that hegemonic neo-liberalism is dominating social conditions and political
action in terms of efficiency and other management categories and in view of world
politics under pressure it seems at first sight rather superfluous to reflect on
deliberation or deliberative politics. Despite these challenges the thesis points out that
deliberative politics offer an opportunity to focus on politics in a creative, foreseeing,
and emancipative sense. Various conceptions of deliberative democracy encourage a
conception of the political supporting a deliberative process of public opinion and
participatory politics. It is therefore necessary to explore the relationship between
deliberation and politics as well as the categories public,
democracy and political participation.
The exposition of deliberative politics systematically contrasts the critical theory of
deliberative democracy following the Frankfurter Schule and Habermas theory of the
transformation of the public with the more pragmatic approach offered by the US-American
discourse. The thesis provides for an interdisciplinary approach in linking a critical
discussion of philosophical and political theories with sociological and socio-economic
conceptions of democracy resulting in a novel synopsis of modern theories of democracy. In
chapter I I explore classical types of deliberation offered by traditional political
philosophy as for example by Platons Philosopher King, Sokrates method of
dialogue, or Kants öffentlicher Vernunftgebrauch (public use of reason). In order
to set the classical ideal types of deliberation in a modern context I discuss in chapter
II modern theories of the public which form the basis of various corresponding theories of
In chapter III the central chapter on modern theories of democracy I oppose
the conventional distinction between classical, normative and realistic, and empirical
theories of democracy by focussing the trias of decision, context, and deliberation. In
order to conclude in chapter IV I take up on the critical objections against deliberative
democracy to set the frame for my argument for a conception of deliberation supporting
emancipation and participation.