Democracy (from the Greek) is a form of state structure in which popular rule is exercised by the majority of the population in the interests of the majority and with the help of the majority. For the first time, a democratic state system was implemented in Ancient Greece in Athens under Solon (7th century BC) and developed by Klisfen (late 6th century BC) in his “representative government” – the Council of Five Hundred.

The term “democracy” began to be used to refer to the form of the state system that existed in Athens later, approximately from the middle 5 BC. Originally used the word “isonomiya” (equality of all before the law) and related “ideo” (equal for all citizens the right to speak in the people’s congress and cast a vote), “isocracy” (equilibrium). Ancient authors (Plato, Aristotle, Herodotus) viewed this form of government as a polis, in which all citizens and natives have full and equal rights. Meteki (immigrants-semi-citizens) were significantly limited in rights, and slaves had no rights at all.

Democratic freedoms of modern times are much broader than the liberties of an ancient republic based on slavery since they become a formal right of everyone and not a privilege of a few. The idea ofsubordination of all citizens, state and public organizations was specially developed in the concept of democracy of A. de Tocqueville, the most influential in modern social and political studies.

Tocqueville understood by “democracy” not only a certain form of organization of society. In his opinion, this is also the process taking place in society. Tocqueville first warned against the danger of a combination of formal equality and absolute power – “democratic despotism.”

The philosophical basis of democracy is the correlation of freedom and equality, as social and political values, the real embodiment of which takes place in appropriate state institutions of democracy – direct or representative. The latter is now most common in the form of a rule-of-law state with its supreme power, which, however, does not extend to the inalienable and inalienable rights of the individual.

The guarantee of individual rights in such a state is the separation of powers – legislative, executive and judicial, decentralization of power in the socio-economic and cultural spheres (the theory of “institutional infrastructure” of government bodies). At the same time, democratic associations, civil and political, take on the protection of the rights of citizens. They become intermediaries between the central government and various sectors of society, representing the interests of the latter, upholding the inalienable right of citizens to independence and free initiative, which is subordinate. Freedom of the press and jury trial also serve the real realization of human rights in society.

According to the theorists of democracy of the 20th century (eg J. Schumpeteru), liberal universal human valuessuch as respect for the individual and equality of all people, freedom of speech and the press, freedom of conscience, etc., are best ensured by the participation of the masses in political life. R. Dal and C. Lindblad, using the category “polyarchy”, conduct a more realistic analysis of existing democratic systems, leaving abstract democratic ideals aside. The real embodiment of democracy is significantly hindered by the concentration of economic power that is progressing in modern society in the hands of the “ruling elite”, which creates an oligarchic model of power and politics, often from democracy to kleptocracy.

Tags: Greek Philosophy
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Comments on Democracy definition

  1. Hii, SimplyPhilosophy team
    I want definition of all the supporters of democracy in political thought and all the critics who have been told by them.
    Please help, I’m student of Masters (Political Science) & I want research in this topic.
    Thanks. ❤️

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