We have not got democratic government today
The protective variant infers that we as citizens require protection, from both the interfering state and from individual competition. The aims of this are to allow people to have power via a representative government. This should be provided by regular elections with real competition between parties so as to provide a means of accountability. The Prime Minister should be legally circumscribed through a process of constitutionalism (John Stuart Mill), this is a set of rules governing everyday life and also governing government itself. There would be competing centres of power as large power bases become too powerful and also corrupt.
The developmental variant shares a great deal in common with the protective variant. Examples of this are that there is a market economy with public ownership of sections, the concept of citizenship that would also include factors such as women’s rights and the rights of minorities. A main problem with this is that although it aims to provide an accountable government with responsibility to the people, however, it involves a substantial level of bureaucracy that is not accountable. It could be argued that no country whose government has secrets can be considered fully democratic.
This is because the people cannot make an informed choice regarding who should govern them unless all relevant information is available to them. In America, this is in theory possible due to their Freedom of Information Acts. Under this legislation it is possible for a person to gain access to certain records by submitting a written request. The UK Official Secrets Act was introduced in 1911 and updated in 1989. It covers, effectively, all government employees. However this is problematic because many government staff only have their attention drawn to this upon leaving the civil service.
It has also been criticised on the grounds that its existence serves mainly to cover up political embarrassment rather than simply to protect national security (West, 2000). The successes of the West are frequently cited as proof that democracy is in itself more effective than autocratic government. However, the type of democracy found in countries such as the USA and the UK may not live up to the ideal of liberal democracy. The model of ‘competitive elitism’ developed by Weber and also Schumpeter has been said to more accurately describe the type of democracy that operates in the West.
It is based on large-scale industrial units and depends on the urban division of labour and anticipates a poorly informed and ’emotional’ electorate. The ‘elite’ works to curb the problem of potential mob rule. They are specialists in damages and rely heavily upon a ‘technocracy’ – whereby social status is determined by technological skill. It is justified on the grounds that elites are always present in some form. Its main features are the existence of a strong executive, for example the Prime Minister makes decisions with little interference from either ministers or other parts of society.
There are elites that compete for the maintenance of stability, in this country it is apparent by observing Parliament and the House of Lords. There is also a bureaucratic system that allows technocrats privacy to develop sensible policy. This is not autocracy but certainly appears to be an example of oligarchy, where a small group, or clique, governs in their own interest. This theory provides us with an understanding of the reality of Western democracy. Autocracy involves the government of the people by one person. In its original form, it was not negative in itself.
However, during the C20th the use of the term democracy has become so widespread that autocracy is seen as its exact opposite. Aristotle used it to denote situations where the people where governed by one person in the interests of the people. It is difficult to think of examples of modern autocracies as many governments proclaim themselves to be democratic, even though this may not be the case. However, for most of the C20th, Russia was ruled by a succession of autocrats. Under them Russia” position in the world was strengthened but this came about at a cost of tens of millions of lives.
This lead to an eventual coup to overcome the totalitarian communist regime. Another example of an autocracy, which is, perhaps, more successful than the Soviet Union, is the rule of Fidel Castro in Cuba, who has been in power since a military coup in 1959. Despite its success, for example the increase in Cuban life expectancy and the lowering of infant mortality rates since socialism was implemented in Cuba in 1961, roughly 3000 Cubans took to the Straits of Florida in 2000 of which the US Coast Guard interdicted about 35%.
Their aim to reach the ‘democratic’ America. I have discussed various models of democracy and the links with democracy and aspects of the political system, as well as the role of politics in a pluralist society and also the ideal of openness and how it relates to the reality of a democracy. From this I am able to conclude that I, personally, agree with Anthony Eden’s statement. In many ways, democracy would be best measured by discovering who in society feels represented.
I don’t feel represented as I didn’t vote for my current MP as we moved shortly after the general election. I personally have not felt sufficiently represented in Parliament for some time on many grounds, such as: gender; ethnicity; as a single parent; as a low-grade civil servant and now as a student. Although there are sizeable groups of people who fit these categories they are not represented either, It is on these grounds that I feel that although pluralism is an ideal we don’t have it because too many people are just not adequately represented.
The extent to which the population feels represented is especially contentious at the moment as our nation is at war, a war which, if opinion polls and turnouts to peace meetings are to be believed, has only just enough popular support for the government to justify it. I find this particularly relevant to Eden’s statement. I feel that there are many incidents in which the government has not behaved democratically and have acted, if not in their own interests, in the interests of the majority of the electorate. One example of this is The War Against Terror in Afghanistan.
Since it was begun on the 7th of September I have heard more voices raised in criticism of it than supporting it. Although I feel it would be unfair to those who live in countries with no kind of democracy to say that the UK is not democratic, I would say that it appears to be the broadening of ‘the basis of oligarchy’. Bibliography: Beetham, D. ed, 1994, Defining and Measuring Democracy, London, Sage. Heywood, A. 1999, Political Theory an Introduction 2nd edn, Basingstoke, Palgrave. Jones, B. ed 1999, Political Issues in Britain Today 5th edn, Manchester, Manchester University Press.
Bowles, N. 1998, Government and Politics of the United States 2nd edn, Basingstoke, Palgrave. Jones, B, Kavanagh, D, Moran, M and Norton, P. 2001, Politics UK 4th edn, Gosport, Longman. References: Kavanagh, D, 1990, Thatcherism and British Politics, 2nd edn, Oxford University. IN Jones et al, Politics UK Jenkins, S, 1996, Accountable to None, Penguin IN Jones et al, Politics UK Beetham, D, 1993, Liberal democracy and dthe limits of democratisation in Held, D (ed), Prospects for democracy, Cambridge, Polity, IN Beetham, D, Defining and Measuring Democracy.