We think about democracy, and that's the word that Americans love to use, 'democracy,' and that's how we characterize our system. But if democracy just means going to vote, it's pretty meaningless. Russia has democracy in that sense. Most authoritarian regimes have democracy in that sense.
Timothy D. Snyder
I'm a great aficionado of history. I was deeply affected by seeing the disintegration of any chance of democracy coping with fascism in the Weimar republic, where woolly-minded, well-meaning liberalism actually allowed the forces of darkness to use democracy, to exploit democracy, to overturn democracy.
People use democracy as a free-floating abstraction disconnected from reality. Democracy in and of itself is not necessarily good. Gang rape, after all, is democracy in action. All men have the right to live their own life. Democracy must be rooted in a rational philosophy that first and foremost recognizes the right of an individual. A few million Imperial Order men screaming for the lives of a much smaller number of people in the New World may win a democratic vote, but it does not give them the right to those lives, or make their calls for such killing right. Democracy is not a synonym for justice or for freedom. Democracy is not a sacred right sanctifying mob rule. Democracy is a principle that is subordinate to the inalienable rights of the individual.
We think that democracy can change a lot of things, but we're being fooled, because democracy is not the election. We've been taught that democracy is having elections. And it isn't. Elections are the most horrendous aspect of democracy. It's the most mundane, trivial, disappointing, dirty aspect.
Gael Garcia Bernal
These self-styled liberals and progressives are honestly convinced that they are true democrats. But their notion of democracy is just the opposite of that of the nineteenth century. They confuse democracy with socialism. They not only do not see that socialism and democracy are incompatible but they believe that socialism alone means real democracy. Entangled in this error, they consider the Soviet system a variety of popular government.
Ludwig von Mises
Education in democracy must be carried on within the Party so that members can understand the meaning of democratic life, the meaning of the relationship between democracy and centralism, and the way in which democratic centralism should be put into practice. Only in this way can we really extend democracy within the Party and at the same time avoid ultra-democracy and the laissez-faire that destroys discipline.
Did you, too, O friend, suppose democracy was only for elections, for politics, and for a party name? I say democracy is only of use there that it may pass on and come to its flower and fruit in manners, in the highest forms of interaction between people, and their beliefs - in religion, literature, colleges and schools- democracy in all public and private life...
democracy ... is not something that occurs overnight. It is not a gift delivered on a golden tray. Democracy is a long process of fighting, challenging accepted ideas, and perpetually striving for freedom. Like a seed that has to be watered every day to become a flower, democracy needs constant attention and care.
Everything is argued over in this world. Apart from only one thing that is not argued over. Nobody argues about democracy. Democracy is there as if it was some sort of saint in the altar from whom miracles are no longer expected. But it's there as a reference. A reference. Democracy. And no-one attends to the matter that the democracy in which we live is a democracy taken captive, conditioned, amputated. Because the power..the power of the citizen, the power of each one of us, is limited, in the political sphere, I repeat, in the political sphere, to remove a government that we do not like and replace it with another one that perhaps we might like in the future. Nothing else. But the big decisions are taken in a different sphere, and we all know which one that is. The big international financial organisations, the IMFs, the World Trade Organisations, the World Banks, the OECDs. All..not one of these entities is democratic. And so, how can we keep talking about democracy, if those who effectively govern the world are not chosen democratically by the people? Who chooses the representatives of each country in those organisations? Your respective peoples? No. Where then is the democracy?
In capitalist society we have a democracy that is curtailed, wretched, false, a democracy only for the rich, for the minority. The dictatorship of the proletariat, the period of transition to communism, will for the first time create democracy for the people, for the majority, along with the necessary suppression of the exploiters, of the minority.
When people in a democracy are not educated in the art of living -- to strengthen their conscience, compassion, and ability to question and think critically -- they can be easily manipulated by fear and propaganda. A democracy is only as wise as its citizens, and a democracy of ignorant citizens can be as dangerous as a dictatorship.
Paul K. Chappell
Gandhi is the other person. I believe Gandhi is the only person who knew about real democracy - not democracy as the right to go and buy what you want, but democracy as the responsibility to be accountable to everyone around you. Democracy begins with freedom from hunger, freedom from unemployment, freedom from fear, and freedom from hatred. To me, those are the real freedoms on the basis of which good human societies are based.
Gandhi is the other person. I believe Gandhi is the only person who knew about real democracy "" not democracy as the right to go and buy what you want, but democracy as the responsibility to be accountable to everyone around you. Democracy begins with freedom from hunger, freedom from unemployment, freedom from fear, and freedom from hatred. To me, those are the real freedoms on the basis of which good human societies are based.
According to Lenin, socialism and democracy are indivisible.... The essence of perestroika lies in the fact that it unites socialism with democracy and revives the Leninist concept of socialist construction both in theory and in practice. We want more socialism and, therefore, more democracy.
My father offered his life so our democracy could live. My mother devoted her life to nurturing that democracy. I will dedicate my life to making our democracy reach its fullest potential: that of ensuring equality for all. My family has sacrificed much, and I am willing to do this again if necessary.
Benigno Aquino III
Rights are not the language of democracy. Compromise is what democracy is about. Rights are the language of freedom, and are absolute because their role is to protect our liberty. By using the absolute power of freedom to accomplish reforms of democracy, we have undermined democracy and diminished our freedom.
Philip K. Howard
Where freedom of religion has been attacked, the attack has come from sources opposed to democracy. Where democracy has been overthrown, the spirit of free worship has disappeared. And where religion and democracy have vanished, good faith and reason in international affairs have given way to strident ambition and brute force.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
History provides many examples of democracy crushed by people who said to be the champion of "genuine democracy" and "the people's real meaning". The realization about this may lead us to a defence position that conceals that democracy is an extraordinarily demanding way of rule. It must constantly find new ways to revitalize, to reach out to people and make them active. Dictatorships offers a machinery of obedience, closed and externally well-oiled. Democracy is based on fairness, openness and pulsating life. Therefore it must constantly be won again.
I have wanted to give Iraq a lesson in democracy - because we're experienced with it, you know. And, in democracy, after a hundred years, you have to let your slaves go. And, after a hundred and fifty years, you have to let your women vote. And, at the beginning of democracy, is that quite a bit of genocide and ethnic cleansing is quite okay. And that's what's going on now.
I call government that works the best for people open society, which is basically just another more general term for a democracy that is - you call it maybe a liberal democracy. It's not only majority rule but also respect for minorities and minority opinions and the rule of law. So it's really a sort of institutional democracy.
We say that if America has entered the war to make the world safe for democracy, she must first make democracy safe in America. How else is the world to take America seriously, when democracy at home is daily being outraged, free speech suppressed, peaceable assemblies broken up by overbearing and brutal gangsters in uniform; when free press is curtailed and every independent opinion gagged? Verily, poor as we are in democracy, how can we give of it to the world?
A love of the republic in a democracy is a love of the democracy, as the latter is that of equality. A love of the democracy is likewise that of frugality. Since every individual ought here to enjoy the same happiness, and the same advantages, they should consequently taste the same pleasures and form the same hopes, which cannot be expected but from a general frugality.
Baron de Montesquieu
Democracy extends the sphere of individual freedom; socialism restricts it. Democracy attaches all possible value to each man; socialism makes each man a mere agent, a mere number. Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word: equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude.
Democracy in America was never the same as Liberty in Europe. In Europe Liberty was a great life-throb. But in America Democracy was always something anti-life. The greatest democrats, like Abraham Lincoln, had always a sacrificial, self-murdering note in their voices. American Democracy was a form of self-murder, always. Or of murdering somebody else... The love, the democracy, the floundering into lust, is a sort of by-play. The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer. It has never yet melted.
My notion of democracy is that under it the weakest shall have the same opportunities as the strongest... no country in the world today shows any but patronizing regard for the weak... Western democracy, as it functions today, is diluted fascism... true democracy cannot be worked by twenty men sitting at the center. It has to be worked from below, by the people of every village.
Democracy, in the United States rhetoric refers to a system of governance in which elite elements based in the business community control the state by virtue of their dominance of the private society, while the population observes quietly. So understood, democracy is a system of elite decision and public ratification, as in the United States itself. Correspondingly, popular involvement in the formation of public policy is considered a serious threat. It is not a step towards democracy; rather it constitutes a 'crisis of democracy' that must be overcome.
We need a more authoritative world...What's the alternative to democracy? There isn't one. But even the best democracies agree that when a major war approaches, democracy must be put on hold for the time being. I have a feeling that climate change may be an issue as severe as war. It may be necessary to put democracy on hold for a while.
Fascism is more of a natural state than democracy. To assume blithely that we can export democracy into any country we choose can serve paradoxically to encourage more fascism at home and abroad. Democracy is a state of grace that is attained only by those countries who have a host of individuals not only ready to enjoy freedom but to undergo the heavy labor of maintaining it.
Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide. It is in vain to say that democracy is less vain, less proud, less selfish, less ambitious, or less avaricious than aristocracy or monarchy. It is not true, in fact, and nowhere appears in history. Those passions are the same in all men, under all forms of simple government, and when unchecked, produce the same effects of fraud, violence, and cruelty.
Democracy entails a correlation between the public interest as expressed by a majority of the population and the governmental policies that affect them. The term encompasses various manifestations, including direct, participatory and representative democracy, but Governments must be responsive to people and not to special interests such as the military-industrial complex, financial bankers and transnational corporations. Democracy is inclusive and does not privilege an anthropological aristocracy.
Alfred-Maurice de Zayas
Actually, in its essence, democracy is a totalitarian ideology, though not as extreme as Nazism, fascism or communism. In principle, no freedom is safe in a democracy, every aspect of the individual's life is potentially subject to government control. At the end of the day, the minority is completely at the mercy of the whims of the majority. Even if a democracy has a constitution limiting the powers of the government, this constitution too can be amended by the majority. The only fundamental right you have in a democracy, besides running for office, is the right to vote for a political party. With that solitary vote you hand over your independence and your freedom to the will of the majority.
[O]ur sages in the great [constitutional] convention... intended our government should be a republic which differs more widely from a democracy than a democracy from a despotism. The rigours of a despotism often... oppress only a few, but it is the very essence and nature of a democracy, for a faction claiming to oppress a minority, and that minority the chief owners of the property and truest lovers of their country.
Surely the Board knows what democracy is. It is the line that forms on the right. It is the don't in don't shove. It is the hole in the stuffed shirt through which the sawdust slowly trickles; it is the dent in the high hat. Democracy is the recurrent suspicion that more than half the people are right more than half the time. It is the feeling of privacy in the voting booths, the feeling of communion in the libraries, the feeling of vitality everywhere. Democracy is a letter to the editor. Democracy is the score at the beginning of the ninth. It is an idea which hasn't been disproved yet, a song the words of which have not gone bad. It's the mustard on the hot dog and the cream in the rationed coffee.
And so, when the chips are down, I must say, though not without a sense of repugnance, that if you wish to show your belief in democracy, you also have to do so when you are in the minority, convinced both intellectually and, not least, in your innermost self, that the majority, in the name of democracy, is crushing everything you stand for and that means something to you, indeed, all that gives you the strength to endure, well, that gives a kind of meaning to your life, something that transcends your own fortuitous lot, one might say. When the heralds of democracy roar, triumphantly bawling out their vulgar victories day after day so that it really makes you suffer, as in my own case, you still have to accept it; I will not let anything else be said about me, he thought.
The procedure we are pursuing is that of true democracy. Semi-democracy accepts the dictatorship of a majority in establishing its arbitrary, ergo, unnatural, laws. True democracy discovers by patient experiment and unanimous acknowledgement what the laws of nature or universe may be for the physical support and metaphysical satisfaction of the human intellect's function in universe.
R. Buckminster Fuller
Democracy suits Europeans today partly because it is associated with the triumph of capitalism and partly because it involves less commitment or intrusion into their lives than any of the alternatives. Europeans accept democracy because they no longer believe in politics. It is for this reason that we find both high levels of support for democracy in cross-national opinion polls and high rates of political apathy.
When we generate utopian visions and hope to make them happen soon "" when we elect Barack Obama and expect all our problems to be solved, and solved quickly, by his presidency "" the outcome is both predictable and tragic. That is not the way to engage social change in a democracy. And it is not the way to help democracy itself survive and thrive. Democracy is a non-stop experiment. Each generation must help sustain it, which means being in it day-by-day for the long haul.
Parker J. Palmer
Let's not forget that American democracy started with 'We the People' agreeing to work hard to create 'a more perfect union.' We've lost the idea that politics begins at home with what happens in families, in neighborhoods, in classrooms, in congregations. We called this democracy into being "" and if we want to call this democracy back to its highest values, it's got to be the us doing that calling. That's not going to happen if 'We the People' don't know how to talk to one another with civility and hold our differences in a creative, life-giving way.
Parker J. Palmer
I do not say that democracy has been more pernicious on the whole, and in the long run, than monarchy or aristocracy. Democracy has never been and never can be so durable as aristocracy or monarchy; but while it lasts, it is more bloody than either... Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide. It is in vain to say that democracy is less vain, less proud, less selfish, less ambitious, or less avaricious than aristocracy or monarchy. It is not true, in fact, and nowhere appears in history. Those passions are the same in all men, under all forms of simple government, and when unchecked, produce the same effects of fraud, violence, and cruelty. When clear prospects are opened before vanity, pride, avarice, or ambition, for their easy gratification, it is hard for the most considerate philosophers and the most conscientious moralists to resist the temptation. Individuals have conquered themselves. Nations and large bodies of men, never.