Ages ago, those with power and ample property associated democracy with anarchy and brutal uprisings. And as the historian John Lukacs points out, conservatives in Europe in the late 1800s believed that democracy would produce political volatility. The opposite happened. Lukacs describes democracy as making politics more stable because the masses are "slow to change their minds." In the twentieth century, greater political volatility occurred where there was autocracy rather than democracy -- as in China in 1911 and Russia in 1917.
Democracy works better than rule by an elite because democracy brings a breadth of thought to government in the form of politicians listening to constituents. When blacks were disenfranchised in the United States, the ruling elite -- despite the education and depth of thinking of its members -- ignored the interests of blacks. It was not the President of the United States or men in Congress who set the wheels in motion for reforms in civil and human rights. That came from the aggrieved. Democracy is better than waiting for the benevolence of an elite.
Copyright © 1999-2011 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.