What Extent Do Liberals Support Democracy Essay

697 Words Dec 29th, 2015 3 Pages
To what extent do liberals support democracy (45 marks)

Democracy is the ultimate political form of ideological liberalism. It refers to the ideal form of state, and is common to both classical and modern liberals.

In the 19th century, liberals often saw democracy as threatening or dangerous. Political theorists such as Plato and Aristotle viewed democracy as being a system of rule at the expense of wisdom and property. The principle that the will of the majority should prevail over the minority may have negative effects. In Northern Ireland, a very divided religious country, if the 51% get their way, the other 49% will be in outrage. Democracy thus comes down to the rule of the 51%, as French politician Alexis De Tocqueville
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Furthermore it could be argued that all citizens will be rational, and are capable of understanding the world and making decisions on basis of logical thought processes.

One of the earliest liberal justifications for democracy was founded on consent. The idea that citizens must have a means of protecting themselves from the encroaching government as liberals see liberal democracy as the ultimate protection against tyranny.
In the 17th century John Locke developed a limited theory of protective democracy, voting rights shoud be extended to the propertied, to defend their natural rights against government. During American revolution, the idea of ‘no taxation without representation’ was taken up. Utalitarianism theorists as Bentham and Mill developed notion of democracy as form of protection for the individual into a case for universal suffrage.

However a drawback of democracy is that it may mean that the government have to intervene more, something that classical liberals oppose.
A further reason of why liberals may be wary of democracy is that all power, even ‘power people’ tends to corrupt innately self-seeking humans. This was first developed by German socialist Michels, whose ‘Iron law of oligarchy’ states that all complex organizations, regardless of how democratic they originally are when constituted, eventually…

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