The Pathos of Politics (43-1) Democracy continued


A healthy democracy requires a decent society; it requires that we are honorable, generous, tolerant, and respectful. ~ American jurist Charles Pickering

Democracy relies upon a common decency and wisdom: the very thing that has been the greatest concern to political theorists, as to whether these virtues were sufficiently abundant in the populace.

Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance. ~ American scholar H.L. Mencken

Most apparent about democracy is that its quality invariably reflects its participants. The recommended remedy has been to raise the consciousness of the citizenry.

I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome direction, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. ~ Thomas Jefferson

Practically, democracy has always been a package deal. Its vitality has always depended upon an educated populace, which has also been key to economic prosperity.

Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day. ~ Thomas Jefferson

Yet, in most democratic countries, education has not been esteemed in a way commensurate with its essentiality to either political or economic well-being. This is one of democracy’s great failings: to leave too fallow the fields of human minds upon which reasonable success for the polity depends.

It as if democracy’s soul is not understood by those responsible for its keep: an inscrutable ignorance of history, and proof that common sense is uncommon, even in those granted power to rule.

Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve. ~ Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw

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Democracy rests upon 2 pillars: one, the principle that all men are equally entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and the other, the conviction that such equal opportunity will most advance civilization. ~ American jurist Louis Brandeis

From a societal standpoint, the dream of democracy has never been realized, nor was it ever realistic. For most people, material constraints shackle liberty and hamper the pursuit of happiness.

Only with material equality, or at least equal opportunity, not simply equal treatment under the law, can liberty be equally pursued by all. Yet very few modern men would call compulsory sharing of resources individual liberty.

It is a strange fact that freedom and equality, the two basic ideas of democracy, are to some extent contradictory. Logically considered, freedom and equality are mutually exclusive, just as society and the individual are mutually exclusive. ~ German social critic Thomas Mann

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Democracy is beautiful in theory; in practice it is a fallacy. ~ Benito Mussolini