Democracy is the only system of governance that gives ordinary citizens a chance to influence the politics of their own country to address various problems, issues, and injustices affecting them. It is also the only system of governance that can enforce accountability upon those in power. No other system provides that opportunity to the ordinary individual (Dahl 49). Throughout humanity’s history, societies were governed by tyrants. Whoever was the strongest and had the most power and influence told everyone else what to do, and they obeyed (Iversen and Soskice 17). If they do not follow, they would be forced to or killed. It is the reason why many atrocities happened in the past.
A tyrant could order to sack individuals and deprive them of their property or even life. They could start a war for personal reasons without anyone else’s consent, and the rest would be forced to follow (Iversen and Soskice 18). They could declare a group of individuals as undesirable and either exile or genocide them, with nobody else capable of protesting the action (Iversen and Soskice 21). In a democratic system, such actions would be difficult to perform, as said tyrant would have to convince the majority that their actions are good and just. And even then, a proper democracy would have various checks and balances to ensure that the darker impulses of the mod reigned in and that minorities are protected (Dahl 116). In short, democracy offers the best instruments for the people to defend themselves from excesses associated with totalitarian rule.
The recent fiasco of the US democracy-enforcing mission in Afghanistan should be a lesson to anyone who thinks that democracy is the best fit for everyone. Like any other system of governance, it is tied to the economic, developmental, religious, and traditional roots of a country (Barry 72). In many areas, people are not prepared, nor do they want to accept this new system, especially if it is violently enforced. Suppose a society is rural and tribal, engaged mainly in low-skill menial labor. In that case, it will take decades of industrialization and education before democracy becomes a sustainable and desirable alternative to the autocratic traditionalism currently keeping the country together (Barry 120). The majority of efforts to force democracy onto nations and peoples not ready for it have failed, resulting in whatever semblance of peace there was being shattered (Barry 121). Failed democracies often result in fracturing and civil wars, bringing more harm than a stable, if authoritarian, dictatorship, ever could.
Therefore, democracy is not the best form of government for all the world’s inhabitants. It is not a panacea for all of the world’s troubles but rather an instrument that needs to be used appropriately and in situations where warranted. The ultimate purpose of any government, be it democratic or otherwise, is to ensure the nation’s safety, security, and prosperity (Przeworski 87). Therefore, sacrificing these elements and bringing ruin to a country in the name of democracy is contradictory to its very purpose. Eventually, when non-democratic countries develop themselves enough not to need a strong leader holding them together by any means necessary, a transition would be possible and even desirable (Przeworski 50). When this happens worldwide, it would be possible to claim that democracy is indeed better for everyone. The current state of the world, however, suggests otherwise.
Barry, Ben. Blood, Metal and Dust: How Victory Turned into Defeat in Afghanistan And Iraq. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2020.
Dahl, Robert A. On democracy. Yale university press, 2020.
Iversen, Torben, and David Soskice. Democracy and prosperity. Princeton University Press, 2019.
Przeworski, Adam. Crises of democracy. Cambridge University Press, 2019.