Democracies – What Does it Mean to Live in a Democracy?

The word democracy comes from the Greek words demos (people) and kratos (power or rule). It is a system of government that relies on the people to make decisions and to provide feedback. Democracy thrives when citizens use their freedom to participate in civic life, whether it’s voting, protesting or taking part in other civic activities such as volunteering or activism. This participation ensures that the people’s views are reflected in decision-making and gives them power over their own lives.

However, democracy has its challenges. As the world faces rapid change, some people have doubts about the value of the popular vote and of democracy in general. Others feel that it is being threatened by the rise of populists and demagogues who threaten liberal values. And a growing number of people in the developed world are frustrated that their democratic institutions do not respond to their concerns about the environment, globalization and inequality.

A strong democracy requires compromise, cooperation and trust. It depends on a society that supports its members, protects their rights and provides them with opportunities to fulfil their potential. It needs an effective government that is transparent and accountable, and a well-functioning civil society that is active and reaches out to all groups, including the poorest and most excluded. It should also be built on a foundation of fair rules that govern behaviour and that are clear, widely understood and well enforced.

In the face of these challenges, democracy must be resilient and adaptable. It must be able to weather seismic shifts in public opinion and political trends, as well as changes in technology, demographics and culture. And it must be able to respond to crises by providing people with the tools and incentives to take control of their lives, their communities and their futures.

But how can we tell if a democracy is healthy? And what does it look like when it’s under threat? The answers are complex. But in the long run, a healthy democracy is defined by several fundamentals:

– People have freedom of speech and association, and can move and speak freely (as long as they don’t harm others). They have the right to choose who makes decisions for them, and the law must treat everyone equally and fairly.

– Opposing views are tolerated and respected, and people have the right to assemble and to petition their government. They can also be heard, and laws should be clearly written and enforceable.

As the Economist’s Democracy Index shows, many countries struggle to meet these criteria. In 2020, for example, most nations saw their score decline as they imposed lockdowns and other restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. The exception was Taiwan, which jumped to 11th place after reforms in the judiciary. As a result, the average score for the world fell to its lowest level since 2006.

The Crisis of Democracy in America

The United States calls itself a “city upon a hill” and a “beacon of democracy,” and its political system was designed to defend democracy at the time of its founding. But today, American democracy is gravely ill with money politics, elite rule and political polarization. It has reached the breaking point and is not working for ordinary people.

To make democracy work, it must be based on equal participation of all citizens, and the rule of law must govern behavior and protect individual rights. In America, however, government power has been used to stifle the voices of minorities and to infringe on individual rights. The result has been the hollowing out of democracy and the growth of a new form of authoritarianism.

A major reason for this crisis is the exploitation of American democracy by wealthy interests and the growth of a two-party system that has become ideologically extreme. In America, winning a Congressional seat requires huge financial support from large corporations and a small group of wealthy individuals. This makes it possible for candidates with greater financial backing to control Congress, and it is also easier for them to influence legislation by funding their own initiatives and speaking for vested interests rather than the public interest. This kind of strategic manipulation of elections is a direct threat to democracy.

Another serious problem is the expansion of executive power and efforts to erode the independence of the civil service. In addition, the United States is one of the few established democracies with lifetime tenure for Supreme Court justices, while all other advanced democracies have term limits or mandatory retirement ages. These factors can undermine democracy even if legitimately elected leaders do not abuse their powers, but they can contribute to the appearance of illegitimate power grabs.

These problems have made the United States less effective at addressing international threats and meeting challenges at home. America’s score on the Democracy Index fell from 83 in 2021 to just 79 in 2025—lower than every other established democracy and many new or troubled democracies, including Argentina, Poland and Lithuania.

De Tocqueville warned that American citizens could eventually grow so satisfied with the equal treatment they received from one another that they would stop participating in self-government, and that society would be covered over with a network of petty rules that might be as oppressive as any cruel European monarchy. We are now at that dangerous moment. The future of our country, and indeed the world, depends on a return to true democracy. To do so, we need to understand what has happened and what can be done to restore its promise. We hope this article will help in that effort.

Achieving and Maintaining Freedom Starts With Baby Steps

freedom

Freedom is an ideal that allows people to live their lives in a way that best suits them. It is the foundation of self-fulfillment and a crucial element for society to maintain flourishing communities.

Freedom can be difficult to achieve and maintain, especially for those who are easily distracted. Achieving and maintaining freedom is a process, one that begins with baby steps. A newborn is born with a limited amount of freedom, but as they grow, they acquire more and more, and reach milestones like their first word, step or bike ride. In the same way, we can create our own freedom by taking small steps towards a more productive lifestyle.

The first step towards freedom is to eliminate distractions. Distractions can come from any number of sources, from social media to news websites to time-wasting apps. Using an app like Freedom can help you to block distracting websites and apps, creating a more productive work environment. Freedom is available for Mac, Windows, iOS and Android devices, and it works by blocking specific websites or the entire internet for a specified period of time, with the option to include multiple devices in each session. Users can also customize and tag websites or apps to block them more precisely, and they can choose from a list of preset blocks such as social media, news sites or gaming.

To use Freedom, start by installing the app on all of the devices you wish to block. Next, choose a session length from the options in the dashboard. Then, select the apps and websites you want to block by choosing from pre-made lists in categories such as social media, news or adult sites, or by entering a custom URL. The app will automatically sync all of your selected devices and lock them into a session, locking you out of the internet for a specific time period, with the ability to unlock the device once your blocked time is over.

Unlike some other blocker apps, Freedom doesn’t require an upfront request for payment and is free to try. However, if you want to continue using the app once your 7-use trial is up, there are several subscription plans to choose from. Freedom is available on a month-to-month basis at a cost of $6.99 per month, with yearly or lifetime discounts.

In addition to blocking websites and apps, the Freedom app offers features that can increase productivity by tracking and reporting on focus sessions, as well as offering a more healthy work/life balance. Users can set up recurring focused work periods with Freedom, and it is possible to review and track their progress after each successful session. This app is perfect for those who struggle to keep themselves on task and can benefit from the added motivation that comes with eliminating digital distractions. It can be challenging to break bad habits and develop good ones on your own, but tools like Freedom can make the process much easier and more manageable.

The Origins and Nature of Law

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Law is a set of rules created and enforced by the state to guarantee that society is safe, people can enjoy their freedoms and rights and that any disagreements or conflicts are settled fairly. It also serves to shape politics, economics, history and society in many ways. The exact nature of the laws varies from place to place, as each legal system has its own distinct characteristics.

A law may be a statute or a constitutional document. A statute is a legislative enactment that is binding on all members of the community, whether they were involved in its creation or not. The other type of law is a constitution, which is the set of principles that defines the way in which a state operates and protects individual rights. The laws of a nation may be based on religious beliefs, cultural traditions or a desire to improve the quality of life for all its citizens.

The purpose of law is to create a framework for social order and stability, prevent violence and crime, promote prosperity and equality, preserve minority rights, ensure justice and facilitate positive social change. It is a complex tool that can be used for good or evil, depending on the intention of those creating and enforcing it. A government ruled by an authoritarian leader, for example, may keep the peace and maintain the status quo, but it can also oppress minorities and limit the freedoms of individuals. In contrast, a democracy will generally serve its citizens better, but it is possible for the democratic process to be manipulated by those who seek power.

For this reason it is important to understand the origins of the laws in a particular country, as this will give a clearer picture of the reasons for their existence and how they work in practice. A number of different theories have been developed to explain the origins and nature of law. For example, Jeremy Bentham’s utilitarian theory states that law is a series of commands, backed by the threat of sanctions, from a sovereign to whom people have a natural obedience. Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s concept of natural law, which was later influenced by the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas, suggests that law reflects the moral laws of nature.

The rule of law is an idea that has its roots in ancient times and resonates in most major legal traditions. It emphasises the importance of a free society, where people are free in thought, free in speech and freely able to criticise their governments. It is an essential foundation for a prosperous, peaceful and sustainable world. The rule of law is a long-term goal that requires commitment from all parts of the legal ecosystem. It includes not only the state but also civil society, private enterprise and the judiciary. For further reading on this subject, see: legal system; law, philosophy of; censorship; criminal law; and the state.

Challenges to Democracy in Indonesia

democracy in indonesia

With more than 204 million registered voters for next week’s presidential election, Indonesia is one of the world’s largest democracies. It is also one of the sternest tests yet for democracy’s progress. The country’s political transition from authoritarian rule to democratic governance began in 1998 and was facilitated by free and fair elections, the rising influence of regional centers as a result of decentralization since 2001, and the first peaceful transfer of power between democratically elected presidents – Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to his successor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo in 2014.

But despite these achievements, the state still exerts an overwhelming influence over Indonesian politics – not only through its own direct interventions but by incentivizing legislative parties to collude rather than compete, distorting electoral representation and partisan politics from the local level up, and permitting dynastic politics to thrive. Corruption is widespread; respect for personal freedoms is constrained by broad and vaguely worded laws – some dating back to the Suharto era or even Dutch colonial times – that allow entrenched economic elites, religious organizations and security forces to threaten and intimidate journalists, publishers and NGOs.

Although Indonesians’ faith in democracy is strong, the country faces serious challenges, not only as it prepares for its most consequential election to date but in the future. The 2024 contest, for example, appears to be headed toward a close race between Jokowi and former general Prabowo Subianto, who ran in 2014 and 2019. Prabowo’s checkered past has drawn dire narratives from abroad that suggest his victory would be a death knell for the country’s fledgling democracy.

The most serious challenges, however, are more likely to stem from the underlying social and political conditions that produced Indonesia’s electoral landscape. They include the dominance of wealthy elites who can trace their fortunes to the heyday of Suharto’s autocracy; the oversized legislative coalitions required by a multiparty presidential system, which incentivize parties to collude and erode the effectiveness of a rump parliamentary opposition; gross inequalities that create marked differences in the quality of democracy across the nation; antipluralist and illiberal social forces that have grown more potent over time; an army that is reluctant to cede full control of politics to civilian forces; high levels of official corruption; and electoral clientelism and vote buying that distort representation and partisan politics from the local to the national level.

Fortunately, outside government, efforts are underway to manage polarization at the societal level. Prominent civil society organizations such as the Wahid Institute and the National Democratic Institute have a long history of supporting programs for the consolidation of democracy in Indonesia. Meanwhile, an array of grassroots media-based nongovernmental organizations are seeking to challenge regressive, antidemocratic political forces and educate voters on the dangers of extremism. These and other efforts deserve support. But, above all, voters must demand more from politicians – not only promises of good governance but tangible actions on the ground that ensure their electoral voices are heard and that democratic institutions are protected and strengthened.

The Relationship Between Democracy and Development

A democracy is a form of government in which citizens directly elect representatives to make laws and policies. It is also a system of political governance characterized by the principle that people’s interests should be equally advanced. This definition is compatible with a variety of electoral systems, for example both first-past-the-post voting and proportional representation. However, the definition does not settle normative questions about whether democracy is desirable in any particular context.

One popular justification for democracy appeals to the value of individual liberty. This view holds that each person’s life is deeply shaped by the larger social, legal and cultural environment in which she lives and that only when democratic participation gives her a say in collective decision-making will she have a chance to govern herself freely.

Another justification argues that the character of democracy encourages people to stand up for themselves and their rights. For this reason, many philosophers have argued that democracy is better able to protect citizens’ interests than other forms of rule. For instance, John Stuart Mill argues that the fact that democracy involves giving citizens a share in political decision-making forces those making those decisions to take into account the judgments and interests of a wider range of individuals than do monarchy or aristocracy.

In addition to its procedural aspects, some theorists argue that democracy should be defined in terms of substantive equality. This may involve the formal equality of one vote per citizen in a direct or indirect election for representation in parliament, and/or it may encompass more profound principles like equal opportunities for participation in deliberation and coalition building leading up to elections.

The relationship between democracy and development has been a major topic of debate in recent decades. Some think that economic growth must come before democracy and that democracies are best suited to societies in the early stages of development when they are likely to generate more sustainable levels of wealth and prosperity.

Others argue that democratic institutions and practices can be justified without reference to economic outcomes. In fact, there is ample evidence that democracy can produce positive results in the short run even when it is accompanied by relatively low levels of economic growth. In the short term, a democratic system of government can promote social cohesion and peace, reduce inequality and poverty, and create jobs and investment in infrastructure.

In the long term, however, the economic performance of a democracy depends on a wide variety of factors, including its quality of education and health care, its capacity to innovate, the quality of its financial markets, and the strength of civil society. Nevertheless, most observers agree that the overall trend has been favorable for democracy and that it is a good idea. The question remains, therefore, how to evaluate different moral justifications for democracy and to what extent they should be weighed against purely instrumental considerations. Ultimately, that is a question for individual philosophers to answer on the basis of their own values and conceptions of human beings and society.

Democracy in America

democracy in america

The four volumes of the 19th century classic Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville have become a touchstone for political thinkers, historians and a vast array of writers – including Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, Hermann Melville’s Moby Dick and Franz Kafka’s The Trial. It is a work that, for its daring conjectures and elegant prose, formidable length and narrative complexity, has always been subject to wide interpretations. Some read it as a lavish hymn to American power and rising global pre-eminence, while others view it as a cautionary tale of the dangers of hubris and the inexorable destruction that awaits those who do not respect the limits of human powers.

While Tocqueville praised the democratic innovations of American society that he saw, such as the political party system, representative government and one man/one vote, he also noted that these innovations have not eliminated the inequality that was at the root of European feudal autocracies. He believed that this inequality would persist, but he did not believe that it would necessarily grow in size and scope. He thought that, as democracy spread, it would cause people to be driven to seek ways to equalise the property, status and power of other people. The desire for equality would make them feel that current inequalities were purely contingent and thus potentially alterable by human action itself.

Tocqueville also recognised that, while democracy spreads passion for the equalisation of power, property and wealth, it also makes people less concerned about protecting fundamental human rights. He was particularly worried that this development could lead to the erosion of freedom, a deterioration of morals and a loss of respect for law.

In the present day, many observers – including scholars of American politics – are dismayed to see that some of Tocqueville’s worries have been proved to be true. American democracy has been hijacked by the interests of capital and financial power, with money politics permeating every aspect of election, legislation and administration. The US has a habit of interfering in other countries’ internal affairs and seeking regime change to install pro-US governments, with disastrous consequences for the people of those countries.

It has been widely argued that the US’s so-called ‘democracy’ is a sham. A recent report by the Brookings Institution warned that US democracy is at a “tipping point” and that it is declining faster than previously thought. This decline is fuelled by a number of factors, including the growing number of voter restrictions and electoral fraud and the public’s lack of faith in the government. The fractious nature of American politics has also contributed to this disintegration. Political polarization is on the rise and both Republicans and Democrats are increasingly following their voters down the path of ideological extremism, with mutual inhibition and antagonism becoming commonplace. As a result, they are moving towards what one scholar has called factionalized anocracy – the halfway stage between autocracy and democracy. In addition, political violence has become more frequent and more widely accepted, with the brutal attack on the Capitol in Washington a case in point.

The Importance of Freedom

Freedom is an important value to have, and it can bring many advantages to both the individual and society as a whole. It gives people power and choice, which leads to increased productivity and a flourishing economy. However, it is also an important concept to understand, and it’s not as simple as “everything for everybody.” Freedom has many different aspects and is much more complex than simply being able to do whatever you want without restraint.

Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of association and assembly, freedom to own property and set up private businesses, and the right to travel freely are all examples of freedoms that benefit society as a whole. They all help to create a prosperous environment that is enriched by vibrant communities.

However, the most important aspect of freedom is freedom from coercion and oppression. It is the foundation upon which all other rights are built and it must always be respected. People who lack freedom are at a disadvantage in the workplace, at home, and in their personal lives. Freedom is a fundamental value that should be enjoyed by all, and it is crucial for a healthy society.

The most common way that freedom is violated is through censorship and other government-imposed restrictions on what people can say or do. This is often seen in countries with dictatorial regimes, but it can be found all over the world in places that are ruled by democratically elected governments. In these cases, censorship is used as a way to control the media and restrict the flow of information. In addition to this, there are many other ways that freedom is eroded.

Another example of freedom being violated is through the misuse and abuse of technology. In this case, people use their digital devices to distract themselves from work or other obligations. In many cases, this results in wasting time on social media or other addictive websites and apps. Freedom is an app that helps to block these distractions and enable users to be more productive by eliminating the temptation to browse the internet. Its features include a customizable blocklist and a “Locked” mode that disables all settings for the duration of a blocking session.

Using Freedom is easy, and it can be set up to run on multiple devices. It’s easy to start a blocking session by clicking on the red block button, and you can even schedule sessions ahead of time. The app also allows you to track your progress with the Session History view. The best part is that Freedom will block sites across all of your computers, iPhone, iPad, and Android devices. That means that the same distracting websites will be blocked on all of your devices and won’t be able to steal your focus. Try Freedom today for free. You can get a 7-use trial by using the coupon code UPGRADENOW at checkout.

Problems and Benefits of a Career in Law

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Law consists of the rules that govern human behaviour and relationships. It covers a wide range of topics, from commercial transactions to medical jurisprudence to the rules that apply when an individual dies and leaves behind heirs. Law is important because it provides a framework for people to live peacefully together. It protects their rights, and imposes sanctions on those who break the rules. It also serves to promote social justice and help people adapt to change. But, it is not without its problems. The law is complex and can sometimes be difficult to understand.

One of the most obvious problems is that it can be hard to predict how laws will be applied. For example, a court may not follow a previous ruling or might interpret a statute in an unusual way. This can create uncertainty and delay the dispensation of justice. Another problem is that it can be difficult to enforce the law. For example, it might be difficult to get a conviction in court or to obtain compensation when someone is harmed by an accident or as a result of a malicious rumour.

A further challenge is that the law can be influenced by politics and power. For example, Max Weber reshaped thinking on the extension of the state, whilst modern military and police powers pose challenges that would not have been foreseen by Locke or Montesquieu. Other problems include excessive formalism and a lack of transparency. For example, drafting legislation in complicated language might make lawyers feel clever but is not always helpful to clients. It is also not easy to keep up with the rapid changes in society and the legal profession.

Studying law requires a wide range of skills and a deep understanding of many aspects of human life. This is why it can be a rewarding career choice for those who are passionate about it. But, like any other subject, it has its disadvantages. It can be a demanding and stressful profession, especially in large firms with heavy caseloads. And, some lawyers find that they do not enjoy the work and leave the profession.

The law is a vast and fascinating area of study with significant influence on the lives of most of us. Oxford Reference offers more than 34,000 concise definitions and in-depth, specialist encyclopedic entries covering the main areas of law. The law is important because it provides a framework for peace and order, protects individual rights, promotes social justice, and allows for orderly, managed social change. It is, therefore, essential to the well-being of any society.

The Limits of Democracy in Indonesia

democracy in indonesia

Indonesians are preparing to vote in a presidential election that takes place against a backdrop of increasing democratic fragility. The telltale signs include a government increasingly uninterested in public opinion and adept at inhibiting dissent, changes to electoral rules designed to tilt the playing field for favored candidates and so-called “nepo babies,” and attempts by legislators to dismantle key sources of accountability.

These developments are particularly troubling for the country’s democracy advocates, many of whom have long hoped to see the emergence of a robust middle class and a government that can effectively tackle entrenched social challenges like high poverty rates, uneven health and educational services, and the activity of radical sectarian groups. In the years since President Jokowi’s victory in a 2014 direct election, Indonesia has indeed demonstrated some of the hallmarks of a maturing democracy, including macroeconomic stability, a lively parliament, and progress on professional reform in the army and police forces.

The political system’s weaknesses, however, are a constant reminder of the limits of democracy in a society with shifting coalitions and distributed power centers. While some observers fear that Prabowo will take advantage of this structure to expand his sphere of influence, the reality is that he will struggle to bend a system designed to make it hard for individual leaders to amass too much power to his own ends.

For example, the switch to direct regional elections allowed Indonesian voters to select local executives who do most of the day-to-day governing and have made a tangible difference in their communities. As a result, some of the country’s most popular politicians started their careers as regional executives and are now nationally recognized because of their administrative skills. This system has also defused potentially polarizing identity-based divisions by providing incentives for parties to form governing coalitions across ideological lines in pursuit of electoral victory and access to state resources.

In contrast, patronage-based politics weakens democracy by rewarding elites for sacrificing democratic institutions and norms in the interest of political expediency while complacent citizens watch helplessly. This is the current trend in democracy worldwide, as seen most notably in India under Narendra Modi and in Trump-era America.

If Indonesians want to avert the threat of such decline, they need to re-engage in political activism and focus on promoting civic participation, building democratic institutions, and ensuring electoral integrity. This requires not only an active citizenry, but a more mature one that understands that democracy is not something that happens to a nation but rather a process that must be actively guarded and nurtured by its citizens. This task falls largely on Indonesia’s civil society organizations, who must develop a compelling political message and viable electoral alternatives to the dominant party system in order to preserve Indonesia’s democracy. If not, the country may be headed for a cliff’s edge in its two-decade-long march toward greater democracy.