The Concept of Democracy and How to Practise It Well


Democracy is a fundamental principle of the human rights regime, defined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives. However, the concept of democracy is deeply contested in practice and the democratic principles of inclusivity, popular control, and considered judgement are increasingly difficult to realise.

When people talk about democracy, it means they believe in a government of the people and for the people. But many are not clear about what this really means and why it is important. This article explains the key concepts of democracy and gives tips on how to practise it well.

The word democracy comes from the Greek words demos (people) and kratos (rule). It was first used in the middle of the 5th century bce to refer to a political system based on the compromise, mutual interests and sense of common identity that characterised the city-states of Greece at this time. It was also an era of growing prosperity, and many of the peoples of Western Europe were benefiting from social change including urbanisation, increasing literacy and the development of institutions that enabled them to manage their own affairs.

For this reason, the belief that democracy is a good thing has generally been strongest in the West. But there has always been a debate about whether a society needs to be developed before democracy can work. Many experts have argued that economic development is necessary to create the kind of civic consciousness that will lead to the broad coalition of interests and tolerance for differing views required for a successful democracy.

There is also a strong link between democracy and growth, with countries that have established democracy in the last 70 years on average experiencing higher levels of economic growth than those without. This is largely because, as the economist Daron Acemoglu has argued, democracy provides incentives for governments to invest in education and health care, which increases the human capital of a nation and boosts growth by enabling poorer people to reach their potential and contribute to the economy.

Democracy also enables citizens to be informed about the decisions that are made “in their name” and to express their opinions on those issues, either by writing to their elected representatives or through media or other groups working on specific issues. This feedback is critical, since leaders cannot know what issues are most important to their constituents if they do not receive information about them.

Of course, not all voters are able to make well-informed choices when they vote – for example, those who do not have the specialist knowledge needed to vote on some issues, or those who are not sufficiently informed about how politicians will implement policies they have voted for. Nonetheless, there are a number of things that all citizens can do to improve their engagement with politics, and to make democracy more effective. These include voting, expressing their opinions to their representatives and the media, ensuring that they are aware of the issues that are being addressed in their name, and trying not to be misinformed about those issues through rumour or propaganda.

The Spirit of Democracy in America

democracy in america

The ethos of democracy as government of the people, by the people and for the people has long been recognized worldwide. The Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, abolitionist and civil rights movements, one person one vote and separation of powers all shifted the balance of power from feudal autocracy to democratic rule.

But there is a deeper dimension to democracy that should not be overlooked. As democracy shapes society it nudges and broadens its citizens’ horizons. It tutors their sense of pluralism and encourages them to be suspicious of the powers deemed ‘natural’. Citizens learn that prevailing power relationships are mutable, that they are never permanent and that they must keep an eye on those who wield the state’s authority because a moment’s inattention can devolve into a lifetime of misrule.

As such, democracy is a dynamic political system. It changes as societies evolve and it changes because the people who live in democracies change their expectations and desires. Those changes in turn shape the democratic system. For example, the more democratic a democracy is, the more its citizens expect good governance. Good governance requires that elected officials are transparent, responsive and accountable to the people. Good governance also necessitates that elected officials are free of conflicts of interest and that there is a mechanism to hold elected officials accountable.

The proximate source of the’spirit’ of democratic restlessness that Tocqueville observed is in how democracy enables struggle by groups and individuals for greater equality. His own peripatetic journey through the young American republic opened his eyes, broadened his horizons and changed his understanding of democracy.

Tocqueville did not anticipate that the democratic’spirit’ would give rise to self-conscious democratic art and literature. He was not expecting the palpable ethos of equality with liberty expressed in simple body language, tobacco-chewing customs and easy manners to give rise to an openness to paradoxes and a fascination with juggling opposites. But that is precisely what democracy in america reflects.

What’s more, the’spirit’ of democracy has evolved to encompass an ethos of activism. That’spirit’ is evident in the many ways citizens use their freedom to reclaim the public realm, fight corruption and address climate change, among other things. However, the most profound expression of the’spirit’ of democracy today is found in the way the United States uses its democratic values to seek out and promote democracy abroad – a practice that can be extremely damaging to countries with more fragile democracies, causing chaos and instability as it divides and destroys them. It’s time for the US to do a bit of soul-searching about how it uses its democracy and to focus on how it can help create a more harmonious, prosperous and stable world by demonstrating what democratic practice looks like in the real world. Not by imposing its own vision of democracy on others, but by offering to share its economic wealth and cultural values. It’s a task that will require cooperation and mutual respect.

What Does it Mean to Be Free?


Freedom is more than just the right to do what you want, but it’s also the ability to think freely, live without fear and do what you believe in. It’s a powerful concept that is enshrined in our democracy and is the reason why people are willing to risk their lives to fight for it. But what does it really mean? What does it feel like to be free and how does it manifest itself in our everyday lives? Let’s take a look at some of the most common definitions of freedom:

1. Exemption from fate, necessity, or any constraint in consequence of predetermination or otherwise: A famine threatens our freedom to travel abroad. 2. Freedom of action or thought: I am free to believe what I like, but I have to respect other people’s freedoms.

3. The state of being unbound or released from confinement or physical restraint: He won his freedom after a long trial.

4. The absence of external control, interference or regulation: A free society is a place where everyone has freedom of speech.

5. The state of being unencumbered or loose: He has a lot of freedom when it comes to his career.

6. The freedom to choose one’s own path: He is free to follow his conscience and decide what morality he follows.

7. The liberty to act as one wishes without regard for any restrictions: He is free to speak as he pleases.

8. The absence of external control: Freedom is the opposite of slavery.

9. A feeling of being independent: I felt a sense of freedom when I graduated from college.

10. A broader skill set: Freedom is the bulge of freedoms that you gain over time.

For example, when you learn a new language or play an instrument, the freedom of the other actions will force the fence back farther away from your current level. Each new freedom will add to this bulge, and the more skills you gain, the wider the burst of freedom becomes.

In philosophy, freedom has been defined by Immanuel Kant as ‘the autonomy of the will.’ Kant argued that in order to have true freedom, you must be able to make choices based on your own reasons alone – not because of anything outside yourself. This is because in order to have true choice, you must be able to interrupt a chain of necessary causes.

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What Is Law?


Law is a set of rules which a society uses to regulate its members’ behavior and ensure that everyone has enough freedom within certain limits. It also helps to prevent social unrest and violence by ensuring that people are treated fairly, and it can punish those who break the rules. The rules can be enforced by police or courts. A law can be a legal document or it can simply be the customs and practices of a group or community.

Generally, laws are created by a government which is elected by the governed people. This is the democratic principle behind most modern countries’ systems of law. The laws are then voted on and enacted by groups of politicians in legislatures, such as parliaments or congresses, which are the bodies that make up these countries’ political systems. A constitution, which sets out the overall framework for the country, can then be amended by these legislatures for more specific matters of detail.

Some of the laws that are created by governments involve rights that people have over things they create, such as music or art, and these are called intellectual property laws. Other laws protect inventions that people make, which are known as patent laws. The law can also cover the names that people use for their companies, which are known as trademark laws.

Other types of law are enforceable contracts, which are the basis for business and commerce, and tort law, which allows people to claim compensation when they have been harmed by the actions of others. The law can also cover areas of personal life, such as marriage and divorce proceedings, the rights of children, or the inheritance of money or property. The law can even be used to deal with scientific and technological matters, such as the creation of new drugs or the safety of airplanes.

The idea behind the rule of law is that all citizens are considered equal under it, no matter their wealth or status. It is a system which can help to prevent abuses of power by people in the higher ranks of society, by ensuring that the law is clearly publicized and that justice is available to all. It can also help to limit the powers of the state by putting checks and balances in place, and it can help to ensure that core human and procedural rights are protected. It can also help to keep the economy stable and prevent inflation by providing a framework for monetary policy. This is why many economists consider the law to be one of the most important parts of a country’s economic policy. The law can also influence politics, culture, history and society in a variety of ways. Some of these influences are beneficial, while others can be negative. Those who study the law try to understand these influences and how they affect each other. They may also focus on the role that law can play in a country’s governance and international relations.

Democracy in Indonesia Undermines Democracy in India and Trump-Era America

democracy in indonesia

In an era of global democratic regression, Indonesia has been hailed as a model of democracy’s resilience. Its democratic transition and persistence since the fall of authoritarianism in 1998 have been bolstered by free and fair elections, political and media pluralism, and peaceful transfers of power. But it now seems that the same forces that undermine democracy in India under Narendra Modi and Trump-era America are at work in Indonesia as well, with worrying implications for the country’s future.

In the lead-up to a crucial regional election, the government and allied parties are proposing a radical change to electoral rules. They want to revert to indirect regional elections uniformly across the vast and diverse nation, with citizens electing only their local executives rather than directly for national parliamentarians or presidential candidates. Such a move would diminish the autonomy of the 3,000 or so provincial governors, 415 district heads, and 923 mayors who govern Indonesia’s 17,000 islands and 700 languages.

The main reason for this shift is the growing popularity of Prabowo Subianto, a former general who commanded the kidnapping of democracy activists and massacre of independence fighters in East Timor during the New Order regime. He has been a persistent threat to the stability of Indonesian democracy and its democratic institutions, and his return to power would threaten the checks on presidential authority that the nation’s constitution and laws have provided.

Prabowo’s popularity has fueled fears that Indonesia is entering an era of political instability and backsliding, even though it has enjoyed a remarkable level of prosperity since its democratic transition. The authors of this essay argue that the signs of regression are clear: a rise in vigilantism, deepening political polarization, an erosion of the rule of law, dysfunctional key democratic institutions, and the politicization of key social issues, including religious freedom, women’s rights, and free speech.

Those who are concerned about Indonesia’s decline should recognize that the fate of democracy in the country will not be determined by the whims of its leaders. Rather, it depends on the actions of elites and ordinary people together: working through established institutions; following norms of mutual tolerance and forbearance; resolving legitimate political differences through a democratic process of free and fair elections; and respecting the democratic rights of all. This is the only way to guarantee the long-term sustainability of Indonesia’s democratic gains. Sana Jaffrey is a nonresident scholar in the Asia Program at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

The Virtues of Democracy


Democracy is one of the most commonly used forms of government in the world. It includes political processes and a system of fundamental rights that all citizens have the right to enjoy, regardless of whether they participate in democracy’s decision making. It entails free, fair and frequent elections in which citizens can vote directly or through freely chosen representatives, a freedom to communicate with others and to gather information, and the ability to exercise control over the decision making agenda.

Despite its popularity, democracy is not without problems. Anger at political elites, economic dissatisfaction and anxiety over rapid social change have fueled political upheaval in regions around the world. Some question the value of democracy when votes seem to produce policies they don’t like and when demagogues win power and challenge established democratic norms and institutions. Organizations from Freedom House to the Economist Intelligence Unit have documented declines in democracy’s health worldwide.

There are as many forms of democracy as there are countries that have them, and no single model can be taken as a “standard”. Some democracies are presidential, some are parliamentary, and some are both presidential and parliamentary. Some are federal, some are unitary, some use a proportional representation system, and some use a majoritarian one.

But no matter the specifics, all democratic systems are founded on the idea that it is morally right for citizens to have some form of political participation and that it is morally wrong for them not to have it. The main function of normative democracy theory is to settle questions about which, if any, forms of democracy are morally desirable independent of their consequences (Caplan 2007; Somin 2013; Brennan 2016).

Several different arguments have been made for the virtues of democracy. One is instrumental: well-functioning democratic institutions are correlated with a host of positive outcomes, including increased growth and reduced poverty (Acemoglu et al. 2019). Other instrumental justifications focus on the link between democracy and the protection of core liberal rights, such as the right to a fair trial, the right to privacy, the right to freedom of association, and the right to freedom of expression (see Gaus 1996: ch. 13; Christiano 2011).

A common epistemic justification for democracy is that democratic procedures are best able to exploit the underlying cognitive diversity of large groups of people. When a variety of views are brought into the decision making process, they help ensure that different possibilities are considered and that policy makers consider possible trade-offs. Moreover, democratic decisions are more likely to be just, since they take into account the concerns and interests of all members of the community. In addition, the very act of voting forces people to think carefully and rationally about the issues and to reflect on their own values. This can lead them to be more ethical in their conduct.

Democracy in America – How Can We Save It?

The American model once hailed as the exemplar of liberal democracy now faces serious doubts. Political infighting, money politics and vetocracy render it virtually impossible to deliver quality governance. A sense of disillusionment with US politics and pessimism about democracy have become widespread among Americans.

What’s at stake? How can we save it?

In a world where democracy has lost much of its legitimacy and lustre, the question has never been more pressing. How can we revive it and make sure it works for all?

CIPE believes that the answer lies in a new understanding of democracy. In its broadest sense, it means a new form of self-government that includes not just elections, parties and government by representatives but a wider range of civil associations designed to protect against the dangers of political despotism.

Democracy in America explains how, in a democratic culture, the wellspring of people’s political passion is the equalisation of power, property and status. They come to feel that prevailing inequalities are neither necessary nor natural, but rather contingent and up for grabs, able to be altered by democratic action itself.

Tocqueville recognised that this was not just an ethical principle but an essential condition for democracy to work. Without it, the prevailing balance of power would easily break down. He saw that the only way to avoid this was to bolster people’s faith in democracy, so that its dynamism could continue to enliven the culture of self-government.

This is why he insisted that democratic societies must nurture a culture of civic pride and engagement. It is also why he argued that civic associations must be encouraged to develop the kind of productive attitudes that can sustain this culture. In particular, he emphasized that there must be a strong sense of honour and an enduring commitment to the community. These values are reflected in the Biden-Harris Administration’s historic progress to build a stronger and fairer society, including strengthening women’s economic empowerment and safety in the workplace, advancing pay equity and military justice reform, and investing in rebuilding America’s infrastructure.

The United States has a responsibility to the rest of the world to promote these values and practices in its own sphere of influence, and to ensure that the principles of democracy are practised in places where they will do the most good for the most people. The failure to do this has resulted in disastrous interference and regime change in countries that would have been far better off with a more stable, indigenous form of self-government. It is a fundamental flaw in our foreign policy that we should not overlook.

What Does Freedom Really Mean?

The idea of freedom stirs the human spirit like no other concept. People in jail long for freedom, and those living under oppressive regimes yearn to experience the same liberation that Americans enjoy. But what does freedom really mean? It’s important to realize that true freedom isn’t found in escaping from society or living on the edge. Rather, true freedom can be discovered through a journey of understanding what makes you genuinely happy, what is truly valuable and what sets your soul on fire.

One popular definition of freedom is the ability to do whatever you want without anyone preventing you from doing so. But, taken to the extreme, this view would lead to dangerous anarchy. Freedom is more complicated than this. It is more akin to the freedom of a piano player who uses discipline and restraint to create beautiful music. Similarly, we can say that someone is free to bang on the keys of their piano at random, or they can follow an instructor who guides them in their use of the instrument. In this way, they are using the piano as it was intended to be used.

Another important definition of freedom is the ability to follow your own beliefs in matters of religion and morality. This is sometimes referred to as “freedom of conscience.” However, the word freedom can also be used more broadly to refer to freedom from oppression, harm or discrimination.

A third important definition of freedom is the ability to pursue your personal goals and dreams without restriction. Whether that means quitting a job that doesn’t make you happy, speaking your mind to someone who has wronged you or taking the time off work that you need – it’s all part of the concept of personal freedom.

The fourth and final definition of freedom is the ability to live without fear. The most obvious way this can be achieved is by eliminating the threat of war and terrorism. But it can also be achieved by developing economic understandings that ensure each country has the resources to provide its inhabitants with a healthy, peaceful life. Lastly, the world can achieve freedom from fear by reducing its armaments to such an extent that no nation will ever be in a position to commit a physical act of aggression against its neighbors.

Individual freedom is a natural human right that allows us to explore our potential and live on our own terms. It is a right that is vital for a fulfilling and happy life.

Ultimately, what defines your freedom is how you choose to use it in your relationships and your pursuit of happiness. Whether it’s to travel, to speak your mind, to be yourself, to love others and even to choose your own path in life, freedom is a journey that starts in our own hearts. May you find your freedom on this journey, wherever it takes you. Michael J. Donnelly is an Army Veteran of more than 15 years who serves as an officer for the VA health care system in Anchorage, Alaska.

What Is Law?

Law is a set of rules made by a government that people must follow. It sets out what is and is not allowed, and if people break those laws they will face punishment. The purpose of law is to protect people and make sure that everyone has a fair opportunity to get justice. The benefits of having a well-functioning system of laws are vast and varied, from stability and equality to freedom from corruption and unjust treatment. Law also ensures that victims receive compensation when they suffer a loss, and it allows citizens to have recourse against those who harm them.

The precise definition of law is a topic of debate and has changed over time. The word’s meaning is generally agreed to be the body of rules imposed by a government that must be obeyed or punished, but some people also use it more broadly to mean any strong rule that must be followed. For example, house rules may be described as laws, and behaviours that a person might do instinctively or spontaneously, such as trying to save their life when in danger, could also be considered to be laws.

Legal systems vary enormously between nations. The creation of law is a matter of political power, which in turn influences how a nation looks and functions. It is a complex field of study, and the varying approaches to it can explain why nations appear so different.

There are four main purposes of law: establishing standards, maintaining order, resolving disputes and protecting liberties and rights. These broad areas of law can then be further subdivided into specific fields, for example: labour law is the study of a tripartite industrial relationship between employer, trade union and employee; contract law covers commercial transactions; property law defines ownership of personal assets; and criminal law sets out how crimes should be prosecuted.

In addition to these general areas of law, the law also encompasses many sub-fields including administrative law, criminology, criminal procedure and civil litigation, international law, maritime law, medical jurisprudence, constitutional law and corporate law. Moreover, the practice of law involves many other specialisms, such as immigration and asylum law, taxation law and criminal defence.

The complexity of the legal system can lead to problems. For instance, the rigidity of laws can slow down the pace at which a society changes. Moreover, judges can be subject to bias and personal opinions. The laws must therefore be fixed so that they can better withstand individual judgements by providing stable and reliable principles of law. These principles can also help judges to make sound decisions and avoid ill-judged interpretations of the law. This is important because a judge’s faulty or prejudiced judgement can affect the lives of people who are entrusting their lives to the courts. For this reason, a legal system that has fixed principles is preferable to one that is purely judge-based.

Democracy in Indonesia

The world’s third-largest democracy is gearing up for a marathon election. On Feb. 14, 2024, Indonesians will choose national, provincial, and district parliamentary representatives in one of the largest single-day elections ever. The vote will also test the country’s presidential system and bolster or erode citizens’ confidence in the capacity of political and judicial institutions to check executive power. It will be the first test of President Joko Widodo’s ability to manage a governing coalition and oversee a complex bureaucracy with significant power-sharing obligations.

But while the scale of the elections and the vigor of political campaigning would suggest a vibrant democracy, this is not a moment to declare victory. Many citizens face serious challenges: insufficient public services, high and rising prices for basic goods, persistent unemployment, and low growth rates. Others are worried about racial and religious discrimination, the prevalence of violent and criminal elements within society, and growing threats to press freedom.

Despite the challenges, democratic progress in indonesia continues apace. The April 2019 legislative election, for example, reflected a more pluralistic politics than previous contests and the electoral system has been largely reformed. The country has a robust and varied media environment, though some laws restrict journalists’ freedoms and some communities have suffered from harassment. The military retains considerable influence and former commanders are increasingly prominent in politics, allowing them to shape policy and shape public discourse. The military’s history with corruption has also raised concerns.

In the presidential race, incumbent Joko Widodo (popularly known as Jokowi) and his Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle won 55.5 percent of the vote, outpacing his rival, former general Prabowo Subianto of the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra). Jokowi’s two presidential campaigns promoted a moderate form of Indonesian nationalism centered on effective governance, morality in politics, and economic development, while Prabowo, drawing from his military record, focused on law-and-order themes and opportunistically appealed to hardline Islamist elements.

While these factors will make it difficult for a new president to govern, it is unclear whether they will be sufficient to derail Indonesia’s democratization process and, if not, when. If, as polls indicate, Prabowo wins, he will face widespread doubts about the capacity of democratic institutions to hold him and other elected officials accountable.

A more worrisome trend has been the use of the government’s popularity to dismantle sources of democratic accountability. For instance, in September 2019, the parliament passed a law gutting the country’s highly respected anti-corruption agency. By denying voters a direct say in evaluating and punishing incompetent executives, this measure weakens an essential source of democratic control. This is a major course reversal that calls into question the extent to which Indonesian voters really are in full control of their governments.