Government by the people.
Very much of the talk that involves the term 'democracy' is
propaganda. The reason is that real democracy, as defined, does not
exist unless the people runs the government, which it can only do if it
produces the bureaucracy besides
electing the government.
In Europe and the US in the 21st Century democracy means in effect that the
governors are periodically (re-)elected by means of public elections,
directly or indirectly, usually on the basis of a lot of
propaganda, and in principle by all of
the adult population, however (un)qualified.
Here is Guiccardini, who wrote in the early part of the 16th Century
on the idea. I quote from his Storia Italia (History of Italy). The
speaker is supposed to have made his point in 1495, and spoke against
one who fondly believed that all good things for
government issue from democracy:
"Guidantonio Vespucci, a famous lawyer and a
man of remarkable intelligence and skill, spoke as follows:
'If, most worthy citizens, a government
organized in the manner proposed (..) produced the desired results as easily
as they are described, it would certainly be perverse of anyone to wish for
any other form of government for our country. It would be a wicked civilian
who did not passionately love a form of republic in which the virtues, merits
and abilities of men were organized above all else.
But I do not understand how one can hope that
a system placed entirely in the hands of the people can be full of such
For I know that reason teaches, experience
shows and the authority of wise men confirms that in so great a multitude
there is not to be found such prudence, such experience and such discipline as
to lead us to expect that the wise will be preferred to the ignorant, the good
to the bad, and the experienced to those who have never handled any affairs
For as one cannot hope for sound judgement
from an unlearned and unexperienced judge, so from a people full of confusion
and ignorance one cannot except - except by chance - a prudent and reasonable
election or decision.
Are we to believe that an inexpert, untrained
multitude made up of such a variety of minds, conditions and customs, and
entirely absorbed in their own personal affairs, can distinguish and
understand what in public government wise men, thinking of nothing else, find
difficult to understand?
Quite apart from the fact that each person's
self-conceit will lead them all to desire honors - and it will not be enough
for men to in the popular government to enjoy the honest fruits of liberty -
they will all aspire to the highest posts and to take part in the decisions on
the most diffciult and important matters.
In us less than in any other city there rules
the modesty of giving way to the man who knows best or who has the most merit.
But if we persuade ourselves that we must be
by right all equal in all things, the proper positions of virtue and ability
will be confused when it rests with the judgments of the multitude.
And this greed spreading to the majority will
ensure that the most powerful will be those who know and deserve least; for as
they are more numerous, they will have more power in a state organized in such
a way that opinions are merely numbered and not weighed.'"
As it happened, giving the vote to all of the adult population in the
20th Century "in the name of democracy" has been very good for
rabble-rousers and has produced few good governors: Hitler was
democratically elected, and in every parliamentary democracy one can be
sure that most of the voters have no adequate ideas of what they vote on
or whom they vote for.
Yet the great majority in democratically governed societies believes
itself to be free and to vote in 'free and fair elections', also and
indeed because these elections have been much engineered by
It should also be noted that because 'government
by the people' and 'power to the people' are such popular slogans, all
governments of any kind whatsoever tend to style themselves
'democracies', and tend to manufacture periodic public elections. The
main reason to do so is that this enables the
leaders of government to claim that
they govern by popular support and through free and fair elections.
The truth is that even where there are free and fair elections, and
where there are several political parties who compete to get their
leaders elected, the majority of the electorate is not qualified to
judge rationally about those they elect or about the plans these propose
to get elected for.