Fear of Democracy

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‘A fear of democracy runs throughout liberalism’ Discuss. 45 Marks (Jan 2011)

Some political thinkers have argued that Liberalism can be defined by its fear of democracy. Democracy is ‘rule by the people’, this term suggests that there is popular participation and also public interest within government. While liberals fear democracy they know and see it as the best possible way. As there is a clear fear of it lying underneath the liberal ideology, there are obvious arguments for and against this point. Both have valid indications to say there is and isn’t a fear respectively. However this essay will be looking at both sides, not looking to give a judgement but aiming to establish these for and against arguments. There can be seen a direct fear of democracy from the support of collectivism that democracy gives. Democracy is seen as enhancing the collectivism. As liberals, both classical and modern, do not aim to support collectivism it is clear why they would fear democracy. Collectivism is also the opposite of individualism, in this sense many liberals fear collectivism as it gives a collective rather than an individual. On the other hand the divide between modern and classical liberals over their respective views on freedom can come into play here. Positive freedom which is advocated by modern liberals is linked to the collective. This is the sense that people should help people, and that the state is more interventionist than that of a classical liberal view. This link to collectivism can also be linked to the term ‘tyranny of majority’. Democracy can become this tyranny, as with a voting system it is the majority that counts. This means that a minority will become lost within society, while the majority enjoy happiness. For liberals this is feared as individuals and their freedom are at the core of the ideology, democracy can be seen to limit their liberty and individuality. This is also related to conformism and a stagnate society. With all this included...
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