As a student, we have been taught in schools the advantages and disadvantages of democracy. But, the disadvantages of it were very less. It is told to us that democracy is the best form of government. They also teach us that Socrates, Aristrotle and Plato were the greatest minds of the world. But, what they don’t tell us that Socrates got killed because he opposed democratic government of Athens harshly.
There are some forgotten arguments against democracy that prove that democracy is in fact not the best form of government but it’s just a flaw :
Socrates’ arguments against voters
Socrates once gave an example that an election in a democracy is like a debate between a sweet vendor and a doctor. A sweet vendor will tell the public that the doctor gives you pain, bitter medicines and takes your loved ones away. I on the other hand will provide you feasts and sweets that will give you pleasure and joy. Socrates asked that – “Do you think among an independent crowd, the doctor’s arguments against the sweet vendor’s will be stronger?”
Now in present times we all have sweet vendors as our leaders.
Socrates’ arguments against leaders
Socrates once in conversation with his associate Adeimantus asks who would he take to manage a voyage with himself? A random passenger or a well trained and experienced captain? Adeimantus obviously answered the captain.
Socrates extended his argument and said that if we don’t give any random person to manage a ship ; then why should we provide any random person an opportunity to manage a nation?
Leaders should not be able to compete in elections. Unless, they are well trained and educated before they manage a nation.
Plato’s criticism of democracy
Plato views democracy as the last stage of a society’s decay. He argues that democracy does not gives preference to wisdom and knowledge. It considers accumulation of wealth and property as the greatest achievement. Plato also considers that democracy will lead a nation towards a situation of tyranny ; which is in nature of an anarchy.
Aristrotle’s criticism of democracy
Aristotle strongly criticizes democracy on the point that a functioning nation should be governed by law and not by any person. If law is undermined then nothing can stop a person from doing whatever he wants.
In a democracy, Aristotle said that people are in sovereignty and not the law. So whatever people decide, whether it is against the law or not, will happen. Majority of population can be easily manipulated by various tactics. So, it is in fact a form of aristocracy but worse.
Many other philosophers like Friedrich Nietzsche, Jean Jacques Rousseau have also criticised democracy. Even Winston Churchill who does not directly criticize democracy but rather wanted to expand it’s horizons.
Winston Churchill remarked that
“No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government, except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”
Answer to the big question
Most important thing that we can do if we don’t want to end up like Athens is to educate. To educate does not mean just to be institutionally taught but to read the books of importance. We also need to make us competent enough to judge the righteousness of the policies of our leaders. We need to make some appropriate changes in our democratic system so we would not take undemocratic decisions by democratic means.
Our leaders should not be able to take part in elections just because they are born in this country. They should have a qualification and training to manage a nation. As Socrates said that :
Voting is not a ‘Right’ rather it is a ‘Skill’
It means that voting right should not be given by birth . It should be taught and only after being qualified people should be able to vote.