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Democracy vs a Republic

Democracy vs a Republic

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a Comparative analysis of whether Democracy and a Republic can exist together?
a Comparative analysis of whether Democracy and a Republic can exist together?

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Muhammad Shemyal Nisar on May 02, 2009
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06/16/2009

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Democracy Vs a Republic
Democracy is a one of the many forms of government for any country. Like every other form of government it has its own political setup and social order. A democracy is popularly defined as
“Government of the people, by the people and for the people.” In the words of Aristotle, democracy
is a form of government that strives for the interest of the majority. As majority of a population isany society is generally poor, therefore it would not be wrong to classify democracy as governmentwhich caters for interest of poor. In short democracy means that poor of a country get to rule thecountry, while rulers are paid attend the assembly. But again this is not always true; there can be asociety where majority of the population is rich. In such a case democracy would change into anoligarchy. Then again if majority of a certain state is racist or barbaric in nature, these people wouldget to rule the state. Not to mention if most of the population is illiterate and uneducated, likewould be the people ruling them. This is because majority of the people get to have their say andthere are boundaries to what majority can do when together. In words of Aristotle from his famous
work “Politics”:
 
Tyranny is a kind of monarchy which has in view the interest of the monarch only; oligarchy has inview the interest of the wealthy; democracy, of the needy: none of them the common good of all 
 As already stated democracy is a form of government that takes care of the majority of thepopulation or serves the interests of the majority only. This would mean that majority of thepopulation if they want can and will make or change laws of the land as and when they want. Thisgives the majority the power of a monarch and thus of a tyrant ruler, in other words tyranny-by-majority. If we have learned anything from the history it is that power corrupts and absolute powercorrupts absolutely. If for example we assume that majority of people of a certain state are fascist orracist, they can try and eliminate all other minority nationalities from their society. This would bring
misery and injustice to the people and would morally not be correct, otherwise what Nazi’s did in
Germany should not be looked down upon as Germans were a majority in that land and thusexercised the right of majority to dislike or hate the minority races and thus take any action theydeemed necessary.Republic on the other hand, although generally confused with democracy, is a totally different kindof government. Today almost all of the countries in the world, with the exception of a handful, aredeclared republics. But still most people do not know what a republic is. A republic on the contrary isa form of government that is governed by laws. It controls the majority and ensures the rights of theminorities. It protects the minorities from the wrath of majority. It provides civil liberty to thepeople, especially minorities. The republic can therefore be defined as a constitutionally limitedgovernment, created by a constitution.
In democracy the majority’s power is absolute and unlimited
its decisions are not appealable underthe legal system established to give effect to this form of government. This is because majority is theauthority for making of laws and therefore majority and make or bend laws in their own favour andthus achieve their own objects. As for example if in some country majority decides that a certainrace or a religious group is unwanted and should not be allowed to live in that country after a certainperiod of time and the crime is made punishable by death. It does not matter if those people have
 
been living there for past 500 years or 1000 years, when majority decides for them to be a threatthey will have to either leave or be slaughtered by the majority. Again in democracy majorities canmake minorities to change their lifestyle and ethical and moral standards. In other words democracy
 
opens the door to unlimited Tyranny-by-Majority.The question that arises is, whether rule of law is important? If it is important, is it so important thatwe ignore the wishes of majority of population? I believe the answer to these questions is yes. This isimportant in order to prevent injustice in the society. So that everybody get his basic human rights,irrespective of race, creed, religion and colour. If such is the case, it brings a happier and a coherentsociety. It brings society at peace with itself, a
society where everybody’s life, wealth and lov
ed onesare secure.As we see today in the world, where almost every country is a republic there each country is beingtrusted upon with the idea of democracy as well. Whether anybody likes it or not, he has to be ademocracy today. So much so that today we have forgotten about every country being a republic.The idea of a republic seems to be fading away in the flood of clamour for democracy. So can ademocracy and a republic co-exist? Let us see through this question and try and find an answer. If ademocracy and a republic are enforced together this means that popularly elected politicians nowhave the right to change the laws of the land at their will. It would also mean that majority can nowenforce their will on the minority by just including certain provisions in the laws or the constitution.This imposition of will can be usurping their wealth or taking away their religious rights or simply bybanishing them from the state. This mean in case of such collusion very purpose of a republic is lost.I think for the simply reason of these two political orders being totally different from each other,their co-existence is next to impossible. Many would argue against it not being the case around theworld where every country is a democracy as well as a republic. But I would argue is majority notusurping the rights of minorities. Take an example of France, a typical western European country. Afew years ago a law was passed by the government banning head-gear worn by the religiousminorities of Muslims, Jews and Sikhs. Was it not against the rights of religious freedom? I believe itwas steered by the popular vote which undermined the rules of a republic. United States of Americacannot be considered as a Republic, but it is not a democracy either. It has changed into an oligarchywhere the rich rule, but we would leave this debate for some other time.
As we have already seen in the previous essay on democracy and it’s menaces, we now know that
under a democratic regime the ethical and moral standards are more prone to spiral down. Whereasin a republic, which is governed by a rule of constitutional law this can be controlled by those whoare governing. The rogue elements in the society which tend to degrade these ethical and moralstandards would be educated to improve themselves or removed from the state for the obviousdangers they cause to the survival of the state and fabric of the society. The ultimate aim of anysociety is for its inhabitants to be living in peace and harmony. This is not achieved by mob ruleenforced by tyranny of the majority. Everybody has his or her rights but at the same time thereshould be a limit to these as well, so that these rights are not abused by those with vested interests.So that we do not offend anybody or a minority group with our freedom of speech for instance.Media has a very critical role which has been very instrumental in the past revolutions as well. It hasplayed a very important role in bringing up revolutions as well as in containing many revolutions.Although media and its representatives should be watched very closely for the power they hold on

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