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“There were no dates in this history, but scrawled this way and that across every page were the words
Benevolence Righteousness and Morality
… finally I began
to make out what was written between the lines. The whole volume was but a single phrase,
is a form of government in which all citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal (and more or less direct) participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law. It can also encompass social, economic and cultural conditions that enable the free and equal practice of political self-determination. The term comes from the Greek:
which was coined from δῆμος (
and κράτος (
, in the middle of the 5th-4th century BC to denote the
then existing in some Greek city-states, notably
following a popular uprising in
According to some theories of democracy,
is the founding principle of such a system.
However, the democratic principle has also been expressed as
"the freedom to call something into being which did not exist before,
which was not given… and which therefore, strictly speaking, could not be known."
This type of freedom, which is connected to human "natality," or the capacity to begin anew, sees democracy as
"not only a political system…
[but] an ideal, an aspiration, really, intimately connected to and dependent upon
a picture of what it is to be human
of what it is a human should be to be fully human."
While there is no specific, universally accepted definition of 'democracy',
equality and freedom have both been identified as important characteristics of democracy