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The Paradoxes Entailed in America's Self-Evident Truths - Essay Example

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The Paradoxes Entailed in America's Self-Evident Truths

Is American democracy a representative of a true democracy? Does it cater the smaller factions of society? Has the democratic system fostered the rights of liberty, justice, life and pursuit of happiness to good effect for masses once challenged by terrorism, racism, poverty and recession? What good it has brought to its people? Why does America deserve to lead world community? Finally, conclusion is inquired about by addressing the question that How American dream can be pursued in its true democratic meaning? Isn’t it strange that few render democracy as the bludgeoning of the people, by the people, for the people? On the other hand, for some, it is a government of all the people, by all the people, for all the people; a government after the principles of eternal justice, the unchanging law of God; the idea of freedom. Idea of democracy as rule of people traces its expression from Athens in ancient Greek. From a philosophical stand point doctrines of natural law evolved into the idea of natural rights, i.e., all people have certain rights, such as self-preservation, that cannot be taken from them. Then, why should majority rule minority? Tocqueville (1945) argues that the doctrine of the sovereignty of the people and the power of public opinion are corollaries to the idea of equality. If all are equal, then no one person has any basis to claim the right to rule other. The only just way to run a society, therefore, is to base decisions on the will of the majority. But does the fact accord moral justification to it? This question has triggered a debate between two main schools of thought in philosophy, naturalists and positivists, for centuries. Naturalists believe that a system of governance should primarily be moral in nature whereas positivists believe that question does not necessarily have be answered in a moral dictate as any law or system of governance posited by man should be taken as such and can be debated for its pros and cons independent of moral enquiry. Many positivists justified Nazism using the argument. John Finnis (1983) argues that it was only the end of Nazism which marked revival of moral justifications of laws/system of government. Ironically, question of whim of a majority more moral than the whim of a dictator struggles to provide a definite answer.Yet the problem with democracy is that it can quite easily lead to despotism. Tocqueville (1945) believes that if there are no checks on the power of the majority to influence the government, then it will have absolute power and those in the minority will be helpless to resist. If all are equal then no opinion has greater weight than another. It is logical to conclude that the opinion held by the majority must be the best one. As a result, there is a tendency to abandon freedom of thought in democratic societies. Going against the opinion of the majority is seen as an indirect claim to the superiority of one's own opinion, which is directly contradictory to the principle of equality. Kimon Lycos (1987) points out that Plato described democracy as a charming form of government, full of variety and disorder, and dispensing a sort of equality to equals and unequaled alike. Likewise, Tocqueville (1945) argues, "Formerly tyranny used the clumsy weapons of chains and hangmen; nowadays even despotism, though it seemed to have nothing to learn, has been perfected by civilization. . . Under the absolute government of a single man, despotism, to reach the soul, ...Show more


Abstract This paper seeks a philosophical insight of democracy in general and American democracy in particular by unfolding the paradoxes entailed to whittle a credible conclusion. It attempts to explore contradictions of democracy whether democracy is a best system of governance?…
Author : terryian
The Paradoxes Entailed in Americas Self-Evident Truths essay example
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