Are you looking for a new book to read? Do you like Christian non-fiction? In this blog post, you can read for FREE a chapter from the book “Essays on the Christian Worldview and Others Political, Literary, and Philosophical” by Andrew Schatkin.
“Essays on the Christian Worldview and Others Political, Literary, and Philosophical” by Andrew Schatkin is suitable for readers ages 10 and up. It is currently available as a paperback with ISBN 978-0761853435. It was published on 13 December 2010 by Hamilton Books.
Synopsis of “Essays on the Christian Worldview and Others Political, Literary, and Philosophical” by Andrew Schatkin
This collection of essays and thoughts covers such areas as basic Christian thought, which includes traditional family morality and a great concern for alleviating poverty and promoting social justice, political thought comparing the need for a system which includes both socialist and capitalist elements, and the need for values in our society, which has come to emphasize money, power, and greed as philosophical goals and values, though they are not. The book also has thoughts concerning literature, a consideration of what constitutes true progress, the denial in our society of any absolute moral truth, and the substitution of moral relativism as a mistaken ethical system.
Name of chapter: Why I Believe in Democracy
A few days ago when I was browsing at a book store in Penn Station, waiting for my Long lsland Railroad train, I saw a little book entitled: The Future of Freedom, Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad, by Fareed Zakaria. The book and its contents interested me, so I bought the book.
I have no arguments with the author or his publisher, and I owe them both good words for the interest and stimulation the book, on cursory examination, afforded me.
Nevertheless, I found the book deeply disturbing even on mere superficial ex-amination. For example, the author in a section entitled, “Problems of Democracy,” states that Constitutional liberalism is about the limitation of power; democracy is about its accumulation and use. The author then goes on to state that over the past decade, elected governments claiming to represent the people have steadily encroached on the powers and rights of other elements in society.
At another part, the author speaks of the tyranny of the majority, referencing James Madison and Alexis de Tocqueville. At this juncture the author goes on to state and argue that in many developing countries the experience of democracy over the past few decades has been one in which actual majorities have eroded separations of power, undermined human rights, and corrupted long-standing traditions of tolerance and fairness. Later the author states that the haste to press countries into elections over the last decade has been counterproductive.
In a later section, Mr. Zakaria points out that when Americans are asked what public institutions they most respect, three bodies are always at the top of the list: the Supreme Court, the Armed Forces, and the Federal Reserve System. Mr. Zakaria goes on to state that these three have one thing in common: they are insulated from public pressures and operate undemocratically. Mr. Zakaria then states that Americans admire those institutions precisely because they lead rather than follow. By contrast, Mr. Zakaria states, the Congress, the most representative and reflective of political institutions, stands at the bottom of most surveys.
The author concludes that what we need in politics today is not more democracy, but less. He does say we should not embrace strongmen and dictators, but suggests we should ask why certain institutions in our society, such as the Federal Reserve and the Supreme Court, function so well and others, such as the legislature, fare so poorly.
Mr. Zakaria at another point concludes that modem democracies will face difficult challenges—fighting terrorism, adjusting to globalization, and adapting to an Aging Society—and concludes that those with immense power in our society should embrace their responsibilities, lead and set standards that are not only legal but moral.
I have not read Mr. Zakaria’s whole book and hesitate to draw broad conclusions from the excerpts. It would appear Mr. Zakaria seems to suggest that elective representative democracy as government is problematic, unwieldy, and troublesome. He objects to a form of representational legislature, i.e., the Congress, and lauds the Armed Forces and two appointive bodies, the Supreme Court and the Federal Reserve System. He says majority is tyrannical. Mr. Zakaria states we need in our current political system not more democracy, but less, and concludes that those with power should lead.
I find fault with these statements and assertions that our system of elective government and political equality are unwieldy and unworkable and should give way to rule by unrepresentative bodies, and that those with power should guide the course. That they are uniquely qualified to make the right decisions in this critical time for our nation is an implicit, if not explicit, rejection of our democratic system.
I argue here for Democracy and why I believe in this system: First, as to its defects: Democracy is a system of political equality where those over a certain age are given and may exercise the voting franchise. It is a system of political equality in which all citizens over a certain age are empowered and given the opportunity for political participation. This has been misinterpreted, or rather extended, to the point that all people in a democratic society are, in fact, actually equal in their talents and abilities. I am and never will be a concert violinist or nuclear physicist, nor an epic poet, or a leading playwright. I do not think I could be a great actor. In sum, a democracy does not imply actual personal equality, since we all differ in whatever gifts we may possess. Democracy is a system of government operating through political equality. At its best, democracy provides an equal starting point and some equality of opportunity.
Second, the idea that all are equal leads to a second mistake: In democratic societies there may develop what one may call a “cult of mediocrity.” Hence, the desire of most Americans to see in their elected officials and politicians a “regular guy.” This, if one may so call it, “cult of Mediocrity” rejects in a sense any sort of excellence that may distinguish one of us from another; since we are all practically equal, we must be actually so in talents, abilities, and attainments. And so it follows that in a democratic system, a leveling occurs that results in a kind of adulation of the average and mediocre. This is the second failing, if it can be called so, of a democratic system, or it can be.
Yet, all in all, I fully believe in a democratic system of government in which the officials who govern us, our leaders as it were, are subject to the scrutiny of the voting electorate. I do not believe in democracy as merely a form of government because people are actually equal, since that is not true. I believe in democracy, well knowing that power, if concentrated in the few or in one person, will be abused. Power given to one or a few will be abused because on some deeper level there exists an innate corruption in human nature that cannot be evaded, escaped, or eradicated. Whether the abuse occurs in the context of a traditional marriage where one economically dependent spouse is subject to the untrammeled authority of the other, or resides in a CEO with unlimited power over the lives and livelihood of his employees, that power will be abused.
I believe in Democracy because men, if given the chance, are so bad that no man alone can be entrusted with unchecked power over his fellows. I oppose slavery because I fear and oppose Masters. Men, given the chance, will allow their egotism, selfishness, and desire to dominate and to rule. The baseness and corruption of their hearts, given the chance, will come to full flower. Democracy posits that men, far from being equal, are always prone to the blackguard. Democracy distributes and checks power, doing so by a process of elective accountability and a system of checks and balances.
I believe in Democracy not because men are good or because everyone is the same or because everyone is equal. Democracy may not be the best and most effective form of government, but it is the only alternative, since it recognizes that the rule of the elite, few, or appointed will and must be subject to the control of the electorate, not because those few are especially and particularly evil or bad—and the majority are not—but because without controls, rules or limits, they can and will be so. We have laws to control untrammeled, human nature. Without them we are barbarians. Unlimited power in one or few, uncontrolled and unaccounted for, will and must give way to the blackheartedness that resides only slightly beneath the surface of us all.
Democracy envisions not a world of total good and perfection but a world that requires a wide dispersal of control and power in as many as possible, knowing who we are as human beings and what we may actually do.
This article is reprinted from Vol. 68, No. 5, Feb. 2005 of the Queens Bar Bulletin by
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