How can we make the world safe for democracy?

Essay, 2008

13 Pages, Grade: 2,0



Before you can give an answer to the question above you have to define the term “democracy” in the all the details in which you will use this term during your following work.

In that way I will define the term “democracy” before I will work on the original question and after I have given such a definition.

Although now one could say that you could easily work on your question is way too optimistic as there are a lot of other terms which will have to be defined clearly before working with them because otherwise there is no doubt that some major misreadings will or at least- to be optimistic- can occur.

These are the terms which one normally thinks of pretty clear when it comes to speaking in political terms- but are they really?

So, to make them clear I will give very short definitions of them too and then the introduction part of this essay is done and I can really work intensively on the question on what it does take us all to make the world safe for democracy- or is the world safe for democracy and we don’t have to do anything about it at all? That is just another question coming directly into my mind when dealing with such a difficult question.

As I said in the abstract to this essay I will begin with a short definition of democracy so that we all can understand what I have in mind when I use the term “democracy”.

What is democracy? At first each of us western socialized people would say that this question is nearly too easy to answer as we would say that we all know what democracy is about but is that really true?

And if it is true why do we see not only very many different definitions of democracy but also many different meanings on how a democracy has to be “lived” by he people in a nationstate.

So at this point it already is clear that there is not only one definition of democracy and in fact there are countless definitions of democracy as it must be as democracy is just an idea coming from the minds of people and people are always different from one another.

It is the task to break the term “democracy” down to some basic principles and values which we all can agree to and so we can obey to the outcomes of those “democratic actions”[1]

So, what are the principle and values of democracy?

Robert Dahl defines a democracy as a system that is completely responsible for all its citizens but adding directly after that statement that this an “ideal” form of democracy which has never ever existed so far and perhaps never will as this ideal form can simply be absolutely impossible to reach.

Dahl defines democracies as some sort of polyarchies instead of dictatorships because in a polyarchies are systems with high levels of “public contestation” (liberalization) and high levels of “inclusiveness” (citizen participation).

If we keep this in mind we can state that there are two “extreme forms of democracy” can be gained. One with a high level inclusiveness and a very low level of public contestation and vice versa of course one with a high level of public contestation and a very low level of inclusiveness. Of course can all democratic system in between these two extremes also be existing if wanted and/or needed.

After working out the “major frame of democracy” I will continue my work on the question of the term “democracy” and in the next passages I will show some basic principles of democracy in order to make the term “democracy” clearer and so allow a more critical view on what democracy is and of course I want to answer my first question as I will give one- and only one- definition of democracy.

Coming from the perspective of human development it is the crucial element of democratization that throughout the process of democratization people are being empowered (Inglehart/Welzel, 2005: 149)

In that way it is clear that democracy provides the citizens of a nation with civil and political rights, “entitling the people to freedom of choice in their private and public actions (Inglehart/Welzel, 2005: 149).

But this is not completely helping us to define democracy really because these terms which are describing just a formal outcome of democracy can be imposed on nearly every existing society. So, to get out of this dilemma we have to take a closer look on the mass values which are expressed in democracies. The self-expression value is the most expressed one of all values and it is the most crucial one.

The self-expression correlates strongly with measures of socioeconomic development and democratic institutions (Inglehart/Welzel, 2005: 149).

Self-expression, socioeconomic development and democratic institutions are the core of human development. Inglehart and Welzel are allowing a closer look on this in their book “Modernization, Cultural Change and Democracy- The Human Development Sequence” on pp. 154-155. I will not work with these kind of figures as in my opinion it does not help to define democracy a single bit but what the figures do is that the show us the basic meanings of what the authors are having in mind when they are speaking of democracy as a human development outcome.

Speaking of human development made clear that each citizen has to take a very unique and special role in a democracy- what is this role and how can it be defined?

As it is named as a process it is clear that there has to be a change over time and now I will deal with the human development process a bit more in detail and this infects the work on democracy as well as this two are strongly connected to each other as Inglehart and Welzel have worked out.


[1] When I speak of „democratic actions“ I mean that in each nation we call a democratic one there are actions taken which we will obey and agree to and not even questioning why we do so because we think that the results are there to see because the decision-making process which was beforehand to those actions was a democratic one.

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How can we make the world safe for democracy?
University of Siegen
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BA Henning Wirtz (Author), 2008, How can we make the world safe for democracy?, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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