First things first: Happy March!!! Also, happy birthday to my dad. I won’t be near a computer for your birthday either.
What is it?
My Webster’s dictionary more or less defines democracy as a government ruled by the people, giving them equal rights.
In Costa Rica, there is a socialist democracy.
I would like to make a distinction: there are only two main forms of government on the earth right now. However, there are at least 6 different types of those two main forms.
The two main forms are democracy (a government ruled and supported by the people) and an authoritarian government (one ruler; also called a “reign” or a “dictatorship”). With these main forms, once again, there are three main types: communist, socialist, or capitalist. In case some of you have not taken an Economy class, a capitalist economy (in theory) is where the market is not necessarily owned by the government, but driven by the “invisible” forces of supply and demand. There is also a private ownership of the means of production, an open free market, and unlimited earnings.
A socialist economy is the opposite: public control of the market, market is government regulated, and earnings are limited.
Communism is the “ideal” result of socialism worked out, where there is no state, there are no classes, and there is abundance for all.
Why is it that so often, democracy is only associated with one type of economy? In today’s world, what is democracy, and where does the definition come from? From what I’ve seen from interviews, most people seem to think that the United States defines democracy. Now the clincher: are the United States a democracy? That’s the question, isn’t it. Are the United States even a capitalist economy?
Please understand, I’m not trying to ruin anyone’s view of the United States. I am merely attempting to point out that if there is one specific definition of democracy, it should not be necessarily defined by only one country as the model for all others to follow. Also worth asking: does a democracy truly allow other views, or only those that allow it to stay a democracy?
I’ve heard many students slam rules. Correction: many young people my age slam rules. The truth of it is, we need these rules. Without them, how do we define our boundaries? This is why the form of democracy practiced in the United States is not democracy in its truest form because if everybody’s ideas were allowed to hold, there would be chaos. Also, the capitalism practiced in the United States should be defined as more of a “mixed” economy, because there is obvious government intervention and a limit on gain.
One of the young lawyers I got to interview for my final paper (and by the way, this was actually my subject for my paper) said that democracy isn’t necessarily about getting one’s views heard, it’s about listening to everyone else’s. Democracy should be about listening, he said. If I, as a citizen of the United States think that my First Amendment Right gives me license to say anything and everything I want to, I am sadly mistaken. Rights are a privilege, even if I’ve been born with them.
I’m putting my reactions in the next post because this one’s long enough.