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Chapter Four: Autocracy and Democracy

Section 7: Levels of Democracy


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 "Gypsy Dance" by the Lysaya Dance Ensemble.



Since autocracy/democracy is a continuum, there is no reason to assume that current governments have reached some ceiling of competence. Democracies vary in the amount of actual participation by the people in the decisions of the country. Consequently, they differ in the amount of information available for wise decision-making and in the internal commitment generated to implement decisions.



One can imagine a degenerate form of democracy in which a dictator is elected periodically. Even if the elections are fair, the form of government may be essentially autocratic. Republican governments are also intermediate forms of democracy. When certain people are chosen to make decisions for the masses, they relieve the masses from considering important issues. More advanced democracies would allow more issue-by-issue input by the populace.



One cost of low participation is less internal commitment to the decisions -- especially laws of the country. The officers of the government will thus spend more time and effort in enforcing external commitment through rewards and punishments. As in an autocracy, the rewards and punishments then become necessary to motivate people -- setting up a wasteful antagonism between people and their government. This suggests one way of assessing the level of a democracy -- to what extent is compliance with rules internally motivated; to what extent are the system's resources spent on enforcement?







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