Critical Reflection 4: the notion of Ideology

15 04 2010

What is democracy? Communists are said to have claimed that the Soviet dictatorship was the only true proletariat democracy, while Hitler and Mussolini are both said to have believed that their respective systems of governance were higher, more real forms of democracy (Shields, 1958: pp 29).

Democracy can be understood simply as a system of governance. Its roots lay in Plato’s Republic emerging from the Greek word demokratia – rule of the people (ibid). However, this definition is hardly exhaustive and as such, fails to capture its complexity when we consider that democracy, as defined by the Merriam-Webster (2010), “is a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation”. The Oxford English Dictionary (2004) maintains this definition but adds that a “democracy is a state of society characterized by a formal equality of rights and privileges”. …Keep reading after the jump