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Lecture

Political Science 1020E Lecture Notes - Liberal Democracy, Majoritarianism, Oligarchy


Department
Political Science
Course Code
Political Science 1020E
Professor
Charles Jones

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June 4, 2008
Forms of Government
Classifying government is an ancient idea and practice
Ancient Greek Classification (based on who rules, and how)
How is Rule Conducted?
Who Rules Lawful (Common Good) Lawless (Private Interest)
One Monarchy Tyranny
Few Aristocracy Oligarchy
Many Polity Democracy
**NOTE**
Ancient Greeks such as Plato and Aristotle had a low opinion of “democracy”
(people rule)
oDemocracy was seen as mob rule
There was little respect for the law and private interest prevailed
over public concerns
oIn this way, democracy usually made a city-state weak and decadent
oTherefore vulnerable to attack from other city-states
Liberal Democracy
“Democracy” (Greek = people rule)
Not very precise
oMost modern states claim or claimed to be “democratic”
Ex: German Democratic Republic
Main Idea
oMajority rule
What the majority of the people want shall be done
In the West, “democracy” is intimately connected with “liberalism” to produce
“liberal democracy” (constitutional democracy)
There is a tension between “democracy” (majority rule) and “liberalism”
(individual rights and freedoms)
oMajorities can easily vote to nullify the freedom of individuals or minority
groups
“Tyranny of the majority” that the Ancient Greeks also feared
Remember that Socrates was condemned to death because
he was unpopular in the democratic Athens
oTherefore, “liberal democracies” temper majoritarianism with safeguards
for individual rights
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