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To what extent is Liberalism compatiable with democracy?

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Introduction

To what extent is Liberalism compatible with democracy? Democracy played an important role in civilisation at the end of the 19th and early 20th century in terms of the liberation of the masses. In the modern world, Liberalism is seen to be merged with democracy but some disagree with this view. It can be argued that democracy is incompatible with liberalism which has been stated by philosophers such as Rousseau and Mill. It can be argued that Liberalism and Democracy can work together thorough democracy ensuring legitimacy and consent. An example of this is the social contract, a main Liberal belief that individuals hypothetically agree to hand over their natural rights in order to preserve themselves and remain free from the chaos of the state of nature. John Locke stated "whenever law ends tyranny begins". Through natural rights being sacrificed it provides the state power to maintain law and order and to protect the individual's rights. ...read more.

Middle

Through self-development, it promotes toleration and diversity through a greater number taking part in political matters and contributing to how the state is ran. The fourth argument is that it provides balances between the elite rule and participation. Liberals do not claim that everyone is equal but modern Liberals believe in equal opportunity. This is why they believe in meritocracy, where the individuals with the mental capacity are making the decisions. This links to representative democracy where the MP with the ability to handle the task is elected by the people. J S Mill believed in a qualified voting system that would allow the elite to have a greater influence. It would allow those with a higher intelligence levels to have a vote that would count as two compared to an average intellectual individual whose vote would count as one, allowing confidence and stability on society evolving. Representative democracy though makes the elite accountable through regular elections but they do have the power so they don't have to ponder to the majority's view. ...read more.

Conclusion

They believe in meritocracy through those with greater knowledge able to make the best decision for the whole of society but democracy does not promote this. Democracy assumes all people are equally capable of decision making and which is why every individuals vote counts as one. It is thought by some Liberals that the uneducated have sufficient understanding and therefore can be easily manipulated by things like the media. This therefore results in society not benefiting through beliefs that can be discriminating or sexist being accountable through democracy. This is one reason why J S Mill suggested the qualified voting system. There are two Liberals, Classical and Modern which both fit in with democracy in different ways. Modern Liberals embrace democracy as conductive to personal development and true equality of opportunity whereas Classical does not as much. Liberals believe in a specific kind of democracy, liberal democracy, a believe in a limited government and the ideal for popular consent. Liberals reject having less pluralism and more participation forms of democracy through being to dangerous. ...read more.

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