Admirers and critics of democracy have always been numerous. Plato, Aristotle and others considered it as a “perverted form” of government.
Others have called it as ‘monocracy”, ‘drunken clown’, an aristocracy of blackguards’ (Tallyrand) etc.
H.G. Wells, Henry Maine etc. have found in democracy a cult of incompetence and ignorance. According to Lecky, “it is the government by the poorest, the most ignorant, the most incapable, who are necessarily the most numerous.” Such people, on the one hand, do not understand the nature of public affairs, on the other hand, they elect their representatives, not on the basis of merit, but for number. Hartman is right when he says that it is “the paradise of the striker, babbler, word-spinner, flatterer, and tuft hunter”. It is a rule of the demagogues.
A few scholars have regarded political parties as bane, not boon of democracy. They encourage hollowness and insincerity, create cleavages in the life of the nation, debase normal standards, and distribute the spoils (Bryce). They investigate people by spreading hatred, communalism, and parochialism. The whole system is the government by the inexperienced people. It is a government by the majority which may be of 51 per cent only. It tends to trample over the minority rights. Freedom of individual is lost before the brute majority. Freedom, in fact, is strangulated.
A probe would expose the myth that there is rule of majority in democracy. All voters never cast their votes. Owing to multiparty system, a small minority of voters elects the representatives. Leaders elected by say 10 or 20 per cent of voters rule over the country in the name of democracy.
Again, half of the representatives sit in opposition. Often class-conflict and class-struggle are encouraged. The moneybags often buy the voters, representatives, bureaucrats and ministers. It is ironically said that democracy is the government off the people, by buying the people, and remains far from the people.
Lecky and Maine find it as enemy of culture, civilization and science. The majority, favouring the status quo and backward looking, would hardly have allowed progress of mankind, “The thrashing machine, the power-loom, the spinning jenny and possibly the steam engine would have been prohibited.” Power actually remains with a disorderly crowd. Hardly anyone feels responsibility. Irresponsibility prevails over.
Democracy suffers from hollow idealism. Equality and liberty both are missing. It is difficult to bring out any major socio-economic change. Number rules, not merit. Merit quality, efficiently and ability find no place. Mediocrity prevails over. Masses have a tendency to worship demagogues as their heros. For example, Hitler in Germany and Napolean in France rose to power by demagogy.
Democracy is the most expensive form of government. Regular and irregular elections at many levels, prolonged and futile discussions and debates, constitution of several committees, salaries, allowances and pensions of the representatives etc. cause heavy burden to tax payers. It inclines to kill truth, integrity, allegiance etc. and tends to indulge in falsehood, abuse, rumour-mongering, horse-trading, deceit etc.
The voice of the majority usurps the office of morality. In fact the very principle of equality is unacceptable. As men are not equal, but unequal, therefore, should be treated accordingly. The one man one vote principle puts merit and mediocrity, the honest and the corrupt, the good and the evil at par.
Often democracy is the rule of the rich or plutocracy. The rich spend money and purchase everything. Money manages to purchase power in democracy. Politics instead of service, turns into profession, trade and investment. There is no way to reduce huge and unnecessary expenses. Integrity, efficiency, skill, ability, honesty and other human values are at stake. Only number counts.
Political parities kill individual freedom and right to dissent. Instead of political parties, they are in fact colluding groups under false ideologies and slogans. They disturb social peace and harmony. Their sole aim is to capture power by hook or crook, and often resort to gherao, bandh, dharma, fasting, street fighting, arson, murder and terrorism in various forms.