A Treatise; Making a “Case” for the Reconstitution of Srila Prabhupada’s “Mission”
Forms of Government. Part 3
When we speak of democracy, we are referring primarily to the republican form of democracy that is dominant in the world today, and most particularly to the legislative branch of that form, which is where the ultimate power theoretically resides. Pure democracy is impractical except for very small groups. In a democratic republic, the actual decision-making is carried out by the elected representatives of the people, each of whom is responsible to his or her constituency and presumably acts according to their wishes. As a side note, this often predisposes the representatives to a form of limited oligarchy, at least in the perception of the people; witness the periodic irritation of the citizens of the United States when the U.S. Congress enacts a pay raise for its members. Although there is generally a President or Prime Minister, in a true democratic republic, this executive does not wield the power of a monarch or tyrant.
An examination of world history reveals the gradual transformation of monarchy into, or its alternation with tyranny; with aristocracy and oligarchy also putting in an appearance from time to time, culminating in recent times with the almost complete extinction of these most efficient forms of government; in favor of democracy. Most people nowadays accept democracy as the ideal form of government, to the extent that instances of the other forms are viewed as quaint, at best, or revolting at worst.
We see, for example, many people were very pleased, at the prospect, that was enacted in Iraq, of a powerful democracy crushing a small tyranny on the other side of the world, for no other reason, than at that time, it is a democracy crushing a tyranny. Yet, if we take a more balanced view of history as presented in the Vedic and classical Western traditions, we see that in fact, democracy is far from the ideal form of government; it is only the best that is practical in “evil times,” when “the masses are asses,” “might makes right,” and the best form of government is the one that keeps bad people, mostly in check, rather than the one that gives good people the most facility.