In July, 1940, Henry Luce, C. D. Jackson, Freda Kirchwey, Raymond Gram Swing, Robert Sherwood, John Gunther, Leonard Lyons, Ernest Angell and Carl Joachim Friedrich established the Council for Democracy. According to Kai Bird the organization "became an effective and highly visible counterweight to the isolation rhetoric" to America First Committee led by Charles Lindbergh and Robert E. Wood: "With financial support from Douglas and Luce, Jackson, a consummate propagandist, soon had a media operation going which was placing anti-Hitler editorials and articles in eleven hundred newspapers a week around the country."
During the 1940 Presidential Election the isolationist Chicago Tribune accused the Council for Democracy of being under the control of foreigners: "The sponsors of the so-called Council for Democracy... are attempting to force this country into a military adventure on the side of England." George Seldes also attacked the organization arguing that it was being mainly financed by Henry Luce.
However, according to The Secret History of British Intelligence in the Americas, 1940-45, a secret report written by leading operatives of the British Security Coordination (Roald Dahl, H. Montgomery Hyde, Giles Playfair, Gilbert Highet and Tom Hill), William Stephenson and BSC played an important role in the Council for Democracy: "William Stephenson decided to take action on his own initiative. He instructed the recently created SOE Division to declare a covert war against the mass of American groups which were organized throughout the country to spread isolationism and anti-British feeling. In the BSC office plans were drawn up and agents were instructed to put them into effect. It was agreed to seek out all existing pro-British interventionist organizations, to subsidize them where necessary and to assist them in every way possible. It was counter-propaganda in the strictest sense of the word. After many rapid conferences the agents went out into the field and began their work. Soon they were taking part in the activities of a great number of interventionist organizations, and were giving to many of them which had begun to flag and to lose interest in their purpose, new vitality and a new lease of life. The following is a list of some of the larger ones... The League of Human Rights, Freedom and Democracy... The American Labor Committee to Aid British Labor... The Ring of Freedom, an association led by the publicist Dorothy Thompson, the Council for Democracy; the American Defenders of Freedom, and other such societies were formed and supported to hold anti-isolationist meetings which branded all isolationists as Nazi-lovers."
Raymond Gram Swing defended the organisation by arguing: "As first conceived, the Council for Democracy was simply to be a co-ordinating body to pull together the work being done by a number of small organizations. But as it got under way, it became clear that a central organization supplanting many of the smaller ones would be more effective, and that is what the Council became.... Europe was at war; the United States was not. The war in Europe was one of the least complicated wars to understand; it was one of both conquest and ideology, waged by fascists. Democracy in Europe was in the most dire peril, which meant that in time it might well be in dire peril in the United States, too. The need for a Council dedicated to the preservation of democracy was incontestable. It had work to do; and within its means, as I now look back on it, it did that work. There was some indifference to democracy in the United States, as I assume there always has been. There was little outright fascism, but an inclination among not a few to be tolerant of it, which was the equivalent of being indifferent to the defense of democracy."
These warnings went unheeded, and accordingly William Stephenson decided to take action on his own initiative. The following is a list of some of the larger ones:
1. The Non-Sectarian Anti-Nazi League to Champion Human Rights. This society organized boycotts of all firms dealing in German goods, published exposures of Germans and pro-German Americans in the USA, picketed isolationist meetings and issued a periodical bulletin on Nazi activities in America. As an example of its work, at an America First rally featuring Lindbergh as speaker, the Non-Sectarian Anti-Nazi League distributed leaflets showing Lindbergh in amicable conversation with the be-medalled Erhard Milch of the Luftwaffe.
2. The League of Human Rights, Freedom and Democracy. This was a committee aimed at winning the support of organized labour. It had branches in over 200 cities. Its honorary president was William Green, head of the American Federation of Labor; its president, Matthew Woll, vice-president of the American Federation of Labor; and its vice-president, David Dubinsky of the International Ladies' Garment Workers Union. Its theme was that American labour owed it to itself to assist British labour in the fight against Hitler. One of its best achievements was the distribution of a pamphlet contrasting Nazi statements of principle with those of distinguished Americans, under the title of Their Aims - Our Aims. Sample copies of this were sent to 4,800 branch offices of AFL unions, with such success that over 8,000,000 were eventually distributed in the United States alone and 2,000,000 more in Latin America. In addition, it sent selected news items to 400 labour papers and magazines every week.
3. The American Labor Committee to Aid British Labor was another affiliate of the American Federation of Labor, also under the chairmanship of Matthew Woll. It held mass meetings, sponsored radio broadcasts and distributed Aid British Labor buttons, Help Smash Dictators circulars, posters, etc. These two committees were particularly useful in the period when much of organized labour was still anti-British because it followed, or was attracted to, pro-Soviet isolationists. It was impossible to do anything with large segments of the Congress of Industrial Organizations before June 1941, but its powerful rival, the American Federation of Labor, was thus induced to side with the British.
4. The Ring of Freedom, an association led by the publicist Dorothy Thompson, the Council for Democracy; the American Defenders of Freedom, and other such societies were formed and supported to hold anti-isolationist meetings which branded all isolationists as Nazi-lovers.
To many, the aims of the Council for Democracy will sound platitudinous today, for the dedication of those in public political life to democratic standards and practices, and the public insistence on them, has widened and deepened since 1940. Only in some sections of the country, where the full equality of the Negro is still obstructed, is there something of a lag. I find on reading over the publications of the Council for Democracy that they were outspoken and true to the American ideal, but I am somewhat surprised to realize now that they were called for at all. But they were. In 1940, in particular, many Americans were still so isolationist as to think tolerantly or even approvingly of National Socialism in Germany and fascism in Italy. And they were ready to see democracy languish in this country and defeated abroad if only American isolation could be preserved.
I do not remember the preliminary personal conversations that led to the formation of the Council for Democracy. The initiative must have come from Henry Luce, for he was ready to lend the services of C. Jackson, vice-president of Time, Inc., as its chief executive for a year, and to contribute 525,000 to get the Council started. Leonard Lyons wrote in his column of July 30, 1940: "A group will meet at the Waldorf today for the purpose of coordinating all the separate committees which have been formed in defense of democracy. The group is composed of Henry Luce, Raymond Gram Swing, John Gunther, Freda Kirchwey, and Robert Sherwood." The list must be far from complete. But that Waldorf meeting, in the best American tradition, led to the formation of an organization which, in the prewar and war years, stoutly and effectively propagated the principles of democracy.
As first conceived, the Council for Democracy was simply to be a co-ordinating body to pull together the work being done by a number of small organizations. But as it got under way, it became clear that a central organization supplanting many of the smaller ones would be more effective, and that is what the Council became. Later, after the United States entered the war, it became for a time the Council for Victory. Of both organizations, I was chairman of the board, and, for a time, honorary chairman. I was not in a position to devote as much time as the administration of such an organization needs, even if adequately staffed. The hard work during the first year was done by C. Jackson. Then Ernest Angell, the New York attorney, took over. Professor Carl Friedrich, of Harvard, was a faithful and inspired leader in his particular field of publishing studies on the workings of democracies written by specialists.
He faded from the picture after American entry into the war, simply due to his own German origin. The roster of the executive committee of the Council included as distinguished a body of civic leaders as I can recall belonging to any private organization. The names covered two pages in fine print, and the members came from educational and religious institutions, journalism, the arts and sciences, motion pictures and radio, organized labor, the law, business and finance, and patriotic and social-welfare agencies. One could hardly conjure up a group of more certain patriotism and reliable judgment.
Europe was at war; the United States was not. There was little outright fascism, but an inclination among not a few to be tolerant of it, which was the equivalent of being indifferent to the defense of democracy.
The Council for Parity Democracy
The Council for Parity Democracy was founded as Women & Men by Raymond lloyd Rome on International Women’s Day 8 March 1980. He is also the Editor of the monthly newsletter The Parity Democrat (ISSN 1367-6946), published since January 1997, and uploaded on shequality.org, up to issue No. 168 for December 2010. There are some 850 downloadable text files on this site, representing 30 years of fulltime voluntary research. A notable free resource on women’s issues and data on women’s lives both living and historical.
Democracy Cannot be Imposed by Force
Editor's note: A version of this article first appeared in Islam Online (www.islamonline.net) on June 25, 2006. It is published here with permission.
“To go to war for an idea, if the war is aggressive and not defensive, is as criminal as to go to war for territory or revenue for it is as little justifiable to force our ideas on other people, as to compel them to submit to our will in any other respect.” With these words, written in 1859, John Stuart Mill stated limitations to intervention that are as valid today as they were then.
Is democracy promotion an exception to the rule? This question is at the heart of many current debates in the international system, not least of which is the war in Iraq. My answer is no, although I find this position problematic because I believe that democracy is the best political system of all those in existence. According to most political theorists, democracy at its most basic is rule by the people, which usually includes competitive elections, a constitution that protects individual rights, and a separation of powers.
Democratic governance provides the best chance for individual citizens to achieve their interests in relation to their fellow citizens. Those interests can include security, wealth, and even happiness. By giving individuals the right to participate in government, democracy provides a weak guarantee that a person’s human rights will be respected. Democracy also provides some assurance that no single powerful individual or faction will be able to dominate the political system.
Enlightenment philosopher Immanuel Kant in the late 18th century argued that democracies, or what he called republics, are more peaceful than other forms of government. Evidence from international relations theory supports Kant’s claim, demonstrating that democracies tend not to go to war with other democracies. While democracies certainly use military force—the United States today, Great Britain and France in the first half of the 20th century being perfect examples—evidence compiled through various studies suggests that they rarely if ever go to war with one another.
While democratic states tend to protect their own citizens and tend to be more peaceful, does it follow that democratic systems ought to be imposed on communities by the use of military force?
The quote from J. S. Mill suggests that while some liberal theory might support the use of force to promote democracy, other traditions within liberalism are more opposed. Mill’s argument, one shared by Michael Walzer in the first edition of Just and Unjust Wars , is that communities fighting to promote their own rights must rely on their own purposes.
The just war tradition, a body of thought that has developed over time to evaluate the use of military force, does not support the use of force to promote democracy. The established reasons for using force in the tradition are three: self-defence, retaking stolen property, and punishment. These do not include promoting democracy.
Justifications for using force in international law get closer to promoting democracy, but they also do not allow it. International law allows war for self-defence and has, over the past 20 years, begun to develop a justification for using force to protect human rights. If democracy is considered a human right, then perhaps it might be justifiable according to international law. I would argue, however, that democracy is not a human right, but, rather, it provides the best defence of human rights for individuals.
We have, thus, something of a dilemma. On the one hand, we see that democracy can be argued to be the best political system. On the other hand, we have a strong resistance to using force to promote democracy in liberal theory, the just war tradition, and international law. Is there any way out?
One possible avenue to escape this dilemma comes from the writings of the former Secretary General of the United Nations Boutros Boutros-Ghali. In 1996, as he was being forced out of office by the United States, Boutros-Ghali published the last of his three Agenda documents, Agenda for Democratisation . In that document, Boutros-Ghali argued that the United Nations, as representative of the international community, should actively promote democracy. During his tenure, the United Nations did exactly this, by helping to run elections in Cambodia.
But, importantly, Boutros-Ghali also argued that democracy is not something that occurs only inside states. Rather, democratization should take place among states at the international level as well. In other words, until the international community as a whole becomes democratic—i.e., decision making in various international bodies needs to be more inclusive and representative, and should have more balance among the powers—democracy cannot be promoted at the national level.
Turning Boutros-Ghali's idea into reality is challenging, for certain. One possible way to do this is through greater inclusion of NGOs in various international conferences—a strategy initiated by Boutros-Ghali during his tenure, when he invited various groups to Conventions in Cairo (on women) and Vienna (on human rights). While including NGOs does not ensure that democracy will flourish around the world, by giving these groups more of a role in international governance, they might have more of a role in domestic governance.
The current conflict in Iraq demonstrates the dangers of promoting democracy in an undemocratic international system. While many Iraqis are glad to be rid of Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship, they are loath to accept the presence of American guns and soldiers in their country to enforce a democratic system. Until the international community appreciates the point made by Boutros-Ghali, promoting democracy by war or otherwise will continue to generate resistance.
Home and Abroad Series Public Forum: U.S. Immigration Policy
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George F. Kennan Senior Fellow for Russian and Eurasian Studies
The Biden-Putin Summit: ‘This Is Not About Trust’
Via New York Times June 16, 2021
Adjunct Senior Fellow for International Economics and Finance
G-7 is ‘a step toward presenting a unified front on the China issue’: CFR
- Pentacosiomedimnoiproduced 500 measures or more of produce per year.
- Hippeis (cavalry)produced 300 measures.
- Zeugitai (hoplites)produced 200 measures.
- Thetesdidn't produce enough for the military census.
It is thought that Solon was the first to admit the thetes to the ekklesia (assembly), the meeting of all citizens of Attica. The ekklesia had a say in appointing archons and could also listen to accusations against them. The citizenry also formed a judicial body (dikasteria), which heard many legal cases. Under Solon, rules were relaxed as to who could bring a case to court. Earlier, the only ones who could do so were the injured party or his family, but now, except in cases of homicide, anyone could.
Solon may also have established the boule, or Council of 400, to determine what should be discussed in the ekklesia. One hundred men from each of the four tribes (but only those in the upper three classes) would have been picked by lot to form this group. However, since the word boule would also have been used by the Areopagus, and since Cleisthenes created a boule of 500, there is cause to doubt this Solonian accomplishment.
The magistrates or archons may have been selected by lot and election. If so, each tribe elected 10 candidates. From the 40 candidates, nine archons were selected by lot each year. This system would have minimized influence-peddling while giving the gods the ultimate say. However, in his Politics, Aristotle says the archons were selected the way they had been before Draco, with the exception that all citizens had the right to vote.
The history behind DC's push for statehood
On Monday, the U.S. House will hold a hearing on D.C. statehood, but there are still some lingering questions that remain: How did Washington, D.C. become the nation’s capital? Why is it still a District?
WASHINGTON (FOX 5 DC) - On Monday, the U.S. House will hold a hearing on D.C. statehood, but there are still some lingering questions that remain: How did Washington, D.C. become the nation’s capital? Why is it still a District?
We turned to the DC History Center and the co-authors of the book, "Chocolate City," to discuss the city’s story of democracy and race – and how both led to the District of Columbia we know today.
"We’re kind of stuck in the same – in the same rut that the founders were stuck in. Which is, on the one hand, they want to have exclusive control over the national seat of government. And that made a lot of sense to the founders and a lot of people today, right? The federal government should have exclusive control over its seat of Government, but that’s at war with another fundamental principal, which is this idea of no idea without representation – right? That’s the rallying cry of the revolution," said "Chocolate City" Co-Author, Chris Myers Asch.
Look around the District and you’ll see daily reminders on D.C. license plates.
What does that mean? D.C. has a member of Congress, but she cannot vote. Congress must review all local legislation before it becomes law. There’s a host of other differences.
On the topic of race and District, D.C. History Center Historian Jane Levey told FOX 5, "After the civil war, when black people were given the right to vote, the denial of representation to Washington D.C. was directly linked to the number of black people in our city who were going to have political power."
That was in the 1860s. Let’s go back even further.
During the time of European exploration during the 17thꃎntury (you may have heard the tales of Captain John Smith), the area where D.C. now sits was originally native territory.
Fast forward to the late 1700s – Philadelphia is operating as the temporary capital.
Some historians say a situation unfolded, where a crowd of angry soldiers demanding payment for their service and Pennsylvania’s governor sympathizing and refusing to have the soldiers, led Congress to both flee to New Jerseyਊnd later create a seat of government that Congress can have control over.
"In the beginning, that was more of a political matter and because the government thought that the people of Washington D.C. could just come into Congress if they needed something because we all lived here … that’s a very foreign thought today right?" said Levey.
"One of the major reasons that they wanted to do that was they were worried that if the capital of the country were placed within a particular state, then that state would have undue influence of power over the federal government," said Asch.
George Washington selected the location. The city’s website says DC was officially founded in 1790, after Maryland and Virginia ceded land to create this new federal city.
Article One, Section 8 (Clause 17) of the U.S. Constitution says the District cannot exceed 10 miles.
The city’s website says the location was a compromise between Alexander Hamilton and northern states wanting the federal government to assume war debts – and the south, which reportedly paid most of its debts, wanting a location more friendly to slave-holding states.
"When DC was first chosen, the site for what became Washington D.C. were first chosen, actually did have the right to vote," said Asch, who explained those on the ceded Maryland side voted in Maryland elections, and same went for Virginia.
However, Asch says that changed with the 1801 Organic Act, which placed the District under Congress’ exclusive authority, stripping Washingtonians of all rights to vote and locally self-govern.
"Washingtonians went ballistic, writing in the local newspapers, complaining to representatives in congress saying, look, this isn’t right," said the "Chocolate City" co-author.
We are told Washingtonians were able to win back municipal self-government for a few decades.
Though that time, D.C. was home to the slave trade. Smithsonian magazine called it the "slave capital." The book Chocolate City also details a thriving Black society despite slavery, and the city’s growing Abolitionist Movement.
Then reconstruction came -- and what Asch called a "flowering of interracial democracy" that lead the country.
"You had Black men were elected to office in every ward of the district. You had an interracial city government that passed the most incredible civil rights legislation, anti-discrimination legislation. Unlike anything we saw, really until 1964 with the Civil Rights Act. Congress got very concerned about Black political power," he told FOX 5.
"At the end of reconstruction, the white leaders of Washington relinquished their ability to vote in order to stop black people from voting," said Levey.
For almost a century, the "Chocolate City" co-authors highlight how Washingtonians did not vote in any elections. Congress had control through presidentially appointment commissioners. Historians say attempts to fight this were squashed until the 1960s and 70s, when D.C. became part of the civil rights movement, drawing activists like Marion Barry to the majority Black city that still did not have equal representation in Congress or the right to fully self-govern.
"And so here are these veterans from the Mississippi Freedom Struggle, and the struggle in Georgia and Alabama and many of those battles had been won, those legislative battles had been won with the Civil Rights Acts of , Voting Rights Act of . Then turn around and they say, ‘Wait, the Nation’s Capital’ doesn’t even have voting rights," said Asch.
Asch said the activists found an ally in President Lyndon B. Johnson, who helped create the city council model.
DC residents were finally allowed to vote in Presidential Elections in 1964 and finally allowed to elect their own mayor in 1973.
"In the 1980s, there was voting rights amendment that would’ve given DC votes in Congress. But it had to be approved at the states. And the state legislatures around the county had no idea why it mattered," said Levey.
"That would have been our answer a year ago today, that there was just no possibility for statehood in the foreseeable future. And then of course, we have George Floyd and the aftermath of George Floyd and the entire political word shook. The ground shifted in ways that no one could’ve predicted. And many people started to look at DC statehood with new eyes. Through a fresh lens and say, ‘Wait a minute. This is an issue of racial justice that has not been addressed. It’s an issue of basic – Democratic, small D, Democratic justice," said Asch, who also noted the Constitution only give a max city size of 10 miles per square feet. It does define the minimum size.
Asch and Levey agree, DC not being a state is a moral issue. Activists today say it is voter suppression.
Council for Democracy Calls for End to WW II Restrictions on Aliens
The Council for Democracy, a centrist human rights advocacy group, on this day wrote to Attorney General Francis Biddle asking him to lift restrictions, such as curfews and travel limits, on loyal aliens.
Thirty-nine prominent figures signed the letter, which specifically cited three groups of aliens who should be freed of restrictions: aliens whose citizenship had been revoked by their home countries that were Axis enemies aliens who had been cleared by the military for confidential war work and aliens who had been cleared by enemy alien hearing boards.
The letter was a rare public protest in defense of the rights of aliens during World War II.
On the curfews and travel restrictions on Italian-American aliens during the war, go to October 18, 1942. There were also restrictions on some German-Americans.
For the full story of the tragedy of the evacuation and internment of the Japanese-Americans during World War II, go to February 19, 1942.
Read: Greg Robinson, By Order of the President: FDR and the Internment of Japanese Americans (2001)
Learn more: Lawrence Di Stasi, Una Storia Segreta: The Secret History of Italian American Evacuation and Internment during World War II (2004)
And about the German-American internment: Stephen Fox, Fear Itself: Inside the FBI Roundup of German Ameicans During World War II (2005)
Learn more about the experience of German-Americans in both WW I and WW II here
Workers’ Councils and Radical Democracy: Toward a Conceptual History of Council Democracy from Marx to Occupy
Over the last ten years, scholars have rediscovered the relevance of council democracy and workers’ councils for democratic thought. While these interventions are important, the literature lacks a coherent reconstruction of the development of council democracy in modern political thought. This article fills that lacuna by distinguishing between three conceptions of council democracy. One conception, advocated by Vladimir Lenin, interprets the councils as revolutionary organs able to destroy the old regime, but unable to govern afterwards. Another conception, favored by the interwar council communists, stresses the ability of workers’ councils to democratize the workplace, providing the germs of economic democracy. The third, delivered by Cornelius Castoriadis and Hannah Arendt, emphasizes the radical democratic nature of workers’ councils as an alternative to representative democracy. We argue that these three conceptions, notwithstanding their fundamental differences, share several core principles that can guide contemporary scholars to theorize the council as part of radical democratic repertoires. Moreover, we show the importance of these principles of council democracy for the constituent ambitions of contemporary movements like Occupy.
Why Democracy is the Best We've Got
Voting directions. CREDIT: Eric__I_E (CC)
Alexandra Mork, age 16, is a junior at Harvard-Westlake High School in Los Angeles. She competes nationally in the Lincoln Douglas debate and participates in her school's broadcast journalism program. She believes that youth civic engagement and democratic participation are critical to the strength of the nation and is extremely interested in international relations as well as politics in general. In her free time, she enjoys reading and writing.
Although the ongoing debate over the viability and efficacy of living in a democracy underwent a temporary pause after the conclusion of the Cold War and accompanying democratic revolutions, the international rise of authoritarian regimes and simultaneous decline of freedom in the geopolitical sphere makes discussions of democratic ideals and realities increasingly topical.
Democracy is a system of government in which the citizens of a nation determine its policies through elected representatives, direct voting, or in most cases, a combination of the two. Furthermore, in democratic elections, voters must have the capacity to replace political parties and leaders based off popular support. Finally, a democracy must allow the majority of residents to participate in political processes and not exclude certain groups of people from the political sphere on the basis on race, gender, class or sexual orientation.
First and foremost, democracies are a crucial step in achieving equality for oppressed groups by giving people who would otherwise be excluded from politics the ability to vote for the policies and people that they believe in. When given the right to vote, marginalized groups are naturally more likely to support politicians who will work to end the oppressive policies that are prevalent throughout the world. Some argue that democracy alone is insufficient in the pursuit of equality because the majority faction will still overpower minority factions. While this may be true, the importance of democracy should be viewed through a lens of the possible alternatives other systems of government, such as autocracies, theocracies and monarchies are comparatively worse for achieving equality because they exclusively allow one person or group of people to make decisions for an entire population. Only democracy allows all groups, regardless of race, gender identity, class or sexual orientation, to participate in politics.
Not only does democracy allow all people to have an equal voice, but it is also inherently an extremely flexible system, which allows for the government to adapt according to changing ideologies. Because elected representatives have an incentive to maintain their positions of power, they appeal to public opinion to remain popular. Although many people critique democratic politicians for their inauthenticity, politicians mirroring the beliefs of the people is actually positive because it ensures that that the majority of citizens' beliefs are reflected in national policies. Furthermore, it functions as a crucial check on people in positions of power because if they act in an unpopular or unethical way, they will likely be voted out of office.
Finally, living in a democracy is important because democracies are the most statistically significant factor in reducing inter and intra state conflict. Director of Policy Studies at the Kroc Institute David Cortright and his colleagues conducted a study to determine the validity of democratic peace theory and examine how regime type relates to violence. They concluded that democracies are much less likely to both engage in war with other states and to participate in civil wars. This is likely because war, in any form, is politically unpopular as it costs human lives, which thus incentivizes democracies to avoid it at all costs. Civil wars in particular are unlikely in democracies because democratic governments function as a safety valve for discontent while disaffected civilians living in democracies can express their grievances in the form of free speech or exercising their right to vote, citizens living in autocracies have no choice other than violence if they hope for governmental change because they lack political power. Cortright also cites Rudolph Rummel's book Death By Government, in which Rummel finds that autocratic regimes are three and a half times more likely to commit genocide than democratic regimes. Cortright suggests this is a result of the prevalence of exclusionary ideology that is reinforced by authoritarian regimes in comparison with democratic ones.
Some may argue that autocratic governments are preferable to democracies because they are more efficient. It is true that autocratic regimes are able to pass and implement policies in a more timely manner. However, the power of democracy lies in its ability to gradually change. Complex issues should not be swiftly and unilaterally decided by one ruler they should be debated upon by large groups of people examining both sides of the issue until the majority is able to find a consensus.
Another common criticism of democracy that proponents of autocracies present is the lack of expertise of voters. While every voter is certainly not an expert on every topic, democracies encourage citizens to learn more about the world around them by creating a mutual responsibility between each voter and his or her nation, and by extension, his or her world. Democracies motivate voters to do research on important candidates and policies, whereas non-democratic governments foster political apathy because one's opinions have no impact on the world around them.
The 2018 Varieties of Democracy Report concludes that one third of the world's population lives in a country in which democracy is declining. Even more frighteningly, the Freedom House reports that the global freedom index decreased for the twelfth successive year. Editor Gideon Rose grimly wrote in the May/June 2018 issue of Foreign Affairs, "Some say that global democracy is experiencing its worst setback since the 1930s and that it will continue to retreat unless rich countries find ways to reduce inequality and manage the information revolution. Those are the optimists. Pessimists fear the game is already over, that democratic dominance has ended for good."
I fall on the side of the optimists. In the face of the global decline of rule of law, freedom of the press, equal representation, separation of powers and freedom of speech, democracy will be resilient&mdashbut only if we fight for it. The time is now to advocate for a more democratic world, and many are taking up the cause. Countries such as Ethiopia are experiencing democratic reforms as the new prime minister has freed political prisoners and promised more fair elections. Even in democratic nations such as the United States, the effects of political movements such as the Women's March and March For Our Lives, which were only possible because of the right of citizens to peaceably assemble, are evident.
Although democracy is far from a perfect political system, it is undoubtedly an important tool in achieving equality, decreasing conflict, and increasing civic engagement, making it the best available system of government.
Challenges for the Future
Botswana is home to the world's largest diamond mine and its leaders are wary of over-dependence on a single industry. Their economic growth has raised them into the middle-income bracket, although there is still high unemployment and socioeconomic stratification.
A significant challenge is the HIV/AIDS epidemic, with a prevalence estimated at over 20 percent in adults, the third highest in the world.
Source: US Department of State