Beliefs Central to Democracy:
- Decisions should reflect the will of the majority
- Government is limited in its power and must respect people’s rights
- Citizens should have a voice in decision-making
- All citizens should have a sense of responsibility to other people and the community
- Citizens should have a sense of what is socially just (good/fair for society)
Elements of Democracy:
- Rule of Law (Magna Carta) – both the government and the governed are subject to the law
- Political Equality – everyone is equal; one person/one vote
- Common Good – decisions are made for the benefit of everyone
- Personal Freedoms / Human Dignity – fundamental freedoms (speech, religion, etc.) = civil rights
- Political Freedoms – protect the right of citizens to participate in the political process
- Being informed and getting involved – democracy works best when the citizens are active and
- Respect – we must accept that not everyone has the same political views
Elements of Autocracy (Authoritarianism)
Features of an autocratic government (totalitarian, fascist, communist):
- Total control of society – an attempt to dominate citizens’ public and private lives
- Instils fear through mechanisms of terror – military force; police brutality; secret service
- Controls media – censorship; government propaganda
- Official political ideology – mandatory for all; dissent unacceptable/punished
- One political party – opposition parties may be deemed illegal or are ineffective
- Clearly defined internal (citizens) and external enemies
- Rule of Law does not exist
- History may be re-written to conform to government ideology; traditional ideas/ways are replaced
- A new, ideal type of person is promoted (e.g. tall, blonde Aryan in WWII Germany; the hard worker in a Communist country)
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