Democracy can mean a government or organization where all the citizens or members have a say in decisions, usually with majority rule. Democracy can also be used to communicate a general spirit of social equality. Democracy is “rule by the people” — and how democratic a government is depends on who is really included in “the people.” Thus, in the ancient seat of democracy, Greece, women and slaves didn’t have a say in the decisions about public power. Today, many would assert that wealth gives more power to some in political decisions. Today, political democracy is generally used to mean inclusion of all citizens with equal voices in decision-making.
In the Soviet Union, capitalism triumphed over communism. In this country, capitalism triumphed over democracy.
To me democracy is an exciting, living practice, what we do every day. To most democracy doesn’t relate to our daily lives and it sure isn’t much fun. I now see that to engage in democracy, to jump into this living practice we all need something tangible to act on…
Hunger is not caused by a scarcity of food but by a scarcity of democracy.
The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerated the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than the democratic state itself. That in its essence is fascism: ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or any controlling private power.
People are asking me about the race problem…. I know of no race problem. The great problem that confronts the American people to-day is a national problem — whether this great nation of ours is great enough to live up to its own convictions, carry out its own declaration of independence, and execute the provisions of its own constitution.
Democracy means government by the uneducated, while aristocracy means government by the badly educated.
Democracy has given to conscience absolute liberty.
I hate war for its consequences, for the lies it lives on and propagates, for the undying hatreds it arouses, for the dictatorships it puts in the place of democracies, and for the starvation that stalks after it. I hate war, and never again will I sanction or support another.
Of course I believe in free enterprise, but in my system of free enterprise, the democratic principle is that there never was, never has been, never will be, room for the ruthless exploitation of the many for the benefit of the few.
You don’t spread democracy with a barrel of a gun.
At every turn when there has been an imbalance of power, the truth questioned, or our beliefs and values distorted, the change required to restore our nation has always come from the bottom up from our people.
The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously.
We cannot use a double standard for measuring our own and other people’s policies. Our demands for democratic practices in other lands will be no more effective than the guarantees of those practiced in our own country.
There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’
Democracy is a small hard core of common agreement, surrounded by a rich variety of individual differences.
I love America more than any other country in the world and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.
The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life.
We have learned to say that the good must be extended to all of society before it can be held secure by any one person or any one class. But we have not yet learned to add to that statement, that unless all [people] and all classes contribute to a good, we cannot even be sure that it is worth having.
We have learned to say that the good must be extended to all of society before it can be held secure by any one person or class; but we have not yet learned to add to that statement, that unless all [people] and all classes contribute to a good, we cannot even be sure that it is worth having.
We slowly learn that life consists of processes as well as results, and that failure may come quite as easily from ignoring the adequacy of one’s method as from selfish or ignoble aims. We are thus brought to a conception of Democracy not merely as a sentiment which desires the well-being of all [people], nor yet as a creed which believes in the essential dignity and equality of all [people], but as that which affords a rule for living as well as a test of faith.
Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.
The aim of education is to enable individuals to continue their education … (and) the object and reward of learning is continued capacity for growth. Now this idea cannot be applied to all the members of a society except where intercourse of man with man is mutual, and except where there is adequate provision for the reconstruction of social habits and institutions by means of wide stimulation arising from equitably distributed interests. And this means a democratic society.
The end of democracy is a radical end. For it is an end that has not been adequately realized in any country at any time.
We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.
We have come a long way in America because of Martin Luther King, Jr. He led a disciplined, nonviolent revolution under the rule of law, a revolution of values, a revolution of ideas. We’ve come a long way, but we still have a distance to go before all of our citizens embrace the idea of a truly interracial democracy, what I like to call the Beloved Community, a nation at peace with itself.
Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself.
Democracy is the only system capable of reflecting the humanist premise of equilibrium or balance. The key to its secret is the involvement of the citizen.
The perennial conviction that those who work hard and play by the rules will be rewarded with a more comfortable present and a stronger future for their children faces assault from just about every direction. That great enemy of democratic capitalism, economic inequality, is real and growing.
It is impossible to provide unlimited visitation and the essential qualities of an unconventional, non-urban experience simultaneously. Here too a compromise is called for: a willingness to trade quantity for quality of experience. There is nothing undemocratic or even unusual in such a trade. The notion that commitment to democratic principles compels the assumption of scarcity is one of the familiar misconceptions of our time. We need a willingness to value a certain kind of experience highly enough that we are prepared to have fewer opportunists for access in exchange for a different sort of experience when we do get access.
We live in a dirty and dangerous world. There are some things the general public does not need to know, and shouldn’t. I believe democracy flourishes when the government can take legitimate steps to keep its secrets and when the press can decide whether to print what it knows.