Six (06) Models of Democracy

About the models Held has said that the models are complex networks about economic and social conditions of the democratic state. While presenting the model Held has not allowed his prejudices to dominate. He has impartially portrayed the picture of democratic structure. Explaining the nature of models Held maintains, “Models of democracy involve necessarily a shifting balance between descriptive, explanatory and normative statements”.

The following are the six models of democracy:

1. Classical Democracy:

Location and Nature:

The classical democracy was direct democracy and Athens was the abode of such a democracy. There were, besides Athens, other Greek city states but among all the city states Athens was most prominent and powerful. Direct democracy in Athens developed in between 800-500 BCE (Before Christ Era). The Athenians were really proud at the type of direct democracy that worked in their city-state.

What were the characteristics of Athenian democracy which was the symbol of classical democracy?

(1) The classical democracy of Athens assumed the form of mass meeting. The Athenians periodically met together to take stock of the situation of the state and make policies and decisions.

(2) All the full-time public officials were chosen by the Athenians through lottery or election.

(3) The arrangement was made in such a manner that every citizen could get (at least once in his lifetime) the scope of participation in the offices of the state.

(4) The Athenians never hesitated to participate in the affairs of state or to shoulder the responsibility.

(5) Official positions rotated among all the citizens and no special training was required to run the administration.

(6) However, there were special training arrangements for military generals. In this way the Athenian democracy—the representative of classical democracy—worked in ancient Greece.

Ideals of Classical Democracy:

The ideals of classical democracy or Athenian democracy (these two terms may be used interchangeably) can be stated in the following manner. The chief political ideals were equality among all people (here the appropriate word is citizens), liberty and respect for law and justice. The Athenians paid high and glowing tribute to justice and law. What we now call rule of law, that system prevailed in ancient Greece and from there it later on, ramified in other parts of Europe.

Because of the prevalence of equality in Greek city-states all the citizens could get the opportunity to participate in the policy/decision making process of the state. Thucydides stated the ideals and aims of Athenian democracy in an address attributed to Pericles’ funeral.

Thucydides (460-399 BC) claimed that Athenian democracy was unique in the sense that its constitution, system of administration, institutions were not copied from other systems. Rather the Athenian democracy was a model to be followed by others. Every Athenian had equal right to be equally treated by law.

Equality before law and equal treatment of law enabled justice to prevail in almost all the spheres of society. Political life was free and open. All the citizens took active interest in public of fairs and naturally they were not at all neglected. Every man showed obedience to law and authority. Disputes were settled among themselves.

Aristotle’s Account of Democracy:

Aristotle’s The Politics (written between 335 and 323 BCE) provides a very beautiful account of democracy. He said, “The foundation of democratic constitution is liberty. People constantly make this statement implying that only in this constitution is there any share in liberty at all. Every democracy has liberty for its aim. “Ruling and being ruled in turn” is one element of liberty.

Then there is the democratic idea of justice as numerical equality, not equality based on merit and when this idea of what is right prevails, the people must be sovereign and whatever the majority decides that is final and that is justice………. The result is that in democracies the poor have more sovereign power than the men of property.”Live as you like” is another mark of a free man. “Living as you not like is the mark of one enslaved”.

In this lengthy passage Aristotle has delineated the basic features of democracy. Needless to say that all these are today treated as valid. Liberty, justice and sovereignty of the people or popular sovereignty are the basic pillars of democracy. Aristotle gave priority to these three features.

He believed that only in democracy ruling and being ruled in turn take place. It is absent in a state which is not democratic. The absence of the opportunity to rule is the symbol of slavery. He also asserted that in his democracy equality is to be interpreted numerically and it is not based on merit.

Principles of Democracy:

Aristotle has laid down certain fundamental principles of democracy. These may also be called the basic features of democracy. We have already noted the conception of democracy as it obtains in The Politics.

Following are the fundamental principles:

1. Officials of the city state will come through the elections and all citizens are eligible for all posts or offices.

2. A common rule will operate throughout the state and this rule is rule over each and each by turn over all.

3. All the citizens are eligible for all posts excepting the posts which require special qualifications or experience.

4. No tenure of office dependent on the possession of property qualification.

5. The same man not to hold the same office twice. A man will be allowed to hold office only for once in his lifetime. However, in the field of warfare this principle will not hold.

6. Aristotle prescribed short tenure of office.

7. Jury courts will be chosen from all the citizens and will adjudicate on all.

8. The Assembly (in Greek it was called Ecclesia) will have the sovereign authority over anything except minor matters.

9. Payment services in assembly, in law courts and in the offices shall be regular.

10. Good birth, wealth and culture shall be the marks of the rule of the few. The opposite shall be the rule of the many.

11. Perpetual tenure of office is not favoured by democracy.


Whatever may be the novelty or importance of classical democracy of Athens, the critics: are not sympathetic to it.

Some of the criticisms are:

1) The Athenian democracy was limited only to a small fraction of population. The male citizens above the age of 20 could take active part in the affairs of state. The female citizens, irrespective of their qualification, had not the liberty or right to participate in the policy-making affairs. So the classical democracy was the democracy of the male citizens or patriarchs. The women had no civil or political rights.

2) Large numbers of Athenians were also ineligible to participate in the proceedings of the city-states. They were immigrants and slaves. In Athens large numbers of immigrants lived and their contribution to Athenian culture, development etc. was not negligible at all. The slaves in Athens constituted a major part of the whole population and the Athenian economy and development rested on their labour. But they were not permitted to take part in the offices and other branches of the state.

3) The treatment meted out to slaves and immigrants does not prove the existence of rights and equality in Athenian society.

4) All citizens did not enjoy equal status and all the opportunities were not open to all.

5) Many have called Athenian democracy as the tyranny of the minority.

6) Held has said that various aspects of the classical democracy can legitimately be questioned.

2. Protective Democracy:


The main theme of classical democracy was the participation of all citizens in the processes of state and the Athenians (where the classical democracy flourished most prominently) believed that they could achieve equality. So the basis of classical democracy was equality in respect of rights and privileges.

But the protective democracy highlights a quite different aspect. In the words of Heywood “democracy was seen less as a mechanism through which public could participate in political life, and more as a device through which citizens could protect themselves from the encroachments of government, hence protective democracy”.

Here democracy has been viewed as a means at the disposal of individuals which they can use to safeguard their rights and liberties. In the middle Ages and early modern period the autocratic rulers on any flimsy ground and in most of the cases without any ground encroached upon the basic rights and liberties of the citizens and they were absolutely helpless on the face of the steamroller-like administration.

In ancient Greece many had the idea about protection of rights and liberties. Plato thought that the rule of the guardian class could serve the purpose properly. But Aristotle asked —”quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” Its English meaning is who will guard the guardians? From all these conceptions arise the idea of protective democracy.

Origin of the Protective Democracy:

The origin of democracy as an instrument of protecting human rights and liberties can conveniently be traced to the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.

More specifically John Locke (1631-1704) is regarded as the great apostle of protective democracy. His civil society based on democratic principles was created through the instrumentality of social contract to protect the right to life liberty and property and ensure pursuance of happiness. Another person who acted behind this type of democracy was James Madison (1751-1836), a key architect of American constitution.

The three stalwarts of utilitarianism were also the important figures of the protective democracy. They were Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) James Mill 1773-1836) and John Stuart Mill. The utilitarianism was forcefully advocated in favour of protective democracy. The leitmotif of utilitarianism was to safeguard right liberty and opportunity and these are basic principles of democracy.

These must be protected at any cost and democracy according to them was the best form of government which could guarantee these. Bentham, James Mill and his philosopher son argued that only in democracy all sorts of individual interests could be protected and advanced.

Locke, Madison, Bentham, and the Mills-all were in favour of protective democracy and it is an aspect of liberal democracy. In their hands this received best treatment. In fact, Bentham and the Mills were the representative thinkers of protective democracy.

Basic Features:

The following are the basic features of protective democracy:

(1) Protective democracy believes in popular sovereignty. But since people cannot directly take part in the processes of state, they do it through their representatives.

(2) Both the popular sovereignty and representative form of government are legitimate.

(3) It is the primary duty of the state to protect the rights and liberties of citizens and whether this is properly performed or not people keep a strong vigilance over the functions of state

(4) The authority is accountable to the People and in order to establish it elections are held on regular basis. There are also other ways of establishing accountability

(5) A very important way of protecting the rights, liberties and distribution of privileges is the division of powers among legislature, executive and judiciary. This is done in all liberal democracies.

(6) There is prevalence of constitutionalism. Both the ruler and the ruled are controlled by the principles laid down in constitution.

(7) Constitution is the source of power for all and is the guarantor of rights and liberties. There are also measures to prevent the violation of rights and liberties.

(8) Organisations associations groups have enough freedom and they always act as friends of citizens and fight against any violation of rights or encroachment on liberty.

(9) Competition in all spheres is a feature of protective democracy.

(10) A clear distinction between state and civil society is strictly maintained.

Mechanisms of Protective Democracy:

Bentham, J. Mill and J.S. Mill elaborately discussed the various aspects of protective democracy. They were firmly convinced that only a democratic government could secure all rights and liberties for all citizens.

In our analysis of theory of rights we have noted that Bentham disapproved the natural rights because they were not recognised by the state and the state owed no responsibility for their protection Bentham and the Mills (J. Mill and J.S. Mill) were convinced that if proper mechanism is not provided for the protection of rights they were liable to be violated and the proper mechanism could be ensured only in a democracy. Hence to the three utilitarian philosophers democracy meant a mechanism for protecting rights and in that sense it is protective democracy.

Mention has been made earlier that C.B. Macpherson (The Life and Times of Liberal Democracy, 1977) drew our attention for the first time that one of the very important functions of democracy was to protect rights and privileges of citizens and this could be done through accountability. “For Bentham and Mill liberal democracy was associated with a political apparatus that would ensure the accountability of the governors to the governed”.

Accountability, therefore, possesses sufficient potentiality for the realisation of rights and liberties. Once Bentham said, “A democracy has for its characteristic object and effect securing its members against oppression and depredation at the hands of those functionaries which it employs for its defence”.

James Mill in An Essay of Government stressed elections, separation of powers, liberty of the press, freedom of speech and expression and freedom to form association and organisation as the basic ways to protect rights and liberties. Through these machineries general interests of the community could be sustained.

The continuity of competition among the citizens, free play of variety of ideas and thoughts were necessary for the proper development of individuals’ faculties. In the conception of protective democracy the free markets have a special place. The utilitarian thinkers were of opinion that free elections and free vote were no doubt important ingredients of protective democracy.

But along with these free markets system was essential because this could give the individual’s right to earn living and right not to be neglected. Also is required right to property. All these, however, are to be protected, through the mechanism of law, by the state. James Mill even went a step forward by saying that any threat to the free market system and the right to property is also a potential threat to the realisation of rights and privileges. For this reason the utilitarians argued with strong assertion that these two must have their rightful and convenient place in the society. Otherwise rights could not be protected.

Minimal State and Protective Democracy:

To cut the state to size is an important way for the realisation of rights and liberties of the people. The term to cut the state to size means to limit the functions of state within specific limitations.

Again, specific limitation means the state will perform certain minimum functions which the individuals cannot normally do. Beyond these specific limitations the state would keep itself away. This is generally called the minimum state or minimal state. Bentham and J.S. Mill also advocated such a state and theirs was called theory of limited state.

Theory of minimal state does not mean absolute nor-intervention. To maintain general public good the state must see that rights and liberties are properly realised because it is the primary duty of the state. Moreover, in democracy, if successfully implemented, people will enthusiastically and voluntarily shoulder the responsibility of policy-making processes and that will reduce the burden of state.

“Free vote and the free market were the sine qua non. For a key proposition was that the collective good could be properly realised in many domains of life only if individuals interacted in competitive exchanges pursuing their utility with minimal state interference”.

Robert Nozick was also an advocate of the minimal state theory and his contention was that only through a minimal state concept could justice be realised. He believed that only in an atmosphere of minimum state intervention there could be proper justice.

Functions of the State:

If the functions of the state were to protect the democratic rights and liberties it is essential to throw light on certain principal functions which a democratic state must perform and Jeremy Bentham in Principles of Civil Code has pointed out four such functions. These are: to provide subsistence, to produce abundance, to favour equality, and to maintain security.

Let us briefly state these functions. It is an important duty of the state to see that all the citizens are in possession of sufficient materials for comfortable and smooth livelihood and the failure on the part of the state will create resentment in the minds of men. In order to achieve the first goal the state must adopt all measures for the production of consumers’ goods in abundant amount and without it the citizens can never get the taste of comfort and demands will not be satisfied.

The state’s another duty is to ensure equality in all spheres and if this is not achieved the state should take steps to reduce gross inequalities. Finally the citizens expect security from the authority and the latter must provide it. We know that the inhabitants of the state of nature were in insecure condition and this impelled them to find out a security and for that purpose they setup a civil society. (Here the term civil society is not used in Gramisci’s sense) They believed that only a political organisation/civil society could meet their demand.

When Democracy Becomes Protective?

If the state administration and structure are rearranged and remodelled properly and successfully, it is believed democracy will ultimately become protective in nature and when it assumes that character what will be its nature? Let us now state it.

When a democratic state gives special attention for the fulfilment of rights and liberties in that state there shall grow a number of power-centres and various interest groups will grow.

(1) An important aspect of a protective democracy is a clear line of difference will be drawn between state and civil society and the latter will have sufficient autonomy.

(2) There will be domination of private enterprise in the field of production as well as distribution. In other words, the economy will be privately managed and operated and this will make open for the furtherance of liberty and rights.

(3) A corollary to the second condition is the advent of market economy which indicates free competition among all participants in the economic activities. A number of fora will be engaged in economic activities with full freedom. The appearance of market economy is not all, the guarantee of freedom and autonomy is also important.

(4) Within the boundary of civil society there shall arise political, cultural and economic organisations. People’s freedom will thrive through these institutions. The protagonists of protective democracy stressed all these.

3. Developmental Democracy:


In the last sections we have focused our attention on two aspects of democracy— classical democracy and protective democracy. Though these two models are important, there are other models and we shall now deal with developmental model, or we may call it developmental democracy.

Before going to the details of the matter we want to quote a lengthy passage from Held’s book Models of Democracy:

“If Bentham and James Mill were reluctant democrats but prepared to develop arguments to justify democratic institutions, John Stuart Mill was a clear advocate of democracy, preoccupied with the extent of individual liberty in all spheres of human endeavour. Liberal democratic government was important to him (J. S. Mill)…because it was an important aspect of the free development of individuality. Participation in political life was vital to create a direct interest in government and responsibility a basis for an informed and developing citizenry……….. and for a dynamic developmental policy”.

J. S. Mill is a prime advocate of developmental democracy. He did not concentrate his attention mainly on the power and function of democracy to protect rights and liberties but also on its power to develop the faculties of man. J. S. Mill viewed democracy in this light and C, B. Macpherson first drew the attention of political scientists to it.

Definition and Origin:

According to Macpherson and Dunn to J. S. Mill (henceforth only Mill) democracy was a very powerful mechanism of moral self-development and highest and harmonious expansion of individual capacities. We are thus in a possession of two elements of development. One is moral self-development and the other is development of individual capacities.

We know that Rousseau prescribed a form of democracy known as direct democracy of the Greek city-state type. His main concern was all- round development of moral qualities of men which were degraded (Rousseau believed so) in the midst of development of art, culture and civilisation.

Rausseau’s view is quite polemelical, but he thought so. By individual capacities Mill meant the argumentative power of men, intellect, reasoning, to understand the distinction between right and wrong and above all the ability to participate in the processes of government. Mill was also indebted to de Tocqueville Democracy in America. It was the conviction of Tocqueville that the increasing intervention of state was bound to curb the freedom of individuals and that would be harmful for progress.

The government must keep itself away from the intrusive interference. Mill whole-heartedly subscribed to this contention of de Tocqueville. Like Tocqueville, Mill concluded that if it is not countered, it “would become a recepe for capitulation to the dictate of the administrator”.

Summary of Mill’s Analysis:

Mill viewed his contempory state from a very close distance and what appeared to him was that:

(1) The state apparatus was accumulating more and more power jeopardising freedom of individuals.

(2) The increasing appearance of state on every aspect of social life was making individuals extremely dependent on the state. This threatened both spontaneity and freedom of men. This tendency is against devel­opment.

(3) Mill did not think that the efficiency and pervasiveness of administration were not helpful for progress of individuals because these are anti-freedom.

(4) The ceaseless expansion of administration blocked the free flow of information because the government would try to withhold information for its own sake.

(5) To Mill an efficient and scientific administration meant overall control of bureaucracy. But he had no favourable view about it. The greatest shortcoming of bureaucracy is it is not accountable to the electorate/individuals. This unaccountability encourages it to act in the most irresponsible way.

(6) He believed that the ever rising expansion of state activities posed serious danger to mass participation in the governmental process.

(7) There is tendency of government to bring under its fold maximum number of people —particularly the educated, intelligent and efficient people. Later on the state uses them to support its functions, policies, and various schemes and in this way it grabs the entire society and the whole society becomes stooge of state apparatus.

Way Out:

After considering all the types of government or state Mill drew the conclusion that only the representative form of government was suitable for the realisation of rights and liberties without which no individual could develop his moral self- development and manifold capacities. In Mill’s account a representative form of government was quite equivalent to all types’ of freedom and various categories of liberty.

In other words, in a representative democracy an individual could find a favourable atmosphere for the development of freedoms and rights. Any alternative to representative democracy is direct democracy of the Athenian type. But, Mill argued, such a form of government was not possible for modern state.

So representative form of government, in the background of the attainment of right and liberty, was in a sense, quite unparalleled. It would act as a watchdog and from Mill’s assessment some people started to call state night-watchman. Since then we are accustomed to view the state in this light.

It is not true that a representative democracy protects right and liberty, through free elections, voting system, free competition among the parties etc. It inflames the urge to debate any matter and to act in accordance with reason. It may be added here that all these Mill said in the sixties of the nineteenth century and by that time Britain’s representative democracy attained certain amount of maturity.

Development and Intervention:

From the just-concluded analysis one can frame the conclusion that Mill did not approve state intervention. But such a view does not carry the exact stand taken by Mill in this regard. He supported interference of state for the protection of self. If the liberty or the life of the individual is in danger, the state intervention will be justified. Mill, in this connection it may be noted, divided the actions of the individuals into two broad categories—self-regarding and other-regarding. So far as the actions of the individuals concern their own interests or issues they should be allowed to enjoy absolute liberty.

This is called self-regarding. Men must have complete freedom. But if their actions concern others’ interest that is other-regarding, that is, the actions are likely to inflict harm to others; the state must have the right to interfere. It is the strong belief of Mill that “liberty and democracy create the possibility of human excellence.”

He was also very anxious about the emancipation of women. He believed that without women’s emancipation the progress of society was impossible; women were not born to be confined within the boundary of domestic affairs. It is, therefore, the duty of the state to adopt appropriate steps for the emancipation of women. We thus see that Mill was not against state interference. The interference, if done, must be based on solid ground and this is attainment of human excellence.

Features of Developmental Democracy:

1. In a developmental democracy citizen’s involvement is generally found and it is done through the voting mechanism which is held regularly.

2. There is a decentralisation of power. All the powers are extended up to the grass-root level and this enables citizens to participate in the various affairs.

3. Legislature and bureaucracy are separate from each other and the latter has no control over the legislators. However, as specialists the bureaucrats enjoy certain amount of freedom.

4. There are constitutional and legal provisions which guide both the ruler and the ruled as well as all the branches of state administration and judiciary.

5. Special arrangements are available for the promotion of right and liberty. Various social economic rights are given priority.

6. A system of checks and balances exists in developmental democratic system.

7. Representative form of government is the main type of developmental democracy. No other form of government is suitable for developmental democracy.

8. In developmental democracy, it has been observed, popular sovereignty is vested in people.

9. Powers of the government are generally separated from each other which stands in the way of the domination of one department.

10. The rule of law (which means equality before law and equal protection of law) is the important feature.

State Structure:

Let us see what is the exact structure of democracy which aims at development. In the first place, in such a democracy a clear demarcation (it is claimed by many) between the state and civil society is found. Each has specific area of jurisdiction. Secondly, under normal circumstances, the state does not interfere with the functions of civil society or different organisations.

These two arrangements ensure the autonomy of civil society. Thirdly, almost all the exponents (such as Hayek, Rawls, Nozick etc.) have supported market economy. In such an economy not only individuals get full freedom for the development of their faculties, it ensures economic liberty. Fourthly, all the agencies and departments are so arranged that a free competition can thrive. People get ample scope to set up or organise institutions in accordance with their choice and liking. Fifthly, a representative form of government is a party government.

The majority party in the lower house of legislature forms government. Party government has also other variations. But all the forms, more or less, adhere to the same principle that is party forms government. Finally, administration is so structured that one party, after the election, comes to power and the other party sits in the opposition. This does not lead to the break of administration.

4. Participatory Democracy:

Meaning of Participatory Democracy:

Two well-known political scientists Macpherson and Pateman (Participation and Democratic Theory) .gave wide circulation to the concept participatory democracy and today we very often refer to it in our academic purposes. Question is what do we mean by participatory democracy? Simply stated it means a democracy which is conducted by people’s active or direct participation.

Every type of democracy is based on certain type of participation. Hence the problem here is why a different model known as participatory democracy. The term participatory democracy has a different perspective. It is that type of democracy where people assemble at an open place and directly participate in all the deliberations.

There is no provision of participation through representatives. A participatory democracy never permits its functions to be performed through representatives. People themselves enjoy supreme power and by exercising it they enjoy the absolute authority to take decisions which generally affect the state or body politic. C.B. Macpherson and Carole Pateman “have a number of common starting points and commitments.

Together, they represent a model of democracy which I shall simply refer to as “participatory democracy. This term is frequently used to cover a variety of democratic models ‘from those of classical Athens to certain market position”.

Rousseau and Participatory Democracy:

Attention of the readers will be drawn to the fact that after direct democracy that took place in ancient Athens, its revival occurred at the hands of Rousseau (1712- 1778). His chief concern was the protection of liberty because every man was born with liberty. But in the course of time it was lost. His second concern was how to revive liberty? The device he suggested was creation of a body politic which will be conducted and administered by the people themselves through open assembly sessions.

In other words, the sovereign power shall be vested in the hands of the people and it will be exercised by them. This is called popular sovereignty. In Rousseau’s thought system there was no place of representatives, political parties or any form of groups functioning on behalf of people. Rousseau said that sovereignty is inalienable and at the same time it cannot be represented. He had no faith on representative system.

Rousseau said, “The idea of representation is modern if it comes to us from feudal’ government, from the iniquitous and absurd system which degrades humanity and dishonors the name of man” (emphasis added). Rousseau wants to say that it is the direct participation of people that will make their lives good and help the development of morality. The participatory democracy of Rousseau wanted to make his citizens active and to involve them in all the affairs of state.

Aims of Participatory Democracy:

The aims of participatory democracy have been best described by Rousseau. If the law and general administration is meant for the people, it is logical that behind this law and running the administration there shall lie the consent of the people. He said, “Every law the people has not ratified in person is null and void”.

He also believed that the introduction of representative system was nothing but a device to insult the people’s power of reason and his intelligence. So it is the only form of government that recognises the worth and other qualities of human beings.

Mill developed different impression about this type of democracy. He has said that through the participatory democracy the development of human being can be achieved. Supporting Mill’s view Pateman says, “It enhances a sense of political efficacy, reduces a sense of estrangement from power centres, nurtures a concern for collective problems and contributes to the formation of an active and knowledgeable citizenry capable of taking a more acute interest in government affairs”.

The most important aim of participatory democracy is to make people interested in the political, legal and economic processes of the state. Through this they will learn to think that the state affairs are their own. In other words, it will make people more responsible. Every man has his own qualities and importance. Direct participation will be able to enlighten them. It’s another purpose is to kindle up the innovative qualities of man.


1. The important feature of participatory democracy is people will have the opportunity to directly participate in the functions and decision-making processes of state and there shall be no provision for delegating power to another body or organ.

2. At all stages of state administration (even local levels) people are the determining factors and that cannot be challenged or “done away with to facilitate representative system.

3. Though Rousseau was the champion of participatory democracy he did not favour party system. In modern times it is suggested that party system is essential for the smooth functioning of participatory democracy. Only political party can organise such democracy and lead it to the stage of success.

4. A system which has adopted participatory democratic system remodels and remoulds the social and political structure so that democracy can function smoothly.

5. Creation of institutions and organisation is not enough; in such a system there is an ever-vigilance to maintain these in suitable manner.

6. Though unanimity is emphasised, to make this form of democracy workable there shall be an option for majority decision system.

7. In participatory democracy equality is always stressed. Particularly political equality is the sine qua non of such democratic system.

8. Rights, liberties are also equally emphasised.

9. Rousseau said that people participate in open assembly to exercise rights and get freedom. None will be allowed to encroach others liberty.

5. Cosmopolitan Democracy:


As a concept and as a form of government democracy envisages dynamism. As a form of government it is extremely desirable, but, it is believed, it must be suitable for changed circumstances. This feeling or attitude has led to reformulate it at different epochs. This may be regarded as background of cosmopolitan democracy or cosmopolitan model. It is quite well known to us that democracy is confined to the geographical area of nation state but cosmopolitan model thinks of democracy at global level.

Held’s observation is: “A cosmopolitan democracy would not call for a diminution per se of state capacity across the globe. Rather, it would seek to entrench and develop democratic institutions at regional and global levels as a necessary complement to those at the level of the nation-state. This conception of democracy is based upon the recognition of a continuing significance of nation-states while arguing for a layer of governance to constitute a limitation on national sovereignty”.

Cosmopolitan model of democracy is a compromise between importance, significance and requirements of nation states on the one hand and the globalisation or cosmopolitisation of politics, economy and culture on the other. In this age of increasing dependence of different nation states upon each other a revision of the attitude to democracy appears to be incumbent. So cosmopolitan model of democracy is not an exclusively new idea, it is a concept viewed in the background of new situation in international situation.


The cosmopolitan model of democracy is based on the following assumptions:

1. It assumes that in the present day world situation the nation-states are directly and indirectly dependent upon each other. The activities, schemes and policies of one state will invariably influence those of other states. Naturally “entrenchment of a cluster of rights and obligations” is necessary. If this is not done various rights and liberties will be in problem. The individuals of all nation-states will be deprived of some basic rights.

2. Social, political and economic rights and liberties are to be included in the basic laws of the nation-states. Constitution will be framed or laws will be enacted to include them.

3. At global level an association or assembly would be formed with the help of all democratic states to deal with all rights and obligations. For this purpose the jurisdiction of the international court should be extended.

4. It also assumes that all the democratic states and societies will jointly form an assembly which would not be under the control of any superpower. It may be called a supra-national authority or a world government.

5. It assumes active cooperation among all states as regards the management of issues across the border of nation-states.

6. There is a further assumption. All the controversial transnational issues shall be settled by referendum. It denotes that the nation-states enjoy right to equal sovereignty.

7. The UNO must take initiative for the success of cosmopolitan model of democracy.

Causes of Origin:

In recent years the urge for establishing democracy at international level becomes active. Naturally question arises why there is such an urge? Of late it has been found that certain tendencies are weakening democracy in various parts of the globe. Proper measures are not being taken to protect democratic rights and liberties and privileges are not adequately distributed among those who need these. Above all, the most important aspect of democracy is its accountability to the citizens.

Whereas, democracy is an essential instrument for the protection of rights and development of the capacities of individuals. We can say there is a crisis in democracy at the level of nation-states. It is a firm belief of all lovers of democracy that it should not be allowed to reach the stage of impotency. At an international level democratic institutions are to be set up to monitor the functioning of democratic system of different states.

Globalisation and multinational corporations are becoming more and more aggressive and they have tended, in some cases, it is alleged, to erode democracy. The essentiality and utility of MNCs cannot be denied but it cannot be their function to curb democracy and to that end prophylactic device should be adopted and that device is supposed to be to set up democracy at global level.

The superpower politics has not always helped democracy to flourish. The cosmopolitan democracy will be an antidote to this ominous sign. There shall be a compromise between autonomy of state and overall development of humankind.

Conditions for Cosmopolitan Democracy:

David Held admits that the demand for cosmopolitan democracy is rapidly rising but a favourable atmosphere for it has not yet developed. He, therefore, suggests certain conditions for its creation as well as successful working.

Some of the conditions are:

1. It is believed that for a cosmopolitan model of democracy all the states of the world will have to take active interest, particularly big powers.

2. Reforming the principal organs of the UN especially the Security Council is necessary. The states such as India, Germany, Japan, Brazil etc. are to be made permanent members.

3. Many provisions of the Charter shall be amended. The Charter was framed when the Second World War was going on. The situation has changed since then.

4. It has been suggested that a global parliament should be set up to deal with the global issues.

5. Like European Union other regional bodies should be set up to deal with regional issues. It means the UN should take up the matter of more and more regionalisation.

6. It has been suggested that there shall be a military body to settle military matters.

7. A functional body to deal with issues like rights, liberties, obligations is required to be set up and this organisation should have enough power to see that citizens of all states are enjoying rights contained in the universal declaration of human rights.

8. For the purpose of tackling the legal matters a judicial body should be set up or the present International Court of Justice be armed with more powers.

6. Marxist Model of Democracy:

Failure of Liberal Democracy:

From the 1960s the exponents of liberalism and liberal democracy had been clamouring for less and less power of state and more freedom for men. Hayek, Nozick and Rawls are chief among them. And practically in the eighties of the last century there was a spectacular upward movement of liberalism at the helm of which were Thatcher, the former Prime Minister of Britain, and Reagan the ex-President of the United States.

But at the beginning of nineties serious thinkers of political science witnessed the revival of Marxist thought in general and Marxist model of democracy and behind this revival there was a clear case of the failure of liberal democracy.

Alex Callinicos and several others observed that at least on three fields liberal democracy failed:

(1) In the field of political participation liberal democracy has failed to evoke sufficient enthusiasm in the mind of men.

(2) Accountability of the government is not prominent. The chief feature of democracy is the authority shall be accountable to the people and in most of the cases this did not happen.

(3) In almost all the liberal democracies there was clear erosion of freedom and because of this people could not raise their voice against the policies of the government.

People’s lack of interest in participation is evident in American election. In the presidential elections of USA generally 48% to 50% voters cast their votes. There are, of course, exceptions. For example, in the 2004 election percentage was higher. The same picture repeated in Switzerland. Liberal democracy is characterised by positivity of citizenry. Expansion of bureaucracy reduces the accountability of authority.

Direct Democracy Model of Marx:

After actively considering the various models of democracy Callinicos (The Revenge of History: Marxism and the East European Revolutions) has offered his defence of classical Marxism which strongly supports direct democracy. The various forms of liberal democracy suggest a type of government conducted by people belonging to the upper echelons of society.

People belonging to the lower strata hardly get any scope to take part in the political process of state. Callinicos feels that the prevalence of this system converts democracy simply into a farce. In the earlier section we have pointed out the failures of liberal democracy and these failures were mainly due to the structural constraints of liberal democracy.

Even if the administration desires to put into practice the basic norms of democracy they could not achieve success due to these constraints. Marx envisaged direct democracy on the ground that only this type could ensure participation of people in the democratic process. This form of democracy has been called democracy from below.

The main features, in general terms, are that the public officials are subject to periodic elections, public officials must feel that they are servants of people and their activities are subject to scrutiny. All the elected officials are under the system of recall. There shall also operate the system of referendum and initiative. These are the chief features of direct democracy and we shall now see relevance in Marx’s thought.

Marx’s Commune Model:

Marx’s early conception of democracy was direct democracy and involved a “Rousseauesque critique of principle of representation and the view that true democracy involves the disappearance of state and thus the end of the separation of state from the civil society”.

The best exposition of Marx’s conception of democracy is to be found in The Civil War in France (1871). He said, “Instead of deciding one in three or six years such member of the ruling class was to misrepresent the people in parliament, universal suffrage was to serve the people, constituted in communes, as individual suffrage serves every other employer in the search for workmen and managers in his business”.

Through his experience Marx learnt that the bourgeois democracy meant for a particular class which was minority. So such a democracy could never be the real democracy, it was the democracy of the minority and was based on complex process. It was characterised by suffrage to be availed of all adult citizens, political liberty and rule of law. Marx believed that first of all communes would be constituted and all the members of the commune would get the opportunity to participate in the processes of the commune.

It might be called participatory democracy or direct democracy as was thought of by Rousseau. Both Rousseau and Marx were dead against representative system of government. Rousseau once said the British people were free only at the time of elections because they could elect men of their own choice.

Nature of the Commune Model:

Let us throw some light on Marx’s commune model of democracy. He said that the commune model of democracy had the full potentiality to break the prevailing state power which arose or was created in Mediaeval Europe. The constitution of the commune, under no circumstances, could represent the interests of the bourgeoi­sie or any vested interest.

Let us quote him: “The communal constitution would have restored to the social body all the forces hitherto absorbed by the state parasite feeding upon and clogging the free movement of society….The communal constitution brought the rural producers under the intellectual lead of the central towns of their districts and these secured them in the working men, the natural trustees of their interests. The very existence of the commune involved local municipal liberty but no longer as a check upon the, now superseded, state power”.

He further observes that the commune was formed of the municipal councillors chosen by universal suffrage. The councillors were responsible to the electorate and were liable to be removed from their position on notice. This commune was not a parliamentary body. In the commune form of democracy, Marx said, there was no place of high dignitaries.

There was no scope for making any provision for high salaries of very few high dignitaries. The working men would constitute the commune and they would be in the charge of the communal administration. Thus commune would set up real democracy.

Marxist Democracy and Engels:

While Marx was in London, he wrote a very important book (all his writings are important no doubt, but for the present purpose The Class Struggle in France) namely, The Class Struggle in France and it was published in 1850 and in 1895 Engels wrote an Introduction. In this Introduction Engels stated something which allows us to assess Marxist conception about democracy.

In the commune model we have seen that Marx practically had no faith on the bourgeois type of democracy and because of that reason he thought of setting up a new model—commune model of democracy. But when Engels wrote the Introduction he did not refer to this model. In it Engels exhorted the working class and other sections of the exploited mass to fight against the bourgeois system and to utilise all the machinery of bourgeois democratic structure as instrument of fight in order to emasculate the entire structure of capitalist democracy or state.

This introduction consisting of 20 pages fuelled controversy among non-Marxist and even Marxist circles. Here Engels advised the working class to eschew the militant means such as armed struggle, sabotage, and to destroy the entire bourgeois structure of state administration. The purpose of the working class was to seize political power by revolutionary methods and not by constitutional and democratic methods. Before he wrote the Introduction he could not realise the importance of the bourgeois democratic methods.

What Engels Actually Said?

We have already noted that Marx ridiculed the periodic elections because it had not the capacity to establish real democracy. But Engels in his Introduction said that the universal adult franchise offered the scope for remodeling the bourgeois political structure. After every three years the proletarian would get the opportunity through the implementation of universal franchise to elect a new set of representatives who would rule the society.

The workers’ representatives would play active role in the parliament and fight for the causes and interests of the workers. They would be able to corner the liberal and bourgeois political parties and clip the wings of powerful bureaucrats. This would enable the proletarians to establish their authority on the bourgeois state.

A new form of society would come which would be in the nature of democracy—not direct democracy but representative democracy—which was earlier disapproved by Marx. Engels in his Introduction planned for a combination between incessant fight and democracy. Somehow he came to believe that real democracy or proletarian rule (also democracy) could not be set up overnight. Only the utilisation of universal suffrage could empower the working class to have that.

They could send large number of representatives to the legislature, form the municipal councils with their own representatives. Engels said, “Rebellion in the old style, street- fighting with barricades which decided the issue everywhere up to 1848, was to a considerable extent obsolete”.

SAKHRI Mohamed
SAKHRI Mohamed

I hold a Bachelor's degree in Political Science and International Relations in addition to a Master's degree in International Security Studies. Alongside this, I have a passion for web development. During my studies, I acquired a strong understanding of fundamental political concepts and theories in international relations, security studies, and strategic studies.

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