Democracy has certain weaknesses. Some of these are discussed below:
1. Quantity rather than Quality:
It lays emphasis on quantity as opposed to quality. Every person whether stupid or genius is treated equal while inequality is a biological phenomenon. It turns into government by “the ignorant and the intellectual.” It standardizes life on a low level.
Mencken says that democracy is based on the assumption that all wisdom rests with inferior four-fifths of mankind, who according to Carlyle are “mostly fools.” Government in democracy works on ‘majority mechanism.
‘ Decidedly the intellectuals and wise people are in minority and majority is in the hands or intellectuals and mediocres. Democracy thus tends to be a Government of the mediocre since in it, votes are counted but not weighed.
It very often breeds inefficiency. The political leaders are more busy with forming political alliances and thereby maintaining their positions rather than looking after the administration.
In practice, the administration is run by the bureaucrats who owe no responsibility to the people. Faguet calls democracy as “cult of incompetence.”
It breeds corruption like ‘spoils system’, ‘lobbying’, ‘log-rolling’, etc. Unhealthy political compromises are made, coalitions are formed throwing all principles to winds thereby. Privileges and power are distributed among the supporters of the regime rather than given to those who deserve. Democracy thus encourages nepotism, jobbery and favoritism.
4. Political Parties:
It leads to formation of political parties which mislead, misinform and misguide the electorate. They distort issues, falsify facts, appeal to emotions, make falser and Utopian promises.
5. A Government of Careerists, Opportunists, Self-seekers and Demagogues:
In democracy, people who have no principle of their own flourish while genuine persons with good intentions lag behind. Such people are generally election shy and shun the botheration of elections and political maneuverings.
People who belong to the class of careerists, opportunists, self-seekers and demagogues succeed easily in politics and they reach the scats of authority. Really capable people having competence are pushed back to the wall.
It is very expensive type of government. Parliaments, cabinets, election machinery are all a costly affair and a burden on the tax payer. Millions of dollars are spent on the presidential election in the U.S.A., to take one example.
Freitschke describes democracy as a “corrupt dollar worshipping plutocracy or oligarchy of the rich”. According to Lecky, “democracy neither produces equality nor liberty”.
The rich classes and political leaders exploit the ignorant and simple masses.
Further masses are opposed to intellectual progress and scientific development.
8. Cannot meet emergencies:
It is pointed out that democracies are unfit to meet emergencies like the Economic Depression of 1922 and the two world wars. The Governments had also to assume dictatorial powers in democratic states.
Democracy leads to majority rule which tyrannizes the minority. It leads to revolutions and mob violence. It subjects the people to rule of numerous rather than rule of the wise.
The opponents of democracy point out that it is a process of dis-education rather than education. It lowers standards, it puts premium on emotion rather than reason, on ignorance rather than intelligence and knowledge. It creates among masses a false sense of equality.
Every voter thinks that he is equal to every other voter and fit to govern. The masses are less interested in advancement of science, culture, art, literature, etc., as compared to the privileged classes. “It produces a civilization” which Burns describes as “banal, mediocre, or dull”.
11. Curtailment of Liberty:
Democracy, it is alleged, does not extend the domain of liberty and equality. It promotes practices like Mac- Carthyism in the U.S.A. or Preventive Detention Act in India whereby liberty and freedom of the people are completely taken away at the discretion of the executive.
The power of the state is used by the party in power to perpetuate its rule rather than for advancement of the people. As President Lowell said, one grievous failure of democracy in the U.S.A. is the misgovernment of her large cities. Lacky is of the opinion that democracy is opposed to liberty.
12. Difficult system of Government:
Democracy is a difficult form of government for assumptions on which it rests are difficult of fulfillment. It assumes civic capacity on the part of the citizen. This capacity according to Bryce lies in “intelligence, self-control and conscience”. The citizen must be able to understand the interest of the community, subordinate his own will to the General will and must feel his responsibility to the community and be prepared to serve it by voting and by choosing the best men.
The fact remains that in most of the countries of the world these assumptions cannot be fulfilled. The people, by and large show indifference to public life. They neglect to study public affairs. Self-interest reveals itself in buying of votes. Party discipline kills independent thinking.
Failure of democracy in almost all the underdeveloped countries is matter of common knowledge because of the fact that basic qualities enumerated above are not yet developed in them.
13. Political Democracy without Economic Democracy is meaningless:
Political democracy in a class divided society under capitalism tends to develop into the rule of the few capitalists. The capitalists possess all the resources needed for elections whereas a vast majority of people, workers peasants and lower middle classes are without all those means which can enable them to come to the forefront.
Politics for the rich is just a business enterprise while the same is beyond the reach of the poor. Thus we see justification in the remarks that “in U.K. it is the Bank of England that rules (implies capitalists) and in America there is Dollar Democracy which implies the government by the economically dominant persons.”