Political Science Answer Writing Practice 2018 - Week 3 - Question 3

90 Days Political Science Answer Writing Practice Question 1 for 28-Nov-2018

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28-Nov-2018 - Question 1

critically examine Macpherson's view on democracy. (250 words) - 2018

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Model Answer

Democracy  is  the  belief  in  freedom  and  equality  between  people,  or  a  system  of government  based  on  this  belief,  in  which  power  flows  from  the  will  of  the  people.  James Bryce  in  his  work  “Modern  Democracies”  chiefly  called  democracy  as  the  rule  of  people expressing  their  sovereign  will  and  majority  opinion  determining  legislation.

1. C.B. Macpherson has conducted an exhaustive study of existing theories of democracy and existing models  theory – it is found in the works of Locke, Mill ,Bentham etc They have described democracy as form of government where power lies with the people. They call it as normative theory means philosophical view  of democracy

2. Modern theory – the nature of these type of democracy is empirical , scientific , behavioural and descriptive. They describe the real world of democracy. There are two types of modern democracy – elitist theory of democracy and pluralist theory of democracy

Elite theory of democracy is based on elite theory of power. Oligarchy is iron law. Whether in capitalist country or socialist country , power remains in hands of the elite.

Pluralist theory of democracy – according to it , power remains in hands of people’s association. But there also exists deformed polyarchy i.e. there is no fair distribution of power among different associations.

Macpherson  says  that there is not much difference between pluralist and elitist. Both look at democracy from the procedural point of view and overlook the normative aspect of democracy.

His theory of democracy -It rejects the monopoly of capitalism on democracy. It is wrong to consider that only capitalism country can be democratic. Capitalism was not democratic from the beginning. Initially capitalism supported absolute, monarchs.

According to him , there can be other models of democracy too. Socialist country can be considered as democratic subject to the condita ion that they bring intraparty democracy.

He says that even in third world country, there can be democracy – if there is mass support for the programme of ruling party.

Macpherson observation on democracy in capitalist countries is that it is inegalitarian and do not fulfil ideal of democracy. The ideal of democracy is empowerment. The purpose of empowerment is for development and not coercion, ability to do what one wants. Macpherson calls it as creative freedom.

There are two aspects of power – extractive power and development power . For capitalist both these powers are hundred percent while for workers , it is zero. This shows that these countries are not meeting ideals of development. They should move towards society where no class has extractive power and all classes to have maximum equal developmental opportunities. 


Thus we find his ideas near to that of Amartya Sen. We should never forget the normative aspect of democracy



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