OPINION

The benefits of liberal democracy

the-benefits-of-liberal-democracy

Liberal democracy is like a bizarre fruit that matures slowly and spoils easily. The main reason is a failure to fully understand its benefits. Its defense is usually carried out in sentimental or even on conservative terms: Others died for democracy, so it is our duty to defend it.

Some people, for example, cannot understand why same-sex unions must be a part of the institution of marriage. “What difference does it make if they stay as they are?” they might argue. What they’re overlooking, though, is the cornerstone of equality: that you cannot have citizens of different categories. Such bigotry used to be based on color, then it was based on ethnic or linguistic identity, and now it has turned to sexual orientation.

When the rights of minorities are defended, meanwhile, the tone also tends to be saccharine, suggesting that the equality they are entitled to is something that should be granted to them. Such “charitable” sentiment, however, does not make for proper social policy and emotion is no way to determine people’s rights – it is too fickle and can shift in any small or big crisis.

Liberal democracy has survived fascism and communism and has dominated the world not because it is benevolent and good, but because – despite what is often said – it works. Its superiority rests on the fact that everyone is included in the economic process, regardless of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation. They are not included only as consumers, but also as part of the production machine of any society. Just consider what Britain and humanity have lost because of the fact that the great mathematician Alan Turing was driven to suicide by the revelation of his homosexuality. He was tried for “acts of gross indecency” and condemned to chemical castration.

The inclusion of everyone enriches our societies in ways that the majority cannot even fathom at times: New mentalities and sensibilities pave new roads, create new opportunities and generate new wealth – both tangible and intangible.

The second reason why liberal democracy matures slowly and spoils easily is that the more it matures, the more complex it becomes as a result of inclusion. It functions with a core of individual and inalienable civil rights and from then relies on legislation to adapt further. This is the price of having the same rules for everyone instead of forcing the minority to adapt to the mores of the majority.