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Friday, May 30, 2008

Theocracy and Democracy:the Government and the Masses.


Theocracy and democracy are two distinct forms of governments which can be found in present day countries. Theocracy has a more religious aspect to it where as democracy has a more rational angle. Taking into account important historical incidents such as the Iranian Revolution one can further investigate into the matter. The advantages and disadvantages of both forms of governments exist. It is important to weigh these in an unbiased manner so as to arrive on a conclusion. It is evident that democracy is more widely found and accepted and that most developed nations of the world have a democratic government, however, this does not imply that it is free from sins or that it is superior to a theocratic government. All pros and cons have to be analysed before one draws a conclusion.


Theocracy and democracy are two completely different kinds of governments which are found in present day countries. Theocracy is a state where the country and its people are ruled by a group of people who are believed to be guided by the almighty. Thus it implies that in a theoretical state the ruling body is chosen on religious basis. Democracy is however a completely different scenario. In a democratic state the governing body is chosen by a system of elections.


Theocracy has always been plagued by a number of sins. In Islamic countries where theocracy is prevalent, it is observed that a number of negative norms have developed. Here the rights to women have been curtailed to a large extent. According to Zalman (2004) in Islamic countries such as Afghanistan the right to women are either narrowed down using religion as an excuse or not mentioned at all. They are deprived of basic rights such as education and welfare. They are considered lower than men and often subject to a lot of domestic abuses and violence. Beauchamp (2006) stated that “Theocrats, Christian or Islamic, view the world through the same condemnatory prism-and see sinners who must be punished.” There are very few positives about such a regime. It is observed in some instances that there is a high level of morality and social welfare. This is because the people tend to become very religious and pious.


In the year 1979, the Shah’s rule ended and Iran became a theocratic state. This was the result of a mass revolution against the existing regime. Iran was previously ruled by a dictator but after the revolution the power shifted into the hands of a group of mollahs. They were religious priests who were believed to have been guided by Allah. This was indeed a surprise as Iran’s government was considered to be one of the most stable governments in the Middle East. The new theocratic government proved to be worse than the existing dictatorship. The state was infested with sins like violence and bloodshed and the people perceived religion as the sole motive of existence. As a result of which a number of social as well as economic changes came about which showed unfavorable characteristics.


Government officials in numerous democratic countries have been found guilty of unjust atrocities. They have been caught red handed accepting or demanding bribe, passing bills or laws which are against common welfare and other such incidents. In democratic countries like India and Bangladesh the scenario is even worse. Here the common people are threatened by hired thugs and miscreants to vote for particular political parties. Things such as booth capturing and violence do not allow the elections to proceed in a smooth way. Often because of such incidents there is an unjust outcome to the elections. At the time of elections, representatives spend huge amounts of money on publicity and social propaganda; this money could well be used for more constructive purposes. They also make false and misleading promises to the masses and cheat them to attain their votes.


Unlike in a theocratic country, the people in a democratic country are free to express their views and are free to do as per their choice. This allows opportunity for growth and innovations and people in such countries have fewer burdens as compared to people of theocratic countries. Laws and norms are rationally devised and do not have a religious angle to it. There are free markets for goods and services which encourages trade and commerce. The state is secular and does not discriminate on the basis of religion, caste, sex or creed. There is a sense of equality and there is equal opportunity.



However it is not so difficult to conclude that with the examples of theocratic countries such as Iran, theocracy as compared to democracy is not a very progressive form of government. It tends to curtail basic human rights and can be misleading in the name of religion. It has its advantages as well but they are few and there is no real positive effect. In the end one can conclude that the argument is not that which of the two is best but which of the two is least worst.

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