Is Democracy the solution to all our problems?

This is one of the strange questions that arose out of a couple of drinks with some of my colleagues. We began to speak about the Soviet Union and the reason for its collapse and we had a disagreement on why it collapsed. Was it because of external forces? Was it because of internal forces? Or was it a combination of both. My colleagues told me that it was because of both and life in Soviet Union was far better than the democracy that exists today in the country. During the discussion there was also a point of view that maybe that people today in the country have lost more than they gained out of this new found democracy.
This led me to ask a few fundamental questions, isn’t democracy supposed to solve all the problems we had? Isn’t democracy the magic pill that should make every citizen happy and pursue their own interest? I looked around me and I could not make sense if democracy had managed to achieve this. So was my colleagues’ right that democracy took more from us than it really gave us. This thought led me to find the true meaning of democracy. What is democracy? Is it just an ideology to structure the government or is it an ideology to structure our lives. After a long reflection, I chose the latter because a political system that is defined by rules is not what makes the citizens of a country happy rather it is the social system that is defined by rules. This was the critical factor of democracy that made it a choice of government across the globe. This brings back the question is Democracy the perfect system? No way. Democracy is not the solution to all our problems in the world, but it is the right direction towards the path. A path towards freedom, not merely political freedom but freedom not to be bound by expectation of others and a freedom to pursue one’s own interest and happiness. Patrick Henry, one of the founding fathers of United States once remarked that “Perfect freedom is as necessary to the health and vigor of commerce as it is to the health and vigor of citizenship” and it is this perfect freedom that we need to attain. Although this exercise did not lead me to any answer, it helped me frame the right question, which is not whether Democracy is the better system or not rather what could be done to make it a better system?
JBF

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